Things to do in Heimaey Island

Things to do in  Heimaey Island

Caution: puffin crossing

Although it’s only around 40 minutes from mainland Iceland, the rest of the world can feel very distant on the small volcanic island of Heimaey, the largest of the Westman Islands. Encircled by moss-covered cliffs that drop into the North Atlantic, Heimaey is rich in sea and bird life—millions of Atlantic puffins arrive every summer, closely followed by birdwatchers. Besides puffin-spotting, hiking on Eldfell volcano and taking a boat tour around the archipelago are top things to do on Heimaey.

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All about Heimaey Island

When to visit

While it’s often windy in the Westman Islands, temperatures here are some of the mildest in Iceland. Visiting between May and September offers the best conditions for hiking and for seeing puffins, whales, and seals. In early August, the island hosts a week-long outdoor festival, Þjódhátíð, which is one of the country’s largest cultural festivals and involves live music, fireworks, bonfires, and a huge singalong.

Getting around

Measuring just 5.2 square miles (13.4 square kilometers), Heimaey is a small island, and you can easily get around on foot. That said, you can cover ground more quickly by bicycle; rent one on the island or bring one over on the ferry. You can also bring a vehicle from the mainland on the ferry or book a guided tour.

Traveler tips

Swimming pools play an outsized role in Icelandic culture, and visiting one lets you get a peek into the everyday lives of the locals. When you’re on Heimaey, take some time to visit the Brimholalaut swimming pool in Vestmannaeyjar, which has an indoor heated pool as well as several outdoor pools, hot tubs, water slides, and a sauna and steam room.


People Also Ask

Is Heimaey Island worth visiting?

Yes, Heimaey Island is the largest island of the Westman Islands—and the only inhabited one—making it ideal for a secluded and peaceful getaway. Heimaey gets especially busy in summer when puffins flood to the island to nest and boat tours take visitors out to see them.

What is so special about Heimaey Island?

More Atlantic puffins nest at Heimaey Island than anywhere in the world. The puffins can also be seen inland—even around town in Aug. and Sep. The Westman Islands, including Heimaey, are also renowned for being the best place in Iceland for orcas and fin whales.

How do you see puffins on Heimaey island?

Great Cape (Stórhöfði) on the southern side of Heimaey is the best place to see nesting puffins. It includes a lookout point and paths where people can walk along cliffs for views. In the summer, boat tours take visitors to see the puffins, and sometimes you'll spot whales and dolphins.

Can you drive to Heimaey island?

No. To get from Iceland to the island of Heimaey you'll need to travel by ferry or plane. Some tours include bus transport and ferry fare. Transporting your car via ferry for use on the island is an option, but book in advance to reserve a spot.

What are the top attractions to visit in Heimaey Island?

Top attractions on Heimaey Island include Sæheimar Natural History Museum and Aquarium, which offers a peek at the island's underwater world and at puffins. Other attractions include the Sagnheimar folk museum, a golf course, and swimming pool. The Eldheimar Volcano Museum, commemorating the 1973 Eldfell eruption, is also popular.

What are the best months to visit Heimaey Island?

The best months to visit Heimaey Island are May through Sep. because that's when you're most likely to spot whales and dolphins. This is also the time of year when puffins flock to the island to nest, so you'll have a far better chance of witnessing this phenomenon.

Frequently Asked Questions
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