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You are here : Home > Iceland Travel Guide > Southern Iceland > Westman Islands

Your trip to the Westman Islands

Photo the Westman Islands

Westman Islands Excursion

The Westman archipelago is located about a dozen kilometres off the coast, in Iceland's southwest. Formed following a series of under water eruptions, it is composed of 15 islands and about thirty islets. The site's beauty and cultural richness are well worth at least a two day detour.

The Legend of the Men from the West

The legendary Ingolfur Arnarsson tracked his brother's assassins to the Westman Islands where he killed them to avenge his brother's death. The assassins had been Irish slaves of Hjorleifur's. This story and the old Icelandic nickname for the Irish; "men from the West" are what gave the archipelago its name.

Heimaey Island Visit

Of all the Westman Islands, Heimaey is the only one to be inhabited, and if you are spending a night or two, this is where you'll stay. In this serene atmosphere, Heimaey's people live prosperously thanks to their fishing and fish cannery industries. The village is charming, and its little coloured houses are reminiscent of another time. The island's southern tip is much less tame. - During your stay we strongly recommend that you take a boat tour of the islands. Amidst the craggy landscapes of cliffs you'll see thousands of Atlantic Puffins. Even ornithologists have never seen so many birds in such a small area! There are also a few caves that you can explore on foot.

- Any tour of the Westman islands is incomplete without a hike to the top of the Eldfell volcano (205m). In this place where the four elements come together, walkers will discover a clear view over the islands and the sea. On clear days, you can make out on the mainland the sparkling icecap of Myrdalsjokull "the glacier of the swamp valley". Finally, if you get the chance, you must absolutely taste the tasty black break that the island's women bake under the crater's burning ashes.

- Climb back down to the port and discover the "new land" of Heimaey. Eldfell's eruption in 1973 unleashed a monumental lava stream that increased the territory of the island by about 20 percent! Don't miss the little natural haven of the Gaujulundur garden that contrasts with the lunar aspect of the lava.

- In the north-western part of the island, the Skansinn fort was spared from the lava, luckily, as it is Iceland's only fort. Built in 1630 as a defence against pirate attacks, this is the only time Iceland has ever had a standing army.

- Finally, while visiting Heimaey don't miss its Natural History Museum, renowned for its aquariums. Another must-see- the folk museum's fantastic exhibits.Westman Islands Tourism

Getting to the Westman Islands

If you're travelling to the Westman Islands in the beginning of August, you'll be able to attend their big rock music festival, one of the Iceland's most exciting!

To get to the Westman Islands, you can board a Westman Islands ferry at the port of Thorlakshofn, a 2 hour drive from Reykjavik. The boat ride lasts 40 minutes. You can also fly from the Bakki aerodrome near Hvolsvollur. The flight only lasts about 6 minutes! Since Heimaey Island is fairly large (13 square km), we would recommend that you rent a car once you get there.

To organize your trip to the Westman Islands, contact us! Contact

Read more about Southern Iceland:  
Landmannalaugar | Hekla | The Westman Islands | Vatnajokull | Jokulsarlon | Thorsmork | Skaftafell | Skogar | Vik |

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