(GJOGV, FAROE ISLANDS) — Most travelers know about Iceland, with its scenery that varies from stark lunar mountains to hot springs and geysers. In a country roughly the size of Ohio you discover dazzling landscapes — and a vibrant cultural and nightlife.
But a little farther east, in the North Atlantic Gulf Stream, lies a remote cluster of Nordic islands known as the Faroes, virtually unknown to North Americans. Â This archipelago boasts towering volcanic mountains, waterfalls that cascade from cliffs directly into the sea, paintbox houses, and only 50,000 inhabitants.
Both Iceland and the Faroes were settled over a thousand years ago by the Vikings. Â This summer, there's a new tour program that offers a full week in the islands of the Viking settlers "“ four days in the Faroe Islands and three days in Iceland, with enough time for a side trip to Greenland, if you wish.
The program is from The Great Canadian Travel Company, North America's foremost experts in travel to some of the world's least-traveled regions. Â With departures every Monday from June through August, the weeklong "Iceland with the Faroe Islands" tour is priced at $2189 per person. Â Included are round trip airfare between Iceland and the Faroes, four night accommodation in the Faroes and three nights in Iceland, car rental in the Faroe Islands and a full day tour in Iceland.
The Faroe Islands are a self-governing region of Denmark, with its own parliament and flag. Â Faroese is the national language and is rooted in Old Norse. The climate is surprisingly moderate, with average high summer temperatures in the 70 degree range (20 degrees C).Â On the tour, you travel first to the Faroes, arriving on Monday afternoon. Â Upon arrival, you pick up your car and overnight at the Vagar Hotel. The afternoon is free to explore this lovely part of the Faroes, or simply relax in the hotel.
The next day, you drive to the island of Stremoy and cross "The Bridge Over the Atlantic" to the island of Eysturoy. Â Accommodations are at the modern Gjaargardur Guesthouse in the tiny seaside hamlet of Gjogv, population 36.
The next two days will be yours to explore the islands at leisure. Â The atmosphere changes from one island and one village to the next "“ it's a whole society with its own history, its own language and its own culture. Â Head north past Klaksvik to the rugged headlands at Vidareidi, visit the old church at Â Kirkjuboreyn, wander through the Old Town of the capital city of Torshavn and enjoy the atmosphere of these unspoiled islands.
On Friday, you fly to Iceland and transfer to your hotel in the center of Reykjavik for a three-night stay. Â On Saturday, a full day "Golden Circle Tour" is included "“ a journey to the iconic sights of Iceland. Â On Sunday, there is a free day to explore the city, or perhaps take another optional day tour — whale watching, horseback riding, waterfalls or hiking, before your return flight to North America the next day.