Silversea Luxury Cruises To HEIMAEY (Westman Islands)

HEIMAEY (Westman Islands)

Rising like craggy icebergs from the waves, Heimaey and the Westman Islands are a perfect example of nature’s extraordinary power to both create and destroy. Haunted by the same volcanic forces that once forged the islands, it was only the brave actions of the island’s villagers - who stopped the flow of lava from the Eldfell volcano with a wall of seawater - that saved this charming whitewash wooden town from destruction. View more

The volcano that exploded in 1973 made headline news around the globe and saw the islanders evacuated during an elaborate rescue mission. Learn more of the most fateful day in the islands’ history at the museum, and see houses - charred black by lava - which have been salvaged and exhibited, frozen in time. The volcanic forces created a beautiful mosaic of craggy islands, just off-shore from the mainland. Alive with animal life - pods of orca whales roll through the Atlantic’s choppy waves, seabirds call in the skies overhead, and baby puffins take tentative first steps on the cliffs hugging these islands. You’ll notice that the islanders have a particular bond with the 8 million Atlantic puffins who live here. Statues of the birds stand on the streets, and extraordinary rescue missions sometimes take place at night – when locals comb the streets to help return lost pufflings to their cliffside homes. Be sure to walk out along the coast to Stórhöfdi, to view the extraordinary colony of these remarkable, adorable birds that live here. For some more tips on spotting the puffins, take a look at our blog.

An Introduction to Silversea Cruises

The romance of the seas, small ship sizes and intimate atmosphere, Silversea has long been a leader in the ultra-luxury market. Travelling to both iconic and secluded ports, Silversea’s award-winning itineraries inspire wanderlust and exploration. With over 900 destinations, longer port stays and more late-night departures than ever before, even the savviest traveler will find something new. A butler for every suite, a complimentary in-suite bar stocked with your preferences, all-inclusive exquisite dining, award-winning onboard entertainment and an unparalleled space to guest ratio all contribute to the Silversea experience. Not forgetting our famed Italian hospitality, where new faces become old friends. Bienvenuti a bordo.

cruises visiting HEIMAEY (Westman Islands)

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SOUTHAMPTON To REYKJAVIK
  • Departure
    Jun 20 2021
  • Duration
    14 Days
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    Silver Whisper
From US$ 8,280
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REYKJAVIK To REYKJAVIK
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    Jul 04 2021
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    Silver Whisper
From US$ 7,380
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TROMSO To REYKJAVIK
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    Aug 07 2021
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    Silver Whisper
From US$ 8,550
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REYKJAVIK To NEW YORK
  • Departure
    Aug 21 2021
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    26 Days
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REYKJAVIK To REYKJAVIK
  • Departure
    Aug 21 2021
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Excursions in HEIMAEY (Westman Islands)

Boat tour of Heimaey

Take a lovely 90-minute boat tour of Heimaey, begining from the harbor in Heimaey, which for a long time has been a shelter for the Icelandic fishing fleet, but was almost lost in the volcanic eruption on the island in 1973.


Sail past the cliffs surrounding the harbour to start an interesting and informative journey passing bird colonies with millions of inhabitants and exploring caves that can only be visited by boat. The birdlife we hope to see on this tour can be magnificent as the Westman Islands have one of the largest varieties of sea bird species in Iceland. These include puffin colonies of an estimated 6 to 8 million puffins. Nowhere else in the world can such large number of puffins be found in such close proximity to man.


The islands also house one of the worlds largest gannet and guillemot colonies. Numerous other species of nesting sea birds can also be seen. In addition to the bird life, whales are also often sighted, including orcas, dolphins and porpoises.


After viewing the island and bird cliffs from every angle the tour ends by sailing into Klettshellir (Cliff Cave) where music is played on board. The acoustics in the cave provide a sensational experience. From there return to the harbor having circumnavigated this small island in the North.

Caves and Islands RIB-Boat Safari

Experience the caves, islets and rock formations of the Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago in an exciting new way during this panoramic, fun-filled RIB-boat excursion.


Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago, Surtsey Island, Helgafell and Eldfell Volcanoes

Depart the pier for the short walk to your awaiting rigid-inflatable boat. Upon arrival, receive your safety and riding instructions, then don your flotation suits and life vests before setting out on your RIB-boat safari.

