Review: Stykkisholmur harbor home manifests images of elves

This is a sponsored post by the Airbnb owners of Gardur. This post also contains affiliate links. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. 

Stykkisholmur is a town that will make you believe in elves.

Yes, those little creatures we envision as Santa’s helpers or as the mythical creatures that live in forests. But the village isn’t fictional or based off a fairytale. In fact, Stykkisholmur is a little fishing village in western Iceland that overlooks the North Atlantic Ocean.  

During my 10-day Iceland road trip, I spent one night in the historic streets of Stykkisholmur and fell in love with the city’s history, culture and quirky architecture.

The house that I stayed at was rightfully called Gardur, or Garden. The bright, canary yellow fishing home, located in the center of town, on top of the hill overlooks the harbor. Below primary-colored houses and businesses clustered around the harbor where sailboats, ferries and barges docked for the evening.

The cobblestone streets transported visitors back to a simpler and more historic time for the village. A time where elves became a popular belief among the villages and an intrical part of the Icelanders’ culture.

In those days, when the newest catch was brought into the port from the sea, the entire village would shut down. Mothers, fathers, and children, old enough to work, would help bring in the fish, clean them and preserve. After all, ensuring the livelihood of the port ensured the livelihood of the town. This meant that children were often responsible for themselves and watching their younger siblings. And Gardur was present for this cultural event. 

Deep sea fishing boats in Icelandic Harbor

Walking down the streets of this town, that is evident. It’s no bigger than a fishing wharf and a neighborhood surrounding a school and a few Arctic museums. With a population of nearly 1,000 folks, the town seems to be stuck in a simpler and more family-centered time. 

The house overlooking the harbor  

In fact, Gardur was one of the first fishing homes in Stykkisholmur. The home was built by the current owner’s great-grandfather and has been passed down through the generations.

The house, though it appears to be stuck in a different age, it not outdated or irrelevant. In fact, Gardur successfully embraces the charm of the retro chic and welcomes visitors into a hip, yet, quaint home that overlooks the harbor.

The burgundy fridge in the kitchen and white leather couch in the nearby living room scream 60s, but with the high-end finishes and heated floors, the home is nothing less than spectacular.

The basement of the home is where the majority of the cozy rooms are with a shared bathroom among them. This is also where visitors can visit the backyard to soak in the home’s own geothermal hot tub.

White 70s, retro style Airbnb rental in Stykkisholmur Iceland 70s Retro kitchen in Gardur Airbnb rental in Iceland, white with natural wood tones

My stay

After a long day of battling snow and hurricane-strength winds, Gardur gave me the relaxation and rejuvenation that I needed. The house is quaint and quirky in its own right.

The blend of the 60s retro vibe and traditional Icelandic fishing homes gave visitors a taste of the diverse culture that Iceland has to offer. And, of course, it got me thinking about the elves, Greenland shark, and the other whimsical features Iceland is comprised of. 

I quickly nestled into my home for the evening and was lulled to sleep by the sound of the rain pattering against the window. The cobbled streets outside grew slick and glossy with raindrops and though a storm hovered at the edge of the harbor, I felt safe inside Gardur. 

In the morning, I sprung awake and brewed tea and oatmeal. I ventured down to the harbor and lugged myself towards the lighthouse against the pelting snow and rain. Again, it was a rainy day in Western Iceland, but I couldn’t even think negative thoughts while in Stykkisholmur. 

Would I stay again?

The location of this Airbnb is ideal for those travelers who are trekking the Ring Road, or just want to escape the busyness of Reykjavik for a few days. 

Ideally, visitors should stay more than one day to fully explore the fishing village and nearby attractions. My suggestion is to explore the cobbled streets of Stykkisholmur, climb to the town’s lighthouse and then enjoy an early lunch at one of the many harbourfront cafes that serve deliciously, intoxicating Icelandic fish. Don’t forget to head back to Gardur for the evening and soak in the geothermal hot tub in the backyard for a perfect end to your stay in Stykkisholmur. 

