Library of Water
Situated in the lovely little town of Stykkishólmur is the Library of Water, which is nice place to spend a reflective hour. The library is made up of columns of water, taken from glaciers. There are 24 columns but one of the sampled glaciers is now gone - sad proof of global warming? There are also 'weather reports' - words reflecting the weather inscribed around the floor. I know this doesn't sound thrilling, but trust me, it is enjoyable and peaceful (unless you really dont like art or museums I suppose!).
There is also a nice chessroom, set up with tables to play chess if you wish to do so.
Just 500 Isk entrance fee and although it is open daily afternoons September - May, you can still visit during winter by appointment (email them on firstname.lastname@example.org). How cool is that, that they will open up especially for you?
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Bird life in Breiðafjarðareyjar islands.
The islands are thought to be countless or ca 2.500. And it is believed that 25% of all the shore-line in island is here in Breiðafjareyjar islands. The tide and down draft is higher here than in other places in Iceland.
This area is one of the best areas in the world to spot leviathans; the blue whale, humpback and killer whales.
The bird life here is amazing. Breiðafjörður is on the list of Bird Life International for Important Bird Areas. It has been listed as one of the most important bird areas in Europe. Of course the most important place is Látrabjarg, which is the biggest bird cliff in North-Europe. Here is the largest population of razorbilled auk in the world. So many people go there bird-watching. One can get so close to the puffins at Látrabjarg that it feels like you could actually touch them.
2/3 of the Icelandic eagles lay eggs here in Breiðafjörður and the main part of the great cormorants (dílaskarfi) and the shags (toppskarfi) in Iceland nest here. Here the arctic tern (kría) nests, the seagull (hvítmáfur), the kittiwake (rita), the fulmar (fýll). And the puffins, robin (rauðbrystingur), turnstone (tildra), brent goose (margæs), redshank (stelkur), snow bunting (sólskríkja), the red-necked phalarope (óðinshani), snipe (hrossagaukur), the gray phalarope (þórshani), the thick-billed murre (stuttnefja), the Atlantic murre (langvía) and many more.
There are so many bird-species here, when I was visiting I mainly saw the arctic tern, the shag and the seagull, fulmar, the kittiwake and the puffins.
Breiðarfjörður bay is the cradle for eider down production in Iceland.
The eagles in Iceland are preserved - I remember way back when it was almost extinct and foreigners were smuggling its eggs out of the country. Some of them succeeded, but many of them were stopped and imprisioned. Sæferðir has got a permission from the Department of Environment to sail up to the eagle´s nests, but a special permission is required to approach their nests.
When I visit Stykkishólmur I always go to a special place by the shore and collect some scallop shells, being wild about shells.
It is behind the scallop factory. And the shore is covered in these shells. I feel like a small kid when I visit this place. When I was travelling in these parts with my parents when I was a young girl we always used to go collect these shells and bring them home with us.
The scallop industry in Stykkishólmur collapsed in 2002.
Stykkishólmur swimming pool.
As in every town in Iceland there is a good swimming pool in Stykkishólmur. What is special about this swimming pool though is that the water in the pool has been certified by Institut Fresenius, which specialises in environmental certification. They say that the water is good for people suffering from exosceletal problems. And they even recommend it as drinking water.
As in almost all swimming pools around the country there is a water glide - 57 meters. Don´t forget to wear your swimsuit like a thongue when you glide or you might get stuck. I got stuck once as I didn´t know this trick - not a fun experience ;)
Opening hours: Monday-Friday from 07:00-22:00. Weekends in summer time from 10:00-19:00 and weekends in winter time from 10:00-17:00.
Eating freshly caught raw shellfish on Seatours.
Now, this is what some call the high-light of the Fantasy tour on Breiðafjarðareyjar islands :) - the throwing out of the net. This was actually quite exciting, 2 members of the crew threw a net into the ocean and lovely girls waited with knives - eh! Everybody on the boat watched as the net was drawn in to see what they had caught. The catch was quite impressive: sea-urchins, starfish, scallops, crabs and shells - to sum it up "The fruit of the ocean" :)
The girls and the crew opened up the sea-urchins and scallops and offered them to the group - fresh and raw and free of charge! Sea-urchin roe are considered a delicacy and an aphrodisiac :) People were also offered a knife in case you wanted to try to open them up yourself.
