One of the experiences we were most excited about on our seven day Faroe Islands road trip was a hike to the Kallur Lighthouse.
Situated on the northern island of Kalsoy, home to only 150 or so residents spread across four villages, this manageable hike brings travellers to some of the Faroe Islands’ most iconic landscapes. Due to the logistics of arriving there on a day trip - it is only accessible via a ferry ride from Klaksvik - this means that only a certain number of people are able to do the hike each day, so you have to be prepared in advance to take your place.
From how to get to Kalsoy with the Klaksvík ferry, to where to get the best views and what to pack, here’s our definitive guide to Kalsoy island and its beautiful Kallur Lighthouse hike.
The Kalsoy Lighthouse Hike Essentials
Distance | 3 miles (round-trip)
Time | 8 hours (round-trip inc. waiting time, ferry, hike, and car transport)
Difficulty | The hike itself is very manageable for all, especially in comparison to other hikes on the Faroes, with a grassy and dirt trail leading the way and no real challenges. The weather conditions do however present the greatest risk; strong winds at the hike summit are treacherous and may prevent access to the lighthouse and edges whilst a day with heavy fog may make the route inaccessible.
How to Get to Kalsoy from Klaksvík
The most important aspect for the hike to Kalsoy is ensuring you arrive in enough time for the morning ferry from Klaksvík to Syðradalur. If you are based in Torshavn, then be sure to set your alarm nice and early - and allow at least an hour and twenty minutes to drive over to Klaksvik.
The ferry accepts both vehicles and foot passengers, however we recommend anyone reading this guide to ensure that you have your own rental vehicle if you are setting off to do this hike, as driving is an essential part of reaching Kallur Lighthouse. For those travelling through the Faroe Islands without a car, consider taking a tour to Kalsoy.
The morning departures for the #56 ferry (see location here on Google Maps) are 06:40, 08:00, and 10:00 (as of November 2018); in order to make the most of your time on Kalsoy, you ideally need to make one of these. For our own trip, we arrived at 09:00 thinking that we would be the first in line for the ferry, only to discover six cars already waiting; by 09:15 the car allowance for the ferry was fully subscribed.
For vehicles, there are three queuing lines, and the ferry loads via the first line first, second line etc. When you arrive to the harbour, simply pull up in the queue which isn’t yet complete, rather than creating a new one. Tickets are purchased as you board with the vehicle, so ensure that you have cash ready to hand over.
Kalsoy Ferry Fees
DKK160 (£19 / €21.5) for a standard car / van and the driver, and DKK370 (£44 / €49.5) van, trucks and campers of 5-7 m length. Additional passengers are DKK40 per person. (£4.75 / €5.5). These are return ticket prices, so ensure you keep your ticket to return.
Whilst waiting in line to board, we both doubted how all the idle vehicles were going to squeeze onto the small white and green ferry, but the ferry master reassured us that they could fit up to 16 or 17. Our scepticism proved ill-founded as, for the most challenging part of the day, we got to witness the great Faroese ferry jigsaw puzzle of fitting in cars and vans of various shapes and sizes on board. It’s recommended that all passengers except the driver get out after the tickets and just before you load up the car, because space will become very tight if the boat has a full compliment of vehicles. A member of the ferry crew will give you very clear guiding instructions about exactly where he wants you to park up (and just how very very close he wants you to get to the other vehicles!); in a rental car this can be a wee bit stressful as it feels like a bump or scrape isn’t too far away. Remember to pop your wing mirrors in!
Once you’ve parked up (the driver can choose to stay in the vehicle or get out), it’s an enjoyable twenty minute ferry ride. You can either stay outside or go down the stairs to the small seating area where there’s a coffee / tea machine.
See the full timetable for the 56 ferry.
Drive from Klaksvík to Trøllanes
Upon approach to Syðradalur ferry terminal on Kalsoy, the driver should make their way back to the vehicle (watch out not to ding a neighbouring vehicle when opening the door); other passengers will walk off the ferry first and then cars will be guided out.
From here, it’s a lovely 16 kms drive (20 minutes) along a single narrow winding road which presents the Faroes road trip experience in microcosm; a smattering of picturesque villages, views over the rolling hills and inky waters, sheep stops, and terrifying tunnels.
If you haven’t yet driven through a Faroese tunnel before visiting the Kalsoy island, then you are starting off with some of the creepiest ones you’ll find on all the islands! Older than many others found across the Faroes - such as the one which leads to the hidden village of Gásadalur - the two tunnels you’ll traverse are wet, dark, unfeasibly straitened, long (one is over 2 kms!) and full of potential nightmares for someone worried about their car rental deposit!
*Our tips and advice for driving in the Faroe Islands to know how to deal with these tunnels, and the overall driving essentials for the Faroe Islands, will be published soon.*
After you’ve dealt with the tunnels, it’s a serpentine slither down curves to the village of Trøllanes, which marks the start point of your Kalsoy Lighthouse hike.
There is a car park in Trøllanes with space for around 8 vehicles (if everyone parks properly and considerately rather than leaving acres of space between vehicles); those of you who paid attention earlier will note that this means a full ferry of tourists may mean space becomes limited, although we think this shouldn’t be a major concern.
In the car park area, there is a relatively new public toilet (much appreciated) and some information about the island.
