Vestmannaeyjar – The best kept secret of Iceland.
Vestmannaeyjar are made up of 15 islands and 30 rocks and skerries. Largest of the islands is Heimaey with a population of only 4.300 people.
The islands were built up over the past 10.000- 12.000 years in submarine eruptions of a volcanic system consisting of 70-80 volcanoes both below and above sea level.
But there is no need to worry, the newest island Surtsey was formed in 1967 after a four-year eruption. Only the longest volcanic eruption in Icelandic History!
Day trip to the Vestmannaeyjar
If you are longing to visit a destination with less tourists and more local interaction you have come to the right place. Vestmannaeyjar are considered to be one of the most exotic travel destinations in the country!
The trip to the Vestmannaeyjar takes only about 35 minutes one way. If you are travelling from Reykjavík, it will take you about 2 hours to drive to Landeyjahöfn harbor. Herjólfur sails seven times a day between Landeyjahöfn and Heimaey.
Visit the puffins
Vestmannaeyjar have the largest puffin colony of Europe. There are many ideal locations to view the puffins both from sea and from land.
In August- September the puffin hatchlings crawl out of their holes ready to take their first flight to sea. Many of these adolescence puffins get confused and land on the streets in danger of predators and cars. Therefore, the local children of the town form puffin patrols to save the baby puffins.
If you are visiting in August or September do not miss out on the annual baby puffin rescue.
Discover the volcanic past of Heimaey
23 of January 1973 the inhabitants of Vestmannaeyjar woke up only to find out that a volcano was erupting and spewing ash all over the town following by molten hot lava engulfing many of their houses. The evacuation of the island went well but the eruption lasted 5 months. With ash covering nearly the entire island the inhabitants still returned to reconstruct and dig up their previous homes.
In Vestmannaeyjar you can visit the museum built around one of the homes that was buried in the early hours of the eruption.
Food in Vestmannaeyjar
Vestmannaeyjar have a great selection of restaurants on the Island were you can get quality food prepared with ingredients from the island. Restaurants we specially recommend are
- Slippurinn. Once a machine workshop serving the old shipward, now serving seasonal local food.
- GOTT. A family owned restaurant, that uses a fresh, authentic ingredients, All sauces, broth, soups, bread and cakes are made from scratch at the restaurant.
- Einsi Kaldi. The restaurant ,,Einsi kaldi” specializes in preparing exotic dishes from products that is originated from and around the fishing grounds of the Islands.
Activities in Vestmannaeyjar
- Eyjatour offer a diverse selection of tours on the Island such as Puffin and Volcano tour.
- ATV tours on the Island. Volcano ATV offer both Volcano Tours and customized tours.
- Visit the world´s first beluga whale sanctuary here on the Island.
- Sagnheimar museum – A good insight into the unique history of Vestmannaeyjar
- The volcano museum Elheimar in Iceland is a must see. A unique volcanic and geological exhibition about the dramatic volcanic eruption in Vestmannaeyjar 1973.
- Booking Westman Island has tours to offer such as Lava walks with locals as well as a bike rent and a E- bike rent.
- Vestmannaeyjar boat tours offer boat trips around the island, boat on a Rib safari boat aswell as a sightseeingtour that sails around the island.
- Kayak & Puffins tours offer a 1.5 hour guided tour around the magnificent Klettsvík Bay in the Westman Islands off the southwest coast of Iceland.
Awesome spots in Vestmannaeyjar
- Elephant rock – The spot is one of the most photographed spots on the island.
- The golf course has 18 holes and has been choosen by Golf Digest as one of Europe´s 200 most enjoyable courses.
- Skansinn –There you will find replica of a canon from the Turkish raid in 1627. The raid had a huge impact on the whole nation. A replica of a Norse timber church is also located at Skansinn.
- The local swimming pool is one of the best in the country. There you can swim in inside salt water pool, relax in hot tubs, sauna, take a thrill ride in one of our three waterslides or try the climbing wall.
- Spranga – Cliff rappelling, the local sport of Heimaey. Scaling and swingin in the rocks of Heimaey.
- Stórhöfði – Definately the windiest place in Iceland and some even say the windiest spot in the whole Europe but the view makes up for it.
- Klauf is a black sand beach in a cove close to Stórhöfði. Here you can walk around or even be a true viking at heart and take a swim in the ocean but note there is no hot tub to warm you up afterwards so maybe the swimming pool is a better choice.
Social events in Vestmannaeyjar
- The puffin run is held in the beginning of May were you can take part in the off- trail and relay race around Heimaey.
- The sailor´s day is a public holiday in Iceland and alway held on the first weekend of June. As Vestmannaeyjar is an old fishing village this is a day that we hold very dear to our hearts. On Saturday we compete in various types of sports on the harbour and in the evening we have also various types of gatherings and parties.
- Goslokahátíð (The end of the eruption celebration). It is held on the weekend following the 3rd of July as this is the day that the volcanic eruption on the island was officially declared at an end in 1973. This weekend is filled with events and exhibitions of all kinds. On the Saturday there are gatherings at the harbour with bands playing and many fishermen open their boat shelters for partying. This is truly a unique festival where a great number of former islanders as well as others come to have a great time with us.
- Þjóðhátíð is unquestionably the most known as well as the biggest festival in Iceland. This uniqe 3 day outdoor festival has been held in the valley, Herjólfsdalur, since 1874. A full time schedule over the weekend with all kind of events for all ages, where the 24/7 party in the Herjólfsdalur valley is of course most attended. There are three highlight during the weekend, begginning with the unbelievable bonfire on the Friday evening, followed up by an incredible firework exhibition on the Saturday night. Finally, the last but not the least, the Sunday famous hillside sing-along event with Ingólfur Þórarinsson, as he goes through Icelandic folk songs.
- In the beginning of June a beer festival, The Brothers Brewery Beer and Street Food festival, is held in Vestmannaeyjar where various breweries come togather and pair beers with fantastic street food.
- Þrettándinn (The thirteenth) is a celebration were the islanders say goodbuy to christmas. We have a torch-lit parade with fascination creatures such as elves, faires, demons, trolls, santa clauses and ofcourse their parents. The ogress Grýla and her husband Leppalúði joining the locals at a huge bonfire and colourful fireworks