Welcome to the Westman Islands!

Where brightly colored houses, puffins, mouthwatering local cuisine, and beautiful sights are waiting to be explored – all just a short detour off the iconic Ring Road. 

This archipelago, also known as Vestmannaeyjar, is located off the south coast of Iceland and is close enough to take a day trip from Reykjavík but interesting enough to stay for the weekend!

Explore the little volcanic island of Heimaey, where everything is within walking distance and bringing a car is optional. Hike up to a volcanic mountain or discover local museums and breweries.

But before you go, a bit of planning is key.

This post covers everything you need to know to plan a smooth trip to the Westman Islands. 

Want to know how to get there, where to stay, and what to do?

Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents:

Heimaey: Westman Islands Iceland

Picture of the Famous Rainbow Row Street in Heimaey, the largest island of the Westman Islands | Iceland with a View

The only inhabited island of the Westman Islands is Heimaey. There are about 4300 people that live here and it’s accessible year round.

The charming little fishing village of Vestmannaeyjarbær is found on Heimaey and you can find great dining spots and lots of activities. Everything is close by so you can easily walk to the various sights.

Heimaey is also the largest of the islands in the archipelago and is home to two volcanoes, Helgafell and Eldfell.

When we take a look at accommodation, dining options, and things to do here, it’ll all be on Heimaey Island, Iceland.

Westman Islands Weather

The climate in this region is particularly windy and rainy.

In the winter, between October and April, you can expect it to be cloudy, and windy with snowfall.

Summer is marked by rainy weather and even fog.

The weather is unpredictable so it’s important to come prepared with waterproof, windproof, and thermal gear, even if you are traveling here over the summer!

Average Temperatures

The yearly average temperatures range from 3.8 degrees Celsius (38.8 degrees Fahrenheit) to 7.5 degrees Celsius (45.5 degrees Fahrenheit) 

Best Time of Year to Visit

This area is accessible year-round, although summer tends to be the most popular time to visit.

In my opinion, May – October offers the perfect window to discover the Westman Islands.  

The weather tends to be milder and the seas less stormy, making the ferry ride a much more pleasant experience!

How to Get to Westman Islands

You have a couple of options to access Heimaey Iceland – by ferry or by plane. Let’s take a closer look.

Westman Islands Ferry 

Picture of the Herjólfur Ferry at Landeyjahöfn as an Option to Get to the Westman Islands | Iceland with a View

You can catch the Herjólfur ferry at Landeyjahöfn terminal which is about a 15-minute drive from Seljalandsfoss and roughly a 2-hour drive from Reykjavík. 

Taking this Heimaey ferry is the most popular and cheapest option to get to the Westman Islands.

It’s suggested that you be there 20-30 minutes before departure to avoid rushing and get everyone boarded smoothly. 

The great thing is that you can bring your vehicle along. Those without a vehicle will simply walk on board, but if you’re driving, you’ll need to park your car in designated lanes and wait for your tickets to be scanned. 

While you can book a ticket when you get there, I highly recommend pre-booking online, especially if you’re bringing a vehicle, as they might not have enough space available on the ferry otherwise.

In good weather, the ferry ride usually takes about 35 minutes. 

When we took a weekend trip to the Westman Islands, a storm rolled in and the ferry was canceled due to rough seas, so keep in mind that this is also a possibility. Keep your itinerary flexible over the time you’re visiting this area.

The ferry ended up having to take an alternate route which took three hours to get to the mainland and we were all seasick because the seas were so rough! 

It wasn’t ideal, but in a climate as unpredictable as Iceland’s, you learn to roll with the punches!

Access by Plane

If you don’t plan on taking a vehicle with you, the other option to get to Heimaey Island, Iceland, is to take a flight from Reykjavík to Vestmannaeyjar Airport. 

It’ll take about 20 minutes and while this is the faster option, it’s also the most expensive!

