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Transport in the Faroe Islands

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Title: Transport in the Faroe Islands  
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Transport in the Faroe Islands

Ferries of Strandfaraskip Landsins, with the new vessel Smyril on the left

The Faroe Islands is served by an internal transport system based on roads, ferries, and helicopters. There are no railways.

International transport, both for passengers and freight, remains difficult due to high costs, low traffic, long distances, and weather, especially during the winter. Exporting domestically produced goods is thus expensive; this limits the development of a commodity-based economy.


  • History 1
    • Before 1900 1.1
    • 1900 to the end of World War II 1.2
    • The end of World War II to the 1970s 1.3
    • 1970s onwards 1.4
      • Future 1.4.1
  • Railways 2
  • Roads 3
    • Highways 3.1
    • Bus services 3.2
  • Sea 4
    • Ports and harbours 4.1
    • Merchant marine 4.2
    • Ferries 4.3
  • Air 5
    • Airports 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The general history of the Faroese transportation system can be divided into four periods:

Before 1900

During this first period, transportation was rather primitive; it consisted of row boats, walking, and, in certain places, horse transport (for the upper class).

1900 to the end of World War II

The second period commenced in the late-19th century, when ferry connections began to emerge. The ferries were largely private initiatives, but they increasingly came to be operated by the public sector. This was supplemented by an emerging culture of automobiles. After World War II, a large part of the Faroe Islands was accessible via ferries and automobiles; private buses and taxis operated as well.

The end of World War II to the 1970s

The third period was characterized by modernization. The introduction of the car ferry made it possible to drive between the large centres of the country. It became possible to drive from the capital Tórshavn to Vágur and Tvøroyri in the south, to Fuglafjørður and Klaksvík in the north, and to the airport at Sørvágur in the west. Vágar Airport was built by the British during World War II; it was reopened as a civilian international airport in 1963. Additionally, the road network was further developed. Tunnels to distant valleys and firths such as Hvalba, Sandvík, and Norðdepil were constructed in the 1960s.

1970s onwards

Entrance to the Norðoyatunnilin at Leirvík

The fourth period saw the emergence of a "mainland" thanks to tunnels and bridges. In 1973 the first bridge between two islands was established between Norðskáli on Eysturoy and Nesvík on Streymoy; in 1976 the new tunnel between Norðskáli and Eysturoy was completed. The Faroes' two largest islands were connected into what is now referred to as "Meginlandið", the Mainland. In 1975 the causeway between Viðoy and Borðoy was constructed, in 1986 a similar one between Borðoy and Kunoy was established, and in 1992 the capital Tórshavn was granted a first-class connection to the northern parts of the islands, creating the infrastructural prerequisites for a mobile society on the mainland.

The newest developments of the Faroese transportation network are the sub-sea tunnels. In 2002 the tunnel between Streymoy and Vágar—the latter is the airport island—was finished, and in 2006 the Norðoyatunnilin between Eysturoy and Borðoy was finished. A toll, payable at petrol stations, of 170 DKK (130 DKK in June 2013) is charged to drive through these two tunnels; the others are free. Now more than 85% of the Faroese population is accessible by automobile.


In early 2014 all political parties of the Løgting agreed that by 2019 subsea tunnel between Esturoy and Streymoy, "Esturoyartunnilin", should be completed, and by 2021 subsea tunnel between Streymoy and Sandoy, "Sandoyartunnilin", should be completed. The combined cost of the project is estimated at almost 2 billion DKK, and will be the most expensive construction project in Faroese history. Esturoyartunnilin is proposed to have a roundabout under the sea. The three tubes will be 7,1 km, 2,1 km and 1,8 km long joined together by the roundabout. Sandoyartunnilin will be 10,6 km long.

Talks have been about a possible tunnel between Sandoy and Suðuroy. The tunnel would be around 20–25 km long. If completed 99% of the Faroes would be connected by road.


There are no railways on the Faroe Islands due to the difficult landscape, small population and the relatively short distances. A tunnel and rail system supplied a NATO radar installation, now decommissioned, on a mountaintop in the southern part of Streymoy Island.


"Light Art" inside the Norðoyatunnilin

Roads have become the main transport artery on the islands.


total: 960 km (600 mi)[1]

national highways: 460 km (290 mi)[1]
local roads: 500 km (310 mi)[1]

Bus services

There is an extensive bus network, with red Bussleiðin town buses serving Tórshavn and blue Bygdaleiðir (which means "village route") buses connecting the rest of the islands. Most buses are modern and were built by the Volvo company.

The network of blue Bygdaleiðir rural buses (as well as the ferries) is operated by Strandfaraskip Landsins on behalf of the Faroese government, which provides subsidies. The principal route is Tórshavn-Klaksvík (via the new Norðoyatunnilin tunnel), but other bus routes also serve most villages. Although individual buses are generally owned by individuals or small companies, the timetables, fares, and levels of service are set by Strandfaraskip Landsins and the government.

Bussleiðin is the name of the urban bus service, which has five routes and is operated by the Tórshavn municipality. Buses within Tórshavn have been completely free of charge since 2007. This is a green initiative intended to persuade people to use public transportation rather than drive their cars. Like Bygdaleiðir, the actual buses are privately owned, but contracted to Bussleiðin.


The Norröna of Smyril Line at Tórshavn in 1997. This vessel has since been replaced by the new Norröna.

Ports and harbours

Merchant marine

total: 6 ships (1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over) totaling 22,853 GRT/13,481 tonnes deadweight (DWT) (1999 est.)

ships by type:


The Faroese ferry company Strandfaraskip Landsins operates a network of ferries, in addition to the rural buses. Their largest vessel is the new Smyril, a roll-on/roll-off ferry which maintains the link between Tórshavn and the southern islands. This vessel entered service in 2005.

Since the early 1980s, Smyril Line has operated a regular international passenger, car and freight service using a large, modern, multipurpose ferry, the Norröna. The weekly service links the Faroe Islands with Seyðisfjörður in Iceland and with Hirtshals in Denmark.[2]


Atlantic Airways Avro RJ at Vágar Airport


1 (Vágar Airport) (2005)

Airports - with paved runways
total: 1
  • 914 to 1,523 metres (2,999 to 4,997 ft): 1

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Vegir" (in Faroese). Tórshavn: Landsverk. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Sailing Schedule 2011". Smyril Line. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 

External links

  • Smyril Line
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