Who would have thought that 18 tiny volcanic islands way out in the North Atlantic would be the perfect place for a once-in-a-lifetime road trip? The Faroe Islands soon became our top self-drive destination. With breathtaking scenery at every turn, no more than 3 traffic lights, more sheep than people, and a series of tunnels, bridges, and ferries connecting the islands, there’s lots to prepare yourself for when driving in the Faroe Islands.
In fact, driving in the Faroe Islands is a pure joy. It’s remarkably easy to do, with little chance of taking a wrong turn. With a little planning, you can easily traverse the islands and take in all the stunning sights and things to do that are on offer.
However, it’s not all smooth roads and amazing views. Before you set out, there are a few things to know about a Faroe Islands road trip. So buckle up, and check out these useful rules, tips, tricks, and insights that will help you make the most of your Faroe Islands trip.
1. Basic Rules of the Road
In the Faroe Islands, the rules of the road generally follow those of mainland Europe, though there are some differences. Here’s what you need to know:
- Speed limit: 50kmph in built-up/urban areas and 80kmph on main roads. You might not see many speed limit signs, just keep your eyes open for the signs that indicate urban areas. While this might seem slow, the sheep, fog, and windy road conditions mean you’ll seldom get a chance to go faster!
- Headlights: must be on at all times, day and night, and especially in tunnels.
- Don’t drink and drive: the maximum blood alcohol limit is 0.5%, so don’t do it!
- Seatbelts: must be worn by all passengers.
- Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
2. Road Conditions
While the Faroe Islands are famed for their harsh climate and rough but beautiful terrains, the roads are actually really well maintained. Smooth tarmac is common and the vast majority of routes are well signed. This makes driving in the Faroe Islands pretty easy.
You’ll often find yourself on one-track roads, though passing places are plentiful. Occasionally, you’ll come across some older roads that are gravel rather than smooth tarmac, though these are normally only in small villages. There are a number of twisty roads that wind up hills and mountains. Take them slow, as they’re wonderful!
3. Single Tracks and Passing Places
About those single track roads, they’re not something you should worry about and here’s why. Even in high season, the roads are mostly pretty quiet. You can drive in the Faroe Islands for hours and not see another vehicle at all! However, if you do find yourself on a single track road with another vehicle approaching, there are a few things to know about passing places.
In general, if the passing place is on your right-hand side, you have to give way to oncoming traffic. If it’s on your left, you have priority. The exception is when you’re driving up or down a hill. On slopes, the vehicle driving downhill must always give way to the vehicle traveling uphill, regardless of whether the passing point is on the right or left.
While it’s true that the roads are normally quiet, don’t use the passing places as parking spots, even for a few quick photos. Doing so can cause traffic jams if by some bad fortune the road becomes busy, and you won’t be very popular!
4. Should You Fear the Faroe Islands Tunnels?
A number of tunnels make it easier than ever to traverse the mountain ranges, and there are even two that run underneath the sea connecting the islands. For the most part, Faroe Island tunnels are pretty modern, well-lit, and with two lanes. However, there are a few older tunnels that are unlit with just 1-lane to be aware of.
Honestly, driving through these Faroese tunnels can be pretty scary if you’re not used to them. Though if you know what to expect, they’re not that bad. Having said that, they’re the number one spot for accidents and scrapes among tourists, so beware! The northern islands of Bordoy, Kalsoy, and Vidoy are notorious for these old tunnels, but follow these rules and you’ll be okay.
- Keep your lights on at all times, but don’t use full beams if you see a vehicle approaching.
- Reduce your speed when you enter and take it easy — the walls and ceiling aren’t smooth, and the width can vary throughout the tunnel.
- Look out for the signs at the entrance of the tunnel to see who has right of way. The black vehicle has right of way and the red one must give way. Normally, if the passing places are on your right, you’ll have to give way.
- You’ll find regular passing places every 100 meters or so. If you’re required to give way, hold tight in the passing place until all oncoming vehicles have passed. Then, take care as you pull out, keeping an eye on the walls. Each passing place is numbered, counting down until you reach the end of the tunnel.
- If you end up in the nightmare situation of meeting a truck in a narrow tunnel, it’s your responsibility to give way regardless of what the sign says. Don’t freak out, the trucks take extra care in the tunnels as well!
5. How the Tolls Work
Most tunnels in the Faroe Islands are free to use, except for the 2 sub-sea tunnels. The Vágatunnilin links the island of Vagar (where the airport is situated) to the island of Streymoy, where the capital city of Tórshavn is located. The Norðoyatunnilin links the island of Eysturoy to the island of Bordoy.
You only pay one-way at each tunnel, when traveling from Vagar via the Vágatunnilin, and when traveling from Klaksvík via the Norðoyatunnilin. You don’t need to stop to pay the toll, as both tunnels use photo-registration technology. Both tolls cost DKK 100 (around 13EUR) for cars up to 6m long and 3,500 kg in weight, or DKK 300 (40EUR) for larger vehicles. Motorcycles are exempt from the toll.
