The walking track to Blátindur – The dazzling heights of Dalfjall
Blátindur is not for the faint-hearted. It’s that imposing peak rising up majestically above Herjólfsdalur, the remarkable valley on the island of Heimaey (Vestmannaeyjar). It takes a bit of effort to scramble up there, but you’ll be rewarded with some truly jaw-dropping views. In this article I will show you how to get there, and what to watch out for on the Blátindur hike.
The views from the top ridges into the magical bowl of Herjólfsdalur are absolutely dazzling. Down the other side there are fleeting views onto hidden beaches and a bewildering array of jumbled rocks.
Looking up to Blátindur from the coastal lava flow.
The intimidating heights of Blátindur
Blátindur – the Blue Peak – rises 273 abruptly sheer metres from the valley floor. Only a few metres shorter than Heimaklettur, it’s the second highest peak on Heimaey.
The famous Elephant Rock (Fílinn) is on the sea side of Dalfjall, the bulky group of peaks above Herjólfsdalur, where Blátindur is part of. You’ll see it peacefully sipping water from the sea when you walk along the coastal path behind the golf course.
Herjólfsdalur and the Dalfjall formation. Blátindur is the pointy peak jutting out on the left.
Amazing views day and night! 😀
Steep slopes and rocky paths
Blátindur requires some serious scrambling up its steep and craggy slope. There are no chains or ropes along the track, nor any carved out steps. You have to be prepared to crawl on hands and feet up on rocky paths, and sometimes even bumslide down the track if necessary.
Safe to say that it’s not a good idea to do this walk when there is a stiff breeze howling around the peaks of Dalfjall. If the weather is good, the effort is absolutely worth it. But I wouldn’t recommend this hike if you have any fear of heights whatsoever.
The Blátindur hike from the ridge above Herjólfsdalur is not marked, and basically just a sheep trail. I made a description with pictures of this track, to help you decide whether or not this is for you.
Looking up its sheer cliffs is quite intimidating…
Starting point of the Blátindur hike
The scramble up to Blátindur begins at the western end of Eggjarnar, the Herjólfsdalur ridge. You can do the Blátindur hike as an extension of the ridge track, or go up directly on the zigzag path from the bottom of Herjólfsdalur.
This path is on the left side of the valley as you look into it, next to the golf course. From the bottom of Herjólfsdalur it takes about 45 minutes to hike all the way to the top of Blátindur.
Zigzag path to the top of Dalfjall and Blátindur.
Climbing up to the Herjólfsdalur ridge
It takes about 20 minutes of solid plodding up to the ridge along the zigzag path. From there, it’s another 20 minutes of scrambling to the top of Blátindur. But you will need plenty of time & margin to enjoy the breathtaking views too. 😉
Count on at least an hour if you take it easy, and around 2 hours for the roundtrip hike from Herjólfsdalur to Blátindur and back down again.
The daunting peaks of Dalfjall.
Sliding gravel slope, with a view down to the hidden beach of Stafsnes.
Scrambling up the slope of Blátindur
Once you’re on the ridge you’ll see a sheep trail to the left, weaving its way up along the back of Blátindur. This track leads to a huge wall of craggy rocks, and seems to end there. On the other side of it is a gravel slope, sliding all the way down into the ocean below…
This is the part where it gets a bit trickier. It may look like a discouraging dead end at first sight. But it is possible to scramble your way up on a tiny path between the rocks. You just have to be very careful, check for loose rocks & gravel, and a firm hold with each step you take.
Update 2020: There are now ropes attached along the scrambling slope. The top of Blátindur has also been fitted out with ropes, to make the ascent (and descent!) less daunting and dangerous. However, you still need to be careful and aware of your surroundings.
This is where you have to start scrambling…
Bumslide section down the first ridge.
View from the grassy plateau on the first ridge towards Herjólfsdalur, Vestmannaeyja town and the Eldfell volcano in the distance.
Breathtaking views will be your reward!
As you emerge from the rubble onto a small but welcoming grassy plateau, an unexpected view suddenly unfolds before you. It will – literally! – take your breath away. The views are mind-blowing 360 degrees around.
It’s nearly impossible not to capture them in panorama.
Four volcanoes in one view. Only Hekla is hiding its head behind the clouds to the left…
As I gaze upon the Valley of Magic, I shall fear no heights… 😉
Blátindur upper ridges
The upper ridges of Blátindur are connected by a series of little plateaus. A small path leads across them, with dazzling views and steep drop-offs to both sides.
The last humpy ridge before Blátindur itself requires some more scrambling and precarious balancing across a very narrow path, before you reach the two metal sticks that mark the top.
View down to the last bumpy ridge and the narrow path.
The top of Blátindur, marked by two metal sticks.
The dazzling views from above
Finally, when you haul yourself over the last ridge, you will be greeted by the jaw-dropping sight of Blátindur looming over Heimaey, casting its mighty shadow majestically into the bowl of Herjólfsdalur.
You can see the shadow if you go up to Blátindur late afternoon or early evening, depending on the time of year. During the height of summer in June and July, the sun doesn’t go down until after 11 o’clock at night. Later on in August the sunset is between half past 8 and just after 10 o’clock in the evening.
