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Little do people know that the Land of Fire and Ice is also home to the Land of the Seals. In northwestern Iceland, there is a fishing village where colonies of seals often frequent called Hvammstangi.
I escaped to the northern reaches of Iceland in hopes to catch a glimpse of the Arctic Ocean on my Ring Road excursion. Hvammstangi was one of my many stops along the way. I hoped to see some seals or any other form of wildlife, especially with’s Hvammstangi’s notable reputation of spotting a seal. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything other than Icelandic sheep and ponies, but I’m not complaining.
Hvammstangi hugs one of the Arctic Ocean’s bays and boasts a magnificent view of the cool arctic waters. The rustic, Icelandic homes overlook the Arctic Ocean and have a prime view at sunset. The buildings are painted in the iconic rainbow-hues but have since faded with age. What sets Hvammstangi apart from other Icelandic towns is it’s raw and realistic nature. This town is an authentic glimpse into the lives of Icelanders.
Above the small town of Hvammstangi, there is a small colony of cottages. In the distance, white-crested mountains frame the cottages, which are nothing short of cozy. Trimmed, flat fields surround the cottage. Like the rest of Iceland, the cottages seem as if they stand in solitude and serenity even though there is a church and village less than a kilometer away.
I stayed at the Hvammstangi Cottages for one evening during my Ring Road road trip. That day I rambled through Iceland’s northern, gravel roads spotted with numerous sightings of beautiful waterfalls and lush fields.
I reached Hvammstangi just as the sun was setting. The city glowed like warm embers as the sun sneaked below the horizon.
My little cabin No. 7 was still covered in frost and was starting to warm from the late sunshine. But I soon found out, it wouldn’t be enough.
I clamored inside the cabin excited to stretch out and relax after my long drive.
The cabin was rustic and cozy. The white linens immediately welcomed me into their warm embrace. The warm, wooden interior reassured me that it would protect me from the outdoor elements.
The Hvammstangi Cabins are self-service cabins, meaning that there is only small, camping size appliances in the unit. This is perfect for the travelers who are traveling on a shoestring budget and are cooking their own food, which is how I survived Iceland’s crippling tourism prices.
The highlight of my stay was being able to see the Northern Lights from inside the cabin. I awoke to my phone dinging, notifying me that the conditions were nearly ideal to see the cool, Arctic wonder. The lights were a milky, emerald green and danced across the sky for no more than 20 minutes.
As a bonus, the town of Hvammstangi below didn’t emit enough light to obscure my view of the Northern Lights. Nor did the cluster of cabins around me. It was a perfect ending to another beautiful day in Iceland.
In the morning, the grass was frosty and crunched undertoe. Unlike a hotel or hostel, I felt closer to nature. As soon as I opened my cabin’s door the brisk, fresh air welcomed me and spurred me onward.
How to get there?
Hvammstangi is a short jaunt off the Ring Road (Highway 1) in Iceland and is definitely a perfect pit stop. I ventured clockwise on the Ring Road, ending with the Golden Circle.
On my route, I drove the 100km of the unpaved road before arriving in Hvammstangi. This gravel section of road is a little more tedious and I’m happy that I didn’t have to drive much further for my accommodation after my exhausting day of driving.
I would recommend either stopping in Hvammstangi promptly after this off-road-ish trek or stopping in Hvammnstangi in the morning and driving on the gravel road in the daylight. The gravel road has a lot of twists and turn and would be hard to navigate and drive in the dark. I was able to use 2-wheel-drive, but depending on the season, 4-wheel-drive might be in your favor.
Would I stay again?
Staying in the Hvammstangi Cottages in November was a little chilly for my taste. I would have better prepared to survive the Arctic temperatures if I wasn’t solo and had another body to cuddle with. Alas, I was alone and had to rely on my body heat.
During the summertime and early fall, the Hvammstangi Cottages would be an ideal destination for travelers of all types — including solo female travelers. The cabins were clean, efficient and cozy for one or even an entire posse.
My stay in the Hvammstangi Cottages felt authentic to how the locals live. It’s where I fumbled through my first Icelandic conversation at the grocery store. The Northern Lights also made an appearance right outside my cabin. I cooked my first meal on the small cook stove. Throughout my stay, I felt welcomed by the locals and the nature that encompassed me.
I also didn’t feel bombarded by tourist traps and attractions. The only attraction nearby was the Icelandic Seal Center, which is more of an educational attraction and doesn’t draw many tourists. Though it should.
Ultimately, I would recommend the Hvammstangi Cottages to any traveler trekking through Iceland. It definitely was a memorable stop and accommodation on my Ring Road road trip.
I was unable to visit the Seal Center myself on this trip but highly encourage you to do so. Educating ourselves about wildlife and how we impact their lives is essential in decreasing your negative impact on our planet.