There’s something magical about small islands and we have plenty of them all around Iceland. If you think downtown Reykjavík’s houses are charming, you should see the village in Flatey. If you think the West Fjords have a quirky appeal, try walking around Hrísey. If the visible juncture of the tectonic plates at Þingvellir fascinates you, spend a day in Vestmannaeyjar. These little islands, each in its own way, highlight the very best Iceland has to offer.
Historical, beautiful and easily accessible, Viðey boasts a rich history ever since settlement. The picturesque island is just a 30-minute ferry ride from Reykjavík and is home to one of the oldest houses in Iceland, Viðeyjarstofa, built in the 1750s. You’ll also find outdoor art installations, an incredibly diverse bird life and let’s not forget Yoko Ono’s peace column.
This largest of the Vestmann islands (Vestmannaeyjar) is a real tourist paradise. Aside from being one of the most beautiful places in Iceland, this is also the remarkable historical site of the volcanic eruption that threatened the town and its inhabitants on January 23rd 1973. The entire population of over 5.000 inhabitants fled the island in the middle of the night and a part of the town disappeared under lava. Visit the Eldheimar museum for a unique glimpse into one of Iceland’s worst natural disasters. Although the population number still hasn’t reached what it was before the eruption, the town is rather large on an Icelandic scale so you’ll find everything you need here, including a book café, boutiques and of course, a swimming pool.
This charismatic village on a tiny island is a popular summer resort for the lucky few who own these houses. The ferry Baldur sails across Breiðafjörður bay and stops by at Flatey. While it’s an absolute treat to sail around these islands, don’t miss this chance to experience the 19th-century village on this car-free island and for a really relaxed mini-break, book a room at their hotel and catch the next ferry, or even the next one after that.
This quirky village of roughly 200 people is a wonderful place to spend the day or preferably the week. They have everything you might need here (a swimming pool) and after you’ve walked around the island and looked up all the birds you meet, look around you to soak in the beauty of these surroundings and say goodbye to a lifetime’s worth of stress.
Iceland’s northernmost inhabitants are also the only ones north of the Arctic Circle, the Arctic Circle actually runs right through them. This means that during high summer the sun literally never sets here. This is as remote as you get in Iceland, a three-hour boat ride or a 30 min. flight from Akureyri but if you’ve come this far already, why not go further?
This might be an odd place to include on a list of interesting islands since there is no way you can visit Surtsey in the nearby future, unless of course you’re a very privileged scientist. But this is without a doubt the most interesting island in Iceland and so you should at least know about it. Surtsey was formed in an underwater volcanic eruption that lasted from 1963 until 1967 and became the new southernmost point of Iceland. While plants, insects, birds and seals enjoy the great outdoors on this brand new piece of land, your only chance of seeing this UNESCO world heritage site is from the air or by checking it out on this webcam: http://www.vedur.is/vedur/athuganir/vefmyndavelar/surtsey/