Eysturoyartunnilin | World’s First Under Sea Roundabout

By Verified Expert

The Faroe Islands has opened the country’s longest under-sea tunnel. It contains the world’s first roundabout under water. Read on and learn everything about the Eysturoy tunnel.

Eysturoyartunnilin took almost four years to construct. The underwater tunnel connecting the two most populated islands in the Faroe Islands opened on 19 December 2020.

The Eysturoyartunnilin (Eysturoy tunnel) is an impressive 11,2km (6.9 miles) of network under the North Atlantic Ocean. The two-laned undarwater network links together the islands Streymoy and Eysturoy.

The sub-sea passageway is 189 metres (613.5 feet) beneath the seabed at its deepest. The tunnel network of three tubes boasts the first and only sub-sea roundabout in the world. Popularised as the jellyfish roundabout, the circular underwater infrastructure is lit with fascinating multicoloured lights.

The tunnel connects the most populous islands in the country, Streymoy island and Eysturoy island. The construction took almost four years and the tunnel opened in December 2020.

A young student, Tóki Højgaard, from the small village Rituvík on Eysturoy island was the first person to mention an underwater tunnel between the two neighbouring islands. Tóki Højgaard was 25 years old when he in 1999 wrote a comment in the local newspaper, Dimmalætting, about a tunnel under the Tangafjørður strait.

Then 15 years later, in 2014, the parliament in the Faroe Islands passed the law that was to connect the capital city, Tórshavn, to two points Runavik and Strendur, both on Eysturoy island. The construction work began in 2016 and the first portion of dynamite for the tunnel was detonated on 21 February 2017 in Strendur on the westside of the Skálafjørður fjord.

The area surrounding the new subsea tunnel connecting Streymoy island and Eysturoy island. This is the entrance of the tunnel in Hvítanes, which is a small suburb to the capital Tórshavn on Streymoy. Photo by Ólavur Frederiksen.

Eysturoyartunnilin is owned by the public company P/F Eysturoyar- og Sandoyartunnil and constructed by the company NCC. The tunnel network is blasted through volcanic rock, which the entire archipelago is made out.

Dynamite sticks have been used for the construction. The breakthrough was in June 2019 when the tunnel built from three ends met. One and a half year later in December 2020, the tunnel network opened to the public.

Day of celebration. Construction workers celebrating the breakthrough in the Eysturoy Tunnel on 7 June, 2019. Photo by Photo by Ólavur Frederiksen.

The subaquatic tunnels beneath the North Atlantic Ocean has now become a big attraction for travellers adding a great deal to Faroe Islands tourism. The unbelievable underwater traffic circle is the attraction’s epicentre.

The roundabout is hidden in the middle of the fjord below the seabed. The roundabout links the capital Tórshavn to both sides of the Skálafjørður fjord.

The tunnel from Tórshavn leads to this roundabout. From here you can either head to the town Runavík or to Strendur, both situated on the island Eysturoy. From Eysturoy island, you can head further north through another subsea tunnel to the island Borðoy where you will find the town Klaksvík among other things. Photo by Ólavur Frederiksen.

The tunnel network cuts down travel time between the capital Tórshavn and Runavík from 64 minutes to 16 minutes. Journey time between Tórshavn and a lot of other villages is cut significantly too. It brings the locals and travellers alike closer together.

It takes seven minutes to drive from Hvítanes on Streymoy island to Strendur on the western side of the Skálafjørður fjord. It takes eight minutes to drive from Hvítanes to Runavík on the eastern side of the Skálafjørður fjord.

There is even a piece of music composed especially for the ride under the seabed. Jens L. Thomsen is a Faroese musician and sound-engineer and he has written the tune. All sounds in the piece are recorded during the construction of the tunnel. It sounds much like a ambient soundscape. In order to listen to the music, tune in on FM radio 97.00 in the tunnel.

Each tunnel entrance has a minimalistic design attached to it. These white an illuminated arches are created by the renowned Faroese architect Eyðun Eliasen.

​The entrance of the tunnel on Streymoy island. Photo by Ólavur Frederiksen.

The roundabout under the North Atlantic Ocean also serves as a work of art. Here people can experience the local artist Tróndur Patursson’s multicoloured light show as they drive from one island to the other.

Tróndur Patursson has made an 80m-long sculpture that reaches around the roundabout. The steel ring illustrates people dancing the traditional Faroese dance.

The artist Tróndur Patursson. He was born in the historic village Kirkjubøur where he also lives. Photo by Ólavur Frederiksen.

When you get to the roundabout from Tórshavn, you have the option to head to the town Runavík on the eastern side of the Skálafjørður fjord and Strendur on the western side of the fjord. The price for entering the underwater tunnel as a commuter is 75 DKK (12 USD). You will be charged 150 DKK (about US$23) for a one-way journey without a tunnel pass.

Eysturoyartunnilin is the third underwater tunnel in the Faroe Islands following Vágatunnilin and Norðoyatunnilin. Vágatunnilin connects Vágar island to Streymoy island and Norðoyartunnilin links together Eysturoy island and Borðoy island. These are the subsea tunnels in the Faroe Islands:

  • Vágatunnilin, 4.9km
  • Norðoyatunnilin 6.2km
  • Eysturoyartunnilin 11.2km

Vágatunnilin opened in 2002. Norðoyatunnilin followed in 2006 and Eysturoyartunnilin in 2020.

Feeling inspired to visit the Faroe Islands and experience the tunnels and the nature in the untouched Nordic archipelago? Start out by checking flights to the Faroe Islands.

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