Karawankentunnel: Traffic jams and much more in Slovenia
The Karawankentunnel is not just any road tunnel, but the longest in Slovenia. Accordingly, it plays an important role in the country’s traffic situation. What's more, the tunnel connects Slovenia with its neighbour Austria. Therefore, anyone planning a side trip there will most likely drive through the Karawankentunnel in a northerly direction.
Holidaymakers travelling to Austria from the Slovenian Adriatic or from Ljubljana need to be aware of a few things. For example, you cannot simply use the road tunnel with the Slovenia vignette. You must pay a separate toll if you want to travel through the road tunnel.
In the following article, we will explain everything you need to know about the Karawankentunnel before you set off on your trip. How long is the Karawankentunnel? Is a Karawankentunnel traffic jam live stream available? What are the costs for the Karawankentunnel? We will answer these and many more questions and make sure your trip through the tunnel goes smoothly.
Karawankentunnel currently: general information
Current figures indicate that the number of vehicles travelling through the Karawankentunnel every day is 30 000 at peak times. Even if you are not using the tunnel during the holiday season or on a weekend in summer, the number amounts to 10 000 vehicles.
So, considering the number of travellers it's not surprising that traffic jams occur every now and then. But why do so many people go through the road tunnel every day? We have collected the most important facts about the route.
Length of the Karawankentunnel
The tube currently in operation is 7864 metres long. The new tube is even longer: it is 7948 metres long and will soon replace the west tube (for a limited period). The road tunnel must be that long because it runs through the Karawanken Alps, which are part of the Limestone Alps. If the tunnel did not exist in this form, motorists would have to travel an hour longer to cover the distance.
Drive from Jesenice (Slovenia): Karawankentunnel Villach (Austria)
The Karawankentunnel connects two major motorways. If you start your trip in Slovenia, you will head towards the tunnel on the Avtocesta A2. The motorway connects several borders in Europe. It runs from Croatia across Slovenia past the capital Ljubljana to the small town of Jesenice in Upper Carniola. In Ljubljana, it meets the A1, which leads to the border between Slovenia and Hungary.
If you drive north through the tunnel, you will reach Villach in Austria on the other side. The A2 in Slovenia is called the Karawankenautobahn A11 in Austria. It is an extension of the A10 Tauernautobahn, which in turn runs through large parts of Austria and ends at the junction near Salzburg, close to the border with Germany. The location of the Karawankentunnel and the motorways that lead directly to it thus make it apparent how many places and even countries the tunnel connects.
Renovation work: The second tube
We have already mentioned how many cars pass through the tunnel every day. The Karawankentunnel has thus reached its capacity limit in its current state. To ensure that safety in the tunnel can still be guaranteed, another tunnel tube has been under construction since 2018. According to the plan, it will be completed by 2025. After that, work will begin on the "old" tube.
So, when you hear terms like "general renovation preparatory phase 01 km" etc., they are usually related to the major tunnel construction and renovation project on the Karawankentunnel. The construction work is expected to last until 2027 - from then on, both tubes are to be put into operation.
Slovenia Karawankentunnel traffic jam information
Drivers need a lot of patience on some days near Jesenice in Slovenia. If you are listening to the traffic information and the radio and hear things like "Current traffic jam Karawankentunnel" or "Traffic jam Karawankentunnel live today", you must expect waiting times.
Most of the time there is a traffic jam not only in one direction but in both directions. This means that not only people travelling from Slovenia to Austria but also people travelling in the opposite direction must wait at the border crossing.
Reasons for the traffic jam: Karawankentunnel closed
If an accident occurs in the road tunnel, it is a major traffic disruption and brings everything to a standstill. However, accidents are not always the reason why there are delays when travelling from the south to the north. A broken-down car or truck is in the way in the middle of the lane, there is a roadworks site before or after the road tunnel, the traffic volume is particularly high during the summer holidays, there is a border control or the Karawankentunnel is simply closed due to construction work. That can also happen. Even an event like a marathon or weather conditions can halt traffic at the border between Austria and Slovenia.
There are countless reasons why waiting times arise in the connecting tunnel between Jesenice and Villach am Faaker See. Currently, the tunnel is neither closed nor are there any other known problems that could bring traffic in the road tunnel to a standstill for a longer period. However, before every trip to Austria, you should find out what the situation is in the vicinity of the tunnel, to at least avoid the traffic obstructions that are announced in advance. Of course, the same rule applies to the trip back to Slovenia.
Avoiding major traffic jams and waiting time at the Karawankentunnel
Even before you approach Jesenice and the toll booth at the Karawankentunnel, you should enquire about the situation on-site. It can often be too late a few kilometres before the road tunnel, and you might find yourself in a long queue of vehicles.
For this purpose, it is advisable to check real-time data, if such information is available. We’ve already mentioned the radio - this is certainly one of the options you can use to better estimate the loss of time. Regarding the Karawankentunnel, however, there is another option to obtain information on traffic jams.
There is a webcam at the Karawankentunnel that allows you to follow the traffic on the roads. All you must do is search for "Livecam Karawankentunnel" online and you will be well informed. This solution is particularly useful if you want to travel through the road tunnel on weekends or during holidays.
Karawankentunnel live today: alternative routes
If there is a traffic jam, you should look for an alternative route in good time and avoid the Karawankentunnel. From Slovenia, the following routes are possible at the border: For example, you can use the Loiblpass, which runs from Tržič to Ferlach.
The Wurzenpass is a neighbouring crossing and thus another alternative to avoid the road tunnel. It leads from the Slovenian side from Jesenice via Kranjska Gora to Villach. You first drive on the R201 until you reach the B109 (Wurzenpass St.) in Austria.
If you decide to take the passes, however, you should be aware of one or two exceptions: The routes are only suitable for drivers without trailers. Due to the reduced speed and the detour, it takes longer to take the route over the Alps. In the worst case, you must switch to the train or even to other means of public transport.
Karawankentunnel toll 2022/23
We have already previously mentioned the toll for the Karawankentunnel. There are some details about it that you should pay attention to. This is mainly because the two "tunnel ends" are managed by different authorities or infrastructure companies.
DARS and ASFINAG: Karawankentunnel
On the Slovenian side, DARS is responsible for the road tunnel, while on the Austrian side, ASFINAG is responsible. It is unusual for two companies to "share" a stretch of road, but in this case, it is due to the tunnel's location on the border. This is why the road tunnel is an exceptional situation.
Toll Karawankentunnel: Toll station Hrušica
If you are coming from Slovenia, you pay the toll at a local sales point. This is located near Hrušica. The toll costs EUR 7.80 and can be paid on-site using various means of payment (cash, credit card or bank card). Drivers who travel through the tunnel frequently can pay for several trips at once using a points card. The vignette is not required for the Karawankentunnel, but for the stretch (Avtocesta A2) before it. Therefore, you should not forget to pay for the vignette before your trip.
Buy Karawankentunnel toll online
Travellers heading south from Austria have the option of buying the vignette and toll for the Karawankentunnel online. This offer is not yet available for a trip in the other direction.
Purchase your E-vignette and have a nice trip, Slovenia!