Looking for the best things to do in Torshavn, plus ideas on where to stay and eat or just some pretty pictures? The we’ve got you covered in our short guide to the capital of the Faroe Islands.
Internationally recognised local designers, hipster bars, independent record labels, and world-class cuisine.
For a city of just 14,000 people (and officially one of the smallest capitals in the world), Torshavn punches well above its weight.
Whether you choose to make Torshavn a base for all your Faroese adventures, or simply pass through it in search of supplies and company, a stop here is an essential part of every visitor’s itinerary.
Here’s our personal guide to Torshavn to ensure you make the most of your visit.
Is Torshavn the Smallest Capital in Europe?
Despite what some people in the Faroes, and other articles online may tell you, Torshavn is not the smallest capital in Europe or the world. It’s certainly in the top 20 of the world’s smallest capital cities both by population and size however - as well as home to three out of the four sets of traffic lights on the Faroe Islands!.
This means that for every visitor, it’s very easy to become deeply acquainted with a lot of Torshavn over the space of a stress-free morning or afternoon.
Things to do in Torshavn
| Get a really good cup of coffee.
Our very favourite spot is Brell Cafe, a third-wave coffee shop that roasts its own beans and wouldn’t be out of place in Copenhagen (it’s also got a small deli selling various fancy meats, cheeses, and Fevertree products), but Paname Café is a fine second choice - especially on a chilly afternoon and combined with a mooch around the adjoining bookshop
| Go shopping.
For fans of Nordic noir, the jumper worn by Sarah Lund in The Killing is perhaps more famous than the show itself. What many didn’t realise however was it was made in the Faroe Islands - or more specifically by Gudrun & Gudrun, a local fashion label that is the leading name in Europe for the type of woollen knits the Faroese have been wearing out of necessity for centuries.
Predictably, they have a lovely little store in Torshavn overflowing with the sort of wonderful jumpers that make you crave the very worst of Faroese weather. Be aware that the price tag reflects how highly the brand and their products are regarded by fashionistas internationally, but this is likely the cheapest place to find one anywhere!
| Discover the local music scene - and take some home with you.
For such a tiny collection of islands, the Faroes has quite the music scene. From traditional fishing songs, to artists reminiscent (at least to our ears) of the Icelandic Sigur Rós plus a fascinatingly good old school blues and country scene (which provided our roadtrip soundtrack); it took us by surprise. Most has been recorded on the local label TUTL, which is “the number one record label and music hub on the Faroe Islands” and collectively owned by musicians and composers.
To further your education, and gain some unique insights into local culture, we’d recommend a trip to their very own music store in Torshavn for a good riffle through the vast collection of Faroese and international artists on both CD and vinyl. Conveniently, it’s only a few doors down on the same road as Gudrun & Gudrun (Niels Finsensgøta)
| Try to score a bargain.
As much as we would have loved to have bought five jumpers each from Gudrun & Gudrun, they are most definitely not cheap - even by Faroese standards. The good news for those bargain hunters amongst you then is that Tórshavn is not without its fair share of charity shops where you may be able to find a pre-loved woollen gem.
Our favourite was the Red Cross store; both the tiny book store (where 50p in the honesty box can get you pretty much anything, in any language) and the clothes store. Do note that whilst the entrance to the book shop is easy to find in the pretty port, you need to go round the back of the building for the clothing section (which is open for quite limited hours during the week)
A final clothing spot to pay a visit to whilst in Torshavn is Marjun Heimá (14 Niels Finsens gøta), which houses exceptional examples of the traditional Faroese clothing which thousands of the islands inhabitants wear during the annual Ólavsøka celebrations on the streets of Torshavn on July 29th.
| Check out the gallery
One of the world’s last remaining lithographic workshops can be found right here in Torshavn. Steinprent, run by lithograph Jan Andersson and graphic designer Frida Matras Brekku, is an absolute must for art lovers. There’s a small gallery downstairs for artists to display their work but it’s not uncommon for visitors to be given a sneaky-peek upstairs in the workshop, so be sure to ask if there’s anyone about. Don’t miss the interesting Öström next door, a local Faroese design shop which is perfect for some handcrafted and unique gifts or souvenirs.
| Explore the port.
Even on a gloomy day (the Faroes do tend to get a few of these), Torshavn’s harbours (there’s two of them, but they’re super close to each other) are quite beautiful. Picture-book boats bob in still waters, perfect images reflecting back; the brightly colourful buildings reminiscent of Nyhavn in Copenhagen, albeit on a much smaller scale. If it’s a warm day, take a seat at one of the tables that line the water’s edge, or in chillier weather wrap up tight and stroll until you need to defrost with a hot chocolate.
| Wander through the old town and visit Tinganes
Being one of Europe’s smallest capital cities and all, Torshavn doesn’t have a whole lot of ‘old town’, but what it does have is exceptional. Just a few minutes’ walk from the harbour are around two dozen 14th century black-tarred wooden houses with white-framed windows, grass roofs and the cutest little gardens; it’s little surprise that some of the citiy’s most popular Airbnbs are located here.
Within this area, it’s highly recommend to take a closer look at one of the world’s oldest (and almost certainly, prettiest) parliament buildings, located on the small spit of land that separates the east and west sides of Torshavn’s harbour. Or, as it’s known out here, Tinganes.