The mighty shadow of Blátindur falling into Herjólfsdalur.
The top of Blátindur
There is not much room to lounge about on the top of Blátindur. But it’s possible to find some sheltered rocks to sit on, and enjoy a picnic lunch and a Wilderness Coffee with stunning views all around you.
The other side of the rocks & sticks at the top has a bit more space, and a small grassy ledge. However, there’s a rather abrupt drop-off around its edges…
Wilderness Coffee with a view!
The ledge at the top of Blátindur.
The sheep on Blátindur like wilderness coffee too! 😉
Looking down to the coast above the Elephant Rock.
Other tracks & hikes on Heimaey
After you’ve (carefully!) scrambled your way down Blátindur again, you can continue even further down towards that little house on the giant plug you might have spotted on the way up. This path leads to the hidden beach of Stafsnes, a great place to relax after conquering the dazzling heights of Dalfjall. Keep in mind that you will have to climb all the way up & down the Herjólfsdalur ridge again on the way back…
Not sure if these are the right tracks for you? There are plenty of other walking tracks around Heimaey. And not all of them involve scrambling up or sliding down steep slopes.
Heimaey coastline and Stórhöfði peninsula to the south.
Sunset from the top of Blátindur, around 22:00 hrs in the first week of August.
Blátindur hike summary
Distance: 2 kilometres return from Herjólfsdalur.
Time: About 1,5 to 2 hours.
Blátindur summit: 273 metres above sea level.
Difficulty: Challenging. Very steep sections with rock scrambling.
This handy interactive map shows the walking route from the bottom of Herjólfsdalur to the top of Blátindur. You can also zoom in for more details, and click on the icons for pictures of stunning views along the way.
Note: The map is a bit distorted because of the steepness of both Herjólfsdalur and Blátindur, so it doesn’t really show the finer details of the Blátindur section. See the pictures further up in this post for that.
This is one of the top-5 blog posts of 2017.
Candles on Blátindur
On the first night of the Þjóðhátíð festival, candles are lit in impossible places all over Blátindur. It’s an incredibly beautiful sight. But on other occasions, some candles have mysteriously appeared near the top ridge of Blátindur too… 😉
A ‘mini-blysin’ of candles on Blátindur.
Where is Vestmannaeyjar?
Vestmannaeyjar is a volcanic chain of islands just off the south coast of Iceland, directly across from Eyjafjallajökull. They are also known as the Westman Islands. The main island of Heimaey may look tiny on the map, but there’s a lot of spectacular scenery densely compressed into its 13,4 square kilometres. The ferry to Heimaey departs from Landeyjahöfn harbour and takes 35 minutes. You’ll see the turn-off to Landeyjahöfn near the Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the Ring Road.
Electrical currents of northern lights dropping down above Blátindur!
(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
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Last update: 29 April 2023
First published: 28 November 2017
Read how to travel to Vestmannaeyjar in this article.
Sunset over Smáeyjar, the little islands around the corner of Blátindur.
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The dazzling heights of Dalfjall
A stunning surround view from the top of Blátindur.
Snowflakes on Blátindur
Winter view with snowflakes and a Wilderness Coffee on the top of Blátindur. The sound is not the wind, but comes from the roiling & boiling waves in the sea below…
More to explore & discover
Vestmannaeyjar – Þar sem hjartað slær (A spectacular island and festival)
Hinchinbrook Island – Unspoiled tropical wilderness
Eldfell erupting a rainbow
Pico del Teide – A volcanic playground
Kerlingarfjöll – Steaming valleys and surreal landscapes
2 thoughts on “The walking track to Blátindur – The dazzling heights of Dalfjall”
I received this question by email from Dave Kleinman: ‘Hi Nancy, I am taking my family to Iceland (and Heimay) this August. We will take the late ferry the prior night, then want to do a hike and a RIB tour. I was thinking the Blátindur climb you described so nicely, but need to time things out and catch the ferry. We’ll take our rental car, so can drive to the trailhead, but need an estimate of the total time. I was thinking we could do a easy morning in town, a two hour RIB at noon, then climb Blátindur, then catch the ferry. How long do you think I need for the climb (round trip), and do you have any better suggestion for our short visit? We are 5 (me and my wife and kids 19, 18, 15). Thank you!! Dave.’
Here’s the reply I sent, so other families with similar questions can read this too 🙂 ‘Hello Dave, and thanks for your message. From the bottom of Herjólfsdalur it takes about 45 minutes to hike all the way to the top of Blátindur. But I would count on at least an hour if you take it easy, and allow for some time to enjoy the views & take pictures along the way. So that would be around 2 hours for the total round trip. You can park your car right at the end of the road into the valley, near the golf course. If any of you have fear of heights, I wouldn’t recommend this hike 😉
Another great alternative (and not as steep) is the Eldfell volcano. Very interesting to see all the different colours of lava, and there are awesome views all around too! Also worthwile to visit is the Eldheimar museum, where you can experience the impressive stories about the eruption that created Eldfell (and subsequent evacuation of the entire island) in 1973.
You can read more about the Eldfell hike in this link.’