Westman Island Hotels And Accommodation Options

Whether you’re looking for Westman Islands hotels, guesthouses, or hostels that are more budget-friendly, you’ll be able to find a variety of options that best suit your needs.

In the peak of summer, accommodations fill up early and the prices get pushed up, so I wouldn’t recommend waiting until the last minute to book.

If you want to avoid mistakes that’ll cost you money when booking a place to stay, then check out the video below👇

In Heimaey, Westman Islands, a couple of hotel options include the Hótel Vestmannaeyjar or the Westman Islands Inn for a slightly more affordable option. 

However, if you want to experience nature at its best, there’s no beating camping!

You can set up a tent at the camping grounds, but my favorite way to camp in Iceland is by going the campervan route.

It’s incredibly convenient because you can stop whenever necessary and prepare meals on the go. 

This is especially helpful if, like us, you’re traveling with a toddler who may need snack and nap breaks often.

Toddlers are about as unpredictable as Iceland’s weather!

Happy Campers is my go-to for campervan rentals –  we use them every chance we get! 

💡Book a Happy Campers Van and get a 10% discount with my code when you get on my email list! 

Yay for discounts! 🙌


Slippurinn restaurant: Feeling hungry? In the heart of the Westman Islands is a true culinary gem called Slippurinn.

If the words ‘local’ and ‘sustainable’ are music to your ears, this restaurant will be your foodie paradise.

I must admit, when I saw a sea urchin on the menu, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was out of this world! It was sourced from a diver that morning and garnished with capers and horseradish. 

For mains, we had cod with a cream sauce and apple fennel salad, as well as lamb topped with hazelnuts and au jus.  

P.S. Their mashed potatoes were the best I’ve ever had in my life!

Of course, we had to wash it all down with some craft cocktails. 😉

The gimlet we ordered was delicious and they even had a booklet detailing the local herbs that each cocktail was infused with.

We couldn’t possibly leave without indulging in a bit of dessert. My favorite was the Skyr Granita with caramel and roasted oats.

Gott: The food is prepared using fresh and healthy ingredients.  Their extensive menu includes wraps, burgers, pasta, nachos, delicious seafood, and cocktails. 

Vegan and vegetarian options are available and in 2023 they were the recipient of Tripadvisor’s 2023 Traveler’s Choice Award.

Picture of a Lunch Plate from Gotts in the Westman Islands | Iceland with a View

Things to do

Even though Heimaey Island is a small place, there’s actually a lot to do, so don’t worry about getting bored! You can visit many of these places yourself or take guided Westman Islands tours where you’ll stop at multiple sites.


There are quite a few hiking trails in the Westman Islands.

If you’re looking for a steep and challenging route, then Heimaklettur is a popular one to try out. The best time of year to hike this 1.1 mile trail is in the summer.

There’s also a short hike to Eldfell Mountain, which translates to fire mountain that erupted in 1973.

We were able to do the hike with a toddler, so it’s definitely doable.

The hike to the top of Eldfell Crater takes about 30 minutes – but you can extend it by hiking around the crater as well.  You can do this yourself or as part of a tour. Take a peak below👇

➡️ Take A Tour: Volcanic Westman Islands Tour | Small Group


Þjóðhátíð -This is an outdoor music festival and the biggest festival in Iceland. 

It spans over a weekend and it’s estimated that around 12,000 people travel from the mainland to Heimaey Island and it’s one of the most anticipated events of the year! 

Many choose to camp and you can expect bonfires, music, an incredible atmosphere, and various events catering to all ages. 

It usually takes place towards the end of July/beginning of August, but you will have to book your festival and ferry tickets as well as accommodation WELL in advance, as this is an incredibly popular event with locals.

It will take some planning to work it into your itinerary, but if you can swing it, it’s the experience of a lifetime! 

