By Ferry -- Herjólfur, Þorlákshöfn harbor (tel. 481-2800; www.herjolfur.is), makes two round-trips daily in summer between Þorlákshöfn and Heimaey, but only one trip on Saturdays and holidays. One-way tickets are 2,000kr ($32/£16) adults, 1,000kr ($16/£8) seniors and children 12 to 15, and free for children 11 and under. The journey takes 3 hours. The boat leaves Þorlákshöfn at noon and 7:30pm (noon only on Sat), and Heimaey at 8:15am and 4pm (8:15am only on Sat). For fall and winter schedules, call or check the website. Weather cancellations occur only two or three times a year, and almost never in summer. The ferry sometimes sells out for cars, but never for passengers, except possibly the first weekend of August. Buses from Reykjavík and Selfoss to Þorlákshöfn on Þingvallaleið (tel. 511-2600; www.bustravel.is), are aligned with the ferry schedule and depart from the BSÍ bus terminal at Vatnsmýrarvegur 10. One-way bus fare from Reykjavík is 1,050kr ($17/£8.40) for adults, and 600kr ($9.60/£4.80) for children under 12.
It may seem indulgent to take a car, but it's not a bad idea. Transporting the car costs exactly the same as a passenger ticket, and Heimaey has a good road system. If you do bring a car, make sure to reserve in advance. Even if car reservations are full, you have a decent chance of getting on standby; register your name at the ticket office, which opens an hour before departure.
Beat the Barf Bag -- The ferry to the Westman Islands travels through open sea that can get rough. Most locals rent a bunk below deck, where there's less motion and you can sleep off the journey. The scenery isn't much to miss, though occasionally leaping dolphins accompany the ferry. Just make sure to wake up in time for the dramatic approach into Heimaey harbor. A bed with pillow and blanket adds 480kr ($7.70/£3.85) to the ticket cost. Each windowless room contains eight bunks, stacked two at a time, with curtains and private lights. Bring a sleeping bag if you have one. For more privacy, and sheets, two-person cabins cost 2,000kr ($32/£16), and four-person cabins cost 4,000kr ($64/£32). Beds can be booked in advance through Herjólfur or at the harbor ticket office before departure. Specific room assignments are given at the snack counter aboard the ferry. Pills to prevent motion sickness should be taken an hour before departure.
By Air -- Flying to Heimaey is an exciting and sometimes terrifying experience, as planes are often buffeted in the wind. Flights are regularly cancelled because of weather conditions, so if your itinerary is tight, take the ferry. Both airlines listed below offer day packages, which might include a bus tour of Heimaey or a round of golf. A taxi ride into town costs around 1,100kr ($18/£9), or you could walk there in about 20 minutes. Taxis often wait for Air Iceland flights, but if not, call Eyjataxi (tel. 698-2038) from the airport.
Air Iceland (tel. 570-3030; www.airiceland.is) flies from Reykjavík to Heimaey two or three times daily. The flight takes 25 minutes, and a typical one-way fare is 5,750kr ($92/£46) if you book online.
Flugfélag Vestmannaeyja (tel. 481-3255; www.eyjaflug.is) has inexpensive (4,900kr/$78/£39 one-way) 20-minute charter flights in summer from Selfoss, and can throw in some extra aerial sightseeing en route. The charter flight from Bakki is only 6 minutes and costs 2,900kr ($46/£23) per person each way, with a two-person minimum.
The tourist information center (tel. 481-3555; www.vestmannaeyjar.is: Click on the "i" at the bottom) is located in City Hall (Ráðhús). Visit Westman Islands (www.visitwestmanislands.com) is also useful. Make sure to pick up the free walking map from the tourist office, open May 15 to Sept 15 (Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm), and Sept 16 to May 14 (Mon-Sat 11am-5pm).