The “loneliest house in the world”: Elliðaey’s myths debunked


A small Icelandic island has a house with a dark truth about why it’s empty, and Björk once lived there.




It’s not true that the “loneliest house in the world” had a “dark truth” about why it was “empty,” nor was it true that the singer known as Björk once lived there. Although the claims are false, we took this opportunity to research and document the other facts and myths about Elliðaey, a real island off the south coast of Iceland.

What is in the “loneliest house in the world”? An online advertisement with an intriguing photo promised quite a revelation: “The loneliest house in the world was built for a dark purpose.” The resulting story even claimed that there was a “dark truth” about why the house was “empty.” was. We dug into the topic to find the facts and debunk the myths behind Elliðaey (Ellidaey), an isolated island off the south coast of Iceland. It is located in the Westman Islands, also known as Vestmannaeyjar.

A similar image was also posted by a Facebook account named Ryan Engel.

It read: “You have to live here for 1 year, you have unlimited food but you can bring 1 thing. What is that?”

“The Loneliest House in the World”

Regarding the ad, we found that the photo is genuine and has not been tampered with. It is also true that the building in the picture is the only residential building on the island of Elliðaey. An older and much smaller building still exists on the island, but it is now used only as a warehouse.

At Snopes, we debunked the myths behind Elliðaey in Iceland, also known as the so-called loneliest house in the world.

This image has not been manipulated. (Courtesy of Hansueli Krapf/Wikimedia Commons)

Nearby is a larger island known as Heimay. Heimaey is the only island populated in the area. it’s home about 4,000 people.

As for the name “the loneliest house in the world,” it’s not a house at all. In fact it is a lodge with many beds.

We found various messages making misleading claims about the building. A headline read: “Find out who lives in the only house on this remote island.” Other called: “The secret of the world’s loneliest house on a remote island that has stood empty for over 100 years.” One third claims: “The lonely house on Ellidaey Island, where no one is sure of its occupants.”

In reality no one lives in the lodge, it has not been “empty for over 100 years” and it is incorrect to say “no one is sure of its occupants”.

The cottage

Accordingly different accounts that we found online, the lodge was built on the island in 1953 by the Elliðaey Hunting Association. We also found information on how the hunters who stay at the lodge supposedly hunt puffins.

Newspaper archives from 1973 provided more details. This year the Republic of Arizona reported that puffins, gannets, petrels and razorbills were among the many birds that populated the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar). Ellidaey has been described as a “rocky island” with Iceland’s largest gannet colony with an estimated 15,000 birds.

We have yet to find credible information about hunters using the building in modern times to hunt puffins. None of Uploaded the images to Google Maps showed any sign of hunting on the island. It is possible that the lodge was used by hunters in previous decades, but now serves only one purpose: tourism.

We reached out to local officials to learn more about this rumor and plan to update this story with more definitive information in the future.


Little is known about Elliðaey’s past or “the loneliest house in the world”. We found several articles online telling of five families who inhabited the island in the 18th century. While it’s possible that this is true, none of the articles we found provided sources to confirm this information. Apparently they had simply copied and pasted the same details from other articles without looking into the matter thoroughly.

To learn more, we turned to the “Iceland Adventure Guide,” a 528-page page A book written in 2008 by Don and Marjorie Young. It also told of a centuries-old story:

Although in the past there were fishing camps scattered around the island, by 1702 only one remained and three farms were established, housing 17 people. 258 sheep and sometimes even cattle grazed there.

At the beginning of the 18th century only four people lived on the island, but by 1845 this number had grown to 15. By 1920 the population had dropped to five.

Between 1914 and 1929, Olafur Jonsson and his family became the islands’ first fox breeders. By 1960 Elliðaey (Ellidaey) was completely abandoned. A lighthouse was built on the island in 1951. There is also a hunter’s hut here, which is very popular during the hunting season.

The mention of a lighthouse caught our attention. There are no sign from a lighthouse on Elliðaey in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar). It may have been mistaken for another island called Elliðaey, which leads us to Björk.

