Vestmannaeyjar walking tracks – The most beautiful walks on Heimaey

Vestmannaeyjar walking tracks – The most beautiful walks on Heimaey

Vestmannaeyjar is one of those fascinating places that will leave you in awe with the beauty of it all. Sailing into Heimaey harbour, through a narrow opening surrounded by a jumbled chain of steep cliffs and a huge field of intimidating lava flows, is an amazing experience in itself. Don’t be misguided by the island’s small size though. With its incredible density of spectacular sights and features, a daytrip would simply not do it justice.

How much time do you need on Vestmannaeyjar?

This depends of course on what you want to do, and how much time you have in Iceland. I’ve spoken to a lot of visitors. Some of them (whom I met on trips to the mainland) even changed their itinerary, specifically to visit Vestmannaeyjar. The one thing everyone mentioned is that they wished they had chosen more time to spend on the island.

You’ll want to have at least a couple of days to explore the walking tracks with stunning views everywhere you look. It’s like a great variety of Icelandic landscapes densely compressed into one small island. There are steep and craggy mountain ridges, rocky coastlines with dramatic sea cliffs, hidden beaches, a couple of volcanoes, mossy lava flows and a magical valley. And the biggest puffin colony in the world.

There’s also a variety of nice restaurants, some interesting museums and one of the best local breweries in Iceland – with its own Eldfell speciality beer. A nice reward after conquering the volcano 😉 The island even has its own glacier named after it – the IslandMountainGlacier. Not actually on the island itself, but directly across on the other side. It’s also known as Eyjafjallajökull.

Hiking on Heimaey

I made detailed descriptions of several local walking tracks around the main island of Heimaey. Including lots of photo’s of what the track is like, what you can expect along the way, and of course the beautiful views that await. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did 🙂

Heimaey harbour and lava fields, Vestmannaeyjar, IcelandHeimaey harbour entrance, with the Eldfell lava fields and the towering shape of Heimaklettur on the other side.

Islands shaped by volcanic activity

The chain of jumbled rocks on the north side is the oldest part of the island, forged by volcanic activity from the hotspot underneath about 40.000 years ago. Initially the harbour kletturs and the cliffs around Herjólfsdalur were two seperate islands. Later on they were connected by Eiðið, the small isthmus that runs between them. The rest of Heimeay didn’t emerge until about 6000 years ago. It was constructed by a combination of several eruptions. Stórhöfði, the headland to the south, was formed as a third island. When Helgafell arrived to the scene, all three were fused together into the present island.

The volcanic presence can be seen all around, and continues to create more additions at irregular intervals. In 1963 another island, Surtsey, bubbled up from the sea in spectacular fashion. And only as recent as 1973 Eldfell made its sudden entrance, when it erupted out of nowhere in a grassy field and created a whole new mountain.

The resilience of Heimaey

The eruption almost devastated the island, causing the entire population to evacuate overnight. Without knowing if they would be able to return, or if their beautiful island would ever be habitable again. The ingenuity that was pulled off to save the harbour is legendary. No-one had ever fought an erupting volcano and won – but on Heimaey they did, in the face of adversity.

Overview of the walking tracks

Click on the link in the title to see the description and photo’s.

Heimaklettur, Heimaey harbour, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The walking track to Heimaklettur – The Home Rock

Heimaklettur is the iconic Home Rock of Vestmannaeyjar. It may look a bit inacessible at first sight, but there are ladders and chains to help you up the path to the top. In the darker days of the year, people like to light candles on it. And around Christmas and New Year they get totally out of control, with a multitude of candles all over the upper slopes. It’s an incredibly beautiful sight.

Eldfell volcano and lava fields, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The walking track to Eldfell – The Fiery Mountain

The walk to the top of Edfell is the one every visitor to Heimaey wants to do. It’s the famous volcano that spectacularly erupted out of nowhere in 1973. It’s very colourful, the track is easily accessible, and the views are absolutely stunning in all directions. From the top you can gawk onto the impressive lava flow that was furiously roiling & boiling only a few decades ago, and single-handedly enlarged the island by several square kilometers.

Helgafell hike, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The walking track to HelgafellThe twin volcano

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.

Sunset over Herjólfsdalur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The walking track to Herjólfsdalur – The Valley of Magic

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.

View to Blátindur, Herjólfsdalur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The walking track to Blátindur – The dazzling heights of Dalfjall

Blátindur is the imposing peak rising up above Herjólfsdalur, beyond the daunting peaks of Dalfjall. It takes a bit of effort to scramble up there, but you’ll be rewarded with some truly jaw-dropping views. Including Blátindur casting its mighty shadow majestically into the bowl of Herjólfsdalur, if you go up in the afternoon.

View to Klif from Heimaklettur, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The walking track to Klif – The beacon rock

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 it’s actually a lot of fun, not as difficult as it looks, and well worth the effort. There’s also that incredible view of a multitude of jumbled rocks.

Stafsnes beach, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The zen of Stafsnes – The hidden beach

The walking track to Stafsnes, a beautiful hidden beach in a sheltered cove behind the impressive folded cliffs of Blátindur. It’s almost like Hawaii – but without the palm trees. It can be blissfully sheltered – and wind-free! – and significantly warmer than the rest of the island. On the way you’ll pass by the little house on the giant plug.

Stórhöfði coastal hike, puffin colony, geological beach, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

The coastal track to Stórhöfði – Puffin colony and geological beach

Stórhöfði is the southernmost point of Heimaey, and home to the biggest puffin colony in Iceland. 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.

Read how to travel to Vestmannaeyjar in this article.

(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

This is one of the top-5 blog posts of 2018.

Have you done one of these walks? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Share your thoughts at the bottom of this page, or simply press the ‘like’ button below if you enjoyed reading this article. You’re welcome to share these posts with others who are interested in visiting this beautiful place 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Vestmannaeyjar walking tracks – The most beautiful walks on Heimaey

  1. Vi (5 voksne i god form)har kun 6 timer her på øen. Hvad skal vi prioritere? Vi har i øvrigt bil til rådighed.
    Elsker naturen.
    På forhånd tak for input.

    1. Hæ Helle, if you only have 6 hours on the island I would definitely do the hike up to Eldfell and through the lava fields by the harbour. Not only for the fantastic views & variety of colours, but also because it’s such a significant part of the history of Heimaey. If you have enough time, I’d also recommend the ridge hike above Herjólfsdalur, or a walk around the valley. With a car you can drive up to the puffin hut on Stórhöfði or to the lighthouse, and do a short walk around there too. Enjoy your time, and hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to come back & explore some more 🙂

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