Stykkisholmur

View over Stykkisholmur town in Iceland from top of Súgandiseyju. To the left is the hospital and the white building in the background is the futuristic local church. To the right you see the beating heart of the town and location of most of its nice old buildings. PIC marco bono

Your first impression of the town of Stykkisholmur on the Snaefellsnes peninsula will likely be disappointing. There sure are nice sights over the rolling hills and a nice view over Breidafjordur bay but there is not much very inviting or enticing as you drive in. 

But keep your head on for a minute. The old saying good things come to those who wait applies here and should you find you way directly to the town center, which is pretty much just a straight line, you will be rewarded with some of the most adorable buildings in the whole of Iceland.

Stykkisholmur is amongst a handful of towns in Iceland with any resemblance of a town center. Even if the center in this case is a little off as can be seen on the map below.

For sightseeing then just stop somewhere along the Adalgata road

Mostly the town gets attention for its collection of old wooden houses of which most have been tastefully rebuilt. Some even call the old town a living museum and in a sense they are correct. Each of those old buildings have stories of their own related to Stykkisholmur being a pretty wealthy town in years past. Then again, most of the beautiful buildings were built and owned by foreign tradesmen and not locals. This is an ongoing thing since many of these buildings today belong to wealthier Icelanders from Reykjavik.

For sightseeing then just stop somewhere along the Adalgata road, literally Main street, and take it all in. Adalgata is the very road into town and all the way to the waterfront. You cannot get lost even if you tried.

Old buildings aside there are some curious museum to visit here. One is the Volcano Museum in Adalgata 8 where you will find lots of information about the geology of Iceland. Also here are all kinds of artworks, photographs and objects related to volcanoes in the country. The museum is newly opened and nothing to blow you out of the water but interesting and especially fascinating for those who little knowledge of volcanoes and volcanic activity. The museum is only open during summertime, May to September, between 11 and 17 but larger groups can arrange visits at other times. Admission is 7$ / 5€.

Inside the nice old town library on Bokhlodustig road you now find the Library of Water. A retreat for writers and researchers but also houses a weird collection of water taken from 24 different glaciers in Iceland. Not really a museum but more an running exhibition and not to everyone´s taste. The library stands on a hill and gives a nice overview of the old town. Open all summer daily from 13 until 18 but only on weekends during wintertime. Admission is free.

The oldest building in town from 1828 now houses the local municipal museum. The pitch black painted Norwegian House, Norska husid, in Hafnargata road is so named because the original materials used for construction were all imported from Norway. It was for a time the largest private home in the country. The building you see today looks like the original but has more or less been rebuilt from scratch. Inside you will find on the ground floor a nice permanent exhibition dedicated to the birds of the area but on second floor you will be transported to a nineteenth century living space of the wealthy first owner. The site is open daily in summertime, 12 – 17, but visits can be arranged at other times. Admission is 7$ / 5€.

Here also is found a smaller but much older church right beside Narfeyrarstofa restaurant. It is usually not open for visits anymore but those interested should inquire in the Norwegian House. On good days locals are all but happy to satisfy the curiosity of strangers.

The larger and better known church, the futuristic Stykkisholmskirkja, is open every day in summer for visits and most often open in wintertime as well.

Scattered in town you can find and visit the workshops of local handicraft artists but these have a mighty touristy feel about them. Amongst those are Gallery Leir 7 at Hamraendar street, Gallery Braggi at Adalstraeti street and Gallery Smavinir in Norwegian House.

There is no shortage of places to stay in Stykkisholmur. The local Hotel Stykkisholmur is right by the golf course and prices are decent compared with other hotels in the country. Expect mediocrity and a few minutes walk into town center. Another option is Hotel Egilsen in Adalgata 2 housed in a lovely old building but on the pricey side of life.

For any visitors low on cash reserves check out the local guesthouses and B&B´s here. A popular one is Guesthouse Baenir & Braud at Laufasvegur road. Nice place but never a favorite for locals for it is owned by one of the most famous bankers of the great Icelandic banking crash of 2008. Money spent here will probably end up in the pockets of lawyers defending him in the courts. Other options include Guesthouse Holmurinn at Skulagata road, Guesthouse Sundabakki at Sundabakki road.

The very first weather station in Iceland was set up here in 1845 / From Reykjavik take the Ring Road to Borgarnes and soon therafter turn left to Snaefellsvegur road number 54. Then either drive the whole Snaefellsnes peninsula on that road or turn right on road 56, Vatnaleid, over the mountain range. Also possible to take road number 60 left on Ring Road further in Borgarfjordur valley and then turn onto Snaefellsnes road 54 / Stykkisholmur is a nice stop and old buildings are worth the time. This place is good for half a day but not much more


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