While Vestmannaeyjar might seem just like another example of Icelanders trying to cram too many vowels into one word, this complex of tiny islands not far away from the mainland is actually a wonderful place to visit. The natural beauty of the island, contrasted with the background of the volcano eruption in 1973 makes it an interesting place indeed! Green grass in the contrast of the new black lava, that’s the spirit of the powerful mother nature. I personally really enjoyed the tour there and I am sure you would as well. These were my highlights of the tour to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands:
1. The Boat Tour
Highly recommended! A great beginning of the Heimaey island exploration. I was amazed. I saw a lot of funny puffins and other seabirds, different shapes of the rock formation (the elephant rock formation is amazing) and far, far away you can see Surtsey island in the shape of a mouse. It was formed after an eruption in 1963 and no one is allowed to get on that island except the scientists researching how life starts on a new lava island. Further along, you will also see a small uninhabited island with nothing but a few sheep on top. Wondering how the sheep got there? They were taken there by farmers in spring, stay there all summer long and are taken back to their farms at the end of summer.
Hope you are not seasick because this might be a great part of your day.
2. The Lunch
Don’t skip lunch! Stay healthy and have a good lunch break at the Gott restaurant (number one on Tripadvisor among restaurant in Westman Islands). They serve a tasty lunch menu with fresh fish, essential when spending the day on a . If you are not a fish person, you can choose between salads, wraps or steaks. There are even some gluten-free options and vegans are welcome. Very cosy place and if the sun is shining you can even have your lunch in an outside garden.
3. The Bus Tour
I got such an amazing guide on my tour! She was a middle-aged lady with a great sense of humour and perfect driving skills. We drove all around the island and she told us all about the people who live on the island or have lived there in the past. It was so rewarding! Her son is a famous Icelandic singer. She was so proud of him so we were listening to his songs on the bus. We had a really lovely time. Google the musician – Júníus Meyvant. I hope you will like it as I did!
4. The Museum
Do you think you are not a museum type of person? Don’t worry, this is different. The centrepiece of the exhibition is an actual house damaged in the eruption in 1973. It’s been conserved inside a new building and is the focal point of an exhibition dedicated to the catastrophic events when all of the island’s inhabitants had to flee their homes in the middle of the night because of a volcanic eruption. To top it off, the staff is nice and there’s an audio guide for every visitor. Walk around the museum and listen to the story of how the events that night and the months that followed it.
5. The Puffins
Or puffin to be exact. Vestmannaeyjar is the biggest dwelling of puffins in Iceland but there’s one in particular that will catch your attention. His name is Tóti and he is so cute! You can visit him in the Vestmannaeyjar Aquarium where he lives from 10 am to 5 pm every day (during the summer season). With his colourful beak and jet-black feathers, he stays calm, sleeping, sometimes even walking around and checking what’s going on.