Presentation of the destination
Stykkisholmur is located 172km north of the capital of Reykjavik and is considered one of the most picturesque and popular Icelandic destinations as it is ideally situated on the Western shores of the island looking out to more than 2700 small islands and islets sitting quietly on the bay. Surrounded by breathtaking volcanic landscapes, an endless variety of wildlife and a very active sealife, enhanced by the long, sunny summer days and wintery nights accented by the Northern Lights, Stykkisholmur is a destination that should be on everyone's bucket list of top destinations to visit! The local language is Icelandic, descended from Old Norse and greatly preserved until today, something Icelanders are very proud of, but English is widely spoken and used along with Danish. The local currency is the Icelandic Krona (1EUR=155ISK). Iceland follows the Standard Time +0000 UTC and has a small population of 326.000 mainly of Nordic and Polish origins.
Points of interests / things to see
Iceland owes its sheer existence to volcano eruptions and all of the island's solid mass is simply ancient, erupted volcanic lava that has formed this mass of land amidst the North Atlantic. Hence, it is no surprise that a whole museum dedicated to volcanoes can be found here at Stykkishomur. A truly unique museum that must not be missed with an admission fee of 5.14€ and free admission for under 17s, one can admire an exhibition of paintings, artifacts and objects related to volcanic eruptions as well as real volcanic rock specimens acquired from Stykkishomur-born volcanologist Haraldur Sigurosson's valuable scientific collection. Sigurosson taught geology and volcanology in U.S. universities for many years while he studied volcanoes on land and on the ocean floor and travelled to places such as Indonesia, West Indies, Greece, Italy, South America and much more. Through his extensive research and experience he published his book ‘Melting the Earth’ and also developed an interest in the depiction of volcanoes and volcanic eruptions in art and illustration hence he set up the Volcano Museum in May 2009. The Museum itself is also a forum for daily talks and seminars on volcanic activity both in English and Icelandic while on Mondays and Tuesdays between May and September it offers geology excursions around the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Opening hours are daily between 11:00-17:00 and you may visit its official website for further information http://www.eldfjallasafn.is/
Taking a boat tour to Breiðafjörður is the most important activity one must do when visiting Stykkisholmur and Iceland in general. Breiðafjörður is a Fjord consisting of thousands of little islands and islets that are a thriving wild life sanctuary for hunders of different species of birds, animals and sea creatures. The rich in minerals, volcanic ground is a gold-mine for the fauna found in the Fjord while at the same time it creates majestic landscapes and views for the admiration of visitors. Two of the most admirable birds visitors will come across during their cruise are the Puffin and the Sea Eagle, but also other rare species such as Fulmar, Kittiwake, Cormorants and much more. Moreover, if luck is on your side, there is a great chance you will come across seals and small whales! An exciting, once in a lifetime experience for both young and old. During the summer season, cruises are carried out throughout the day but the most popular one to choose is the midnight cruise which offers great sunset views with a backdrop of the cliffy mountains of Westfjords which create a breathtaking, sunset filled landscape amidst the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Book your cruise on http://www.icelandoceantours.is/ or http://www.seatours.is/.
You have the opportunity to visit the charming little island of Flatey either during your ocean boat trip but better yet try taking a day trip dedicated exclusively to this little gem as there is much to discover at your own pace once on the island which is an utterly remarkable place. So hop onto the Baldur ferry which conducts continuous trips back and forth between Stykkisholmur and Flatey and put on your hiking boots for a great day outdoors. Flatey got its named, yes you guessed right, because it is completely flat! Being the largest of the Western Fjords of Breiðafjörður bay, it has been a trading post as early as 1172. Its existence, along with the other somewhat 40 little islands that belong to it, is believed to be thanks to being forged under the weight of a glacier during the Ice Age. During the 19th century it was an art and cultural centre and it was home to a monastery which held manuscripts of the Icelandic saga. During the 20th century, the island was slowly abandoned by its population which left behind few permanent inhabitans but many keep summer homes here which have been renovated to maintain their traditional Icelandic style. It is a wonderful place for bird watching and camping and a great outdoor escape of the whole family!
Stykkisholmur has long been the cultural and commercial centre of Snæfellsnes and its inhabitants have gone a long way to preserve its beautiful buildings. Arriving here, visitors will be struck by the tidy and well-kept streets and homes as they greatly influence the town's overall picture. Moreover, and what is more impressive is that the inhabitants of Stykkisholmur are environmentally conscious individuals and the town is a great example of humans co-existing in harmony with the surrounding nature and environment and reaching environmental sustainability for which the town was awarded the 'Green Globe' certification. Three museums are found in the town one being the Volcano Museum introduced earlier. The other two are the Library of Water and the Norwegian house, for which, more information can be found below! In some sections of the shores of Stykkisholmur and especially right behing the Scallop Factory, lovers of shell fish can freely collect the hundreds of thousands of scallops found here, rich in iodine and pure, ocean minerals! This is also known as Viking Sushi...simply add some lemon and enjoy the scallop feast. If you happen to visit in summer, don't miss out on visiting the town swimming pool. Live every Icelandic town, Stykkisholmur has one of its own but what is special about it, apart from the 57-meter slide and the several hot and cold tubs and pools, is that the water is pure, straight from the borehole and it is certified for it is said to be good for skin problems with healing properties.