Fast, fun and agile RIB safari boats have opened up new and exciting travel possibilities, especially here in the Vestamannaeyjar (Western Islands), where boats sail from Heimey Island on exploratory journeys of mysterious caves and small islets. Vestmannaeyjar is an archipelago off Iceland's south coast, and was formed by underwater volcanic eruptions. The youngest island, Surtsey, was formed in 1963. Heimaey is the largest and only inhabited island. It has two volcanoes, Helgafell and Eldfell.


RIB-Boat Safari, Caves, Islets, Rock Formations, Eider Duck Cave, Cliff Cave

The Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago is renowned for its diverse birdlife and interesting geological history. Your RIB-boat rides past caves, islets and unusual rock formations that have been shaped by the interplay of the sea and volcanic activity. Your RIB boat also ventures into some smaller caves, such as the Eider Duck Cave, whose name derives from a nearby eider duck colony. Next, visit a huge and extremely deep cave, where beautiful basalt columns decorate the walls. The cave was named after the terrifying Norse God of the Sea, Ægir. Close by is a small cave where the sunlight shines through, creating a mesmerising interplay of light and water. A final visit is made to the roomy Klettahellir (Cliff Cave), which has excellent acoustics.


Marine Life, Seabirds

Whales, orcas, dolphins and porpoises are occasionally sighted on this tour. Seals are frequently seen, as well as seabirds that include cormorants, fulmats, gannets and Atlantic puffins. At the conclusion of your RIB-boat safari, commence the short ride back to the pier and return to the ship on-foot.


Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of activity, and a moderate amount of walking for approximately 765 yards (about 700 metres). This tour is not suitable for pregnant guests, guest with neck and/or back problems, guests with heart and/or respiratory conditions, guests prone to motion sickness, guests with limited mobility, and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear warm, comfortable clothing in layers and a waterproof jacket and pants with sturdy, flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection from the ship. A life vest and flotation suit is provided. Guests must be at least 12 years old to participate on this tour. The weight of each participating guest must not exceed 264 pounds (about 120 kilograms). Although frequently encountered on this type of tour, marine life sightings are not guaranteed. A signed waiver is required to participate on this tour. Operation of this tour is subject to weather conditions. Space on this tour is very limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Circumnavigation of Heimaey

Discover stunning Heimaey, or Home Island, the largest island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago and the most populated island off the Icelandic coast. Heimaey also carries the distinction of being the only populated island in this archipelago.


Scenic Sail

Enjoy a 90-minute sail around this scenic, grassy island with its steep cliff faces home to a variety of sea birds, as well as colorful homes and buildings that lead to the busy harbor's edge. Settled in 900 AD, this historic island is (along with others in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago) often visited frequently by the locals for bird hunting and egg collection.

Heimaey Island is known for its epic Eldfell volcanic eruption in 1973, which threatened to destroy the harbor and did take many of the homes of the island's 5,000 inhabitants. Learn how residents thwarted the lava's path of destruction with cold sea water in order to save the harbor (and the residents' livelihood).

As you sail around Heimaey, see this spectacular land mass from the water from the vantage point of the Vikings. Learn from your guide about the history of the islands, sagas of the Vikings, and the geological history. See the many rock formations and sail along the new lava that enlarged the Heimaey island by 2 km as a result of the 1973 eruption.

Bring your binoculars to see the many bird species around Vestmannaeyjar that nest on the cliffs and on the surrounding islands. Species you may see include the iconic puffin, fulmats, kittiwakes and gannets. In addition, seals and whales sometimes duck up in high summer such as orcas, porpoises and dolphins.

A highlight of this sail is the sea caves you sail past, Fjósið which is inside the cape Höfði, referred to as the windiest place in Europe, and Klettshellir which is known for its marvelous acoustics.

At the end of your circumnavigation, disembark from your vessel and make the return walk to the ship.

Heimaey Island Tour

Discover the scenic splendour of the Westman Islands during this picturesque sightseeing tour.


Herjólfsdalur Valley and Stórhöfði

Depart the perfectly formed natural harbor with its tall cliffs and head to Herjólfsdalur Valley, where your guide points out ruins of old farmhouses dating form the year 650 A.D. Your tour continues along the western part of the island to view the outer islands. The youngest island, Surtsey, evolved from a volcanic eruption in 1963. A photo stop is then made at Stórhöfði, which offers splendid views overlooking the island and majestic glaciers of mainland Iceland.

The tour then continues along the scenic western part of the islands, providing an opportunity to view the outer islands of archipelago. The youngest island, "Surtsey", a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was formed in a volcanic eruption in 1962.


