Tunnel Vision: Iceland’s Most Spectacular Underground Roads

If you are coming to Iceland for the first time, you are in for a treat. Driving in Iceland is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Iceland’s roads are unlike roads across the rest of the world. But not all interesting things are seen above ground. There are some very interesting tunnels in Iceland, and one of them even features a crossroad in its depths! These make getting around Iceland that much easier – but it’s important to know what you’re getting into with each one.

There are currently 14 open road tunnels in Iceland, with the 10 major ones listed below. Experience a novel side to Icelandic roads as you drive through them on your travels.

1. Héðinsfjarðargöng – The Northern Passage

Iceland’s longest tunnel offers an easy drive from Ólafsfjörður to Siglufjörður. It was finished in 2010 and is 11,000 meters long (6.83 miles). You can find it north of Akureyri in North Iceland. The tunnel opens up in Héðinsfjörður after 7.1 kilometers (4.4 miles) and then continues another 3.9 kilometers (2.4 miles) to Siglufjörður.

Driving through the tunnel is toll-free like all tunnels in Iceland (except for Hvalfjarðagöngurinn and the new tunnel north of Akureyri).

Héðinsfjörður tunnel Héðinsfjörður tunnel in North Iceland

2. Breiðadals and Botnsheiði Tunnels – The Crossroads Wonder

Officially opened in 1996, the Breiðadals tunnel is 9.120 m long (5.66 miles). But only 2 kilometers of the tunnel has two lanes going in each direction. The rest is only one lane wide

Located west of Ísafjörður in the Westfjords, this is the Icelandic tunnel with a crossroad set inside it. You might meet traffic going south from Suðureyri while driving this magnificent tunnel.  It’s a well-lit tunnel and paved all the way so just enjoy the ride in your Iceland rental car. When meeting oncoming traffic in a one-lane tunnel, don’t worry – there will be passing places. If the passing place is on your side of the tunnel, you are obligated to turn in and let oncoming traffic pass you. Speed limits are in effect in the tunnels with cameras being well-marked to prevent any speeding offenses.

Breiðadals- and Botnsheiði tunnel Westfjord tunnel

Tunnels in Iceland drive through tunnel in Iceland

3. Bolungarvíkurgöng – The Fjord Connector

This tunnel north of Ísafjörður opened in 2010 and is 5.400 meters long (3.36 miles). It is a two-lane tunnel with traffic going both ways. It’s well-lit and easy to drive. If you are in Ísafjörður, you can drive up north to Hnífsdal where you enter the tunnel to Bolungarvík.

Bolungarvik tunnel in the Westfjords of Iceland The opening of Bolungarvíkurgöng in the Westfjords

4. Arnardalshamar – The Pioneer Path

The first tunnel ever built in Iceland, Arnardalshamar, is 30 meters (98 feet) long and has two lanes. You will pass through it when you drive between Ísafjörður and Súðavíkur, which will allow you to enjoy a stunning journey.

Arnardalshamar tunnel north of Súðavík in the Westfjords of Iceland Arnardalshamar

5. Strákagöng – The Short Sprint

Strákagöng lies in the north of Iceland. This tunnel opened in 1967 and is 800 meters long (1/2 mile). It is a single-lane tunnel and the same rules apply as in all single-lane tunnels in Iceland; if you meet oncoming traffic and the passing place is on your side (your right), you are required by law to stop and let the oncoming traffic pass by.

Strákagöng Strákagöng, the tunnel north of Siglifjörður

6. Múlagöng – The Arctic Gateway

Múlagöng is located north of Akureyri. It’s the tunnel connecting Dalvík to Ólafsfjörður. It opened in 1990 and is 3,400 meters long (2.11 miles). This is a onelane tunnel with passing places.

Múlagöng is the tunnel connecting Dalvík to Ólafsfjörður Múlagöng, a car tunnel in North Iceland

7. Hvalfjarðargöng – The Seabed Serpent

Hvalfjarðargöng, just north of Reykjavík, is a tunnel that goes under the fjord Hvalfjörður. It’s 5,770 meters long (3.59 miles) with 3,750 meters (2.33 miles) of the tunnel lying beneath the seabed. There are two lanes on the south side (closer to Reykjavík) and three lanes going north. The deepest part of the tunnel reaches a depth of 165 meters (541 feet)

There are laybys in the tunnel but those are only for emergencies. There are also speed cameras in the tunnel to catch any speeding offenses, so make sure to drive carefully at all times. About a decade ago, it was the only tunnel in Iceland where you’d have to pay a toll. The toll booth is on the north side of the tunnel so when heading north, pay your toll upon exiting the tunnel. Information about toll prices can be found below.

Toll fees to pass the Hvalfjörður tunnel

There are over 80 cameras guarding the tunnel 24/7 and you have both FM (RÚV on 93.5 & 90.1 Bylgjan on 98.9) and mobile phone reception in the tunnel. Just to mention a few more safety features:

  • There are fire extinguishers and emergency phones every 125 m (410 ft).
  • The tunnel has 40 powerful fans to blow out exhaust gasses.
  • The staff in the toll booths guard all aspects of the tunnel at all times.
  • There are safety lights in the ceiling every 50 meters (164 feet)
  • There are emergency lights every 62.5 meters (205 feet) that go on if there is a blackout.

Hvalfjörður tunnel The south entrance to Hvalfjörður tunnel

8. Oddsskarð – The Mountain Tunnel

Oddsskarð tunnel lies north of Eskifjörður and leads to Norðfjörður. It is 640 meters (0.4 miles) long and only has one lane. The tunnel is free of charge and has lots of passing places. It opened in 1977 and is 600 meters above sea level.

Oddsskarð tunnel in East Iceland Oddsskarð tunnel north of Eskifjörður, the south entrance

UPDATE: This tunnel has been decommissioned for day-to-day use. A new tunnel has been opened just northwest of Eskifjörður. 

8b. Norðfjarðargöng – The New Frontier

The tunnel called Norðfjarðargöng is 7.5 kilometers (4.66 miles) long. It is taking over the traffic that previously passed through Oddsgarð.  It is very well-lit, has lanes in both directions, and the feeling while driving it is something unique.

Norðfjarargöng location Norðfjarðargöng

9. Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng – The Eastern Artery

Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng is 5.900 meters (3.67 miles) long and opened in 2005. It has lanes going in both directions.

Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng in East Iceland Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng. Connecting Fáskrúðsfjörður with Reyðarfjörður in the East of Iceland

10. Almannaskarðsgöng – The Southern Connector

Almannaskarð tunnel opened in 2005 and is 1.300 meters (0.8 miles) long. This one also has lanes going in both directions. This tunnel connects the south side of Iceland with the East side. There used to be a connecting road where many dreaded to pass but with the opening of this tunnel, driving to the east side has become so much easier. The south entrance is located 39 meters (128 feet)  above sea level whilst the north entrance is 82 meters (269 feet) above sea level, giving the tunnel an incline of 4.6%.

Almannaskarð tunnel north of Höfn Almannaskarðsgöng

We are sure you will enjoy the ride through many of these tunnels. When you rent a car with Go Iceland Car Rental, each rental car contains a map of where you can find these tunnels. We also sell a much more detailed map at our offices. Please let our staff assist with any questions you might have about your drive around Iceland, from recommendations to directions.

Safe travels around Iceland! GoIceland