If there is a place that is currently under most travellers radar, it has to be Iceland. So much so, that the country’s guidebooks are the number one best seller at London’s largest travel bookstore.

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

Despite the small territory, it seems to have everything adventure travellers, myself included, are looking for. In Iceland you can watch the Northern Lights in the winter months, see geysers gushing boiling-hot water, ride the native Icelandic horse or go on ice cave tours and lava trips. A number of its attractions display nature’s power and just how young the country is, in geological terms. In Iceland there are volcanic eruptions every few years.

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

Heimaey, a tiny island south of mainland Iceland, is living proof of that. The only inhabited of the Westman Islands – or Vestmanneyjar – was nearly completed evacuated in January 1973, when a volcanic eruption took place.

What To See in Heimaey, Iceland

My first visit to Heimaey was whilst on a Baltic cruise that ended in Iceland – well, technically the North Sea, rather than Baltic. The second trip was directly from Reykjavik, but on both occasions, the weather wasn’t on my side. And because the weather is so unpredictable, I highly recommend spending two nights here.

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

If you’re wondering what to see in Heimaey and the Westman Islands, you’ll be surprised to find out there are quite a few things. The landscape itself is quite remarkable, with several lava hills around the main island, making it very unique. The smaller islands that surround Heimaey are also stunning, each in very different shape. Here I’ll show you the main places to visit in Heimaey, some of which I ticked off my list, and others that, unfortunately, will stay for a third trip.

VISIT ELDHEIMAR MUSEUM

This is the museum of remembrance, where you can see what happened on that tragic night in January 1973, when the island’s residents had to evacuate their homes. The museum is located in a modern box-like building with high-tech visual displays of the island’s volcanic activities.

Eldheimar Museum’s centrepiece is an original house that was buried in lava and ash for about 40 years. As sad as it is, I found it interesting and scary seeing the devastating power of nature.

Address: 10, Gerðisbraut, Vestmannaeyjabær

EXPLORE SAEHEIMAR AQUARIUM & NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

Even though this is a very small place, you can’t leave Heimaey without visiting Saeheimar Aquarium. The Westman Islands is a natural habitat for quite unique species of fish and crustaceans, and here there are a good selection of them. They have just over a dozen fish tanks with a variety of fish, some so strange that for a split second I thought they suffered some sort of mutation.

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

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There is also a good exhibit of sea birds from the local area and the rest of Iceland, as well as displays of their eggs. But the star of the museum is a puffin that hatched after the other birds had left the region. It was rescued and now lives at Saeheimar Museum. It’s so used to being surrounded by humans that it acts more like a dog than a wild bird.

Address: Heiðarvegur 12, Heimaey

GO ON A RIBSAFARI ADVENTURE

Ribsafari is a fun boat trip in an inflatable speedboat that goes around the Westman Islands. There are many types of adventures available and, in my case, I booked a one-hour tour which departs from Heimaey and goes around a group of small islands, and back.

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

During the tour, we saw a lot of sea birds and stopped briefly to watch some puffins. But if you’re lucky, you can see some whales instead, or both.

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

CLIMB ELDFELL

The 1973 eruption created a volcanic cone, known as Eldfell, and hiking this 40-something volcano is a popular activity in Heimaey. The name means “hill of fire” in Icelandic.

At only 200 metres tall, you would think that climbing Eldfell would be easy. But considering that Heimaey is the windiest place in the northern hemisphere, the climb can be very challenging. In my case, it was. So much so, that on the one opportunity I had, I was held back by the wind and tephra, so I had to go back even before climbing halfway.

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

Is It Worth Visiting Heimaey?

This is a question I was asked before I visited the island for the second time. It’s a fair question, considering the windy situation, the general weather and remoteness of the islands. But I think that all these obstacles made my trips to Heimaey even more interesting and exciting. So, my answer to that is a resounding yes, Heimaey is definitely worth visiting!”

What To See In Heimaey Iceland

The cute puffin street signs in Heimaey

Coming to think of it, I still have a reason to visit Heimaey for a third time, as I would love to reach the top of Eldfell and swim in the public pools. And, with good weather and luck on my side, I would love to climb Helgafell, the inactive volcano right next to “the hill of fire”.

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