Getting there is all part of the fun
A Week-end in the Westman Islands
If the Westman Islands is not on your itinerary this summer, it really should be. The once difficult to reach archipelago is now easily accessible via the Herjólfur ferry that leaves from the port of Landeyjarhöf, near Hvolsvöllur, transporting you and your car to the island in just about 30 minutes. (weather permitting, of course) There are also direct flights from Reykjavik city airport, but taking the double decker car and passenger ferry is decidedly much more fun.
Heimaey, literally ‘Home Island’, is the biggest and only inhabited land in this chain of 14 volcanic islands. In spite of Heimaey’s small size, there is plenty to see and do, so staying overnight in one of the island’s hotels, guest houses, self-contained cottages or camp sites would be a good idea, giving you a real feel for this very special corner of Iceland.
The Birds’ High Rise
The sheer vertical walls that are characteristic of many of the islands within the archipelago are home to thousands of kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and puffins, although the puffin population has been lower in numbers in recent years. Viking Tours offers 90-minute boat trips around the island, enabling you to sail right up close to the cliffs. From that vantage point, they resemble noisy high-rise apartment buildings with the occupants out on their balconies having fun chatting, swooping from perch to roost and taking turns with their obligatory nest-sitting duties. The waters that surround the island are outstanding shades of a deep turquoise colour that you would never expect to find in an ocean at this latitude, giving the impression of an island dipped in crystal-turquoise ink and making for a truly memorable experience.
A Dig with a Difference
The Pompeii of the North excavation site, is a fascinating, ongoing project to visit. It has been digging out several homes that were buried during the volcanic eruption of 1973. The project, which began in 2005, aims to uncover a total of 7 - 10 houses, one of which should be entirely dug out and ready for visitors to walk through in the summer of 2013.
Eat in a volcanic atmosphere
Tourists are encouraged to have their eyes open for some of the new restaurants that will open this summer. Hotel Vestmannaeyjar recently opened a first class restaurant specialising in local cuisine in a Volcano themed atmosphere, run by the ambitious local chef, Einar Björn Árnason. The menu will include speciality seafood dishes, as proximity to local fishing grounds provides the opportunity to obtain fresh ingredients daily.