Best time to visit Faroe Islands

Tradition or Savagery? Grindadráp! in Faroe Islands

The national hunting and eating of the pilot whales for many people may seem an oddity, but for Faroese this has been a long time tradition

Best time: June–October

Tradition or Savagery? Grindadráp!
Tradition or Savagery? Grindadráp!
Tradition or Savagery? Grindadráp!

The people of Faroe Islands take it very seriously when it comes to whaling. Not only has it always been a tradition, but also at a certain time—a survival necessity. In modern times, when the whale meat can be altered with other food supply and is said to contain dangerous amounts of mercury, it has become a subject of the worldwide discussion between those pro and against.

The event happens whenever a group of whales swims near the archipelago and is noticed by the islanders. From that moment on, it becomes something that puts the 50,000 Faroese inhabitants into the state of frenzy​. Most of the men rapidly turn into hunters, who, while using a traditional hook to cut the whales open, turn the bay waters into red. These big marine mammals with large foreheads are then specially cooked and distributed non-commercially to all the islanders. So if you are there at that time, you might be able to judge whether this is a righteous and tasty tradition that connects the nation to its cultural heritage or just another cruel leftover from the ancient past that should fade away.

Grindadráp can be practiced only on the authorized beaches. There are about 20 towns, villages or bays across the Faroe Islands that have the proper conditions and authorization for beaching whales—Bøur, Fuglafjørður, Húsavík, Klaksvík, Norðragøta, and Tjørnuvík, just to name a few.

Practical info

When is it possible to observe Grindadráp in Faroe Islands?

From June to October, observers can witness the Grindadráp in Faroe Islands. However, this event is unpredictable due to the migration routes of the whales. The sightings depend purely on luck and chance, but it is during these months that the probability of sighting a group of Pilot whales near the islands is relatively higher. Show more

Which areas are sanctioned for Grindadráp in Faroe Island?

Around 20 villages, towns, and bays across the Faroe Islands have been designated to hold the Grindadráp ritual. These areas, including Klaksvík, Norðragøta, Fuglafjørður, Tjørnuvík, Bøur, and Húsavík, have been carefully chosen based on the natural terrain and safe space for hunters. Only the approved beaches can be used to carry out the Grindadráp ritual. Show more

What are the reasons behind Grindadráp's cultural significance in Faroe Island?

Practiced for over a thousand years, Grindadráp is considered a vital tradition in the cultural and historical heritage of the Faroe Islands. The practice stems from the days when the population relied on whale meat for sustenance due to limited agricultural resources. Hunting whales also served as a rite of passage for young men in these challenging territories. Show more

What are the steps involved in hunting and cooking whales in Grindadráp?

In Grindadráp, hunters use traditional hooks to slaughter the whales in shallow waters near the coastlines of the designated beaches. After the hunt, the meat of the whales is shared among the islanders on a non-commercial basis. Each family receives a portion while the remaining whale meat is preserved for winters. The Faroese follow traditional family recipes to cook the meat, and these techniques frequently vary from one family to another. Show more

How do the Faroese divide the whale meat from the Grindadráp event?

Non-commercial distribution of the whale meat is done among Faroese households. Each family is given a portion of the meat, with the rest being stored for winters. The Faroese people exhibit their resourcefulness by utilizing the whale meat for consumption. For example, they use blubber as a spread for bread after boiling it, while the intestines can be used to make sausages. The meat itself is considered the main course for the Faroese meal. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin