The islands of Vestmannaeyjar or the Westman Island, are the biggest islands around Iceland and the biggest one of them is called Heimaey (17 km2) as well as being one of the biggest fishing towns of Iceland. The Islands are located only about seven kilometers off the south coast of Iceland.
Vestmannaeyjar are the home of many seabirds during the summer time and therefore the perfect place to go and see the puffins and other seabirds. The island is also a great place for those who like to take pictures of birds or people who like bird watching.
The island is also an active volcano, the last volcanic eruption happened in the year 1973 when there was a volcanic eruption in Eldfell. It was very unexpected so when it started during the night of January 23rd people needed to be evacuated immediately. At the time there was about 5000 people living in the island. After the eruption the island got about 20% bigger but a lot of damage had been done. The lava had ruined many houses, around 400 houses went under the liver and many people lost their homes. Today there is a museum in Vestmannaeyjar about this event that tells people about what happened and how volcanic activity has interfere with humans living in Iceland.
What to do
The Fish and National History Museum of Vestmannaeyjar is also a great place to get to know the animals who live in the oceans around Iceland as well the history of fishing in Iceland. For those who are not seasick it is nice to take a boat trip around the islands or go sea angling. Because of its location Vestmannaeyjar are also the perfect place to try some of the fresh fish we have around Iceland.
Vestmannaeyjar offers many good accommodations, camping area, good variety of restaurants, outdoor swimming pool and other service including grocery stores.
To Spranga is like the national sport for residents of Vestmannaeyjar, where they swing on a rope in the cliffs, something everyone who are not afraid of heights should try when they visit the island. The island is also famous for being the home of the Killer whale Keiko who was the main star in the film Free Willy from 1993. Keiko was brought to Iceland by big airplane and stayed in Klettsvík in Vestmannaeyjar for some time before his swam out to Norway and died there.
The first weekend in August is always a big thing in Vestmannaeyjar it is when they host Þjóðhátíð one of the biggest summer festivals held in Iceland. Young people come together to listen to music and party, usually around ten thousand people. The atmosphere there is unique and amazing and if you like to party this is something that you should definitely check out.
For going to the Westman islands you can take a ferry from Landeyjahöfn harbor nearby Hvolsvöllur. Landeyjarhöfn is located about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Reykjavík. The ferry ride takes around 30 minutes to sail across to the islands. In winter it can take up to 3 hours sailing from the harbor in Þorlákshöfn town.