Eldheimar Volcano Museum

Picture of Part of the 400 buildings and homes that were destroyed in 1973 with Lava in the Westman Islands | Iceland with a View
Picture of Part of the 400 buildings and homes that were destroyed in 1973 with Lava in the Westman Islands | Iceland with a View

There’s a fantastic exhibition telling the story of the 1973 eruption where some 400 buildings and homes were destroyed.

When you exit the museum you can see one of the excavated houses that was overtaken from the lava from the eruption.

It’s a super educational look at this part of local history!

Westman Islands Puffins

The southern tip of Westman Islands is Stórhöfði and it’s known for being the windiest point in Europe, and the cliffs provide a good place to spot puffins nesting on the island.

The best time to spot them is from mid-April to mid-August. 

It’s extremely rare to see puffins at the end of August but when we traveled here during that time we were incredibly lucky to see them!

Every year after nesting on the cliff sides of Iceland, the puffins will migrate back out to sea, where they will live for the rest of the year. 

Sometimes baby puffins can get distracted and fly back to land, and get trapped in the streets and around the buildings because they can’t find their way back by themselves. 

Icelanders rescue these little pufflings, put them in a box, and drive to the nearest cliff, then toss them off the cliff so that they can rejoin their colony. 

➡️ Tour: Westman Islands Adventure – Private Eco Tour

Visit the Local Brewery

The Brother’s Brewery isn’t your average bar, it’s also a brewery that offers tours. 

During the tour, you’ll learn about the brewing process – and enjoy a delicious beer tasting!

Sæheimar Aquarium 

Picture of Jeannie's Toddler Interacting with a Beluga Whale in the Sæheimar Aquarium in the Westman Islands in Iceland | Iceland with a View

Visit the World’s first Beluga whale sanctuary. Their aim, among other things, is to enhance the well-being of Beluga whales in their care. 

You can also see the two Beluga whales called Little White and Little Grey, as well as a few resident puffins. 

So cute! 🥰

Elephant Rock and Small Islands Trip

Picture of the Elephant Rock in Heimaey, Iceland | Iceland with a View

Fifteen islands make up the Westman Islands.

Learn about the history of the area and even visit Elephant Rock. This is an impressive rock formation in Heimaey that looks like – you guessed it – an elephant!

Opt for the Two-Hour Ribsafari Adventure Trip sail to the most popular islands on the archipelago like Súlnasker with its impressive cliffs. 

Or the One Hour Small Islands Trip for a slightly shorter trip to visit these smaller islands.

Keep your eyes peeled, you may even spot whales and seals on these tours if you’re lucky!

Local Sport of Spranga

Spranga is a local Icelandic sport said to have originated in the Westman Islands, Iceland.

It’s usually practiced at the Skipahellar caves and it involves rappelling and swinging from cliffs.

It’s free to try out the rope swinging at Spranga, about 0.6 km from the Westman Islands Ferry.

Surtsey Island

Surtsey, the youngest island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was formed in 1963 from a volcanic eruption that took place in the ocean. 

Located 21.7km from Heimaey island, visitors can take a tour to the island, but aren’t allowed on it because it’s been protected since its formation.

However, scientists conduct intriguing studies on Surtsey, observing how plants and animals colonize new land.

The Westman Islands make for an excellent detour off the Ring Road, here are a few other places you might want to explore while touring this route.

➡️ READ: 5 Best Ring Road Detours

Iceland Travel Guides

Are you feeling overwhelmed by planning a trip to South and West Iceland?

Wouldn’t it be great to have an ‘inside’ source to guide you through it all?

Well, guess what? I’ve got some fantastic news for you!

My South + West Travel Guide – a 186-page PDF guide, is filled with insider tips and a detailed digital map. 

Explore everything from volcanoes and glaciers to family-friendly spots and hidden gems.

And the best part? It includes planning worksheets to help you craft your dream itinerary effortlessly.

Need to locate toilets, souvenir shops, or the nearest health clinic? I’ve got your back. This guide covers all the practical details you need to know for an awesome trip!

Happy Planning!

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