The toll can be paid online up to 6-days after travel. Alternatively, your rental car company may include the price of tolls in their quote, but it’s worth checking. Both sub-sea tunnels are well-lit, two-lane tunnels that are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
6. Fabulous Ferries
While bridges and tunnels make it possible to drive in the Faroe Islands to the majority of the islands, some of the more remote islands can only be reached by ferry or helicopter. One of the most popular islands to visit by ferry are the breathtaking Mykines. But also the charming Kalsoy, stunning Sandoy, and the southernmost of the Faroes, Suðuroy are absolutely worth visiting.
You can check out timetables and fares online for each sailing route, and you can even book tickets for some services. For the Mykines ferry, check out the Mykines website for full details, while the Strandfaraskip Landsins (SSL) website has all the other routes covered.
You can also buy a 4 or 7-day travel card that allows unlimited travel on any ferry or bus in the Faroes, except for the Mykines. A 4-day card costs DKK 500 per adult, and a 7-day card costs DKK 700. For an overview of single ticket prices for each different ferry, check out the SSL website.
7. How to Stay Safe on the Roads
If you bring your own vehicle, be sure it meets the criteria, with British vehicles requiring headlamp adjusters. You’ll also need to carry a warning triangle, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, spare bulbs, and hi-vis vests for each passenger. And don’t forget to check that you have the relevant insurance! Bear in mind, if you plan to visit in winter you’ll need to use winter tires between December 1st and April 30th.
One thing to be aware of when driving in the Faroe Islands is that they’re not in the EU, so your data plan might not work. But, that’s no problem, you can easily find up to date and accurate paper road maps at most gas stations, and it’s really easy to navigate in the Faroe Islands. Most of the time there’s only one or two roads to choose from anyway!
Also, there aren’t really any long-distances to cover, and it’s really easy to see two or three sights in one day. No long days behind the wheel, but plenty of time to explore and see the stunning sights!
8. Seek Out the Scenic Routes
One of the best things about using a physical map is that they show the scenic routes. However, they’re also well sign-posted. Look out for white or brown signs with a yellow flower on them. These signal Sóljuleiðir, or buttercup (the national flower of the Faroe Islands) routes. They take in some of the best scenery you’ll find across the islands.
Driving on the buttercup routes in the Faroe Islands is fantastic. They typically leave the main road behind, allowing you to take your time and take in your surroundings at your own pace. There are 13 in total, spread across the north and south islands, but it’s worth noting that not all are suitable for larger vehicles such as campervans.
9. Watch Out for the Weather
The weather in the Faroe Islands is unpredictable at the best of times, and it’s not unusual to experience all four seasons in one day. The famous thick Faroese fog can slow you down quite a bit, so be sure to be flexible with your plans and leave time for delays. If you can, try to keep a day or two free, so that you have a buffer for unavoidable delays. Don’t worry though, the weather changes fast in the Faroese, so even if the day starts out foggy and rainy, there’s a good chance you’ll end the evening with a beautiful clear sunset.
10. Sheep Own the Road
One thing you’ve probably heard about the Faroe Islands is that sheep massively outnumber people. Anyone who has done a Faroe Islands road trip can testify! They’re everywhere, and an unspoken rule of the road is that they have priority. In some areas they’re very bold and will wander the roads, while in others, they can easily be spooked. As such, always drive slowly past them, and be patient — spend the time checking out the scenery! If in the unfortunate event you do hit a sheep with your car, you’re required by law to contact the police.
11. Beware of Parking Restrictions
Driving in the Faroe Islands also mean that you have to park your car every now and then. Parking is pretty restricted in most of the larger towns, such as Tórshavn, Klaksvík, and Runavík. You’ll need a parking disc in some areas, which must be displayed in the bottom right-hand corner of your windshield. Check with your rental company to see whether a parking disc is included and opt for one if you anticipate street parking at all. However, there are also paid car-parks, and most accommodation comes with free parking, giving you a great opportunity to stretch your legs and explore your surroundings on foot.
12. What About Wild Camping?
A road trip goes hand in hand with camping, especially if you’re traveling in a motorhome. However, wild camping is illegal in the Faroe Islands, and all camping must be done in registered campsites, which are scattered throughout the islands. While many do provide pitches for campervans, not all of them do, so be sure to check. Whatever you do, don’t use passing places as somewhere to camp for the night!
We love to hear from you
Hopefully, this has provided the information to feel safe while driving in the Faroe Islands on the epic roads. If you have experiences with driving here, or if you have a question, please leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to check out our Faroe Island Guide for other ideas when you visit the Faroe Islands. For more travel tips and inspiration, check out more of our travel tips and to get to know more about this incredible destination, visit our Faroe Islands page.