With thousands of puffins, epic scenery, one of the most photogenic lighthouses in northern Europe, plus a memorable journey by sea or air to reach it, it’s little wonder that a day trip to the tiny island of Mykines is one of the most popular things to do on the Faroe Islands.
However, reaching Mykines is not without its complications and restrictions, and planning ahead to ensure that it’s actually possible to include it on your own Faroes Islands itinerary is absolutely essential. Indeed, even though the Mykines hike was a key part of seven night summer road trip across the Faroe Islands, we very nearly missed out on making it due to a combination of bad luck and bad weather.
From how to get to Mykines from Vagar, issues with cancellations and the weather, and advice on the hiking route, here are five essential things to know before you take a day trip to Mykines.
How to Get to Mykines
As the westernmost island in the Faroes, and with a population numbering barely a few dozen at its highest point in the year, reaching Mykines is not as simple as jumping in your car or waiting for the next bus. Indeed, there are only two ways to get to Mykines and visits are only permitted from May 1st to August 31st.
| The Ferry to Mykines from Sørvágur | There are daily departures from the Sørvágur ferry terminal on the island of Vagar (see location here on Google Maps), at 10.20 a.m. and 16:20 p.m. - the vast majority of visitors will be taking the 10.20 a.m. ferry. Journey time is 45 - 60 minutes depending on conditions, and it also affords you some spectacular perspectives on the islands.
A one-way ticket costs DKK 60 / £7 / €8, DKK 30 / £3.50 / €4 for concessions (children 7-15 years old / adults of 67 years old), and is free for children under 6. The website has a useful counter displaying how much availability remains for each crossing, with maximum capacity being around 90, and remember to also book your return ticket (the daily departure is at 17.05 p.m.)
It really is imperative to book these tickets in advance, but it’s only possible upto fourteen days before the selected travel date. - visit this website to book your ferry to Mykines. The e-mail confirmation can be used as a ticket.
Further information on the #36 timetable for the Sørvágur to Mykines ferry can be found here.
| The Helicopter to Mykines | The only alternative way to reach Mykines is rather exciting, and nowhere near as expensive as you’d expect! Helicopter travel is subsidised on the Faroes and is one of the main ways to reach the more remote, lesser populated islands. Although it is primarily a service for residents, it has firmly established itself as a way for visitors to fly to Mykines from Vagar Airport.
Operated by Atlantic Airways, the Mykines to Vagar helicopter runs 3-4 times a week depending on the season with a journey time approx. 22 mins. Note that booking may only be possible seven days before departure, a helicopter only holds ten passengers, with a one-way ticket priced at 145 DKK / £17 / €19.50 for adults.
Due to the limited options and schedules to get to Mykines from Vagar, it really is essential that you…
...Expect Your Mykines Trip To Be Cancelled
Unfortunately, once you’ve done the hard part of finding and booking your tickets in advance, that doesn’t necessarily mean all will go to plan once you’re actually on the Faroes!
As we’ve mentioned in a few of our posts, this Atlantic archipelago is is often victim to dense fog, gale-force winds, and a heady combination of the two; this can inevitably result in both the Mykines ferry and helicopter being cancelled at short notice.
We were advised of this before we visited, and so included contingency plans when designing our Faroe Islands itinerary. In short, our main advice to you is to try to visit Mykines in the first day or two of your visit, which means that booking your ferry or helicopter ride as far in advance as possible is essential. This way, if a cancellation occurs, then you can at least try to arrange a visit for a later date on your trip.
Of course, with each boat load of cancelled visits, the demand for subsequent days increases on an already popular route. In our case, we were incredibly fortunate that an additional ferry was organised to cater for the dozens of people who had suffered from the cancellations earlier in the week. This doesn’t always happen however, and additional ferry runs to Mykines will only be arranged if the original route is sold out five days before departure and the weather looks good.
So, how do you find out if your Mykines ferry or helicopter ride is cancelled? Checking weather reports the day before will likely manage your expectations, but the majority of cancellations will be made only a few hours before scheduled departures. Your best bet is to therefore ask your hotel / hostel reception early in the morning to check for information, or visit the same websites you used to book your ticket where they will have a status update.
Full refunds are provided if your trip is cancelled due to adverse weather, but this does not provide you with any priority access for boats trips later in the week; essentially, you’re now at the back of the queue. In this case, it’s best to hop back on to the booking sites a.s.a.p to confirm availability and, if everything is fully subscribed, cross your fingers that an additional ferry run will be made available (so make sure to keep checking the ferry booking website).
