By far, my favorite little town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula is Stykkishólmur. It’s the favorite of many others as well; this town has been a center for trade and commerce since the 16th century because of its natural harbour. If you’ve seen Secret Life of Walter Mitty, you’ll notice a lot of filming locations here as this was Ben Stiller’s favourite town too.
Stykkishólmur’s main industries are fishing and tourism and it’s known as the ‘gateway’ to the island of Flatey because of the convenient ferry that will take you north to the Westfjords.
This means your most important stop in the town should be to eat some of the delectable fresh fish caught within a few kilometres of the harbour in Breiðafjörður. There are many great restaurants to go to, but the most well known is Narfeyrarstofa. They serve wonderfully prepared scallops, mussels, prawns, salmon, and cod. It’s open all year, but be sure to check the opening hours as they sometimes close in between lunch and dinner service. My personal favourite was the fiskisúpa, or fish soup. They even serve bread with garlic butter and a tray of salts. There’s plain sea salt from the west fjörds, black pepper, and in-house smoked sea salt. Try them all!
Some of their dishes are even served on custom tableware designed and made locally by Sigríður Erla Guðmundsdóttir. Her studio, Leir 7, is just up the road from Narfeyrarstofa and is an amazing showcase of pottery. There’s always something new and beautiful to check out made from soil around you, fired in her kiln.
While driving around Iceland, I like to play a game I call “populous-or-not.” The game is simple: guess how big the population is for each town you’re driving through along your journey. Winner gets first sample of putrified shark! Stykkishólmur hits the top of the list for towns along the Snæfellsnes peninsula with 1,195 people. Many of the others are smaller than your secondary school graduating class. Trust me, the game brings a lot into perspective.
Fun fact: Stykkishólmur is also home to one of Iceland’s best basketball teams, Ungmennafélagið Snæfell.
Another main attraction in Stykkishólmur is the lighthouse in the harbour. It’s where Walter Mitty ran out of the cafe and jumped onto a helicopter mid-take-off.
To get there, drive through the centre of town and down around Sæbraut. This will lead you to a few parking spots just before the loading area for the passenger ferry. From there you’ll notice some stairs that head up the hillside to various walking paths.
From the lighthouse on top of the hill there’s an amazing view of the downtown area and out to the sea. If you visit on a clear day, you’ll get a great panoramic view of the islands scattered between Snæfellsnes and the Westfjords.
Lastly, on your way in or out of town, check out Helgafell or “holy mountain.” It’s a small mountain about 73 meters high with a temple in honour of Þór (Thor) built on top by Þórólfr Mostrarskegg, one of the first settlers of the area. You can’t miss it on your way to/from town.
Legend says that 3 wishes will be granted to any hiker who climbs the mountain facing forward the whole time, never looking back, and without talking. You must have a clear mind and a heart free of guile. At the top, face east and make your 3 wishes of good intent. If your internal compass is broken or non-existent, there’s an external compass located close to the ruins at the top.
Other great places to check out during your visit to Stykkishólmur include:
Ready to check out Stykkishólmur by camper van?
Góða ferð! Happy Camping!