Iceland’s Best Kept Secret: The Westman Islands

Iceland's Best Kept Secret: The Westman Islands

The Westman Islands, more commonly known as Vestmannaeyjar by local Icelanders, was hands down the most enchanting part of my trip to Iceland back in 2015. Though it has been 2-years since I set foot on the volcanically built set of mystical islands just off Iceland’s Southwest coast, I definitely still remember it like it was yesterday.

One of the island’s infamous black sand beaches – a result of volcanic minerals and lava fragments.

I stayed at an Airbnb on the islands for 1-night. I took the ferry over from the mainland with my rental car onboard. It was surprisingly cheap! Only $40 or so for the roundtrip.

Once I got there, I was instantly overwhelmed with all there was to see and do. Be warned: the islands are the windiest part of all of Europe! I’d recommend some hair ties and functional clothing that can withstand pretty intense gusts.

If you’re spending 24-hours on the islands, here’s my recommendation to you:

  • Book a puffin tour with Eyja Tours
  • Get to a black sand beach
  • Catch a view of “Elephant Rock” at sundown (or consider a boat tour to it)
  • Save time for feeding the Icelandic horses and sheep throughout the islands
  • Have a drink of water from the famous Elf Rock
Real Viking homes you’ll see on the Eyja Tour!
These are the types of incredible views you can expect on the islands.

I can’t recommend Eyja Tours enough. They took us to a puffin colony, through the different volcanos that comprise the islands, over to a Viking home and demonstration for catching seagulls, finally back to the island museum where you get to hold a real puffin named Toti!

If you go during the summer time, you’ll be blessed with 20-22 hours of sunlight for unlimited exploration. I touched down on the islands during the peak sunlight hours of June. If you go during the spring or the fall, be prepared to hurriedly shove in as much sightseeing as possible.

The world-famous sunset over Elephant Rock, nestled in the righthand rock formation.

I did unfortunately miss the island’s music festival, held once every year during mid-summer. The dates for this summer are still unconfirmed, but it’s supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take in Nordic sounds in a naturally acoustic setting.

Of course, while you’re there, refrain from mocking Icelanders belief in elves. They take serious offense to it.

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