The Faroe Islands Will “Close” Again to All but 80 Volunteers—and You Could Be Among Them

Applications for the “Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism” project on the remote archipelago open on January 9, 2024.

Aerial view of black-sand beach and village of Tjørnuvík in the Faroe Islands with green mountains behind

In 2024, volunteers will work on projects like making the path to the black-sand beach in the village of Tjørnuvík accessible to those who use wheelchairs and strollers.

Courtesy of Georgi Kalaydzhiev on Unsplash

The Faroe Islands are famously home to more sheep than people. And in 2022, 100,000 foreign tourists visited the remote island archipelago southeast of Iceland, outnumbering the roughly 53,000 full-time Faroese. So it’s no surprise that the government is more concerned about the overpopulation of tourists than sheep.

To ensure tourism remains as sustainable as possible, the Faroe Islands is once again closing some of its most popular sites from May 2 to 4, 2024, to all but 80 voluntourists. In exchange for their work on various maintenance projects, they will receive free local accommodation and food.

Since launching the pilot Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism project in 2019, more than 400 volunteers from 40 countries have completed 36 projects across 10 islands.

“The program serves as the primary driver for constructing paths, viewpoints, and other facilities that are crucial in maintaining the islands’ beauty. In this way, we ensure we are always one step ahead in preserving the environment,” said Jóhan Pauli Helgason, development manager at Visit Faroe Islands. “We are proud of the program’s message, which aligns with the growing trend of responsible travel and giving people a chance to give something back when traveling.”

How to apply

Starting at 11 a.m. GMT on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, aspiring volunteers have 48 hours to register their personal information at After the signup window closes on January 11, 2024, at 11 a.m. GMT, 50 people will be randomly chosen from those who signed up and 30 will be selected based on relevant experience that matches up with the 2024 projects. With more than 13,000 people applying to the program since it launched in 2019, the program’s acceptance rate is roughly 3 percent—about the same as getting into Harvard.

Visit Faroe Islands will contact those 80 lucky people by email on January 24, 2024, with a personal promo code to book a flight to the Faroe Islands on Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands. While volunteers will have to pay for their own flights, the promo code will give them a discount. For reference, round-trip tickets from Copenhagen to the Faroe Islands with the discount is expected to be approximately 2,500 Danish kroner (US$367). If any of those people don’t book flights within 48 hours of receiving the email, another person will be randomly chosen to join the maintenance crew until all 80 slots are filled.

Volunteers will need to be able to walk on uneven terrain and will be expected to use tools like hammers, wheelbarrows, and shovels during the projects, but no special skills are necessary to participate. However, volunteers must be least 18 before the first workday and will need to be available for three full days of work between May 2 and 4, 2024, so they have to arrive by at least May 1 and leave on or after May 5 to participate. Volunteers are welcome to travel around the country on their own before and after the official program dates, as well.

In addition to the Atlantic Airways flight, volunteers will also be responsible for paying their own fare to a city that Atlantic Airways serves, which include Copenhagen, Paris, Edinburgh, Oslo, and Reykjavík in May 2024. At press time, a Google Flights search shows that nonstop flights on Scandinavian Airlines from New York to Copenhagen during the week of the volunteer program start in the mid-$400s.

Green Mykines Island in the Faroe Islands, with short white lighthouse

During the 2019 pilot program, volunteers built a new route to the puffin colonies on Mykines Island.

Photo by Shutterstock

What the volunteers will do

Those who secure a spot on the upcoming 2024 trip will participate in one of eight different projects throughout the islands. For example, volunteers could help make the path to the black-sand beach in Tjørnuvík accessible to those who use wheelchairs and strollers. Other projects include patching up the ancient village path and building a bridge between the villages of Fuglafjørður to Kambsdalur and installing signage and repairing a walking path to a viewpoint overlooking the town of Vágur, on the island of Suðuroy.

In previous years, volunteers have also worked at places like Slættaratindur, the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands, to help make the last stretch of the hike safer for climbers. They’ve also built new paths for hikers and expanded the infrastructure and signage at popular destinations like the “hanging lake” in Miðvágur and the island of Mykines, where it’s possible to visit puffin colonies.

Those chosen for the 2024 program can also look forward to learning about Faroese culture while working alongside local volunteers and project leaders with a 50/50 foreigners to locals ratio on each maintenance crew.

This article originally appeared online in 2019; it was updated most recently on January 8, 2024, to include current information.

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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