‘You see, Suðuroy battles storms all of its own,’ my guide Jóhannus says knowingly indicating the menacing wall of clouds on the horizon.
Gazing across the wild North Atlantic from the rugged cliffs of Vagar, the hulking mass of the Faroe Islands’ southernmost isle has just been engulfed by the foreboding sky. The morning has seen a particularly ferocious bout of weather, even by Faroese standards. My cheeks are raw from the dagger-like sleet and my morning hike to Fjallavatn cut short by a thick unyielding fog that stole away the spectacular views.
Though now warm sunlight washes across the golden landscapes peppered in fresh snow, deep purple clouds continue to churn around the island in the distance. And yet that is where I will be setting foot in just a few short hours.
During my first visit to the Faroe Islands, Suduroy didn’t quite make it onto my itinerary, but this time, this little visited isle is a place I am determined to reach, raging weather and all.
Setting off from Torshavn in the ferry, towering above the colourful fishing boats that bob lazily in the marina, the fjord is awash with sunlight and the final streaks of ice and snow have already begun to melt away from the mountain peaks.
However, what awaits in Suðuroy will be a different story entirely. Wrapped in heavy cloud, the ferocious storm I had watched roll in meant a dumping of snow that painted the island in a thick crunchy white.
Over the next two days, I whirl between dazzling white fjords, from jet black beaches to towering sea cliffs, through fierce blizzards and glorious sunshine from one end of the island to another. Enormous snowflakes flutter down to dress impossibly pretty gingerbread villages, like an absurdly picturesque snowglobe scene brought to life. Glimmering white landscapes are carved up by spectacular coastal roads that cling to a dark heaving sea. And while the deep snow and often gloomy weather means outdoor activities are put on hold, for those who come to hike, Suduroy has plenty to offer.
Looking to escape the Faroe Island’s hotspots? These were my favourite things to do on Suðuroy, a place that sees few travellers and, while the weather is slightly more turbulent than elsewhere, it’s thought to be one of the archipelago’s best kept secrets!
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Few things give that desolate edge of the world feeling like gazing across a grey boundless ocean, wild and windswept with no sign of land on the horizon.
Akraberg Lighthouse is one such place, isolated at the southernmost point of the Faroe Islands. A lonely glimmer of light pulsing through the impenetrable darkness. Awash with sunshine though, this place is actually rather pretty, accompanied by the bright orange lighthouse keeper’s hut and shaggy sheep that dot the snowy fields.
A local suggested walking just 20 minutes further along the cliff line to find the island’s most spectacular view.
Also don’t miss the ridiculously charming village of Sumba just a short way before the lighthouse, its jet black road like a twisting snake amidst the cottony snow.
For unparalleled views over the majestic folds of Suðuroy, hike (or crawl) up the daunting slopes of Beinisvørð.
Skip the tunnel and take the narrow, winding pass that climbs high above Sumba toward the weather station and the base of the near vertical incline. Wander along the cliff’s edge for some excellent bird watching opportunities – the winged creatures here put on quite a show swooping and sailing between the rocky cracks.
The real beauty, however, is found atop the island’s highest point that bears the full fury of the Atlantic. It’s a challenging and potentially foolish climb, but the views are extraordinary. Bear in mind though that getting up is the easy part, clambering down an almost vertical slope on slippery grass is no easy feat.
This area also attracts most of the islands snowfall, particularly on the northern face, so don’t attempt to drive up or down unless the roads are relatively clear.
You can either take the arrow straight and eerily dark tunnel through the mountains, or the narrow, wiggly road that hugs the coast. I know which one I’d rather follow.
With a blustery sea on one side and enormous white peaks that rise up from the roadside on the other, it certainly makes for a scenic drive.
I had expected Hvannhagi to be the absolute highlight of my time in Suðuroy, but as the ferocious weather raged on unabated, it unfortunately became the first thing to be crossed off my itinerary. With so much snow dusted across the landscape and the persistent wild weather, following an unmarked and now buried trail into a remote corner of the island would have been fairly idiotic.
But if you’ve got the time and the weather is on your side, Hvannhagi, a protected lake cradled beneath an impressive wall of rock, is rumoured to be one the islands most impressive natural features, from above and below.
The hike itself takes about 2 hours each way beginning at the hospital in Tvøroyri. There’s a good description of the route here, otherwise, the trail looks to be marked on my go-to hiking app, Maps.Me.
Dotted around the island, Suðuroy’s delightfully colourful villages all have something in common, a striking backdrop of dewy green (or snowy white) and a front-row seat for the wild Atlantic.
There are no specific attractions, aside from the pretty Faroese churches and a couple of museums, but it’s certainly worthwhile popping by each one as you make your way around the island.
Many of the towns have tiny trails that meander up the hillside behind the houses and offer excellent views over the valley. If you’ve got the time, these are a great place for a stroll.
Sandvik, the northernmost village on Suðuroy, acts as the gateway of sorts to the spectacular chiselled cliffs of the island’s west coast. A veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts and intrepid adventurers.
Weaving out behind Sandvik, follow the tiny road that traces the base of the valley until it peters out, or in my case, the road becomes worryingly disguised beneath the snow. It’s a very narrow road so if you’re planning to park, don’t just leave your car anywhere, make sure it’s well out of the way.
Turning straight up the steep hill, there’s no clear path, just a collection of sheep trails and cairns to guide you on the way. From the top of the plateau, the dramatic folds of the island curl into the distance bordered by the sheer rock face that tumbles toward the sea.
Wild and desolate, the area has a few noteworthy attractions. The lonely, wave-battered sea stack of Ásmundarstakkur stands a short distance away from the angular cliffs, it’s a haven for birdwatchers with a constant flurry of activity between the cracks, and the frighteningly unstable bridge that hovers above a sheer drop to the ocean. Of course, this is also the first place on Suduroy to gain some momentum on Instagram, but please heed the warning signs and cross at your own risk.
For the more adventurous, you’ll quickly see that the tidy clusters of stones that mark the trail don’t end here. Peaking out along much of this windswept coastline, they provide almost endless opportunities for exploration along this part of the coast.
There are just a few accommodation options on Suðuroy, mostly scattered around Tvøroyri and Vágur.
I stayed at Hotel Bakkin in Vágur, a basic but comfortable hotel in the heart of the village with a decent breakfast and friendly host. Check the latest reviews on TripAdvisor, or for rates and availability enquire here.
Otherwise, you can check the other available options in Suduroy here.
While hotels are somewhat lacking on the island, there is an abundance of Airbnbs to choose from, many of which are charming countryside cabins that offer the chance to interact with locals, something that can be surprisingly hard to come by in the Faroe Islands. New to Airbnb? Sign up here and receive up to $30 off when you make your first booking.
Like everywhere in the Faroe Islands, the further you move from Torshavn or Klaksvik, the harder it becomes to eat out and Suðuroy is no exception. Arriving over the Easter weekend, however, finding anywhere to eat was virtually impossible.
Thankfully there are a number of supermarkets, the most convenient being the Bonus in Tvøroyri, which also has a decent selection of restaurants and cafes. Otherwise, you’ll find a few more restaurants in Vagur mostly selling fast food, as well as a few others sprinkled around the island.
Get There |
Getting to the Faroes southernmost isle is easy thanks to the Tórshavn to Suðuroy ferry. There are 2 to 3 daily departures depending on the day of the week and the crossing takes just 2 hours. Check the current schedule here.
The boat is huge with a dining area, viewing platform and plenty of space to spread out, but be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before departure as queues for vehicles can be quite long and navigating the port can be a little confusing.
By taking the first ferry out of Tórshavn and returning on the last departure from Krambatangi Port in Tvøroyri the following day, you should have enough time to do almost all the things on this list, but to add more hikes to your itinerary, consider adding at least an extra day or two.
Price | A vehicle with driver is 225 DKK (€30) plus an additional 80DKK (€11) for each passenger. Tickets are paid on the return journey only at the indoor kiosk and are checked when you drive off the ferry. Try to get in early as there is quite a rush to pay as the ferry approaches Torshavn.
If you’re not travelling by car, it’s also possible to arrive or depart Suduroy by helicopter which travels between Torshavn and Froðba on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as Mondays in the summer months (June to August). Check the current timetable here.
Get Around |
The best way to get around on Suðuroy is definitely by car. The distances are vast and if you’re short on time you probably don’t want to waste time waiting around for a bus. Check rates for Faroe Islands car rental here.
That said, there is some public transport available on Suðuroy, with two services running between Sumba and Tvøroyri, and Fámjin and Sandvík. Schedules vary greatly from day to day and it’s advised that you call ahead to confirm departures as routes and times may change when demand is low.
Price | Bus tickets cost up to 30 DKK (€4.50) per journey or are included as part of the multi-day transport ticket.