This small collection of red wooden houses that have been in use since 825 AD, when the ting (original parliament) would meet every summer to resolve conflicts. The Løgting (local parliament) has since moved to the north of the city, but government employees still to this day occupy this ancient slither of earth.
For more information on things to do in Torshavn, be sure to pop by the local tourist information centre located at Niels Finsens gøta (the main shopping street).
Where to Eat and Drink in Torshavn
As we’ve mentioned earlier, restaurants are few and far between on the Faroes - with the exception of Torshavn. Whilst this doesn’t mean that eating out in restaurants is any cheaper than elsewhere on the islands, it does mean there’s a lot more choice (especially for vegetarians).
Here’s our pick of the best Torshavn restaurants.
Sirkus | This hipster-hangout is one of the few restaurants in town that caters specifically for vegetarians/vegans (just stress the importance of your meal not containing meat - we did have a couple of issues) and would be our first recommendation to fellow travellers looking to hang out with a drink and some reliably good, affordable eats.
Tórshavn nightlife never fully ‘goes off’ but this is the best spot to catch a local band and drink til late with interesting people in a friendly atmosphere. Sirkus also has an excellent craft beer bar downstairs run by a friendly Dane!
Smyrjibreydsbudin | Reasonably priced (good) ramen soup. Need we say more? The restaurant whose name we will never be able to pronounce correctly also specialises in delicious open-faced sandwiches - the perfect lunch spot.
Katrina Christiansen | It’s not budget-friendly, but this Faroese ‘tapas’ restaurant, housed in a beautiful building from the 1700s is just lovely - and raved about.
Pizza King | Obviously, this isn’t going to win any pizza of the year awards, but this fast-food restaurant is one of the cheapest places to eat in town, has a few veggie options, and actually tastes pretty damn good. A budget choice winner!
Mikkeller | Cosy environment, good vibes, friendly staff and excellent craft beers. Lots to try so consider ordering a flight.
Umami | Light bites including good wraps and tasty soups, very veggie friendly and lovely views of the harbour. Definitely a good lunch spot.
If you are on a budget, prefer to cook at home, or want to stock up on some products before your road trip, then the FK supermarket in the city centre (64 Doktara Jakobsens gøta) was home to the best range of food (including lots of vegetarian/vegan options) that we found on the Faroe Islands.
Where to Stay in Torshavn
As one would expect from a capital city, even a tiny one, Torshavn has many accommodation options. Tourism hasn’t yet exploded in the Faroes, but the accommodation available gets booked up quickly and last minute reservations can be difficult to source - so the trick is to book early once you know your dates.
Hotels in Torshavn
Hotel Føroyar | Located a little outside of the city centre (making a car necessary in our view), this hotel boasts stunning views over the Torshavn and despite its relatively large size, its traditional grass roofs make it clear you’re in the Faroe Islands. Open for many years, it’s established as a long-standing popular choice in town - it’s also where we stayed for a couple of nights and we can happily recommend it. To find out more and check availability and prices, click here.
Havgrim Seaside Hotel 1948 | With a great location close to central Torshavn, this charming boutique hotel has proven very popular since its opening earlier this year. Amazing sea views, good breakfast, helpful staff and lovely rooms. To find out more and check availability and prices, click here.
Hostels in Torshavn
Bládýpi Guesthouse | There’s only one hostel in Torshavn (at the time of writing) - and it’s actually rather nice. Comfortable bedrooms, a good shared kitchen, and large dining room. The staff are also very helpful. To find out more and check availability and prices, click here.
Airbnbs in Torshavn
Airbnbs are a really great choice for those travelling to the Faroes on a bit of a budget, providing the option to cook for yourself rather than eat out in pricey restaurants (and means that vegetarians will be able to eat much more easily). There are quite a number in the capital city, varying from £60 a night to, well, considerably more. Here are our picks for couples staying in Torshavn:
One | Looking for an authentic Faroese experience? This cute grass-roofed property in the centre of the city is perfect. In fact, we’re pretty sure we found ourselves staring longingly at this very one!
Two | A 10 minute walk from town, this clean, relatively modern apartment with all necessary amenities is incredibly good value, for as little as £60 a night.
Three | Small but perfectly formed with plenty of Danish style features.
Four | Cosy, scandic and wonderfully designed - if you want to stay here you’ll need to book very very early.
Travelling in a larger group or got a bit more money to burn? There’s a number of other options.
Getting To and Around Torshavn
There is no such thing as ‘Torshavn Airport’. Instead, you will need to fly into the Faroes’ only airport, located across the bridge on the neighbouring island of Vágar. Getting to Torshavn from here is dependent upon you choice of transport:
Taxi | This can booked in advance, and charges 200 DK per person (up to three persons) with discounts for larger groups. Find out more information here.
Public Bus | There is a local bus that travels between the airport and Tórshavn multiple times per day, with the first bus departing at 7.55 a.m. and the last bus at 20.30 p.m. Journey time is around an hour and further information, including prices, can be found here.
Car Hire | The Faroes are made for a road trip, and so we’d argue that if you are able to drive and have the time, then go for this option! There are a number of car rental companies, but the most popular by far is 62N which has an office at the airport.
Getting around Torshavn is very easy, with all sites within walking distance of the city centre. Should you be staying at one of the accommodations a little further out of town, you can either drive and find parking in town or take one of the local Tórshavn municipality buses which are free to everyone!