What to do in Tórshavn
It may have only three traffic lights, but Tórshavn contains “its fair share of intellectuals, alcoholics, gays, religious types, students, ship owners and fishermen,” says Rógvadóttir. In recent years, it has also acquired an impressive roster of hotels, great restaurants, and fascinating museums, galleries and shops.
Where to Stay
Major hotels include the Føroyar, Hafnia, Havn,Tórshavn and Streym. B&Bs, guesthouses, apartment rentals and cottage rentals also abound in the Old Town. The enterprising Katrina Cristiansen, formerly a local retailer selling everything from petroleum to nightgowns, has converted a series of small, turf-roofed houses on her property into cozy guest cottages. These can be booked through Hotel Hafnia.
Where to Eat
Until a decade or so ago, the Faroes didn’t have anything the Western world would call a restaurant. Everyone ate at home. Now they have destination dining places luring gourmands from all over the world with locavore dishes not found anywhere else in the world. There are also snack bars, burger joints and a juice bar. Here are several esteemed restaurants in the heart of Tórshavn:
The Faroes’ premier New Nordic restaurant, winner of the 2014 Nordic Prize for the best eatery in today’s gastronomically advanced Scandinavia, specializes in the unexpected. Almost every ingredient is locally sourced and prepared, using ancient Faroese drying, fermenting, salting and smoking techniques. Seasonal options include mutton, wind-dried for six months, served on dried moss, fermented lamb, and rhubarb jam. Koks currently operates out of a private home.
Í Geilini 13, Torshavn
Faroese for fermentation (giving you an idea of its preparation technique), Ræst is also nestled in a residence – or rather a 500-year-old former residence, replete with rustic elegance and walls of cerulean blue. Its menu changes daily, depending on the whims of the chef.
Gongin 8, Tórshavn
Barbara Fish House
Perched along the harbor, this cozy wooden house with whitewashed walls is the definitive spot for Faroese seafood, including horse and blue mussels, ocean perch, smoked salmon and scallops, some of which are prepared as Spanish-style tapas. The bouillabaise is poured from a teapot. The produce is fresh and local. And don’t miss the cobbler desserts.
Gongin 4-6, Tórshavn
This is the place for traditional Faroese dishes – cod, langoustine, rhubarb – and especially lamb.
Gongin 1, Tórshavn
This is a renowned sushi and sashimi den, serving Faroese seafood.
Áarvegur 3, Tórshavn
In and Around Tórshavn
Nordic House in the Faroe Islands
Perched above the city, Nordic House is an expansive, contemporary turf-roofed version of an enchanted hill of elves, functioning as the islands’ most important pan-Nordic and Faroese arts forum. Think art exhibits, theatre, music, and dance performances. There’s also a crafts shop and Café Smakka for light meals and snacks.
Norðari Ringvegur, Tórshavn
Paintings, drawings, sculptures, and graphic design are on display at the National Museum of the Faroe Islands, on the edge of a small park close to Nordic House. The permanent collections of individual historic and modern artists, such as the 20th century painters Sámal Joensen-Mikines and Ruth Smith, have been assigned their own rooms. Temporary exhibitions are also held. There’s also a sculpture garden.
9 Gundadalsvegur, Tórshavn
Gudrun & Gudrun
Faroese knitwear and other contemporary and updated traditional garments for women, men and children are the stock-in-trade at one of the Faroe Islands’ most well-known shops. Its wares are sold and worn around the world.
Niels Finsensgøta 13, Tórshavn
Upstairs in a former harborside cannery is a world-class lithographic workshop, while at street level a gallery displaying print works by both renowned and fledgling Nordic artists is frequented by connoisseurs from far and wide.
Skálatrøð 16, Tórshavn
Occupying another wing of the same former cannery, Ostrøm is a consortium and boutique for Faroese designers, selling home furnishings, clothing, and jewelry. There is also a coffee shop on the premises.
Skálatrøð 18, Tórshavn
The ceramicist Gudrun Poulsen runs a shop selling her sculptural works, inspired by Faroese nature.
Sjúrðagøta 16, Tórshavn
Formerly a cleaning establishment, this lively venue is music central, featuring, among others, The Reverends: “Guys playing rootsy music, Americana and country,” says Rógvadóttir.
Tórsgøta 3, Tórshavn
This horseback-riding trail above Tórshavn is strollable too, giving an overview of the city. The trail starts outside Hotel Føroyar’s parking lot.
Text: Linda Dyett