As if straight out of a fairytale, the Faroe Islands' largest lake appears to be one of the most magical sights on Earth. Due to its unique position, Lake Sørvágsvatn seems to hang over the ocean beneath it—making it one of nature's most clever optical illusions.
With an elongated shape and a remarkable position atop a rocky precipice over the Atlantic Ocean, the 3.4-square-kilometer (1.31-square-mile) floating lake, when viewed from a particular angle, tricks the eye into believing that it's hundreds of meters above sea level. However, in reality, it's only 30 meters (98 feet) above sea level.
Curious visitors from all over the world flock to the Faroe Islands to see this spectacular sight firsthand. As detailed in official guides, to get there, one must first travel to Vágar Island. After setting out from the village of Miðvágur, take a one-hour hike up to the Trælanípa cliff viewpoint, from which the lake appears to hang suspended above the sea.
Apart from the scenic views of the lake, people are also stunned to see the Bøsdalafossur waterfall, which rushes noisily down into the ocean from the s-shaped lake.
Rich in rugged natural beauty, the Faroe Islands instill pride in those who live there. There is ongoing contention over what the lake ought to be called, with inhabitants of the northwest shore calling it Sørvágsvatn, and settlers on the southeast side calling it Leitisvatn.
There are more sheep than people living in the Faroe Islands which has a population of just 54,600 people, According to the 2023 census–there are 70,000 sheep. Also, there are no trees except for some imported species growing in plantations—strong winds and cool summers create conditions unfavorable for their growth. However, the grass covering the archipelago is lush and emerald green.
Formed by volcanic activity, the cluster of 18 little islands lies between Scotland, Norway, and Iceland, and exists as a self-governing region under the external sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark.
In 2016, the local tourism board teamed up with Google Maps to capture street view imagery by strapping solar-powered cameras onto the backs of roaming sheep. However, the project didn’t end there; using special loaned cameras, residents and tourists continued to collect imagery via "bikes, backpacks, cars, kayaks, horses, ships and even wheelbarrows."
The traditional way of life is deeply rooted in the Faroes. You have more chance of seeing the northern lights than spotting someone eating a Big Mac, as the place is just one of a handful in Europe not to have a McDonald’s. In winter Lake Sørvágsvatn freezes, making it a popular destination for ice fishing.
Anna Mason is a writer based in England. She majored in literature and specializes in human interest, travel, lifestyle and content marketing. Anna enjoys storytelling, adventures, the Balearic sunshine and the Yorkshire rain.