Hike to Sørvágsvatn and its Magical Optical Illusion: The Floating Lake Above The Ocean in the Faroe Islands

Sørvágsvatn, also known as Leitisvatn, is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands. It is famous for its unique optical illusion, where it appears as if it is floating above the ocean, creating a truly surreal sight that amazes all those who journey here.

A hike to Lake Sørvágsvatn provides an unforgettable experience, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler exploring this region.

Overview of Sørvágsvatn

Location: Sørvágsvatn is situated on the island of Vágar, which is part of the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean, between Iceland and Norway.

Geography: The lake is perched atop sea cliffs on the western coast of Vágar, overlooking the ocean. Its elevation above sea level contributes to the mesmerizing optical illusion for which the lake is famous. Although it looks higher, the lake only sits 30 meters above sea level.

Optical Illusion: One of the most captivating features of Sørvágsvatn is the optical illusion that occurs when viewing it from a specific vantage point. When seen from cliff Trælanípa on the southern side of the lake, it appears as though the lake is floating high above the ocean, creating a breathtaking and surreal scene. In reality, the lake is connected to the sea by a waterfall called Bøsdalafossur.

Bøsdalafossur: Bøsdalafossur is a waterfall that flows from the lake into the ocean. The waterfall adds to the dramatic landscape and plays a crucial role in the optical illusion, as it gives the impression that the lake is suspended in mid-air.

Sørvágsvatn hanging over the ocean
Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

What causes the optical illusion of Sørvágsvatn appearing to hang over the ocean?

The optical illusion at Sørvágsvatn is caused by factors like the lake’s elevation, the steep cliffs, the Bøsdalafossur waterfall, and the viewing angle.

The relative positions of objects can easily deceive the human eye, and in the case of Sørvágsvatn, the brain interprets the scene in a way that makes the lake appear as if it is suspended in midair. The combination of these factors creates a visually striking and seemingly gravity-defying landscape, making Sørvágsvatn a unique and captivating destination for visitors.

To best observe the optical illusion, one should view it from a specific viewpoint on the cliffs to the south of the lake.

Lake above the ocean

Best Time To Visit The Floating Lake Above The Ocean

The best time to visit Sørvágsvatn is during the summer months. In this period the weather is milder and the days are longer, providing ample time to explore the hiking trails and bask in the breathtaking scenery.

Source: World Bank

It’s important for hikers to consider the weather conditions and come prepared with appropriate gear for a safe and enjoyable excursion to the lake.

Weather conditions and the clarity of the air can also influence the visibility of the optical illusion. Clear days with good visibility enhance the effect, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the surreal scene.

Hiking to lake Sørvágsvatn, cliff Trælanípa and the Bøsdalafossur waterfall

The hike to Sørvágsvatn is relatively easy. There are no significant elevation changes. 

Depending on the route you choose, it will take about 2.5 hours and 7.2 km for a roundtrip starting from the nearest village Miðvágur to the end of the lake and the high waterfall Bøsdalafossur. Miðvágur is around 40 minutes driving from Tórshavn. Or a 7 minute drive from Vágar Airport.

While walking, you will enjoy beautiful views and encounter a large population of oystercatchers and curlews. The trail leads cliff Trælanípa from where you can continue to the Bøsdalafossur fall, which flows from the lake into the sea.

There are several routes to select from, including one that circles the lake and is approximately 21 kilometers long.

 Bøsdalafossur Waterfall

Exploring Nearby Attractions on the Faroe Islands

While visiting the famous lake, there are several nearby attractions that are worth exploring, adding more adventure and natural beauty to the Faroe Islands experience. From majestic waterfalls to captivating islands, there’s plenty to discover.

Visiting the Múlafossur Waterfall

Múlafossur Waterfall, also located on the Vágar Island, is a spectacular sight to behold. The cascading falls plummet from a cliff directly into the Atlantic Ocean, creating a mesmerizing display of nature’s power and beauty that is truly unforgettable. The hike to this waterfall offers breathtaking views and photo opportunities, making it an essential stop for nature enthusiasts.

Explore Tórshavn

Explore the charming and picturesque city of Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. With its colorful houses, historic Tinganes district, and stunning waterfront views, Tórshavn offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern convenience. Visitors can wander through the narrow cobbled streets, visit the iconic Tórshavn Cathedral, and explore the local shops and restaurants offering a taste of authentic Faroese cuisine. 

Adventures on Mykines Island

Mykines Island is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers. Renowned for its stunning cliffs, Mykines Island is home to diverse bird species, including puffins. The picturesque landscape and peaceful ambiance make it an ideal destination for those seeking serenity and natural wonders. The journey to Mykines is an adventure in itself, with a scenic ferry ride adding to the allure of this remote and idyllic location.

Discovering the Kallur Lighthouse on Kalsoy Island

Kalsoy Island is home to the iconic Kallur Lighthouse, perched dramatically on a coastal promontory and surrounded by awe-inspiring views of the ocean. The hike to the lighthouse offers a blend of rugged terrain and panoramic vistas, culminating in a rewarding experience at the edge of the world. Visitors can enjoy the calm and stunning surroundings while visiting this distant and intriguing island.


How to pronounce Sorvagsvatn?

The pronunciation of “Sørvágsvatn” is “SUR-vogS-vatn.”

Is Sorvagsvatn real?

Yes, Sørvágsvatn is a real and breathtaking natural wonder located in the Faroe Islands. The lake is located on the far west point of Vagar Island.

What country is Sorvagsvatn located in?

Sørvágsvatn is located in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Can you visit Sorvagsvatn?

Yes, Sørvágsvatn is open to visitors, and hiking to this remarkable location is a highly recommended experience for travelers exploring the Faroe Islands.

What is the best place to view Lake Leitisvatn?

The best place to view the lake if from the Trælanípa cliff south west of the lake.