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As Iceland begins to look like a victim of its own appeal to tourists, there's another set of islands in the wild north Atlantic which are so remote they need never fear this tourism invasion. The Faroe Islands are relatively undiscovered, though no less spectacular.
The collection of 18 dramatic volcanic islands have already established themselves as a rising destination.
The seemingly impossible coastlines, grass topped houses and puffins make the archipelago an attractive prospect for a remote Nordic escape.
Lítla Dímun: population 0
Another great appeal of the Faroe Islands, aside from their remoteness, is just how few people there are. With a population of around 50,000 – about that of Napier – spread over 1400 km square you'll practically have the place to yourself. If you don't count the puffins.
Some islands like Lítla Dímun have no permanent residents at all.
Sheep's eye view
The rugged terrain is well suited to rambling, on four feet as well as two.
In an effort to bring the Scandinavian outcrop into the 21st century Google came up with a novel way to map the island online. Due to the prevalence of sheep on the islands the search engine enlisted the help of the fleecy locals to gather ground-level imagery. In 2016 they attached 360 cameras to a flock of island sheep. This distinctly Faroese version of Street came to be known as Sheep View.
The capital of Tórshavn might sound like the last stop before Valhalla, but in reality its far cosier than the Viking name might suggest.
Colourful turf covered buildings welcome you into the harbour, along with a handful of churches and museums.
Eysturoy: Volcanic youth
The young volcanic cliffs of the Faroe islands carve some of the most striking vistas you'll ever see. Sticking out of the wild north Atlantic, the driving winds and waterfalls have carved a landscape fit for the sagas.
Vagar Island waterfalls
Mulafossur Waterfall is perhaps the most photogenic of the islands' many water chutes. Spitting a constant stream of water from the cliffs of Vagar Island into the sea below, this is one of the most widely circulated images from Faroe.
Faroe's sub-sea tunnels
While above ground the islands may look like a land that time forgot, below ground – in Faroe's high tech transport system – is another story.
Sub-sea tunnels connect the western island of Vágar and the only airport to the island of Streymoy, and Tórshavn.
While another tunnel connects the northern island of Borðoy to of Eysturoy.
The toll for driving through these is DKK100 or about $22.
Currently under construction, the Eysturoy tunnel – will be 7.1 km long and connecting Skálafjørður directly to Tórshavn.
Saksun: Hobbiton eat your heart out
While Matamata might have recently gained notoriety for its ground dwelling abodes, the settlement of Saksun on Streymoy has been a home for its hobbit-hole like abodes since the 1600s. The amphitheatre like lagoon was once connected to the sea and Viking visitors, until it was blocked by sands and erosion.
These tiny, colourful balls of feather and fluff are the unofficial mascots of the Faroe Islands. During the summer months Mykines is a breeding ground for the birds.
Take a hike: Kallur Lighthouse
The island of Kalsoy is a hikers paradise. At the north east limits of the islands, between Kunoy and Eysturoy, the hike to the Kallur Lighthouse is one of the best walks on the islands – offering breath taking views on a clear day and even more dramatic vistas when foul.
Faroe eats: Michelin goes remote
The restaurant of KOKS is perhaps the world's most remote Michelin starred restaurant and after the effort to get there foodies will not be disappointed.
In one of the ubiquitous, grass- covered building you will find one of the most hearty and proudly local meals in the islands. In a Faroese twist on the foraging trend set by the Danish kitchens of Noma – KOKS sets a menu of foraged and seasonal delicacies, specific to the Faroe Islands. Comparisons to the food trends from the cosmopole of Copenhagen are inevitable – though the young head chef Poulsen Andrias Ziska has taken this concept and made it uniquely Faroese.
Streymoy stacks: Cliffhanger
Some of the islands' landscapes are too extreme to be habitable by humans. However for birds, they are ideal breeding grounds. The 600-metre- tall stacks of Streymoy Island are striking rock walls, which the islands' bird life call home during summer.
Lake Sørvágsvatn: Amazing hanging lake
Lake Sørvágsvatn is an optical illusion which seems to fold the surface of the sea in two. A hanging lake, perched 27 metres above sea level on the cliffs of Vágar island – the body of water gives the impression that it is floating.
While the landscape has the appearance of a fantasy saga, the utterance "winter is coming" is more likely met with joy than fear.
Dusted in snow, the islands attain an even more magical appearance. What's more in the winter months between September to March, skies present the perfect condition for sighting the elusive Aurora Borealis or Northern lights.
Article originally published by nzherald.co.nz on 4 Dec, 2018