Helgafell volcano and red lava slope of Eldfell volcano on Vestmannaeyjar Island Heimaey.

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images


Top choice in Heimaey

The 221m-high volcanic cone Eldfell appeared from nowhere in the early hours of 23 January 1973. Once the fireworks finished, heat from the volcano provided Heimaey with geothermal energy from 1976 to 1985. Today the ground is still hot enough in places to bake bread or char wood. Eldfell is an easy climb from town, up the collapsed northern wall of the crater; stick to the path, as the islanders are trying to save their latest volcano from erosion.

It's around a 1.5km hike to the top (taking 30 minutes to one hour), where it can get windy. Limited parking is available at the bottom of the volcano.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Heimaey attractions

1. Eldheimar

0.23 MILES

More than 400 buildings lie buried under lava from the 1973 eruption, and on the edge of the flow ‘Pompeii of the North’ is a museum revolving around one…

2. Helgafell

0.31 MILES

Helgafell (226m) erupted 5000 years ago. Its cinders are grassed over today, and you can scramble up here without much difficulty from the football pitch…

3. Landskirkja

0.56 MILES

The lava from Heimaey's historic explosion stopped just short of the Landskirkja in the middle of town. The church’s carved wooden doors feature scenes…

4. Sagnheimar Byggðasafn

0.59 MILES

Housed in the city library, this interactive folk museum tells the story of Heimaey from the era of marauding pirates up to the 1973 eruption and beyond…

5. Public Park

0.62 MILES

A nice square to come and eat a picnic or relax in on sunny days. It has a children's play area, including a very fun permanent bouncy trampoline.

6. Eldfellshraun

0.65 MILES

Known as Eldfellshraun, the Mars-like land created by the 1973 lava flow is now criss-crossed with a maze of otherworldly hiking tracks that run down to…

7. Skansinn

0.79 MILES

This lovely green area by the sea has several unique historical sights. The oldest structure on the island, Skansinn was a 15th-century fort built to…

8. Landlyst

0.79 MILES

Shockingly, three out of four of Heimaey’s babies once died of tetanus, due to water deficiency and contaminated soil. In the 1840s an island woman,…