From Britain to Iceland by Automobile

On April 30, 2009 · 2 Comments

Certainly one of the more pressing questions of our time is whether someone can use an automobile to travel between Britain and Iceland. By "pressing" I mean of importance to me naturally, because the questions that press upon my mind are rather simplistic. Maybe you are feeling a little curious too. Can someone drive from London to Reykjavík?

Preposterous, the great Internet hordes scoff.

London and Reykjavík are located on widely separated islands. There’s no bridge that covers anywhere near the 1,897 kilometers (1,179 miles, 1,024 nautical miles, take your pick) distance between these two capital cities. True enough. However, ferryboats make that journey possible. Yes, of course I’m cheating with that answer.

Whether it makes better sense to fly to Iceland and rent a car at the Keflavík airport is immaterial. I’ve flown to Iceland multiple times and that’s the way I’d do it, but I recognize that other people have different motivations. Perhaps our unnamed tourist really, really likes her own automobile. Perhaps she can’t stand the thought of driving with a steering wheel on the opposite side. Perhaps she needs an assistive device not commonly found on rental cars. Like a breathalyzer. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The important point is that she can transport her personal automobile from Britain to Iceland using the public road system combined with regularly-scheduled ferry services.

View Britain to Iceland by Automobile in a larger map

The first step involves a voyage from Britain to continental Europe. Plenty of options exist and numerous companies provide convenient car ferry service across the English Channel. Denmark is the goal. DFDS Seaways provides a nice option between Harwich and Esbjerg, Denmark. Cheaper possibilities also exist for shorter distances across water if one doesn’t mind then driving up from France, Belgium or the Netherlands to arrive in Denmark.

Options narrow from this point forward. Actually there’s only one possible option and the necessary stars line up maybe once a week during the best times of year: the Smyril Line. It departs either from Esbjerg or Hanstholm, Denmark depending on condition and timeframe. So… our fictional traveler could eliminate continental driving entirely with some upfront planning via Esbjerg.

From there the ferry Norröna beats a path towards Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands, an autonomous province of the Kingdom of Denmark. Our adventurous traveler would remain aboard the Norröna while calling on port and would then continue onward through the North Atlantic bound for Seyðisfjörður, a small village on the eastern Icelandic coast. From here our traveler would catch the Ring Road and roll down to Reykjavík to the southwest. She has made it to Iceland safely with her car.

This used to be easier back when the Smyril Line operated regular service between Scrabster, Scotland and the Faroe Islands. That route has been discontinued for the 2009 sailing season due to the economy. However, it’s still possible to get to Iceland by the more circuitous route outlined above.

If I’m spending all this time describing Ferries, then regular readers have probably already guessed that I’ve completed yet another one of my insanely detailed ferry maps (because I’d have to be insane to go to this level of detail). That is indeed the case. I’d like to introduce the newest addition to my growing collection: Ferries of the British Islands and the Republic of Ireland. This one almost did me in so I think I’ll take a break from these for awhile.

I never would have imagined that I’d document nearly 250 different ferry lines in such a small geographic area. Each one had to be researched, documented, geo-coded and loaded by hand into an xml file. It took months. In fact if you go back into my blog archive you will find a story I posted last December about the most remote town in mainland Britain. It mentioned a ferry. I uncovered that story while researching the beginnings of the latest map. That’s how long I’ve been working on this. Anyway, please enjoy this addition since I will now focus my attention on other web matters that I’ve long neglected while trying to finish this almost never-ending project.

On April 30, 2009 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “From Britain to Iceland by Automobile”

  1. Oskar Altpapier says:

    And there I thought you were found some connected sand banks forming a ridge during low tide 🙂

    Re ferries – Isn’t there a ferry from Flushing (Vlissingen) in the Netherlands to Harwich?

    • Stenaline currently (May 2009) offers sevice between Harwich and Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands. The thing I’ve learned about ferry routes is that they don’t remain the same. Even the European ferries change routes over time due to to customer demand, the state of the economy, the price of fuel, or weather conditions at given times of the year. Until those sand banks form, be sure to check with individual ferry operators to see what’s available.

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