Volcanoes and Pompeii of the North

Your drive back to the harbor takes you between two volcanoes, the 5,000 - year - old Helgafell, or "Holy Mountain", and the considerably younger Eldfell or Mt.Fire. Which last erupted on January 23, 1973. Stop for photos at the viewpoint located at the base of Eldfell; the continue over the new lava fields and into the very center of the volcano's crater. From here, drive through town, pass by the Skansinn Church and stop by Pompeii of the North before returning to the pier.


Eldheimar Museum, local tasting

You will get the chance to visit the Eldheimar Museum, which focuses on the 1973 volcanic eruption in Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland's largest natural disaster where inhabitants of the island had to evacuate their home in the middle of the night. Here enjoy a taste of local wine and canapes.

Heimaey Island tour with Eldheimar Museum

Discover the Westman Islands situated just off the south coast of Iceland. The main island, Heimaey, has a population of about 4,000, and no port in Iceland registers bigger catches than this one. Heimaey is simply buzzing with life, as it has since the days of the first settlement, when islanders began making their living from the sea.


This 3-hour tour aims at introducing the visitor to the main attractions of the island. Leave the perfectly-formed natural harbor area with its tall cliffs tenanted by multitudes of puffin, fulmar and guillemot. Drive from the pier into the Herjólfsdalur valley, where ruins of old Viking houses dating back to the year 900 AD are, and visit a replica of the Viking house.


The tour continues along the western part of the island, providing us with an opportunity to view the outer islands. The youngest of the group, Surtsey, being born in a volcanic eruption of 1963.


Next stop is Stórhöfði (Great Cape) with its magnificent views over the island and majestic glaciers of the Icelandic mainland like Eyjafjallajökull. Stórhöfði is one of the windiest places on the earth, with an average wind speed of 11 m/s and only four times per year does it have days of no wind. The drive back to the harbor takes you between two volcanoes, the 5,000-year-old volcano Helgafell and the considerably younger volcano Eldfell (Mt. Fire) whose history is somewhat more recent. At 2:00 am on the night of January 23rd 1973, a massive eruptionof Eldfell began in the eastern part of Heimaey. Almost all of the 5,000 inhabitants were safely evacuated to the mainland.


Your next stop is the viewpoint over the old town located on the new lava. The old town is 30 m below your feet, buried in the lava. Drive over the new lava field, past "Skansinn" with the wooden church, which was donated to the people of the Westman Islands by the state of Norway of commemorating the millennium of Christianity in Iceland.


In town pass the ruins of a house buried in the lava, continue through the main streets of town. Then visit the museum Eldheimar - a museum about the eruption on Heimaey in 1973. Eldheimar, which translates to "worlds of fire," opened in 2014 and offers a chance for visitors to revisit the volcanic eruption events of 1973, getting deep insight of the island through this snapshot of life on Heimaey as well as the devastation wreaked by the volcano. Learn how on that fateful night, the vast majority of the islanders were evacuated, not returning until months later.


After your museum tour make the short drive back to the ship.

Rib Safari – with tasting

Explore the incredible seabirds, lava, rock formations and sea caves of Heimaey harbor and on this adventurous RIB Safari boat tour. The Heimaey harbor has for a long time been a shelter for the Icelandic fishing fleet, but was almost lost in the volcanic eruption on the island in 1973. Sail around the islands in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) on this approximately two-hour tour that offers an unforgettable view of the region's highlights.


Take a short walk to the Rib Safari Center at the harbor to get geared up and to receive a safety briefing. Begin your boat tour by heading to the east of Heimaey to check out the new lava that was formed during the eruption in 1973.


From there, motor off to bird paradise Stakkabót, where a magnificent array of birdlife can be spotted, as the Westman Islands have one of the largest varieties of sea bird species in Iceland. Puffin colonies of an estimated 6 to 8 million puffins (between May to August) arrive in this region; nowhere else in the world can such large number of puffins be found in such close proximity to man.


The islands also house one of the world's largest gannet and guillemot colonies. Numerous other species of nesting sea birds can also be seen. In addition to the bird life, whales are also often sighted, including orcas, dolphins and porpoises.


Discover six sea caves during this trip and sail into some of them. In the rock formations you can see all sorts of creatures such as the big elephant in Dalfjall, and the auks head in Ystaklettur. Visit Kafhellir cave, one of the most spectacular of all the caves, and see the sunlight shine from underneath the island. Check out some treasures left behind by the Turkish pirates who raided the Westman Islands in 1627 and enslaved about 380 Icelanders in North Africa, most of them never returning home.


At the end of your boat tour, return your gear and walk back to the ship.

