Experience the Westman Islands - Hotel Rangá


View of the Westman Islands from the harbor and Landeyjarhöfn.

Experience the Westman Islands

The Westman Islands, or Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic, is an archipelago of 15 islands located just off the south coast of Iceland. Out of the 15, only one is inhabited year round: the island of Heimaey. There you will find a community of 4.000 that has prospered from a thriving fishing industry. With stunning landscapes, a charming village and the largest puffin colony of the world, these small yet enchanting islands offer a variety of activities and attractions for visitors.

While staying at Hotel Rangá, we highly recommend a visit to the Westman Islands just off the coast of south Iceland. After a quick forty-five minute ferry ride, visitors can experience a taste of life on this beautiful volcanic isle. When visiting the Westman Islands you might even see a puffin! Keep reading to learn about our suggestions for exploring Heimaey and the surrounding islands.

The Westman Islands.
The Westman Islands. Photo by Phil Nuttridge

Westman Islands Boat Tour

Take a boat tour or rib safari and enjoy a thrilling ride. You will drive in and around the islands, passing the famous elephant rock and learning about the history of the area. In the summer, you can be sure to spot some puffins along the way.

Sæheimar Natural History Museum and Aquarium

Make friends with a real puffin. Visit the Sæheimar Natural History Museum and Aquarium and cuddle Tóti the puffin. This is a wonderful experience for children and adults alike.

Video of Tóti the puffin in the Westman Islands:

Eldheimar museum

Visit the Eldheimar museum and learn about the volcanic eruption that hit Heimaey island in 1973. The eruption caused an emergency evacuation for the entire island and many of inhabitants couldn’t return to Vestmannaeyjar for over a year. Sadly the devastating lava flow destroyed around 400 homes and some islanders never returned. One of the homes hit by the lava and ash has been excavated and is displayed in the museum for an incomparable reminder of nature’s power and cruelty.

Hike across lava fields

After visiting the Eldheimar museum, take a hike around the lava fields created following the 1973 eruption. Walk along the lava covered streets once lived in by the islanders before the volcano struck – in some places, you may even find a roof sticking out of the ground.

The Westman Islands: Eldfell

The volcano that erupted that fateful night in 1973 is called Eldfell. It’s a 200 meter high formation, where you can take a short yet steep hike to stunning views across the islands. Be careful when digging your hands into the ash at the top – it may be warm or even hot.

The Westman Islands: Elephant Rock

In the past years, the Westman Islands’ Elephant rock has gained some notoriety. This unique rock formation is actually shaped like an elephant. We actually dedicated a blog post this special rock formation.


If you are looking for a more adventurous trek, you can take on Heimaklettur. It’s actually the highest peak in the Westman Islands. You will need a good head for heights as this hike requires that you climb up wooden ladders ti reach the peak, 900 feet above sea level.


Another adventurous hike starts at the setting of the popular annual music festival Þjóðhátíð. It results in a breathtaking view of islands and oceans.

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