Amidst so much uncertainty over health, safety and their intertwined relationship with travel, a land of bombastic open spaces and nary a tourist in sight sounds like the dreamiest of destinations. Iceland has always been associated with dreams. And whether it’s their larger-than-life landscapes, adventurous outdoor opportunities or even their meticulous approach to COVID-19 (which includes testing upon arrival at airports and sea hubs), the island nation makes for one of the most alluring spots, particularly moving forward.
As the country carefully welcomes guests (expecting 10-25% of a typical year’s visitors), Hidden Iceland—who we utilized on an excursion through Iceland’s very remote Westfjords—suggests, among others itineraries, an exploration of the even more remote volcanic Westman Islands archipelago (known in Icelandic as Vestmannaeyjar). It’s accessible by ferry after several hours of traveling along the nation’s southern coast from the capital, Reykjavik. Once there, options range from puffin encounters on the far cliffs of the main island of Heimaey, to boat rides through sea caves. Though remote, the Westmans (which are populated) offer unique dining and cultural experiences, too. Heimaey is also the site of a 1973 volcano eruption that increased the island’s size by 20%.
A tour operator that specializes in personalized experiences, with an additional focus on small groups (like families of four), Hidden Iceland pays close attention to the needs of each individual traveler. Their Westman Island tour begins at $290 per person—and their other Icelandic adventures (from diving to glacier hikes) are also well-priced. They do advise to check international travel advisories before booking. While we do not encourage global gallivanting at this time, Iceland proves to be one of the safest destinations for those looking to travel responsibly right now.
Hero image by Norris Niman for Hidden Iceland