Exploring Vágar: Waterfalls, Black Sand Beaches, Lake Sørvágsvatn
The Faroe Islands are a group of 18 islands located between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark and are particularly attractive to hikers and bird watchers. We had the opportunity to explore six out of the 18 islands during our three-day trip to the Faroes, starting with the island of Vágar, which is the westernmost “large” island and where the airport is located. Vágar has a population of around 875. In our first of three posts on the Faroe Islands, I will share with you our adventures exploring Vágar, including waterfalls, black sand beaches, and Lake Sørvágsvatn.
Our original plan was to hike around Lake Sørvágsvatn (also called Lake Leitisvatn), the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, in the morning of our first full day in the Faroes. However, Hope’s flight had been cancelled the night before due to the Lufthansa strike, and she was unable to fly into the Faroes until around 1:00 PM on our first full day there. Thus, we decided to drive around the island and embark on our hike without her, so that we could explore the other islands after she arrived.
8:00 AM. Have breakfast at our cozy hotel next to the airport, Hotel Vágar. You can see the airport from the hotel, and it is less than a ten minute walk from the airport to the hotel. The breakfast came complimentary with our stay and consisted of both hot and cold foods. There was also coffee, tea, milk, and juice. The dining area was large, and if you snag a seat by the window you can get a nice view of the mountains.
8:30 AM. Head out of Hotel Vágar toward Gásadalur along Route 45. If you turn left onto the main road from the airport or Hotel Vágar, you’ll be on Route 45 heading in the right direction. We wanted to check out Gásadalur because there is a waterfall there that looks quite breathtaking. However, the weather that morning was overcast, rainy, and extremely foggy, and we weren’t able to see the waterfall when we arrived there. We would have stayed and waited a bit since the weather fluctuates so frequently, but we were on a tight schedule and needed to head back to Sørvágur, where our hike would begin. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a scenic drive full of waterfalls and the most beautiful gloomy views.
Along the way, we also stopped in a village called Bøur. It’s a mere 4 km west of Sørvágur, where the airport is located, and has a population of 75. It was a cute little village with many houses sporting the characteristic Faroese grass roofs, and there was even a waterfall running through town.
10:00 AM. Our drive from Sørvágur to Gásadalur and back took longer than we expected since we stopped so frequently for photos, and we didn’t arrive back at Hotel Vágar until almost 10:00 AM. We quickly packed our bags, loaded them into the car, checked out of the hotel, and headed toward our hike around Lake Sørvágsvatn. It took us a while to find the starting point of the hike because I wasn’t able to find much information on an exact starting location during my pre-trip research, so we drove almost all the way to Sandavágur before we decided to turn around and ask for directions at a local supermarket. The silver lining is that we discovered a beautiful black sand beach and some more breathtaking views along the way.
There were hardly any cars on the road, so we were able to stop alongside the road frequently and take photos without worry. At certain parts, the road seems like a one lane road, but there are recessed areas at certain points along the road that allow passing of cars driving in the opposite direction.
Finally, we got some directions from a kind lady at a local supermarket for how to reach the start of our hike. Here is a map that shows exactly where the hike begins and where you can park your car if you’re driving. The start of the hike is only about a 3 minute drive from the airport, or a 20-25 minute walk.
11:00 AM. We finally start our hike. As you can see from the map above, the pin is set on Lake Sørvágsvatn. The starting point of the hike is where the white dot is, around the area where Route 11 curves south. There is no designated parking area or signs, but around that area, you will find some houses along the lake with grass roofs and lights along the roofs in the winter, and there is a small dirt/gravel road you can drive down and leave your car there while you hike. From there, you’ll be walking south along the lake. Ultimately, you want to end up at the southernmost tip of the lake where the land from both sides of the lake connects. Please take note that the weather can be extremely unpredictable in the Faroe Islands, especially in the winter months, so if it is particularly windy that day, it is ill-advised to attempt to reach the tip as it will be very easy for you to get blown into the water and sacrifice your life. As it was a particularly blustery day when we attempted this hike, we decided to turn back before we reached the end.
After parking your car, walk east a bit where you will encounter the start of the hike. Although it appears that the trail is blocked off from the road by a barbed wire fence, there is a small wooden gate through which you can enter near the area where you’ll park your car. If you walk around a bit, you will find it.
After you walk down the path a short time, you’ll come across a little house. We didn’t go inside or investigate too much since we didn’t know what was in there, but from a cursory glance through the windows, it appeared to have beds of some sort inside. The area seemed secluded, though, so I’m not sure our observations are correct.
The trail runs along the lake and at times you’ll have to jump across some waterfalls or walk across some rocks, so hiking shoes are recommended. The hike is mainly flat, however, so it’s relatively easy. Depending how fast you walk, you may want to reserve one hour each way for this hike, plus another 30 minutes to one hour accounting for time spent taking photos. We only hiked for two hours total since we turned back before we reached the end.
Here are some more photos from our hike:
1:00 PM. We arrive back at our car and head to the airport to await Hope’s arrival at 1:25 PM. We grab a quick bite to eat from the airport cafe, which has some tasty sandwiches and coffee. After Hope arrives, we head out of Vágar toward the neighboring island of Streymoy, where the tallest waterfall in the Faroe Islands is located.