Westmann Islands

Overview

Introduction

Though Iceland's Westmann Islands are generally seen on a one-day air trip from Reykjavik, we prefer to spend up to two days (the only accommodation is in the village of Heimaey).

There are many active volcanoes—part of the attraction is seeing the results of their eruptions. For instance, the volcano on Heimaey erupted in 1973, nearly closing off the harbor and adding 15% to the landmass of the island. The eruption forced a dramatic evacuation of the island, but the flow of lava actually improved the harbor and provided the town with a cheap source of energy (residents heat their houses by pumping water over the hot ground).

The uninhabited islands (and Heimaey) have some of the best bird cliffs in Iceland, and puffins can be seen everywhere in August. The islands can also be reached by car-and-passenger ferry from the town of Thorlaks-hofn (30 mi/50 km southeast of Reykjavik). The islands are located 75 mi/120 km southeast of Reykjavik.

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