Vestmannaeyjar, or the Westman Islands, is an archipelago off Iceland's south coast known for wildlife like whales, seals, and puffins. Of the 16 islands in the chain, only the main island of Heimaey is inhabited.

Most travelers get to Heimaey from Landeyjahofn via a 35-minute ferry ride, operational only in the summer months. It's recommended to book in advance if you'll be bringing a car. There are ferries that travel to the islands year-round from Þorlákshöfn on the southern coast, a three-hour journey. The island is small enough that it is possible to walk onto the ferry and hike to each attraction. 

Once there, kayak in Klettsvik Bay, visit a beluga whale sanctuary, go on a lava walk, take a volcano ATV tour, or encounter puffins on Bjarnarey. Many day tours are available with local guides, or you can rent a bike and explore on your own.

From Keflavik

Duration: 3-3.5 hours (plus possible time waiting for the ferry)

International travelers arriving into the airport in Keflavik (KEF) that are heading to the south coast, can plan to visit the Westman Islands as well. Depending on the season, travelers will either depart the mainland for the Westman Islands via the port of Landeyjahofn (summer) or Þorlákshöfn (winter).

Visitors can rent a car for more flexibility exploring along the way and on the islands. It's also an option to hire a driver for a private transfer to the ferry ports. In addition, tours that depart from the airport are an option. 

Find out more about how to get from Keflavik to the South Coast.

From Reykjavik

Duration: 3-3.5 hours (plus possible time waiting for the ferry)

Depending on the season, travelers can reach the Westman Islands at the port of Landeyjahofn (summer) or Þorlákshöfn (winter). Visitors with a car rental will have more flexibility to explore along the way and on the islands. It's possible to hire a driver for a private transfer to the ferry ports. In addition, various tours that depart from downtown are an option.

There is also a bus that runs from the Mjódd station, just outside of Reykjavik that runs to Landeyjahofn. Flying is also a possibility in the summer months from the domestic airport just outside of the city, and flights take about 20-30 minutes.

From the South Coast

Duration: 1-3 hours (depending on your departure point)

A trip to the Westman Islands is a fantastic add-on to a trip along the South Coast or a complete Ring Road (Route 1) itinerary around the country. Both ferry options for winter and summer leave from the South Coast, an area worth exploring before or after your trip (or both) to the Westman Islands.

The summer ferry near the village of Landeyjahöfn is approximately 25 minutes east of the town of Hvolsvöllur. Drivers will take the Ring Road and then turn onto Route 254 towards the coast to reach the port in Landeyjahöfn. The winter ferry that leaves from Þorlákshöfn, closer to Keflavik and the start of the south coast on the western region of the country, requires taking Route 39 to Route 38 from the Ring Road.

Find out more about how to get to the South Coast.