Hike to Kallur Lighthouse
On a clear day, the route from the car park towards the lighthouse is quite self explanatory (i.e. walk up towards the lighthouse). However, it isn’t uncommon in the Faroe Islands for fog to descend from nowhere, making distinguishing a sheep trail from the actual trail very difficult.
So, to make things easier, here’s how to find the Kallur Lighthouse hike route! With the toilet facilities cabin on your right hand side, and the car park behind you, walk along the short path lined with silver milk churns towards the red gate. Go through the gate (remember to shut it behind you) and then take the path to the right, which immediately becomes a relatively steep incline as you head towards the sea - under no circumstances should you head left after going through the red gate and walk towards the big hill.
Keep on this path towards a set of rather large boulders, and then bear left, taking the lower trail. At one point you’ll have to hop over a small dried out river ditch, but it’s plain sailing overall and easy walking across grassy terrain with a number of curious sheep for company. If the visibility is poor, one tip is to alway have the sea on your right hand side (although the path is a comfortable distance away from the island’s edge) as you walk towards the summit and Kallur Lighthouse - if the sea is not on your right hand side as you ascend, then you’ve gone wrong somewhere.
At a leisurely pace, we went from car park to the lighthouse in 45 minutes; it should take no longer than an hour.
Take in the View
At the top, there are three main viewpoints fanning out from the small red and white lighthouse. However, any direction you look at from up here is worth the journey alone; it is epic.
As we were blessed with great, calm weather on our hike, we were able to hang out for nearly a couple of hours taking photos, eating our packed lunches, and soaking in the isolation.
It’s worth saying that, for those who suffer from vertigo, accessing some of the best viewpoints will be a pretty horrible experience. Andrew doesn’t deal well with heights and edges, but forced himself to be brave and take a walk to two vantage points which provide glorious views of the imposing shark-fin like rock-face, the sea, neighbouring islands, and down over the Kalsoy. Even if you’ve seen countless pictures of this location, nothing beats seeing it with your own two eyes.
Photography tip: This is one of several spots in the Faroes where a wide-angle lens was absolutely essential. We were very glad to have ours when capturing the epic views here (see what’s in our camera bag).
Returning to Klaksvík
Before you start your hike, you should take a note of the return ferry timetable so you can time the return leg of the hike and the drive with plenty time to spare.
The departures from Syðradaliat are:
Winter (1st September - 31st April): 14:20, 15:50, 17:35, 18:50, and 22:35
Summer: (1st May - 31st August): 14:20, 15:10, 16:40, 17:35, 18:50, and 22:35.
It is worth noting that many visitors, in addition to the lighthouse hike, include a stop at Mikladalur harbour on their way to/from Trøllanes to see the large bronze and stainless steel statue of Kópakonan (The Seal Wife) - we didn’t do this because we spent too much time taking photos of sheep. In Mikladalur, there is a basic cafe available for visitors.
We’d recommend arriving at the ferry terminal at least 20 minutes before the scheduled departure, where you repeat the process of joining the car queue and loading up before the twenty-minute return journey to Klaksvík. Whilst the chances of you not getting on the return ferry are much slimmer than when heading out there, during busier times it’s definitely something you need to be aware of, and plan for in advance.
Know Before You Go
As with all hikes in the Faroe Islands, it is imperative that you prepare for all weather conditions, with thick fog and strong winds being a particular risk. We would recommend scheduling three hours for hike itself, including time for photos, rest and lunch stops. Once the ferry journey and waiting time, plus the drive is factored in, the Kallur Lighthouse day trip will take up seven to eight hours.
As we’ve mentioned a couple of times, one cannot underestimate just how perilous the summit of this hike would be if the weather conditions were poor. The day before our own hike, a fellow visitor hadn’t been able to do much at the summit as the high winds made it incredibly unsafe to venture beyond the lighthouse.
For photographers and the intrepid, please do not underestimate that this is a remote island and your well-being when trying to source vantage points is 100% on you - exercise common sense, respect the surroundings, and do not take unnecessary risks which will only ruin this place for locals and future visitors.
You will need to bring:
| Good hiking shoes. Mud, uneven terrain and the odd unexpected hole in the ground means that good hiking shoes (ideally boots) are absolutely essential to this hike. Andrew had hiking shoes on this trip, and regretted not having the ankle support.
| Charged Phone. This is a popular hike, and there are usually a few people around. However, things can, and do happen, and should you get unlucky, stranded, or injured, having the ability to call for help is very important. If you phone battery can’t be relied upon, consider investing in a portable charger - we use this one.
| Layers. The weather in The Faroes is grossly unpredictable - and layers will be your friend. The weather was pretty good during our hike, but even so, we both wore our Merino wool under layers for extra protection from the cold.
| Waterproof Jacket. Our NorthFace waterproof jackets come every where with us. Breathable, lightweight, and bright enough that even in fog we can usually spot one another.
| Snacks + Water. Whilst you could feasibly track down food from one of the small villages on the island, as most of your time will be spent hiking to/from the lighthouse, taking your own food and water is more than good planning; it’s downright essential. The Faroes are delightfully unscarred by plastic waste at present, please keep it this way by using a refillable water bottle like this one.
| Leave no footprints - remember to respect the location, and discard of any litter appropriately.