‘Bjork’s Island’

For years, it has been rumored that the musician known as Björk lived in “the loneliest house in the world” on Elliðaey. In fact, a Google search for “Björk’s Island” shows image results for the same island.

Björk does not live on Elliðaey or in the so-called loneliest house in the world, nor anywhere in Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westman Islands.

This rumor has been around since at least the year 2000.

However, this was never the case. The confusion stemmed from news reports in February 2000 describing a second Icelandic island called Elliðaey (Ellidaey).

At that time, The Miami Herald and other newspapers reported that Björk was “granted the exclusive use of an uninhabited island in western Iceland because she has done so much for the country”. Prime Minister David Oddsson announced the news “amid rumors that the superstar [wanted] Ellidaey Island to buy directly.”

According to the Irish ExaminerIn 2004, the singer turned down the island’s offer because she didn’t want her homeland to become a tourist attraction.

The Elliðaey associated with Björk was not the same island featured in the photo of ‘the loneliest house in the world’. Rather, this Elliðaey is located in Breiðafjörður, which is west of Iceland.

This Elliðaey is located in Breiðafjörður and is not home to the loneliest house in the world, nor does Björk live anywhere in Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westman Islands.

Elliðaey (Breiðafjörður), Iceland

The lighthouse seen here could have been the same one mentioned in the Youngs’ book, although that would have been a different Elliðaey. It is also possible that the Elliðaey in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) once had a lighthouse, but no longer.

Confusion on Google Maps

There also appeared to be two islands where visitors had marked the “world’s loneliest house” on Google Maps. A person wrong placed it on the island of Suðurey.

Elliðaey is home to the so-called loneliest house in the world rather than Suðurey, and both are part of Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westman Islands.

Top right is Elliðaey, the actual island that appeared in the viral image. In the middle lies the large and populated island of Heimaey. At the bottom is “The loneliest house in the world”. However, this is the island incorrectly known as Suðurey.

In reality, Suðurey is south of Heimaey, while Elliðaey, the actual island with the lodge, is north of that.

“The Dark Truth”

The ad that prompted us to research Elliðaey’s photo led us to a 40-page slideshow Article with the caption: “The secret of the ‘Loneliest house in the world’ – and the dark truth about why it’s empty.”

However, nowhere in its long history has there been any mention of a “dark truth” as to why the building is said to be empty. To give an idea of ​​what exactly was printed in the many paragraphs of the misleading article, one site mentioned that perhaps a billionaire had built the “house” on the island to escape zombies.

This is obviously incorrect, not only because of the mention of zombies, but because we haven’t found any news articles about a transfer of ownership of the lodge to a billionaire or anyone else.

Inside the lodge

In 2017, Bjarni Sigurdsson’s YouTube channel a Video which documented a whole trip to Elliðaey and even showed part of the rocky climb from a boat to the island:

According to the video, as of 2017, the lodge had two floors, beds, sofas, framed photos, tables and chairs. A stove, grill, refrigerator, radio, candles and binoculars were also seen in the video.

The power source of the lodge is unknown. Some online articles claimed that there is no electricity on the island. But that changed at some point. In the video above, power cables were discovered on the ground at 9:35 a.m. It will likely run on propane gas. For example, at 12:41 a.m. in the video, a yellow propane tank could be seen, possibly indicating another tank was nearby. A water reservoir is also visible, probably from collecting rainwater.

On September 1st, 2021, a YouTuber named Ryan Trahan a Video after a night at the lodge. At the 7:12 mark in the video, it was revealed that the older and much smaller building on the island at the time was only used for storing various goods such as ropes, old furniture and what appeared to be potable water.

In summary, there are two islands off the coast of Iceland called Elliðaey (Ellidaey). The ‘loneliest house in the world’, which is actually a lodge, is featured in the viral photo. It is located on the island called Elliðaey south of Iceland in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar). There is no “dark truth” in its story and it is not always “empty”. Also, despite rumors, Björk never lived on the island. In 2000, she received ownership of the other island of the same name in Breiðafjörður, which lies west of Iceland. She eventually turned down the offer, fearing it would become a tourist attraction. The “loneliest house in the world”: Elliðaey’s myths debunked

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