Tolls and Tunnels in Iceland: A Driver’s Guide

Driving in Iceland can be a little different to what you’re used to back home. Two important things to be aware of when exploring by car are the tolls and tunnels.

In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know as a driver about navigating the tolls and tunnels in Iceland. Read on to learn where the tunnels are, when you need to pay, and how to stay safe when driving.

Driving past Kleifarvatn in Reykjanes Iceland

Tunnels in Iceland

The 12 tunnels in Iceland are a crucial part of the country’s road infrastructure. Since the 1960s, they’ve been built to help local communities move around the country more easily, quickly, and safely.

Take a look at a map and you’ll notice how Iceland’s landscape is shaped by high mountains and deep fjords. These make Iceland one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, but they also provide obstacles that the roads need to navigate.

Before many of the tunnels were built in Iceland, people living in isolated areas may have had to drive over high mountain passes. Or they would have needed to drive long distances to pass around long fjords. This was often very inconvenient and, in the depths of winter when snow was on the road, it was also not very safe.

Iceland’s tunnels changed that. For instance, the Hvalfjörður tunnel north of Reykjavík reduced journey times from Akureyri to Reykjavík by an hour. If you drive on Iceland’s Highway 1, the “Ring Road”, you’ll go through this tunnel, which was dug beneath the sea fjord.

Similarly, the Strákagöng tunnel used to connect the village of Siglufjörður to the rest of the country. Before it was built in 1967, people who lived there had to drive over a mountain pass which was closed for 5 months each year due to snow. Héðinsfjarðargöng have since improved the connection between Siglufjörður and rest of Iceland.

So, tunnels have brought many benefits to Icelanders. Plus, most tunnels don’t have tolls in Iceland—with one important exception.


The only paid tunnel in Iceland: Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel

The only tunnel with a toll in Iceland is Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel. You’ll find this tunnel if you’re driving in North Iceland close to the town of Akureyri.

Vaðlaheiðargöng is on Iceland’s Highway 1, the “Ring Road” that draws a loop around the whole of the country. This tunnel is a 7.4 km (4.5 mi) stretch of road between Akureyri and Húsavík. Specifically, it connects the valley of Fnjóskadalur with the east shore of Eyjafjörður.

Vadlaheidi tunnel

The tunnel opened in 2018 as a shortcut between the two towns. Before that, drivers had to drive 21 km (13 mi) around the Víkurskarð pass, on a road that’s often closed during winter. If you visit Iceland in summer, you can still use this original road and avoid the toll. However, it’s much safer and quicker to use the tunnel.

It may seem a little odd that there’s just one toll road in Iceland. As it’s one of the newer tunnels in the country and it was built by a private company, the toll is used to cover the costs of its construction. In the past, other tunnels such as Hvalfjörður had tolls too, but these were later abolished.

When approaching the tunnel, you won’t miss the signs warning that you’re about to drive on a toll road. But it’s important to know what to expect in advance.

How to pay tolls in Iceland

Unlike on other toll roads in Europe, there are no ticket gates or payment machines at the Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel. Instead, when you pass through the tunnel, cameras will automatically read your car’s registration number and you’ll be expected to pay online.

So, how to pay the Icelandic tunnel toll?

If you’re just making a single trip through the tunnel, head to the Vaðlaheiðargöng website. There you will be asked to enter your car’s registration number and make the payment for your trip.

It’s important that you do this within 24 hours of your journey. You can register 24 hours before you use the tunnel or 24 hours after. If you don’t register at all, a bill will be sent to the car’s owner with an additional charge.

As of 2024, the fees for journeys through the Vaðlaheiðargöng are as follows:

  • Vehicles below 3.5 tons, including most cars: 1,850 ISK for a single trip. 3,700 ISK for a return journey.
  • Vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tons: 2,800 ISK.
  • Vehicles above 7.5 tons: 5,900 ISK.

If you’re staying in the area for a longer period, it can make sense to buy journeys in bulk. For instance, for a personal car, you can purchase 10 trips for 14,500 ISK.

The Vaðlaheiðargöng website or the Veggjald app are the only ways to pay for using the tunnel. Bear in mind that the responsibility for paying for tolls in Iceland lies with the driver, even if you’re driving a rental car.

Hvalfjörður Tunnel: Iceland’s most popular tunnel

While Vaðlaheiðargöng is notable for its toll, the Hvalfjörður is probably the best known tunnel in Iceland overall. That’s largely because of its location, just a short distance from the capital city of Reykjavík.

The Hvalfjörður tunnel is about 30 km (19 mi) north of Reykjavík, on the “Ring Road”. If you’re heading north towards the Snæfellsnes peninsula or Westfjords, you will pass through this tunnel. The tunnel itself is 5.7 km (3.5 mi) long.

