Explore Southwestern Iceland
By far the largest of the Westman Islands, Heimaey – Home Island – is only around 6km in length. At its broad top end you’ll find Heimaey town and the harbour faced by a narrow peninsula of sheer-sided cliffs; east of here, buildings are hemmed in by Eldfell, the fractionally higher slopes of Helgafell, and the rough, grey-brown solidified lavafield, Kirkjubæjarhraun, under which a third of the original town vanished in 1973. Moving south, you pass the cross-shaped airstrip, beyond which the island tapers to a narrow isthmus, over which the rounded, grassy hummock of Stórhöfði rises as an end point – one of the best places on Heimaey to watch birds. Heimaey’s compact spread of lava and volcanoes – including a still-steaming Eldfell – some stiff cliff-hikes around the north peninsula or easier trails down south, and abundant bird life need a day or two to do them justice. Try and allow extra time to return to favourite spots.