Volcanic Hiking Tour on Heimaey with Eldheimar Museum

Detailed Tour Description:

Discover Heimaey, the only inhabited island of the Westman Islands archipelago, a group of approximately 15 islands located just off the south west tip of Iceland. Home to around 4,000 people, Heimaey's primary economy is in the fishing industry and tourism. Though Heimaey may be thought of as relatively quiet, peaceful and perhaps even a little unadventurous, the island and the people of Heimaey have a virtual treasure trove of experiences and historical dramas to share with their audience.


Take a highly informative 3-hour guided walking tour that guides you through the picturesque harbor area that was saved (and inadvertently improved) from the encroaching lava in 1973 by an army of volunteers who defiantly stood their ground and rerouted the flow it by drenching it in thousands of gallons of seawater sprayed from fire houses - thus heroically saving the town's livelihood from destruction.


Pass the small stave church "Skansinn", a gift from the people of Norway in 2000 to mark the millennium of Christianity in Iceland. The site of the church was originally a fortification built for defense against foreign traders after the Westman Islands was raided by Algerian pirates in 1627. Continue our walk over the newly formed lava fields of Eldfell (Fire Mountain) the site of the dramatic 1973 volcanic eruption. At 2am on the night of January 23rd 1973, a massive eruption began in the eastern part of Heimaey. Almost all of the 5,000 inhabitants were safely evacuated to the mainland. Stop at a viewpoint located at the base of this volcano.


Visit the museum Eldheimar - a museum about the eruption on Heimaey in 1973. Eldheimar, which translates to "worlds of fire," opened in 2014 and offers a chance for visitors to revisit the volcanic eruption events of 1973, getting deep insight of the island through this snapshot of life on Heimaey as well as the devastation wreaked by the volcano. Learn how on that fateful night, the vast majority of the islanders were evacuated, not returning until months later. Stroll through the town center on the way back to the pier.

Volcano ATV Adventure (Single)

Experience the spectacular panoramic beauty of the Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago and Eldfell Volcano during this fun-filled and exciting ATV excursion.


Heimaey, Walk to the ATV Base, Guided ATV Safari of the Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago

Depart the pier for the short walk from the pier to the ATV Base. Upon arrival, receive your safety and riding instructions, then don your waterproof jacket, pants, gloves and safety helmet, which is installed with a communication device so that you can listen to the tour guide´s stories about this historical Island. Afterward, begin your scenic and exhilarating ATV tour. This outing is recommended for the entire family, who can enjoy driving around the historical sites of the Vestmannaeyjar (Western Islands), an archipelago off Iceland's south coast, in a unique way; by ATV. The ATV´s are also automatic and easy-to-drive, so no specific experience is needed. Each ATV seats two passengers.


Prestvik Beach, Eldfell Volcano, Lava Fields, Crater, Coastal Drive, Panoramic Sea Views

Your fun-filled and exciting exploration of Vestmannaeyjar includes a stop at Prestvik Beach, where the fishing ship Pelagus stranded. From here, drive around and view the scene where Guðlaugur Friðþórsson reached land after approximately 3.1 miles-3.7 miles (about five kilometres-six kilometres) of swimming in the dark, cold sea after the trawler Hellisey VE 503 sank. Your route continues around the lava fields and into the middle of the crater of the Eldfell Volcano, which erupted in 1973, destroyed many buildings and forced a months-long evacuation of the entire population to mainland Iceland. Finally, a coastal drive offers breath-taking panoramic views over the sea before returning to the ATV Base. Upon arrival, return your ATV and gear, and commence the short walk back to the pier.

Volcano ATV Adventure (Double)

Experience the spectacular panoramic beauty of the Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago and Eldfell Volcano during this fun-filled and exciting ATV excursion.


Heimaey, Walk to the ATV Base, Guided ATV Safari of the Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago

Depart the pier for the short walk from the pier to the ATV Base. Upon arrival, receive your safety and riding instructions, then don your waterproof jacket, pants, gloves and safety helmet, which is installed with a communication device so that you can listen to the tour guide´s stories about this historical Island. Afterward, begin your scenic and exhilarating ATV tour. This outing is recommended for the entire family, who can enjoy driving around the historical sites of the Vestmannaeyjar (Western Islands), an archipelago off Iceland's south coast, in a unique way; by ATV. The ATV´s are also automatic and easy-to-drive, so no specific experience is needed. Each ATV seats two passengers.


