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Welcome to the vicinity of Eldfell - stage five of The Volcanic Way

One fateful night in 1973, the people of Westman islands woke up to a volcanic eruption at the edge of the town. It was the first-ever volcanic eruption within a town in Iceland, forcing almost the entire population of the Westman islands to abandon their homes. Months later, after the eruption finally ended, many returned and continued living in what is today a thriving fishing village of 4500 people. A short ferry ride brings you to these beautiful islands. A visit to the Eldheimar museum followed by a hike up the newly formed Eldfell volcano will help put the town’s curious history in perspective. 

Locals recommend:

  • Nýja hraun
  • Skansinn
  • Herjólfsdalur

Popular places:

  • Eldfell volcano
  • Halldórsskora elephant rock
  • Stórhöfði


Activities - Eldfell

Accommodation - Eldfell

Learn about Erupting islands

The Eldheimar exhibition focuses on the 1973 volcanic eruption in Vestmannaeyjar. Visitors get a glimpse into people's lives on Heimaey before the eruption that would change their lives forever. Both interactive and visual, this exhibition should not be missed when visiting Vestmannaeyjar.

Visitors also learn about the eruption that formed the small island of Surtsey in 1963, 10 years before the dramatic Heimaey eruption. Surtsey is a UNESCO World heritage site and an important site for scientific research.

Volcanic Wisdom

The Heimaey eruption of 1973 on Iceland's Westman Islands was a dramatic event that shaped the town's landscape and history. The eruption began with a fissure opening near the town, eventually concentrating into the now-iconic Eldfell crater. Nearly 5,000 residents were evacuated overnight, with around 400 houses buried under tephra and lava. Lasting over five months, the eruption claimed one life due to toxic gases.

Fun facts: Despite initial concerns, the lava flow actually improved the harbor, providing enhanced shelter. Additionally, for about 15 years after the eruption, hot lava was ingeniously used to heat homes in the town – a unique example of harnessing geothermal energy.


The Stages of The Volcanic Way

1. Fagradalsfjall
Located in Reykjanes Peninsula, a captivating geological wonderland where the raw power of nature is on full display.
2. Hengill
As you reach the vicinity of Hengill, you will start noticing steam rising from hills, mountains, and even within the town of Hveragerði.
3. Hekla
Hekla has been dubbed the Queen of Iceland’s volcanoes. The one that has erupted most frequently in recent years;
4. Eyjafjallajökull
Eyjafjallajökull is an ice-capped volcano that famously erupted in 2010, its ash cloud affecting air traffic widely in Europe.
5. Eldfell
One fateful night in 1973, the people of Westman islands woke up to a volcanic eruption at the edge of the town.
6. Katla
The vicinity of Katla is recognized by its vast black sands. While the volcano itself is hiding under thick layers of ice, its surrounding glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, is a majestic sight.
7. Lakagígar
The vast lava fields of the Lakiagígar region can seem otherworldly. Two significant volcanic eruptions produced these mystical landscapes:
8. Öræfajökull
Vatnajökull glacier is everpresent as you explore the easternmost part of The Volcanic Way. Its highest peak is Öræfajökull, a stratovolcano at Vatnajökull's southern edge
Frequently asked questions
Questions and answers for anyone traveling The Volcanic Way