The Church located at the centre of this beautiful Icelandic city is probably one of the country's and of Stykkisholmur's most photographed buildings. Not only that, it is a complete surprise to the eye of the visitor who after getting an initial taste of the local architecture and design of the buildings that constitute the town, are taken aback by the shape and form of the central church of Stykkisholmur. Proudly standing on top of a promontory overlooking Stykkisholmur, as if you'd say 'protecting' it, the church is a concrete, extremely modern, whitewashed structure built in 1980. Its clean and modernistic design depicts 'purity' and this is also achieved by the white colour that dominates its interior and exterior. Two sweeping arms, as if carrying out the action of joining hands to pray, create the entrance at the bottom of the structure and at the top, where they meet, create the church's bell tower. The striking shape of the bell tower, which many say looks more like the vent of a ship, is more visible when viewed from the side. The interior of the church is just as striking as the exterior. The altar of Mary and Jesus is of exceptional beauty and so is the church organ found here. The setting of the church offers magnificent views of the town and the surrounding landscape and can be visited throughout the day.
The Library of Water is a modern, glass and white concrete building standing proudly on top of a small hill in Stykkisholmur looking out on to the beautiful harbour and the Breiðafjörður. The views alone are worth visiting for the peace and tranquility they offers. In conjunction with the water element around which the Museum is concentrated, these feelings are even more enhanced. Roni Horn, an American geologist and meteorologist founded the Museum which aspires to highlight the importance of the water element through a magnificent and impressive display of 24 glass columns filled with water from the 24 different glaciers found in Iceland, reflecting sunlight peering through the huge glass windows and creating a majestic atmosphere. More information can be found on http://www.libraryofwater.is/
The Norwegian House is Stykkisholmur's but more importantly, Iceland's first wooden frame residential two-storey building which was built in 1832. During that time, it was also one of the three largest buildings in the country and it took its name since the wood used to construct it was imported from Norway. Its owner was a Stykkisholmur entrepreneur of the time named Árni Ó. Thorlacius. Today the building houses the Snæfellsnes Folk Museum and it has been refurbished to its initial form depicting its identical initial layout when it served as a home for Thorlacius while exhibiting local handicrafts, items and artifacts from the Snæfellsnes region. The museum shop staff are even dressed as maids with 19th century uniforms. A very interesting visit indeed!
Glymur Waterfall is Iceland's highest waterfall and one of the most impressive waterfalls you shall ever come across. Put on your hiking boots and prepare for a challenging in terms of physical stamina hike but one which will generously reward you once you reach your destination. Although at closer proximity to Reykjavik than Stykkisholmur, it is worth renting a car to reach this spot for its beautiful trekking and hiking terrain and the glory of the waterfall. One more natural site that is worth keeping in mind during your boat trip around Breiðafjörður bay is a peculiar formation on a basalt riffled island where two basalts rise high up facing each other with very narrow gap between them. Here, the Vikings used to hang people lacking in appropriate behaviour and left them there to hang for months as a warning to others able to see to behave properly...a bit depressing but an interesting fact to know.
To top off you visit at this majestic region, make sure you visit the setting of Jules Verne's "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" which undoubtedly triggers the imagination to picture storylines and adventures that are a far cry from reality. The Snæfellsjökull National Park, at close proximity to Stykkisholmur is home to the Snæfellsjökull Glacier which is said to be one the seven great energy centers of the earth. The park stretches from the shore all the way up to the mountains which was created by the active volaco which stands at 1.446m tall. The village of Arnarstapi on the southern side of the park offers guided tours to the glacier from where visitors can admire the breathtaking views!
Vacation rentals in Stykkishólmur (Western Region)
How to get there ?
Being amidst the North Atlantic, it is only possible to reach Iceland by air, of if you are the adventurous type, by boat although that would be a risky choice to take. Therefore, by air you shall land at the single international airport on the island which is located in the capital, Reykjavik. Numerous airlines including the two Icelandic national airlines, fly to and from Europe and North America directly since Iceland is ideally located almost half way in between the two continents. Check for flights on http://www.airiceland.is/ and http://www.icelandair.com/. From the airport there are taxis that you may take to Reykjavik or buses. The two bus companies that operate from the airport are the Airport Express (http://www.airportexpress.is/) and Flybus (https://www.re.is/flybus/). From Reykjavik you can take a bus to Stykkisholmur which unfortunately leaves only once a day apart from Friday and Sunday when there are two scheduled trips to/from Stykkisholmur. The duration of the trip is 2.5 hours with a change over at Vatnaleið where you will have to hop on to a bus heading towards Grundarfjörður, Ólafsvík and Hellissandur-Rif. In Stykkisholmur, buses drop off and pick up passengers from the petrol station found on the town's main road. The company running these buses in Strateo and you can find detailed information on their official website along with timetables and maps. http://www.straeto.is/english/plan-your-journey/schedules-and-maps. Enjoy your stay!!
Hotels in Stykkishólmur (Western Region)