You Have to Pay a Hiking Fee in Advance
As Mykines is a protected island, visitors in the period of 1st May - 31st August are required to pay a fee for entry and to support the island’s conditions.
This fee must be paid online in advance of your visit, and payment is only possible online at Hiking.fo. The fee is 100 DKK / £12 / €13.50 for adults and 50 DKK / £6 / €6.70 for under 16s, whilst there is no charge for children under 6.
Note that you will be required to show proof of payment at the start point of the Mykines hike trail, so have a copy on your phone or printed.
Prepare for the Mykines Lighthouse Hike Trail
And now on to the fun stuff - seeing thousands of puffins and hiking to one of the most photogenic spots on the Faroe Islands at the Holmur lighthouse.
From the ferry dock point on Mykines, it’s a walk up steep decaying concrete stairs. Take a right to head towards the tiny Mykines village cluster. Before you enter the village proper, you will see a noticeboard on the left hand side and a barely visible trail through a field - this is your start point for the Holmur Lighthouse hike (the lighthouse is also called ‘Mykineshólmur’)
Walk up this trail and you will be met by a local representative who is responsible for checking that you’ve paid the entry fee, and also advising on any issues along the hike route. From this point onwards, it’s a relatively clear route towards the lighthouse but it does involve some slippery rocks, narrow descents, and a relatively treacherous metal and wood bridge over the Atlantic.
On our visit, the first half of the hike was sodden and thick fog restricted our viewing to barely a few metres ahead; this did not restrict our ability to spot puffins however! On a relatively early section of the hike, you will walk through a thin sliver of trail (called ‘í Lamba’) where you will be met by their breeding ground burrows on either side and these hundreds of adorable little critters mooching in the grass, flying overhead, or coming in to land in their hilariously inimitable way. For obvious reasons, you are not able to linger in these sections for long and a local marshall on the route will either hold back or hurry along people to keep numbers at a manageable level.
Due to the fog, which cleared up for the second half of our hike, we were unable to see the Holmur lighthouse in all its photogenic glory - but any of you who have already seen pictures of the most western point of the most westerly island on the Faroes will know how special it can be with the stunning island backdrop.
The entire route will take 2.5 - 3.5 hours, and most abilities should have no issues along it. Good hiking boots, a waterproof, and layers are necessary however.
A little secret we’re happy to share with you is that the entire hiking trail, plus some lesser visited trail on the way back from the lighthouse is marked out on Google Maps, so make sure you download it as an offline map which you can still use your GPS on if required - it’s a great back-up option in case you find yourself off the trail by mistake.
If you are hesitant to visit Mykines independently, then there are a variety of locally-led guided day tours to Mykines available.
Our final surprise on Mykines, after taking a less trodden trail back towards the village, was the village itself. Not only were the more homes and people than we imagined, but this secluded island actually had some of the best cafe + lunch options on the Faroe Islands and even a hostel (Marit's House B&B) . So, ensure that you have enough time after your Mykines hike to warm up with a plate of homemade soup, a coffee, or a Faroese beer in one of the two cafes in the village (they’re right next to each other) with views over several traditional turf roof houses.
And, whatever you do, don’t forget to be down at the ferry pick-up point (the same place where you were dropped off) for the 17.05 p.m. departure back to Vagar!
Respect the Wildlife & Local Community
It should go without saying but, inevitably, there are people who simply do not know how to respect wildlife when they travel.
Mykines is a special place which is gradually opening itself up to the potential of tourism to support those who choose to live here. However, every visitor to this island (and the Faroes in general) has a responsibility to act in a sustainable, respectful manner and to appreciate that your presence in these previously cut-off areas is a relatively new phenomenon.
Stay to the trails which are marked, do not fly your drone (which isn’t permitted), respect the wildlife by giving each bird and animal the distance it deserves and not lingering too long in one spot. Close gates behind you. Keep any litter in on your person until you can find a suitable point to dispose of it in the village or back on Vagar. Respect the homes and privacy of those who live here, no matter how tempting a photo opportunity may be or where your curiosity wishes to lead you.
It’s about protecting a special place for everyone, not putting your own preferences first - if we all keep to that principle, then Mykines and its beautiful puffins will do just fine.