For sale was white-wine in small bottles (ISK 900 per bottle). I opted out but ended up being given a bottle by a tour-leader who had pre-paid for the wine and had miscalculated the number of people in his group :)
After the feast the boat headed home for Stykkishólmur.
It was an awesome trip :D And equally popular amongst Icelanders and foreign tourists.
The Hanging rock in Breiðafjarðar islands.
There were Vikings who lived on these islands to begin with and they were not the most peaceful of men. There is one rock in Breiðafjörður bay where people were hung and left to hang for months as a warning to others to behave right. Just imagine what a dreadful sight that must have been.
This hanging place is a gap in a very peculiar riffled columnar basalt island - see my photos.
A fantastic boat trip around Breiðafjarðar islands
Now this is a trip not to be missed when visiting Stykkishólmur! This company, "Sæferðir" Seatours, offers various boat trips but I chose "Ævintýrasigling" or Adventure voyage - I liked the name of that trip :D
That boat-trip takes you on a 2 hours and 15 minutes' long trip on Breiðafjörður bay with its wonderful innumerable islands. The islands are actually on the list of 3 innumerable things in Iceland :D The islands are so many that some of them even have the same name :)
The boat will take you straight up to some islands for bird-watching and we saw a lot of kittiwakes, shags and puffins. And awesome columnar basalt in various forms depending on which island we were visiting. The columnar basalt is riffled in one of the islands and it is often referred to as "The Bookshelves of God" :D (see photos in next tips).
You will be shown the hiding place of Eiríkur rauði or "Eirik the red" the father of Leif the lucky (see my tip on Eiríksstaðir longhouse). And will see an island with a boulder in a rift in the rocks - the boulder was thrown there by a giantess living at Mt. Helgafell.
These islands were populated and there was even the first printery in Iceland on Hrappsey island. But as the story goes with the Vikings then there is also one rock in Breiðafjörður bay where people were hung and left to hang for months as a warning to others to behave right. These islands are filled with so much history.
We were told many stories on life in the old days on the islands by a very good guide on board the boat.
There were so many interesting places that I made several tips on this trip.
During the summer months from June 1st and August 31st there are 2 boat-trips a day, at 11:00 and at 14:30. But in May and September there is only one boat-trip a day at 11:00.
Price for adults: ISK 5.950 - there is a 10% discount if you book on-line.
Sæferðir also operate the ferry Baldur, which sails to "Vestfirðir" The West fjords, with a stop in Flatey island for those who want to visit there.
A higly recommended visit!
The hiding place of Erik the Red (Eiríkur rauði).
Next to Dímonarklakkar by Öxney island is Eiríksvogur bay, where Erik the Red (Eiríkur rauði), hid and prepared his ship for his escape to Greenland. See my tip on Eiríksstaðir on my Iceland page, where Erik the Red lived with his wife and son Leif the Lucky (Leifur heppni).
Eiríkur had been chased out of Norway for manslaughter and was later also chased out of Eiríksstaðir for killings and evildoings - it seems like he was somewhat a bit of a thug! He tried living in Öxney island but the same happened there.
He then sailed to Greenland, where he stayed for 3 years, and gave it its name to get people to move there - "Greenland" - quite a contradiction. Twenty five ships left the icy Iceland for this lovely Greenland in year 985. We Icelanders have always thought of this as a very dirty trick on Eirik the Red's behalf. Eirík's son, Leif the Lucky sailed to North-America and was the first European to land there - thus it is said that Leif the Lucky "discovered" America and not Columbus in 1492. He returned to Greenland and became a missionary there and his mother built the first church in Greenland.
The story goes that there was woodland on these islands and thus his ship could have been hidden away here. It is all barren now.
Dímonarklakkar islands are the highest ones of all of the Breiðafjörður islands. Small Klakkur (Litli klakkur) is 54 m high og Big Klakkur (Stóri klakkur) is 72 m high. They are so majestic hovering over the other islands. They belong to an archipelago called Klakkeyjar islands.
