Top choice in Heimaey

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 house excavated from 50m of pumice. It was once home to Gerður Sigurðardóttir and Guðni Ólafsson, their two children and baby. During the eruption the family was forced to leave in the middle of the night with only time to grab one item, a baby bottle.

The modern volcanic-stone building allows a glimpse into the home with its crumbling walls and intact but toppled knick-knacks and is filled with multimedia exhibits on the eruption and its aftermath, from compelling footage and eyewitness accounts to the story of the home owners. An audio guide leads you through it all; upstairs there's a catwalk over the wreckage, a space dedicated to all things Surtsey, and a cafe with broad views across town.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Heimaey attractions

1. Eldfell

0.23 MILES

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…

2. Helgafell


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

0.35 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

0.36 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

0.38 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. Skansinn

0.58 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…

7. Landlyst

0.59 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,…

8. Sæheimar

0.62 MILES

The Aquarium & Natural History Museum has an interesting collection of stuffed birds and animals, videos on puffins and catfish, and fish tanks of…