Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Iceland’s roads are a joy to drive and a road trip is quite simply the best way to explore the island. Cruising through some of the world’s most incredible scenery is an experience that you won’t soon forget. On the whole, the roads in Iceland are entirely free to traverse. There is a rumor of this potentially changing in the future. But at the time of writing in 2019 there are no toll charges for driving on the roads in Iceland.
There is however just one tunnel toll currently in force in Iceland. These kinds of tolls are usually only levied when a tunnel is reasonably new. In this article, we will take you underground right across this amazing country. We’ll look at some of the more interesting tunnels in Iceland and their features. Including an underground crossroads. Yes, really!
The Hvalfjörður Tunnel lies just to the North of Reykjavik and runs underneath the Hvalfjörður Fjord. It is just over 3.5 miles long and was designed to cut the driving time from Reykjavik to the north. The tunnel reaches a depth of 165 below sea level (about 541 ft). The Hvalfjörður Tunnel has been toll-free since late 2018.
This is Iceland’s longest tunnel at nearly seven miles long. It is located up in the north of the island not far from Akureyri. In fact, it could be considered two tunnels as it opens up partway through before disappearing back underground. Like most tunnels in Iceland, it is currently toll-free.
The Arnardalshamar Tunnel lies on a stunning coastal road in the remote Westfjords along Route 61. It is the first tunnel built in Iceland and is only thirty meters long. The tunnel opened in 1948. It has such a dramatic setting that it might well be worth making a detour to see it. Especially if you have an interest in engineering.
Breiðadals & Botnsheiði Tunnels
Now we come to the famous crossroads tunnel. An underground crossroads is something that may seem quite strange to the majority of visitors to Iceland. It is however quite easy and safe to drive. The tunnels are well lit with sensible speed limits firmly in place.
Part of the tunnel is two-lane while other sections are one lane only with passing points. If there is a passing point on your side of the tunnel then you are obliged to use it. Cars coming in the opposite direction will do the same for you when the time comes. This is a legal requirement so do drive carefully and note these passing points.
This half-mile tunnel lies in the north of Iceland. It consists of a single lane with passing spaces.
This is another Northern tunnel. Múlagöng is just over two miles long as is another single-lane tunnel with passing points.
The Tunnel Toll Iceland - Vadlaheidargong Tunnel
The only tunnel in Iceland that currently has a toll tin place is the Vadlaheidargong Tunnel. This is a relatively new tunnel close to Akureyri in North Iceland. Vadlaheidargong connects the Eyjafjörður fjord with the capital city of the north. Driving this route saves travellers a nine-mile detour if they are headed to northern towns such as Húsavík. It is very handy if you are staying in Akureyri and want to take a whale watching boat trip. Húsavík is well known as the whale watching capital of Iceland.
The main reason that this tunnel was built was to help keep the Ring Road open in winter. The Ring Road route overground takes you via the Vikurskarð Mountain. In winter the weather in Iceland can get wild and the mountain road here is sometimes closed. If the weather is fine than taking the road route is simple. It doesn't add much time to your journey and it is beautiful too. If the weather is bad then taking the tunnel is advised.
How to pay the tunnel toll in Iceland
Paying for the Vadlaheidargong Tunnel toll is easy. You will need a cell phone or tablet, access to the Internet and a credit card though. The cost per use of the tunnel is 1500 Icelandic Krona. This comes in at about US$12.
To make a payment you simply visit the website and click the option for rental vehicle. You can then enter the registration number of your rental campervan or car. You then pick an approximate time slot for your drive and you’re done.
As long as you have Internet access on the road you can do it just before you use the tunnel. You can also complete the payment up to three hours after your crossing. Be careful though as it is quite easy to forget about such things when you’re caught up in the glory of Iceland. If you do forget to pay then the toll company will contact your rental company and you will likely incur fines and administration charges.
If you are not in a hurry then you might consider going the long way round. You can easily avoid the tunnel by driving overland instead. The views are beautiful and you will save cash in the process. It is a good option if you are travelling at a leisurely pace in fine weather.