Prestvik Beach, Eldfell Volcano, Lava Fields, Crater, Coastal Drive, Panoramic Sea Views

Your fun-filled and exciting exploration of Vestmannaeyjar includes a stop at Prestvik Beach, where the fishing ship Pelagus stranded. From here, drive around and view the scene where Guðlaugur Friðþórsson reached land after approximately 3.1 miles-3.7 miles (about five kilometres-six kilometres) of swimming in the dark, cold sea after the trawler Hellisey VE 503 sank. Your route continues around the lava fields and into the middle of the crater of the Eldfell Volcano, which erupted in 1973, destroyed many buildings and forced a months-long evacuation of the entire population to mainland Iceland. Finally, a coastal drive offers breath-taking panoramic views over the sea before returning to the ATV Base. Upon arrival, return your ATV and gear, and commence the short walk back to the pier.

Volcano ATV – with refreshment

Take an ATV ride along the dramatic volcanic coastline and learn all the quirky history of Vestmannaeyjar on this experience. This excursion is a guided trip where each person is provided a waterproof jacket, pants, and gloves, as well as a helmet installed with an communication gadget to listen to tour guide stories as you stop at special historical locations.


Walk to the ATV center (20 minutes) and get your gear assembled, setting out on your way. See Prestvik beach, where fishing ship Pelagus was stranded, see the site where Guðlaugur Friðþórsson came to land after 5-6 km of swimming in the dark and cold sea after Hellisey VE 503 sank. Drive around the lava and into the middle of the volcano Eldfell and along the coast, where the view is breathtaking.


The ATVs are automatic and easy to drive so no specific experience is needed. All ATVs are 2 person where driver needs to have a driving licence.


At the end of your adventure make the 20-minute walk back to the ship.

Walking Tour and Lava Field

Explore the fascinating geologic features and history of Heimaey, or Home Island, the largest island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago and the most populated island off the Icelandic coast. Heimaey also carries the distinction of being the only populated island in this archipelago. Take a nearly four-hour walking tour that features the impact, history and resulting topography of the 1973 Eldfell volcano eruption.


Skansinn Stave Church

Walk from the pier to Skansinn, the site of ruins from a 15th century fort built to defend the harbor from pirates. Sadly, this strategy was none too successful as Algerian pirates simply landed on the opposite side of the island. The walls of the fort were encircled by the 1973 flow of lava. See the striking stave church, a replica of the Haltdalen stave church originally built in 1170, painted a bold black color that matches the volcanic rock surrounding it.


Eldfell Volcano

Walk on the lava field of the most recent 1973 Eldfell eruption. Heimaey Island is known for its epic Eldfell volcanic eruption in 1973, which threatened to destroy the harbor and did take many of the homes of the island's 5,000 inhabitants. Learn how residents thwarted the lava's path of destruction with cold sea water in order to save the harbor (and the residents' livelihood).


Eldheimar Volcano Museum

Walk 20 minutes back to the town center to visit the captivating museum, Eldheimar, which translates to "worlds of fire." Opening in 2014, the Eldheimar museum is a chance for visitors to revisit the volcanic eruption events of 1973, getting deep insight of the island through this snapshot of life on Heimaey as well as the devastation wreaked by the volcano. Learn how on that fateful night, the vast majority of the islanders were evacuated, not returning until months later. The museum also has an exhibit on the Surtsey eruption, the island that emerged from the ocean south of Heimaey in 1963.


After your museum tour make the 30-minute walk back to the ship.



Please note: This excursion involves extensive activity of 3.5 to 4km of walking and hiking over uneven and grassy terrain and some paved surfaces; no hiking experience required but each guest responsible for assessing their own level of physical fitness before embarking on this tour. This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility and/or in a wheelchair. Children with experience hiking may participate with parents; no small children unless in a baby carrier. Guests are recommended to wear warm, layered clothing and sturdy walking/hiking shoes; no open-toed shoes permitted. Space on this tour is somewhat limited; we suggest you book in advance to avoid disappointment.

An Introduction to Silversea Cruises

The romance of the seas, small ship sizes and intimate atmosphere, Silversea has long been a leader in the ultra-luxury market. Travelling to both iconic and secluded ports, Silversea’s award-winning itineraries inspire wanderlust and exploration. With over 900 destinations, longer port stays and more late-night departures than ever before, even the savviest traveler will find something new. A butler for every suite, a complimentary in-suite bar stocked with your preferences, all-inclusive exquisite dining, award-winning onboard entertainment and an unparalleled space to guest ratio all contribute to the Silversea experience. Not forgetting our famed Italian hospitality, where new faces become old friends. Bienvenuti a bordo.