Depending on which direction you’re traveling on the Ring Road, you could venture north of Stykkisholmur by ferry to visit the remote island of Flatey or further north to the Westfjords. I was unable to make this trip due to road closures and not having a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. In the Westfjords there are numerous hot springs to soak in and a multiple of new adventures to be had. 

Also, take a few days to visit and hike the national parks in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. These parks are gorgeous and spotted with endless lava fields and rock formations. I had to cut my time in the park short due to bad weather, but the short time I spent there was wonderful. 

If you are interested in booking Gardur, use my referral link to save money on your first Airbnb booking. 

This is a sponsored post by the Airbnb owners of Gardur. This post also contains affiliate links. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

About the Author

Quirky Globetrotter

Hi! I'm Martha! The mastermind behind Quirky Globetrotter a feminist travel blog. Quirky Globetrotter is devoted to telling narratives devoted to female solo travel and hidden gems worldwide with an emphasis on intersectional feminism and how that impacts travel on a global and local level.

37 thoughts on “Review: Stykkisholmur harbor home manifests images of elves

  1. Iceland has been on my to-visit list for some time, but I’ve never actually heard about people staying outside of Reykjavik before. I love that there are picturesque options that are full of their own history. I love the idea that the town used to shut down when the catch was brought in. I’m sure having the whole town work together to preserve and clean the catch created a strong bond between the community members. And that house is so adorable! I love the bright yellow and quirky interior!

  2. Iceland has been on our list for so long! But we have been worried there wouldn’t be any other “good” cities! I am glad to read this review! Also…this house! Geothermal hot tub? How amazing! I think we will definitely have to look into staying there if we make it to Iceland. I like smaller cities where you have to stay for a few days to really see what the culture is about. Towns with history are my thing. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Iceland is one of my top wanderlust destinations and so I was interested to read this post. The home you stayed in looked absolutely lovely and the town is very quaint. I think going away from popular tourists areas really helps to experience a country properly.

    1. I definitely agree about visiting the non-touristy areas to get an authentic cultural experience. This is why I often opt for road trips on my travels to see the rural and urban sides of a destination. They both have so much to offer.

  4. Wish I had read this article before my visit to Iceland last year. I would have loved to visit this quaint village not just for the story of the elves but also for the city’s history, culture and quirky architecture. The accommodation looks so perfect as well and all you would need to make it a perfect spectacular would be a log fire. Overall a great place I would want to visit with my kids.

    1. You are absolutely right that a log fireplace would’ve made this accommodation absolutely perfect. I loved the proximity as well to the harbor and all the shops. Another fun fact, the entire town has wifi!

  5. This place looks dreamy. I would love to visit this quaint little place just for the culture of it. And my 5-year-old would love the elves connection. He has been following Ben and Holly for long and wondering if there was a place he could actually see those tiny creatures. And the setting here looks just perfect.

    1. I think kids would love Stykkisholmur, too! There were so many fun shops and streets to walk down. They would also love to venture around the lighthouse and harbor. Fun fact, most of Icelanders (including adults) believe in elves!

  6. The stay looks warm and comfortable and very scenic indeed. I love the description of the area – seems like a lot of hiking and nature moments. I bet I will have the time of my life with the camera. Thanks for sharing the same.

    1. I had such a good nights rest here! I definitely needed it after a long day of battling hurricane-strength winds and the snow! My next trip to Iceland I’m heading to Stykkisholmur and venturing to the Westfjords and Flatley!

  7. Indeed very true. Looks like the village has frozen in time a few decades ago when you look at it from outside.
    The house looks so quaint and relaxing. Thanks for the suggestion. If I make it to Iceland, I’ll consider this place to stay.

  8. This looks like such a beautiful place! I absolutely loved Iceland and can’t wait to go back to explore the Ring Road. Definitely keeping this place in mind for when I head back. Also, I can’t believe it has its own geothermal pool!!! So cool!!

    1. Hi Amanda! I was smitten with Iceland too! I thought that it was going to be overhyped, but boy, was I wrong. I was back for my second visit in July for a brief period, but I want to go during the fall I think this time instead of summer and winter. Thanks for reading and happy travels to you!

