Welcome to Mykines. Home to 9 permanent residents, 4-wheelers for transportation, more puffins than you can imagine and 3 stranded travelers.
Yep, that was us. Marooned on one of the most breathtakingly beautiful and remote islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
There is no denying that Mykines is easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever stepped foot on. Thousands of puffins, unspoiled cliffs and ridges as if designed for hiking and virtually no tourists. It was a dream come true for an adventure and animal lover like myself.
The morning of our day trip out to Mykines we packed a light lunch, rain gear and cameras before driving to Sørvágur to catch the ferry that would take us to the small island that is home to only nine (yes, 9) permanent residents. At least only 9 during our visit. There are only 2 ways of reaching the westernmost island in the Faroes, by ferry or helicopter. And of course, that is all dependent on the weather. It was a bit rainy out, as it had been the few days prior, but we were still hopeful the ferry would depart and take us to the island. We arrived at the Sørvágur harbor, got the news that the ferry was running and purchased our round-trip tickets. Boarding the ferry with about 20 other visitors we were quite surprised that the slow moving ferry we’d expected was in actuality a high-speed boat. The seas were rough, propelling the boat up and over the waves. Fortunately my sister, friend and I do not succumb to sea sickness but if you do, I highly recommend taking dramamine or something similar prior to the journey. What seemed like a long 45 min later, we reached the “harbor” at Mykines.
The harbor is actually a very narrow inlet surrounded by steep, towering cliffs. There is a slab of concrete, which is considered the dock, that the very skilled captain pulls up to so the passengers can jump off. Arriving safely on the island we began our ascent up some concrete stairs towards the small village.
There is a questionable map detailing the path you should take to reach the lighthouse. It is one of those maps where you take a picture for reference and think, “maybe this will become more clear along the way? ”
From the village, we climbed straight up the side of the steep hill to reach the ridge and began our hike towards the lighthouse.
As if on cue, tiny puffin heads popped up from their perches and we peaked our noses over the edge to get a closer look.
Little did we know that by the end of the day we would have seen thousands of puffins, or Lunder in Faroese, all at close range.
It is truly what makes Mykines so special.
We hiked along the upper ridge for quite some time, following the unmarked muddy trail, continuing up and down the mountainous hills.
And always around us were thousands of tiny puffins furiously flapping their wings, diving into the ocean below or gliding into their burrows along the cliffside.
We’ve seen puffins before in Iceland at Borgarfjörður eystri but not like this. Not this many and not this close. We loved it!
After hiking for some time, we reached the small bridge that crosses the North Atlantic and connects Mykines to Mykinesholmur.
This is the only place in the world where you can cross the Atlantic on foot so naturally we had to take loads of pictures on the bridge.
Continuing along the path, we finally reached the lighthouse and decided to stop here to enjoy our lunch.
We stayed for awhile at the end of the island, photographing the steep cliffs that seemed to drop off into the ocean and the puffins and Gannets that were in close view.
Checking the time, we decided we should head back to the village to make sure we were there for when the ferry arrived.
Done with our hike, we wandered around the small village.
There is one café/restaurant, a few available rooms to stay, no roads and no cars.
At our expected departure time we made our way back down to the harbor with the rest of the group. We waited patiently and saw the high-speed ferry boat round the corner only to stop and discontinue its journey towards the dock. Panic set in. After about 45 minutes of bobbing in the ocean, just out of reach, the ferry turned around without us and started heading back to Sørvágur.
We all crowded back inside the small cafe where it was warm and dry as we waited for Katrina to give us further information. Katrina owns the cafe and lives on the island with her family, making up the majority of people who live there. Katrina and her husband informed the group that the ferry would maybe try to return later in the evening if the weather improved. Unfortunately we had used pretty much the remainder of our money, leaving us with 10 cents and a bag of about 15 peanuts. As the evening wore on we realized that the ferry wasn’t coming back. We were stranded on Mykines for the night and between rationing out our 15 peanuts for dinner and scouting out the church benches for potential sleeping arrangements all we could do was hope that the ferry would come in the morning. While most of the others stayed in one of the rooms available for rent, we stayed in cubby hole beds in Katrina’s house since there wasn’t a place where all three of us could stay for 10 cents and she wasn’t going to allow us to freeze sleeping in the church. In the morning we awoke, hopeful that the ferry would arrive that morning to take us back, but alas we received the bad news that the sea was still too rough.
Completely panicked, as we had a flight out of the Faroe Islands and back to Bergen that afternoon, we quickly began making calls to try and get a helicopter there as soon as possible to retrieve us from Mykines.
After many calls and a lot of stress the helicopter finally arrived at around 2:30 in the afternoon giving us about 1 hour to get back, get our car, pack up our apartment and get to the airport. I’m pretty sure that we have never packed so quickly in our lives. Fortunately, we made it to the airport on time, exhausted and still in our muddy clothes.
In retrospect, this was one of our favorite and most entertaining memories from our trip. Also, it was my first time in a helicopter and the views were spectacular so it wasn’t all bad!
However, for the future I would not plan to go to Mykines the day before a flight out of the Faroe Islands. It is also advisable to schedule your visit to Mykines around the pre-scheduled helicopter flights that are less expensive just in case something unexpected happens. We paid €120 per person for the helicopter to pick us all up and we paid by credit card once we arrived at the airport.
It is advisable to carry enough cash on you for dinner and possibly a place to stay. Pack any medications you may need overnight, some extra clothes and chargers for your electronics. The locals informed us that this actually happens quite frequently so just be prepared.
We loved every minute of exploration on the island of Mykines and you will too. You’ll just be better prepared for unforeseen circumstances than we were!
Other things to keep in mind: the weather is temperamental and can change at any moment. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots, hiking pants with waterproof coverings and a rain jacket. Also, pack layers as it may become cooler.
If you are planning on taking the ferry, the schedule can be found here.