You’re probably vaguely aware that the Faroe Islands exist, but a lot of travellers have no idea just how close they are to the UK (we once met a backpacker who swore blind they were part of Egypt).

Despite being part of the Danish Realm, the Faroe Islands lie just 200 miles north of the Scottish mainland, making them the ideal destination for a short trip somewhere a little different. You can fly from Scotland, Iceland, or Scandinavia in under two hours, or grab a ferry from Denmark or Iceland.

Although the Faroese climate is unpredictable, even during prime visiting months June through September, it only adds to the rugged landscape of undulating hills, craggy mountains, tranquil fjords, cliff side plunges, and turf-topped houses. It’s a hiker’s paradise, though you’ll need to hire a car to get around reliably. You could even choose to camp instead of staying in hotels or B&Bs. Think of the Faroe Islands as New Zealand’s less dramatic Viking cousin.

Here’s why you should go backpacking in the Faroe Islands.

Vestmanna Bird Cliffs

Yes, alright, bird watching is a hard sell, but you didn’t come to the Faroe Islands to party. A boat tour carries you along the beautiful Streymoy coast until you reach cliffs that teem with guillemots, gannets, kittiwakes, and razorbills. In summer you might even spot a puffin. There ain’t no party like an ornithology party.

Puffin at Vestmanna Bird Cliffs

Sørvágsvatn/Leitisvatn Lake

If you visit the Faroe Islands you should be prepared for a lot of hiking, and a walk around Sørvágsvatn Lake is arguably the pick of countless rambling routes. Sitting above sea level, it’s a relatively easy track offering unparalleled views across the water and to the ocean, and you can visit Bøsdalafossur waterfall along the way.

Locals argue about the lake’s proper name, but its beauty speaks for itself.

Leitisvatn Lake, Faroe Islands

Listasavn Føroya and Viðarlundin

In a country blessed with an over-abundance of natural beauty it might seem perverse to visit a park, but Viðarlundin has been kept pleasingly wild. Sculptures blend with the scenery, guiding you through to the Listasavn Føroya art museum and its collection of Faroese modern and contemporary art.

Vidarlundin, Faroe Islands

Føroya Fornminnissavn

The Faroe Islands are steeped in Viking history, and where better to pillage for knowledge than the National Museum of the Faroe Islands?

It’s split across two sites, the first in capital city Tórshavn brimming with Viking Age artefacts and insights into island culture, and the second a preserved farmstead outside the city that offers an authentic glimpse of life here in the recent past.

Grass-roofed house, Faroe Islands

Gjógv

Pick a random village out of a fashionable Faroese hat and chances are it’ll be beautiful, but Gjógv is probably the most idyllic. Although modernised in some ways, in others it feels unchanged since the 16th century.

Outside of the quaint, friendly atmosphere, the highlight is the gorge that forms Gjógv’s natural harbour – another site of outstanding natural beauty in an island nation with too many to count.

Gjogv, Faroe Islands