Visit Tórshavn: Bright lights, little city
TEXT: KAREN GILMOUR KRISTENSEN | PHOTOS: ÓLAVUR FREDERIKSEN, @FAROEPHOTO
Despite being one of the smallest capitals in the world, Tórshavn is rapidly becoming a must-see destination. With a population of just 20,000 people, the Faroese capital has always offered a big welcome to visitors, especially in the summer months. Now, many more are discovering its delights all year round.
In recent years, Visit Tórshavn has branded the city as an ideal Christmas destination. “Tórshavn is a small city with turf-roofed houses, small alleys and an intimate atmosphere,” says director Liljan Weihe.
During winter, it gets dark very early, so officials have boosted the scene with vibrant displays of Christmas lights. This year’s switch-on happened on 7 November. This is part of a special focus on what they call ‘the experience economy’ – the serious business of enabling visitors and locals to have fun.
Evidently, these efforts have paid off. Normally focusing on the peak months of June, July and August, this year Visit Tórshavn successfully extended the main tourist season, stretching it from May until late October, for the benefit of both tourists and residents. “If living here is attractive, visiting is attractive as well,” says Weihe.
A rapid population growth shows just how attractive it is to live on the Faroe Islands. Many young islanders who studied abroad are now returning. According to Weihe, expanding the experience economy is playing its part in this trend. “When I moved to Denmark as an 18-year-old, I wasn’t sure if I would come back as there wasn’t much to do here,” she says. “But suddenly, we have a flourishing culture and food scene.”
Their enticing eateries are the pride and joy of the Faroe Islands. Using local produce has made Faroese cuisine world famous and earned one restaurant in Tórshavn, Koks, two Michelin stars. “It’s incredible that one of the world’s best restaurants is situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,” Weihe remarks. “Everywhere else seems far away. They use local produce because it’s some of the best produce in the world.”
Along with the cuisine, Faroese nature captivates visitors. “Many find our powerful nature both life-affirming and overwhelming,” Weihe says. “Since the coronavirus, I think a lot of people want to get outside, into the fresh air. Here in the Faroe Islands, you can find peace and tranquillity walking in the mountains. Even in the centre of Tórshavn there’s still plenty of air, as the city is never overcrowded.”
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