There used to be woodland here on Klakkeyjar islands as in so many places in Iceland.
Eiríksvogur bay (see my next tip) is in between Dímonarklakkar and Stekkjarey island.
On Klakkeyjar islands there is a lot of shag (the bird) which one will get very close to on the boat trip. It was awesome getting so close up and they didn´t mind us, just ignored us. I guess they are used to boats coming so close to have a look at them.
Stykkishólmur - churches.
There is a very special church in Stykkishólmur which reminds one of a modern time sculpture. It was consecrated in 1990. Inside the church is the most beautiful altarpiece of St. Mary and Jesus, do pay it a visit.
The church stands on a hill and is a spectacular in it self (see my photos). It seats 300 people.
The older more conventional church is down town by the old houses. One of my friend´s father used to be a minister in that church. The old church was built in 1879.
The new church has always been open when I have visited, but the old church has always been closed.
There is also a Catholic convent in Stykkishólmur.
Súgandisey is in Stykkishólmur harbour in Breiðafjörður and is a very beautiful cliff (it is actually an island) on which you can walk and get a magnificient view of the town of Stykkishómur and Breiðafjarðareyjar "The islands of Breiðafjörður" of which there are about 2.700. Súgandisey is connected to land by a road by the harbour so you can drive to it and park by the island and walk up stairs which lead you up this beautiful cliff. Other stairs take you further up where you can rest on a bench and have a look at Stykkishólmur from high up. At the top of Súgandisey there is a light-house from where you can get an even better view. I recommend going there while visiting Stykkishólmur.
There is a tale of a sea-woman, which Jón Sigurðsson caught while fishing in Súgandisey island. The hook had fastened itself in the belt of the woman.
From the harbour you can catch the boat "Seatours" which will take you around the islands on a nature and bird-watching tour, including puffins. On that tour, which lasts for 2 hours and 15 minutes you get to taste shellfish straight out of the sea. I just added a tip on the tour.
Stykkishólmur - The Norwegian house - museum.
The Norwegian house is a very nice museum by the harbour in Stykkishólmur. It is the oldest house in Stykkishólmur built in 1832 and was the first two-storied home in Iceland and one of 3 biggest homes at that time. The owner of the house was Árni Ó. Thorlacius (1802-1891) a big entrepreneur in Stykkishólmur in his time. It is now a district folk museum and a reconstruction of this gentleman's home and is extremely well made and you feel like you have just popped in for a visit.
On the ground floor there is a museum store where girls dressed up as servants from this time assist you. It is like stepping into another time, I just loved my visit there.
The museum is open daily from June-August from 11-17h. From September-May it is open upon agreement.
Stykkishólmur - The Library of water.
The Library of water at Stykkishólmur is an extremely interesting and beautiful museum. It is situated on a hill with a stunning view of the harbour on one side and the town on the other side. The exhibition is created by the American artist Roni Horn and it is now a permanent sculpture installation and community centre. What makes it so very special is the constellation of 24 glass columns which contain glacial water gathered from glaciers around Iceland, f.ex. the glacial tongues of Vatnajökull, Hofsjökull, Langjökull and Snæfellsjökull - "jökull" being the Icelandic word for glacier. Each column is dedicated to a single glacial source and you can see on their website which column contains the water from which glacier. The columns make a beautiful reflection and watching the town and sea through the columns makes for a very special experience of the senses. I highly recommend going there while visiting Stykkishólmur.
Opening times: Summer May 5th- August 31 daily at 11:00-17:00h.
Winter by arrangement by e-mailing or collecting the key from The Stykkishólmur library.
Admission is free.
This village is generally regarded as one of the most beautifully villages of Iceland. The combuination of the sea with it's many islands and the mountains is spectacular. However it is just a small village so you won't want to spend a full day here. The most spectacular thing is the gorgeous church that sits on a hill overlloking the village (and the monastry of a competing religion). Originally the tower wasn't strong enough to host a bell. absolutely spectacular architecture.
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