Flightseeing the Faroe Islands by helicopter


The Atlantic Airways helicopter on the pad in Frodba at the end of the run.
The Atlantic Airways helicopter on the pad in Frodba at the end of the run.

Isolation is part of the appeal for the Faroe Islands. The archipelago of 18 islands sits some 200 miles off the coast of Scotland and roughly equidistant from Norway and Iceland, spread across 540 square miles of the North Atlantic Ocean. Nearly 80% of the population is connected by a network of roads and tunnels, mostly built in the past decade. Connecting to the rest of the country involves either ferry service or, even better, flying on the regularly scheduled helicopter service that serves as a lifeline to the smaller islands. And, thanks to the Danish government, those flights are heavily subsidized, making it a great way to explore the country on a short visit.

Officially the helicopter is not supposed to be used by tourists for round-trip flights. It is not 100% clear how well enforced that rule is but we chose to not press our luck, instead building an itinerary that combined a helicopter ride to Frodba on the southern island of Suduroy and a ferry return. We scheduled enough time for lunch and hiking making it in to a full day of exploring. And it was spectacular!

Spectacular views of the Faroe Islands from the Atlantic Airways helicopter, even (or especially) on a cloudy day.
Spectacular views of the Faroe Islands from the Atlantic Airways helicopter, even (or especially) on a cloudy day.
Views like this only come when touring the Faroe Islands via helicopter
Views like this only come when touring the Faroe Islands via helicopter

Ship OY-HIH is an Augusta Westland 139 fitted to carry 15 passengers. On a full flight that would translate into a tight squeeze; fortunately for us only seven were flying our day so window seats were easy to come by and space was plentiful. Our routing was advertised as two stops from Tórshavn, hitting the small islands of Skúvoy and Dímun en route to Froðba. No one booked the Skuvoy stop so we over-flew it, going straight to Dimun.

Actually, we probably adjacent-flew it as we stayed rather low for the entire trip, below the clouds that were hovering in the area. Eventually we circled around and landed, dropping off four of the passengers and all sorts of cargo on the tiny island that otherwise has no transportation connection to the outside world.

Loading the cargo for today's helicopter trip to Dimun and Frodba in the Faroe Islands
Loading the cargo for today’s helicopter trip to Dimun and Frodba in the Faroe Islands

The second hop was much shorter but still offered stunning views of the islands and the sea. And then, some 30 minutes after we left Torshavn, we set down on Frodba. The return ferry trip (from TVØROYRI) took just under two hours and, while it was a beautiful ride, not nearly as much fun as flying in the helicopter. Also, the ferry terminal is actually on the other side of the inlet from the town of Tvoroyri, about 15-20 minutes walking.

Great black sand beach view from above
Great black sand beach view from above

Online booking with Atlantic Airways is relatively easy, with the caveat that it does not open particularly far in advance. The Frodba route only offers a 7-day advance booking window. But for ~$35 per person one way it is a spectacular way to see more of the islands very quickly and rather inexpensively.

One of the many enclaves dotting the coast of the Faroe Islands
One of the many enclaves dotting the coast of the Faroe Islands

 

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

4 Comments

  1. Wow! Amazing pics and video. Since I first heard of the Faroe Islands some years back, I’ve been wanting to go, but to get there would take probably a 24-hr day… (I’m in California). I’m going to make it there. One day. Thanks for sharing.

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