What makes the Hvalfjörður tunnel particularly special is that it passes under the sea. In fact, it’s recognised as one of the deepest sea tunnels in the world, as it reaches a depth of 165m (541 ft) below sea level.

The tunnel was opened in 1998 so that drivers no longer had to drive all the way around the Hvalfjörður. This detour added an hour to journeys north. Thanks to the tunnel, you can now make the same journey in fewer than 7 minutes.

Since 2018, it is free to drive through the Hvalfjörður tunnel. Previously, there was a toll, but the charge has now been abolished entirely.

Other free tunnels in Iceland

Hvalfjörður is one of 11 free public tunnels in Iceland. The majority are free because they were funded by the Icelandic government. Currently, only Vaðlaheiðargöng charges a fee, as it was privately funded and built.

The other free tunnels in Iceland are:

Vestfjarðagöng (Westfjords tunnel)

The Vestfjarðagöng is Iceland’s longest tunnel, with a length of 9.1 km (6 mi). As its name suggests, it’s in the region known as the Westfjords, in the northwestern part of Iceland. You’ll also see it called Breiðadals- and Botnsheiði tunnel, as it connects these different regions.

What’s important to know is that this tunnel has 3 arms which join at a junction within the tunnel. 2 of these arms just have a single lane with passing places. There are also traffic lights to make the tunnel safer for drivers.


The Dýrafjarðargöng, or Dýrafjörður Tunnel, is another tunnel in the Westfjords. It’s part of Highway 60, or the Vestfjarðavegur (“Westfjord Way”), the main road in the region.

The tunnel opened in October 2020. It helped to shorten the route through the region by 27 km (17 mi), as drivers would otherwise have had to take an unpaved mountain pass.


Another tunnel in the Westfjords is Bolungarvíkurgöng, which connects the towns of Ísafjörður and Bolungarvík. It’s a particularly important tunnel because it replaced what was one of the most dangerous roads in the country. Now, in the tunnel, you’ll be protected from the avalanches and rockfalls that used to affect the route.

Arnardalshamar tunnel

The Arnardalshamar holds 2 titles: it’s both the shortest and the oldest tunnel in Iceland. You’ll find it just outside the town of Ísafjörður in the Westfjords, where it cuts through a 30m (98 ft) wall of rock.


Strákagöng is in North Iceland, along Highway 76. After Arnardalshamar, it was the second tunnel ever built in Iceland. It helps to connect the village of Siglufjörður, which could previously only be accessed by a mountain road which was regularly closed due to snow.

The Strákagöng tunnel is 800m (2,600 ft).


Héðinsfjarðargöng is actually 2 separate tunnels that connect the towns of Siglufjörður and Ólafsfjörður by cutting through the peninsula known as Tröllaskagi. Combined, the tunnels are 10.6 km (6.6 mi) long.

The tunnels have greatly improved the connections between these two towns. They also allow visitors to drive a loop around Tröllaskagi, a dramatic, mountainous region.


On the east side of Ólafsfjörður is the Múlagöng tunnel. It links the town to the Eyjafjörður and the town of Akureyri.


Norðfjarðargöng is one of the most important tunnels in East Iceland, connecting Neskaupstaður with the town of Eskifjörður. It’s also one of the newer tunnels in Iceland, opening in 2017.


If you’re planning a road trip around the “Ring Road”, you’ll pass through Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng. It’s part of the Highway 1, just south of the town of Reyðarfjörður.


Almannaskarðsgöng is also on Highway 1, to the east of the town of Höfn. It replaced the Almannaskarð pass, a steep and narrow road that was often covered in snow, when it opened in 2005.

Rental car from holdurcarrental parked near Veidivotn in the highland of Iceland

Safety tips for driving through tunnels in Iceland

Driving through tunnels in Iceland is nothing to worry about. They’re largely similar to other roads in Iceland. However, there are some additional precautions that you should bear in mind.

  • Make sure your lights are on. In Iceland, it’s the law to have your lights on at all times. This is particularly important when driving in tunnels, which can be quite dark.

  • Be aware of passing places. Some tunnels just have single track roads with passing places. If you approach oncoming traffic and there is a passing place on the right, you are obliged to pull in to let traffic pass.

  • Obey the speed limits. In 2-lane tunnels such as Hvalfjörður, the speed limit is 70 km/h. You should go much slower in single-lane tunnels, to ensure that you stop in time for oncoming traffic. You’ll see the speed limit as you enter the tunnel.

  • If your vehicle breaks down, pull over and use the emergency telephone. In most tunnels in Iceland, you will find emergency laybys and telephones. Usually, they will list the number to call. The emergency services in Iceland can be reached at 112.

