The Vestmannaeyjar islands and especially Heimaey, the main island of the “West Men Islands”, are a key tourist attraction of Iceland. Most visitors (and locals) use the very frequent ferry connections to connect to Iceland mainland. I did the trip in summer 2021 and share my experience of shipping the Herjólfur ferry with you.
Herjolfur Ferry – Route & Prices
Herjólfur is a combined passenger and car ferry. It also carries trucks and heavier equipment, which is important for the supply of the Vestmannaeyjar islands. The key route is departing at Landeyahöfn, which is located some 12 kilometers South of the Ring Road, #1. The next major village is likely Hvolsvöllur, which features the LAVA Centre, a petrol station and hotels. You typically drive to the harbor (2 hours from Reykjavik), but there are also bus connections from the Icelandic capital. The ferry arrives in the heart of Heimaey, In case of very adverse weather or maintenance, Herjolfur Ferries depart from Thorlakshöfn / Ölfus.
In main season, there are roughly seven sailings per day and per direction. The trip time is about 35 minutes. The one-way ticket for an adult passenger in 2022 is 2000 ISK, roughly 15 Euro. This is also the price for a motorbike. A car, depending on the length is 3,000 or 4,000 ISK. If you don’t stay at the island for a longer time or have a lot of equipment, I would typically recommend to leave the car at the harbor, parking is free. Rebooking a ticket to another connection (if available) is a 500 ISK charge.
Herjolfur Ferry – Harbor Services
I would say that the passenger ferry terminal on both sides, in Heimaey and at Landeyahöfn are fit for purpose. There is a waiting area, vending machines, toilets and the bridge to the ferry, that’s it – and that’s what you typically need.
Herjolfur Ferry – The Ferry
In 2019, the Icelanic road administration Vegagerðin, who are driving the connection, started to operate the fourth genereation of the Herjólfur ferry. The shop is a 71 meter long, 15 meter wide hybrid engine ferry with a total power of 3,700 kW. In normal condition, the ferry is running fully electric. There are charging stations on both harbors, only the Thorlakshöfn detour needs to be operated diesel-electric. The ferry may carry up to 540 passengers.
There are different kinds of seats available. Visitors typically rush to the upper deck to enjoy the view during the cruise. However, there are also cozy seats to relax and bistro-alike seats in the cafeteria area available. The cafeteria is actually quite nice and is within typical Icelandic price range. The indoor area also features power plugs, if you need to recharge batteries.
Herjolfur Ferry – The Cruise
As said, the cruise time is about 30 to 35 minutes. The sea may be rather rough, but overall, I had very relaxed trips. Leaving mainland offers a few nice views, but overall, you need to see that there are not too many viewpoints around. Getting into the Vestmannaeyjar Harbor is more popular, as you can not only explore the smaller islands of the archipelago, but also the bird cliffs. The ferry also passes the SeaLife habitat of the two beluga whales. You enter and exit the ship on different sides of the vessel.
Herjolfur Ferry – My View
Especially as the flight connections from Reykjavik Domestic Airport (RKV) to Vestmannaeyjar Airport (VEY) have not been reliable during my 2021 trip, the ferry is just the solid, relaxed and only choice to visit Heimaey. Everything is well-organized, the vessel is sufficiently comfortable, so that I really enjoyed my cruise with them.
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