Vestmannaeyjar

Heimaey

Vestmannaeyjar, or Vestman Islands, is a small volcanic archipelago of about 15 islands about 10 km south of Iceland. Only one of them is inhabited, the largest island Heimaey with the town of Vestmannaeyjar, which has a population of less than 4,000.

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In Vestmannaeyjar you can enjoy complete amenities from many restaurants and fast-food outlets, to banks, post office, hotels and supermarkets. You may be surprised at how motorised Vestmannaeyjar is, given the fact that locals will rarely travel more than 3km here.

Heimaey volcanoes

Heimaey's biggest attraction is definitely the 200 metre high Eldfell volcano with its interesting dark red coloured gravel and rocks. A little further on is the much smaller Helgafell volcano. It is the ascent of Eldfell volcano that is the most common destination for hikers. From here, you can enjoy beautiful views of the whole island of Heimaey, as well as the surprisingly deep and wide crater of the volcano, which is also still slightly smoking at times.

In 1973, the volcanoes drove all the locals off the island, and it was only thanks to the mercifully slow lava flow and a very large fleet of fishing boats that all the inhabitants managed to escape. In order to preserve life on the fisherman-important archipelago of Vestmannaeyjar, the Icelandic government decided to stop and divert the lava flows with the help of many water cannons, a mission that was ultimately successful. About 2/3 of all the houses and the vital harbour were preserved.

Hiking on Heimaey

Due to its compact size and very good infrastructure, Heimaey Island is ideal for short hikes, which usually take you to one of the local volcanoes or coastal cliffs that offer beautiful views of the ocean and surrounding islands.

The best routes with descriptions can be found, for example, on alltrails.com.

Unique weather - clear and sunny

The Vestmannaeyjar archipelago enjoys a unique microclimate unseen in Iceland, thanks to its location away from the influence of the Icelandic mountains and the daily strong winds. Thanks to the strong influence of the Gulf Stream, the islands also boast the highest average temperature of any place in Iceland.

While the temperature rarely drops below freezing in winter, it can rise to 20 °C during the summer. Although it is very rainy on Vestmannaeyjar, the precipitation always comes in the form of quick showers with clear, sunny skies in between. In terms of hours of sunshine, Vestmannaeyjar again ranks first in Iceland.

How to get there?

The main island of Heimaey can be reached by air and by ferry.

By air

Fly here if you want to take a 24-hour trip from Reykjavik without a car. You can easily get around Heimaey on foot. From Reykjavík' s domestic airport RKV, a small airline www.eagleair.is flies to Vestmannaeyjar VEY twice a week in winter and daily in summer . However, return tickets are very expensive (around 240 EUR).

Ferry

Much better is the boat trip, which sails on two different routes. You can also board the ferry with a car, but it is possible to leave your car for free in the car park at the harbour and only go to Heimaey as a walker.

  • Vestmannaeyjar - Landeyjahöfn (harbour location: google.com/maps): approx. 7-10 times a day, sailing time 45 minutes. A one-way ticket for 1 person costs 2 000 ISK, an extra car ticket is for 3 000 ISK
  • Vestmannaeyjar - Þorlákshöfn (port location: google.com/maps): approx. 2 times a day, sailing time 2 hours, sailing only in summer. A one-way ticket for 1 person costs 4 000 ISK, an extra car ticket is for 5 000 ISK

Tickets are ideally purchased online at the shipping companies website herjolfur.is/en.

Accommodation

The island of Heimaey is a popular place to stay overnight and relax in an area with nice weather. Warning. Local guesthouses and hotels are often booked more than six months in advance, especially for weekend stays during the summer. Vestmannaeyjar is the most popular summer destination for Icelanders.

For the sake of clarity, we select the best accommodation in two categories:

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