Stunning Bridges, Artful Tunnels and Ferries: An Incredible Faroe Islands Road Trip

From maneuvering one-lane mountain tunnels to the world's only undersea roundabout and unique traffic jams, a Faroe Islands road trip is adventure at its best.

Faroe Islands Road Trip
Photo by Terri Marshall

See These Picturesque Islands From the Comfort of Your Car

When it comes to far-flung bucket list adventures, a Faroe Islands road trip tops the list.  A remote group of 18 islands situated in the North Atlantic Ocean halfway between Norway and Iceland just north of the Scottish Isles, this archipelago contains all the elements for an exciting road trip adventure. And with roads, bridges and tunnels that connect them, you can see most of the country from your car.

Mountain roads wind through rocky landscapes, unveiling awe-inspiring vistas of surrounding mountains above and the crashing waves of the sea below. Adding to the experience are sea cliffs, cascading waterfalls, sea stacks, and tiny villages steeped in Nordic history. Then there are the most amusing traffic jams you’ll ever encounter created by the 70,000+ free-roaming sheep, which far outnumber the human residents.

The scenery alone provided enough reason for my husband and I to add a Faroe Islands road trip to our bucket list. But add to that the logistics of connecting these remote islands, and we had a truly unique adventure. Bridges, mountain tunnels, sub-sea tunnels, and car ferries are among the innovations used to connect these idyllic islands. But those can be ordinary in island-filled countries. The Faroe Islands took this a step further by building the world’s only undersea roundabout.

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Entering The Undersea Tunnel On Our Faroe Islands Road Trip.

Entering the Undersea Tunnel on our Faroe Islands road trip. Photo: Terri Marshall

An Engineering Marvel is Also an Artistic Treasure

Faroe Islands is not an ordinary country, and its roundabout is equally unique. A marvel of engineering, the world’s first undersea roundabout spans 6.9 miles beneath the sea and dips to a depth of 625 feet at its lowest point. Opened in 2020, the tunnel links the capital city of Torshavn to Esyturoy, the country’s second most populated island. The travel time between the two locations was formerly more than an hour. Using the undersea tunnel, we could have easily made the trip in just 15 minutes if I hadn’t been so fascinated with the artwork at the roundabout and insisted we circle numerous times to take it all in.

A Girls Guide To Cars | Stunning Bridges, Artful Tunnels And Ferries: An Incredible Faroe Islands Road Trip - Ggtc Faroe Islands Roundabout Screenshot

Art at the center of the world’s first undersea roundabout Photo: Visit Faroe Islands

Under The Sea, an Art Opportunity

At the center of the roundabout, a stunning undersea art creation captures everyone’s attention. During the construction blasting, a large natural rock was left behind. Faroese artist Tróndur Patursson transformed the rock into an underwater masterpiece. The 262-foot steel sculpture features full-size figures holding hands around the roundabout. Each figure stares inward at the light resembling worshipers around a volcanic fire. In an interview with Visit Faroe Islands, Patursson said ‘the figures are walking from darkness into light,’ symbolizing the Faroese nature of joining hands and working together to achieve great things.

Spreading out from the roundabout, there were three routes leading to various sections of the island of Esyturoy. Despite the tolls, we drove in and out of the roundabout several times and traveled along each route to see what other wonders we’d find.

On the safety side, this undersea wonder contains a state-of-the-art rain and wastewater system of pumps and pipes that keep rain and surface water off the roads.

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Renting a Car for a Faroe Islands Road Trip

With no land connecting the Faroe Islands to Europe’s mainland, the only way to arrive is by plane or by sailing on the Smyril Ferry Line. Either way, you’ll need a rental car. Landing at Vagar Airport and picking up a rental car is simple. Rental car counters situated just steps outside of the terminal represent several agencies.

You’ll find US brands like Avis, Budget, and Hertz alongside local providers. For our rental, we chose to support a local business. Our rate was lower than those advertised by the US companies, and the customer service was top-notch. Unlimited mileage is included for all rental cars. Some companies also include a super collision damage waiver automatically. Or, you can add the level of insurance coverage you feel comfortable with.

With a substantial network of sub-sea tunnels and bridges requiring tolls, ensure the toll charges are included with your rental car. If you neglect to do this, you’ll be charged extra fees upon return. Although the Faroe Islands’ age for driving is 18, most rental car companies require drivers to be at least 20 and others require drivers to be 21.

When choosing your rental car, keep a few things in mind:

  • Narrow one-lane tunnels and bridges are common, making a smaller vehicle the best choice
  • The main roads of the Faroe Islands are typically well-maintained, making an SUV with 4WD unnecessary unless your road trip happens in mid-winter when snowfall is more plentiful.
  • Substantial gas prices aren’t as painful in a smaller or even electric vehicle.

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A Faroe Islands Road Trip

A Faroe Islands road trip means lots of beautiful vistas. Photo: Terri Marshall

Navigating One-Way Tunnels on a Two-Way Road

While twisting, turning mountainside roads sometimes presented a few moments of white-knuckle driving during our time in the Faroe Islands, the most harrowing challenge was the one-lane tunnels on two-lane roads.  There are more than 20 tunnels scattered about the archipelago, and knowing how to manage them safely is crucial. The majority of tunnels cut through mountains. Some, including the first undersea roundabout, took us underwater.

As we made our way to Viðareiði, the northernmost island in the Faroe Islands, we had our first experience with a one-lane tunnel — a really dark and long, one-lane tunnel! Since the tunnel was longer than most, a traffic light controlled entry during the daylight hours. After about 7:00 pm, however, we had to enter at our own risk. Before entering any one-way tunnel, there was a sign indicating whether we had the right of way or if we had to move into a waiting spot for the oncoming traffic to pass.

In this instance, we had the right of way, so we just had to count on the oncoming traffic to yield. As my husband drove, I watched intently for the oncoming headlights and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw them move into the waiting space. Once we became accustomed to the give and take, my nerves subsided. Of course, being alert and diligently paying attention to the other vehicle is essential.

Things to note:

  • If you are required to yield, you’ll see a clearly marked place to pull over every 328 feet.
  • If you see a car in the distance and you’re required to yield, it’s best to pull into the first place you approach instead of playing a not-so-smart game of chicken with the oncoming vehicle.
  • The one exception to the priority rule is trucks. If you see truck lights approaching, it’s up to you to find the closest nook and let the truck pass.
A Faroe Islands Road Trip

A Faroe Islands road trip would not be complete without a sheep jam. Photo: Terri Marshall

A Few More Reminders for your Faroe Islands Road Trip

  • Keep your headlights on at all times
  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road
  • 50 mph is the standard speed limit on main roads
  • 30 mph is the standard speed limit for village roads
  • Zero tolerance for drinking and driving
  • Seat belts are required for all passengers
  • Off-road driving is prohibited
  • Children under 53 inches tall are required to be secured in a car or booster seat.

And remember, at some point, you will be sharing the road with sheep. Stop the car, take out your camera, and capture the moment. They’ll move out of the road…eventually!

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Terri Marshall grew up road-tripping around the country. Her love for the open road remains strong today. A travel... More about Terri Marshall