  9. STYKKISHOLMUR looks like a lovely port town. I heard about it but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to visit the last time I went to Iceland. I hope I make it back to Iceland one day and check out this place. The home you stayed in looked absolutely stunning and everything about this town looks dreamy! Thank you for sharing this lovely article with us.

    1. Hi Daniel! Stykkisholmur is still one of my favorite Iceland towns to this day! I traveled the entire Ring Road and it still stands out as the best. I definitely would recommend you visit it on your next Iceland journey. Happy travels to you!

  10. This is the first time I heard about this place but it looks really nice and a great place to live. I am getting tired of the living in the urban jungle and a small town just interests me.

    I would have to agree that this home is updated. Love the white sofa. It looks really inviting and comfortable. Would definitely want to spend a couple of nights here if given a a chance.

    1. Hi Clarice! Usually when I travel, I rarely find myself wanting to live in a certain destination. Like you, I’m not one for the urban jungle 24/7. I find that I like a little solitude and scenery to improve my spirits! Definitely book a stay if you’re in the area. It was one of my favorite places while I was staying in Iceland! Happy travels to you!

  11. It is so great to have a recommendation on an Airbnb location in Stykkisholmur. The cobblestone road leading to the lighthouse must be slippery when it is cold and wet. You’re a true traveler – enjoying your travels even with hurricane winds! And the geothermal hot tub sounds like the perfect spot to unwind away from the craziness of everything else going on while you’re traveling. This house looks beautiful and comfy for a few days.

    1. Hi Annick! I often opt for Airbnbs because I think it’s more intimate and authentic to the region I’m staying in. And in Iceland, it was far easier finding an Airbnb versus a hotel! I definitely shouldn’t have been traveling with such high winds, but I’m a fearless traveler! Happy travels to you!

  12. This is a great review! Iceland ring road trip is high on my bucket list and thisairbnb looks perfect for a stay. Would love to explore the fishing village and treat my eyes with those scenic views

    1. Hi Sinjana! I would definitely recommend doing the Ring Road when you have lots of daylight and/or lots of time on your hands. When I was touring it in November, I only had about six hours of sunlight each day, and I also had to battle the weather on top of that. Not the easiest road trip I’ve done! Definitely stop in Stykkisholmur though, it was one of my favorite stops. Happy travels to you!

  13. Lovely to read your post about Stykkisholmur, this was the first place on our Iceland itinerary after leaving Reykjavik. We didn’t stay overnight, but the house you stayed in looks like a really comfortable option for anyone who wants to stay. We spent half a day here doing one of the Viking Sushi Boat Trips, which was great, before heading onwards for another few hours to our overnight.

    1. Hi Kavita! I didn’t do any boating tours while I was there and I wish I had! Between the weather and short daylight hours I had, it was hard to fit in any boat tours. I did manage to squeeze in a whale watching tour in Reykjavik though. Happy travels to you!

  14. Stykkisholmur is really a very pretty, little fishing village in western Iceland and I never knew of it before reading your post. As this town’s population is only 1000 then it must be very family oriented place with very peaceful surroundings. I loved your elegant home stay with windows overlooking harbor. And after facing all storms and hurricane it is great you found a comfy shelter for yourself. Thanks for sharing.

  15. The cobbled Road Town of Stykkisholmur sounds so quaint and lovely. The perfect escape from the city. And wow Gandur looks so lovely. I’m totally in love with it’s canary yellow exterior and even the interior with its retro yet modern vibes. Soaking in the geothermal tub in the backyard sounds like the perfect end to the day after exploring this fishing village. A climb up to the lighthouse would be just perfect and a great way to see the town from atop.

    1. Hi Soraya! I wish I had trekked to the lighthouse earlier in the day to see the city because I was met with pelting rain, ha! But you are right, it’s the best way to get an overview of the city and the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Happy travels to you!

  16. I have never been to Iceland. Gandur looks like a very wonderful place. I can’t wait to see it in winter time next year. It really is a gem for me. Travel list worthy!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like these