The Loneliest House in the World

Photos of a mysterious solitary white house on the side of a green hill, on a small, deserted island surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see have been doing the rounds on the internet for years, earning the place the unofficial title of “loneliest house in the world”.

The Vestmannaeyjar  archipelago consists of a cluster of small islands off the southern coast of Iceland. Elliðaey (or Ellirey) is the most northeastern of these islands, and home to the iconic single house siting alone on a grassy, sloping pasture. It’s an idyllic place that has remained uninhabited since the 1930s, which only makes the existence of this seemingly well-maintained man-made building even more mind-boggling.

Photo: Hansueli Krapf/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Throughout the years, rumors and theories about the lonely house of Elliðaey Island, have been floating around online, including that it was built by an eccentric businessman as a zombie apocalypse shelter, or that it was the property of a religious fanatic. Even Icelandic singer Bjork was at one point rumored to own the island retreat and even be in negotiations with authorities to buy the island.

None of the theories above turned out to be true. The real story of the loneliest house in the world isn’t worthy of such conspiracy theories. It’s actually just a hunting lodge built in the 1950s by the Elliðaey Hunting Association, whose members use it when they come to the deserted island to hunt puffins. It’s unclear how the island even has a hunting association, considering no one even lives there, but that’s how things stand, apparently.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by FiebreViajera (@fiebreviajera)

Interestingly, a handful of families actually lived on Elliðaey Island up until the 1930s, when they finally decided to move to more populated regions of Iceland, in search of better opportunities. However, they knew what they were leaving behind – an abundance of Atlantic puffins and fish – so they did return to the island periodically in order to hunt. Maybe that’s how the hunting association started out.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @little.curation

Although the hunting lodge of Elliðaey continues to be maintained in good condition by the island’s hunting association, it’s still not the most comfortable house in the world. Living in the middle of nowhere does have its perks, but electricity, running water or indoor plumbing are definitely not among them. It does have a sauna, though, fed by a rainwater collection system, and even a fence around it, which is just plain weird, considering there is nobody living there.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Clutch Cörner (@theclutchcorner)

Because Elliðaey Island is a major nesting area for storm petrels and other sea birds, it is listed as a nature reserve and a protected area, but that doesn’t seem to stop members of the Elliðaey Hunting Association from coming her and, well, hunting birds. However, if you just want to admire the natural beauty of this place, tour companies operating in the Vestmannaejar archipelago offer day trips to several of these deserted islands.

So there you have it, the loneliest house in the world is indeed very lonely, but there’s nothing else really special about it.

If you’re into isolated places, check out Þrídrangaviti Lighthouse, also known as an introvert’s dream home.