Frequently asked questions about tunnels and toll roads in Iceland

Got more questions about Iceland’s toll roads and tunnels? Here, we answer some of the most common.

How to pay the Iceland tunnel toll?

If you’re driving through the Vaðlaheiðargöng tunnel, you will have to pay the toll online. You can do this here.

Simply, enter your car’s registration number and choose whether you want to purchase a single journey (which costs 1,850 ISK) or a return trip (3,700 ISK). Then you can pay with your debit or credit card.

You can pay for the toll 24 hours in advance of your journey or within 24 hours afterwards. If you don’t pay within this time, a bill will be sent to the vehicle’s owner, with an additional charge.

What’s the longest tunnel in Iceland?

The Vestfjarðagöng is Iceland’s longest single tunnel, with a length of 9.1 km (6 mi).

Some people refer to Héðinsfjarðargöng as the longest tunnel in Iceland. However, this is actually 2 separate tunnels with a combined length of 10.6 km (6.6 mi). The individual tunnels are 6.9 km (4.3 mi) and 3.7 km (2.3 mi) respectively.

Are there any seasonal closures or restrictions on Icelandic tolls?

The one toll road in Iceland, Vaðlaheiðargöng, is open all year round.

If there are very heavy snowfalls, parts of the road network can be temporarily closed. However, this is not common.

You can find information about road conditions and any closures at

Are there any special driving rules or speed limits in Icelandic tunnels?

In 2-lane tunnels such as the Hvalfjörður tunnel, the maximum speed limit is 70 km/h. Be aware that there are speed cameras in all of Iceland’s tunnels, so it’s really important to keep to the speed limit.

If you’re in a single-lane tunnel, it’s recommended that you drive a lot more slowly. This is because if you approach oncoming traffic, you may need to pull over into passing places to let it pass.

There are signs before all tunnels telling you the speed limit.

What is the tunnel etiquette in Iceland?

Stopping to let oncoming traffic pass is not just good etiquette in Iceland’s tunnels. It’s also regulated by law.

If you have a passing place on your side (i.e. the right-hand side), you are obliged to pull in to let oncoming traffic pass.

Can all types of vehicles pass through the tunnels in Iceland, including campervans and trucks?

Yes, all vehicles can pass through Iceland’s tunnels. However, be aware that in single-lane tunnels, you may have to pull into passing places. It’s really important that you’re comfortable manoeuvring whichever vehicle you’re driving.

What should I do if my vehicle breaks down in a tunnel in Iceland?

If you break down in a tunnel, pull off the road and use an emergency telephone. Usually, these are located throughout the tunnels at regular intervals.

Is there a tunnel between Reykjavík and Akranes?

The tunnel between Reykjavík and Akranes is the Hvalfjörður tunnel, which passes beneath the sea fjord of the same name.

It reduces journey times between the capital and Akranes by nearly an hour. Without the tunnel, you would have to drive east around the Hvalfjörður fjord.

Do I need to pay for the Hvalfjörður tunnel?

No, you no longer need to pay for the Hvalfjörður tunnel. It stopped being a toll road in 2018. The tunnel is completely free to use.

How long is the tunnel in Hvalfjörður?

The Hvalfjörður tunnel is 5.7 km (3.5 mi) long and reaches a depth of 165m (541 ft) below sea level.

Is there mobile phone reception or emergency call boxes within the tunnels in Iceland?

You won’t have mobile phone reception in most of the tunnels in Iceland. However, you will find emergency phone boxes if you need them. The number to call for any emergency in Iceland is 112.

Where can I find information about tunnel maintenance schedules and potential delays during my trip in Iceland?

All information about delays, road conditions, and maintenance work can be found at We highly recommend that you check out the site for updates before you travel.

Are there alternative routes to avoid tolls when travelling in Iceland?

If you don’t want to use the Vaðlaheiðargöng toll tunnel, you can take an alternative route. That’s the Víkurskarð pass, a 21 km (13 mi) road through the mountains.

Be aware that it’s often closed during the winter months as it can be impassable due to snow. However, during the summer, it’s a beautiful, scenic drive, if you have the time.

Explore Iceland by car with Höldur

In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about navigating tunnels and toll roads when driving in Iceland. All that’s left to do now is to hire a car and explore the Land of Fire and Ice for yourself.

At Höldur, we’re Iceland’s largest car rental company and Europcar franchisee, with rental outlets across the country. With over 7,000 vehicles and a range of electric vehicles, 4x4s, and more, we can provide the perfect ride for your Icelandic adventure.

Explore our range to book your vehicle today.