Monday, 30 October 2017

Faroe Islands (Føroya)

The Faroe Islands are an archipelago of 18 islands in the north Atlantic.  Although they are under Danish sovereignty, the islands are self-governing.  Unlike Denmark, they fall outside the European Union.  The islands are home to around 50,000 people.

An integrated network of bus and ferry services forms the main public transport service on and between the Faroe Islands.  These services are centred on the islands' capital, Tórshavn. 

At least two municipalities, Tórshavn and Klaksvík, also have their own local bus services.

The local networks

Tórshavn municipality is home to around 19,000 people.  The local bus network comprises five routes.  These are operated with single-deck vehicles carrying a red and off-white colour scheme.  All have two sets of doors.

Routes 1, 2 and 3 operate every 20 minutes during the daytime on Mondays to Fridays, with hourly services operating in the evenings.  On Saturdays, an hourly service operates between around 10:00 and 15:30.

There is no service during the late afternoon or evening on Saturdays, and buses do not run on Sundays.



The buses I noticed on route 1 had anti-glare tinting at the top of the windscreen.  Unfortunately this made the route and destination display less visible.


Routes 4 and 5 extend beyond the city of Tórshavn some distance into the surrounding area, which is still within the municipal boundary.  

These routes operate less frequently, with no service on Saturdays or Sundays.


I found a larger single-deck bus in use on route 4.

The focal point for Tórshavn's local bus services is Steinatún in the centre of town, a few minutes' walk from the port and harbour.

These services operate free of charge, to encourage Tórshavn's residents to leave their cars at home.

Information about Tórshavn's local bus network is available on the municipality's website

Klaksvík, a town of 5,000 residents in the north east of the Faroe Islands, also has town buses which operate free of charge.

Yellow vehicles are operated on three routes, all of which operate only on Mondays to Fridays.

I found a single-decker with three sets of doors operating on route 1.  This service runs every half-hour during the daytimes, and hourly in the evenings.

A minibus was operating on routes 2 and 3.  Each route generally runs hourly during the daytime, every 2 hours in the evening.

The minibus was in between trips when I photographed it.

Information about Klaksvík's town bus services is available (in Faroese) on the municipality's website - click on the link for "Bussleiðin".

The national network

The Faroese national network of bus and ferry services is provided by  Strandfaraskip Landsins (SSL).  Buses on the SSL network carry a blue livery.

The bus terminus at Tórshavn is alongside the ferry terminal.


Coaches are used on the two principal services, both of which head northwards out of Tórshavn.

Route 300 heads north-westwards to Sørvágur, while route 400 links Tórshavn with Klaksvík to the north-east.  Both routes pass through tunnels under the sea, which connect the larger islands.

A third service operating northwards out of Tórshavn is route 100, linking the capital with the town of Vestmanna.

Most journeys do not operate into Tórshavn itself, instead connecting with route 300 at an isolated interchange point some distance out of the capital.

However, two journeys per day do reach Tórshavn.

The fourth SSL bus route serving Tórshavn is the 101, which heads south-westwards to Gamlarætt.

A single-deck bus with two sets of doors was the regular vehicle on route 101 when I visited the Faroe Islands, in July 2017.


Two SSL ferry services operate into and out of Tórshavn.  These ferries carry motor vehicles as well as foot passengers.

The ferry services are numbered.  Route 90 makes the short crossing from Tórshavn to the island of Nólsoy.

Ferry route 7 links Tórshavn with Suðuroy, the southernmost of the Faroe Islands.  A larger vessel is used on this voyage, which takes two hours.

The network includes a number of bus services which do not reach Tórshavn.

Some of the bus services connect with route 400, either at isolated interchange points or in Klaksvík, enabling passengers to make journeys to or from Tórshavn. 

Others operate on the islands which do not have road connections to Tórshavn.

I found minibuses in use on those services which I saw.



On the islands which are not linked by road to Tórshavn, minibuses connect with ferries.

The timetables are well-coordinated, and the interchanges are easy.

These images were taken at Skopun, on the island of Sandoy.

While two of inter-island ferries sail from Tórshavn, ferry route 60 from Skopun is one of several SSL ferries which does not reach the capital directly.  

Ferry 60 from Skopun is one of two routes which connects with bus route 101 at Gamlarætt.

Other ferries connect with buses at several other locations around the Faroe Islands, such as at Klaksvík.

Some of these ferries carry motor vehicles, but not all do.

To and from the airport

The Faroe Islands' airport is on the island of Vágar, some distance from Tórshavn.  Route 300 links the airport to the capital up to 10 times a day.

Buses are timed to connect with flights provided by Atlantic Airways, the Faroese national carrier.

SSL fares

Fares on SSL bus routes are based on a zonal system.  Tickets can be bought when boarding the bus.  However, although bus and ferry timetables are coordinated, there is no through ticketing for single journeys.  Separate tickets must be bought for ferry journeys.

SSL offer 4- and 7-day travel cards offering unlimited travel on the bus services, and on all but one of the ferries (the exception is the ferry to the island of Mykines).

The travel cards can be bought at the airport and Tórshavn bus terminal.  They are electronic smart cards, which are activated on boarding the first bus or ferry.

At the time of writing, the cost of the travel card is 500 DKK for 4 days, or 700 DKK for 7 days.  Child travel cards are half price.

Ships from abroad

While Atlantic Airways provides connections into the Faroe Islands by air, it is also possible to arrive by sea.

Smyril Line sails weekly (twice a week in the summer months) from Hirsthals in Denmark, and weekly throughout the year from Seyðisfjörður on Iceland's east coast.

Cruise ships, such as this one (below), also call in to Tórshavn on occasions.

The large numbers of tourists brought in by the cruise ships provides work for the Faroese bus and coach companies.



Further reading

More detailed information about the bus operations on the Faroe Islands, including a considerable amount of historical information, can be found on the Countrybus website.

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