Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) The Top 8 Things To Do

Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) The Top 8 Things To Do

Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westman Islands, is a stunning archipelago made up of fourteen islands and countless rock formations rising from the ocean. Located off the southern coast of Iceland, these islands offer stunning natural beauty and adventurous opportunities for hikers of all levels. Whether you’re interested in exploring volcanic landscapes, observing seabirds, or discovering hidden caves, Vestmannaeyjar is sure to surprise you. Let’s explore the sights and hikes on this beautiful archipelago.

Transportation options and accessibility

The connection between Heimaey, the inhabited island of Vestmannaeyjar, and the mainland is maintained by a ferry to Landeyjarhöfn, a recently built ferry terminal on the southern coast of Iceland almost directly opposite Vestmannaeyjar with a 30-minute crossing. It is possible to take a car on the ferry, but reservation is required. You can do this here. Heimaey also has a small airport, from which several airlines offer frequent services to Reykjavíkurflugvöllur (Reykjavik Domestic Airport).

On the island itself, you can drive around with your own rental car, but if you’ve left it on the mainland or want to cycle and walk, you can do that on the island just fine. Cycling is an easy way to get around and there are bike rental companies available. You can also book a tour with an electric scooter.

1:  Eldfell Volcano

A must-see for geology and history enthusiasts. The Eldfell volcano dominates the landscape of Heimaey, the largest island in the archipelago. In 1973, the volcano erupted and covered half of the town with lava. Thanks to this eruption, two square kilometers of land were added. You can climb the volcano and enjoy a panoramic view of the islands and the ocean.

IJsland Westman Islands

2:  Stórhöfði

For bird lovers, Stórhöfði on the Westman Islands is a true paradise. This area on the south coast of Heimaey is home to numerous bird species, including puffins, guillemots, and northern fulmars. Take a walk to the lighthouse on Stórhöfði and enjoy breathtaking views of the cliffs full of birds. You can get close to the birds, but try not to disturb them.

IJsland Westman Icons of Iceland Puffins

3:  Visitor Center Beluga and Puffin Sanctuary with Aquarium

This center is a rescue center for birds, mainly puffins, that can no longer survive on their own. In addition, there are two rescued Beluga whales, who unfortunately can no longer return to the wild. With your visit, you help to maintain these whales and continue the rescue work. In addition, you can learn a lot about puffins and belugas and this beautiful museum is definitely worth a visit.

IJsland Westman Beluga IJsland Westman Puffin

4:  Skansinn

The fort at Skansinn was built in 1586 at the request of the Danish king to defend the king’s trade against actions from the English kingdom. At Skansinn, you can see a cannon from 1586, which was used, among other things, during exercises of the battalion of the Westman Islands that was established after the kidnapping by the Turks. Skansinn also has a black stave church, a replica of the first church on the Westman Islands that was built during the Christianization of the Icelanders in the year 1000 AD 12.

Opposite Skansinn is a valley called Hraunskógur, also known as Death Valley. The valley owes its name to the poisonous gases that accumulated after an eruption, which were deadly to inhale. Fortunately, it is now safe to go to the valley, and it is the perfect place for a picnic .

5:  Heimaklettur

This impressive cliff in Vestmannaeyjar offers a challenging hike with a reward of beautiful views. Start your climb with challenging stairs and ladders. Even chains hang on the exciting parts so you can hold on to yourself. Walk along the great cliffs and at the top you can sign the guestbook. Don’t forget to mention us there? Enjoy a panoramic view of the archipelago, with the vast ocean on one side and the rugged coastline on the other. You will be busy here for about an hour and a half.

IJsland Westman Heimaklettur

6:  Klettshellir cave

Adventurous souls can explore the mysterious Klettshellir cave, an underground labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that stretches beneath the landscape of the Westman Islands. Take part in a tour with a RIB boat and discover the secrets of this hidden world, formed by volcanic activity.

IJsland Westman Klettshellir grot

7:  Herjólfsdalur

For a taste of history and natural beauty, a visit to Herjólfsdalur is a must. This area offers hiking trails that wind through green valleys and past waterfalls. At the top of the summit, you even have to climb up with ropes, so it is not just a hiking trail. From the top, you have stunning views of the sea and the Westman Islands.

IJsland Westman Herjolfsdalur

8:  Fireworkfestival Þjóðhátíð (Thjodhautid)

This literally means: National holiday. If you’re lucky enough to visit Vestmannaeyjar during the Fireworks Festival, you can witness a spectacular display of light and color. It takes place on the weekend before the 1st Monday in August. Every year, thousands of people come to the archipelago to enjoy the beautiful fireworks displays set off above the islands. This also means crowds and the necessity to book early if you want to attend.

IJsland Westman Herjolfsdalur

Whether you’re an adventurous hiker, a nature enthusiast, or a history buff, Vestmannaeyjar has something for everyone. This enchanting archipelago offers a unique combination of breathtaking landscapes, geological wonders, and fascinating cultural heritage. Be sure to include this in your next trip to Iceland and explore the hidden gems of Vestmannaeyjar.

Iceland is an island with many hidden beauties, there’s plenty to discover. If you’d like to see more of the country, do take a look at our 9-day itinerary or 16-day itinerary through Iceland. Or consider exploring the other side of Vík towards Thakgil, a campsite with fantastic hiking trails.

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