Greinasafni: Sveitarfélög einnig undir: Icelandic Times
You haven’t seen Iceland till you see the Westman Islands- Now closer than ever before
- Now closer than ever before
For many years, there were only three ways to get to the Westman Islands. The most common has been to take a 6-hour round trip car ferry from Thorlakshöfn, on the south coast of South Iceland. Then there is the option of an Eagle Air flight from Reykjavik or taking a 6-seater, single-engine plane from the tiny Bakki airport near Hvolsvöllur, options which, for those travelling by car, often force them to cross the Westman Islands off their wish-list of places to see in Iceland.

The shorter, cheaper option
In July 2010, a new harbour opened at Landeyjahöfn, near Hvolsvölllur - something which a few years ago seemed to be an impossible dream but has now made possible due to recent advances in technology. The ferry Hérolfur, which is operated by Eimskip, sails several times a day year round, weather permitting. The trip takes around 30 minutes from Landeyjahöfn in good weather, considerably reducing the overall travel time and can carry up to 500 passengers and 60 vehicles.

An island in bloom
Because of all the increased traffic to and from the island, several new shops, restaurants, cafes and hotels have blossomed in the town of Vestmannaeyjar, making this destination more desirable than ever. It’s a common mistake for tourists to visit the island for the day and then realise that they should have booked a room to spend the night. Fitting all there is to do and see into a day just doesn’t work! A healthy hike to the slopes of the Eldfjall volcano is a good place to start, followed by a bus tour around the island to see where, amongst other things, the Algerian pirates came ashore in 1627 and kidnapped half the population of the island. Boat tours circle the island, providing opportunities for puffin viewing and a visit to the singing sea cave before your tour of the island is complete.

Celebrating Life, Westman Island Style

Although much has been written about the 1973 volcanic eruption which forced the evacuation of the whole island for 5 months, you probably didn’t know that the end of the eruption is commemorated every year on the first weekend in July. This is a weekend of music and song when establishments open their doors wide and life is féted to the full.
Annual “Shopkeepers Weekend”
Another annual celebration takes place over the first weekend in August every year, attracting thousands of mainland visitors. This is “shopkeepers weekend” when almost everything in Iceland shuts down for this 3 - 4 day extravaganza. Music, entertainment, sing-a-longs (for several thousand people) and firework displays mark the occasion which is especially festive in the Westman Islands. Locals set up large white tents and actually move some of their furniture into them so they can camp out in comfort for the duration of the festival. Because of the popularity of this event, hotels and every other sort of accommodation are booked months in advance.

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You haven’t seen Iceland till you see the Westman Islands
- Now closer than ever before

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