People on Vestmannaeyjar like to light candles on mountains. In the darker months of the year, you can often see candles on Heimaklettur, the iconic Home Rock of the island. The first one usually appears at the beginning of August, when the midnight sun is slowly fading. The flickering candles are clearly visible from the town and for people who come in on the evening ferry. I was fascinated by this unique tradition and became one of those candle lighters too. If you are wondering what this is all about, you can read it here.
This title may look a bit bewildering… It’s Icelandic for ‘Where the heart beats’, the anthemic song of Vestmannaeyjar. I was drawn to the Vestmannaeyjar islands at first sight, when I saw their mysterious shapes shimmering on the horizon. It was as if there’s an unexplained energy emanating out of it. I just had to go there. Heimaey is a spectacular island of volcanic peaks and jumbled rocks and the landscape is out of this world. Vestmannaeyjar is also home of the Þjóðhátíð festival in August. ‘Þar sem hjartað slær’ is the ultimate Þjóðhátíð song that captures the atmosphere of the Iceland National Festival like no other.
The Icelandic dalalæða is an elusive natural phenomenon of fog waterfalls. When it crawls up a valley and bumps into obstructions, it causes waterfalls of fog tumbling down the mountain tops. I was incredibly lucky to experience this, being at the right place at the right moment when it accidently happened. I stood right in the middle of it, and saw spectacular waterfalls of fog flowing over the rocks and mountains all around me. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was absolutely magical.
An overview of the best walking tracks around Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar. With its incredible density of spectacular sights and features, this stunning island just off the south coast is a must-see if you’re visiting Iceland. There are steep and craggy mountain ridges, dramatic sea cliffs, hidden beaches, a couple of volcanoes, mossy lava flows and a magical valley. Vestmannaeyjar is also home to the biggest puffin colony in the world. Find out more in this article.
Stórhöfði peninsula is the southernmost point of Heimaey, and home to the biggest puffin colony in Iceland. Beneath Stórhöfði there’s also the surreal geological beach of Klauf, formed by volcanic eruptions from several directions. On the coastal track to Stórhöfði you can see incredible views, wild cliff formations and lots of puffins along the way.
The walking track to Stafsnes, a beautiful hidden beach on Heimaey. Stafsnes beach is peacefully nestled in a cove behind the impressive folded cliffs of Blátindur. It’s almost like Hawaii – but without the palm trees. It can be blissfully sheltered and significantly warmer than the rest of the island. The only way to get there is to hike down the steep slopes behind Herjólfsdalur. On the way you’ll pass by the little house on the giant plug that makes you want to stay overnight and enjoy the sunset in this idyllic location.
This is more like the scrambling track to Klif, with ropes down the slope and a beacon of light on the top. You can haul yourself up this stunning cliff along ropes and chains attached to the upper parts. That may sound a bit discouraging, but the hike is actually a lot of fun. It’s not as difficult as it looks and well worth the effort. There’s also that incredible view of a multitude of jumbled rocks from the top of Klif. In this article I will show you the ropes – and how to get there.
Blátindur is the imposing peak rising up above Herjólfsdalur, beyond the daunting peaks of Dalfjall on the island of Heimaey. It takes a bit of effort to scramble up there, but you’ll be rewarded with some truly jaw-dropping views on the hike to the top. Including Blátindur casting its mighty shadow majestically into the bowl of Herjólfsdalur, if you go up in the afternoon.
Herjólfsdalur is intimidatingly beautiful, whichever angle you look at it. It looks like a giant natural amphitheatre, with stupendous rocks rising up on all sides as you enter the valley. The walk along the top ridge is one not to be missed. The distraction rate is very high, and there’s a great density of spectacular sights and features along the way. Herjólfsdalur is also the setting for the yearly Þjóðhátíð festival in August. On the last evening, the mountainside is set alight with a row of flames along the entire length of the valley – a magnificent sight to see!
Helfgafell offers sweeping surround views of brooding volcanoes and a heart-shaped crater. For a long time, Helgafell was the ruling volcano on Heimaey. The one that merged the chain of rocks to the north and Stórhöfði to the south into the present island, its classic volcano-shaped silhouette dominating the interior. Hike to the top and you may have Helgafell with its beautiful views virtually for yourself.