Akureyri, north Iceland

GPS POINTS N65° 40′ 57.491″ W18° 5′ 28.677″

Akureyri, north Iceland

Location: North-east Iceland
Directions on Google maps

In the northeastern part of Iceland lies a town named Akureyri, considered by many to be the real gem of Icelandic tourism. Akureyri, which lies in Eyjafjordur fjord is surrounded by snow-capped mountains during winter time and blessed with sunshine and considerably warm climate during summertime. Well this is Iceland so let‘s say often, but not always, blessed with warm climate and sunny days. The town itself and nearby area simply begs to be explored, but is often ignored by travelers that don‘t have time to explore further than the southwest corner of Iceland.

The slow trickle of tourism in Akureyri, especially during winter time, is both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, you won’t have to fight through swarms of tourists as you would in the capital area of Reykjavik but on the down side, and this is more evident during the winter, little tourism means fewer activities offered by local tour operators. However, Akureyri and its nearby attractions can be explored both during summer and winter time.

There are couple of ways to get to Akureyri.  You can book a direct flight from Reykjavik/Keflavik which takes around 40 minutes. If you rather decide to drive, the journey takes around 5 hours from Reykjavik, 5,5-6 hours from Keflavik.

Downtown Akureyri – culture & museums

Traveling in Akureyri itself is interesting enough to spend a day or two walking in different parts of town. In the center you’ll find interesting galleries, shops and restaurants. The church of Akureyri sits on a hill above the center and not far from the church is The Akureyri Botanical Garden, known for its beautiful walking paths and luxuriant flora. It was founded in 1912, and it contains nearly every plant found in Iceland. Walking south from the botanical garden you will enter the oldest part of Akureyri, home of Iceland‘s most famous ice cream store and the pleasant Nonnahus museum.

Nearby hiking and recreation

You can find many paths and trails to walk, run or bike along within the town as well as in the surrounding area. At the recreational area Kjarnaskogur you can enjoy many cycle trails and there is a specially designed mountain bike track, as well as some activities for the younger ones.

Gásir – Medival trading place

Gásir, situated 11 km north of Akureyri on the shore of Eyjafjörður, is a unique place. In no other place in Iceland is it possible to find so many remainings from a trading post from the Middle Ages. Gásir was the main trading post in northern Iceland during the Middle Ages, and the place is mentioned many times in Old Icelandic Sagas from the 13th and 14th centuries. Archaeological digging in the area during the last six years has shown that it was a trading post up to the 16th century, possibly until trading started in Akureyri.

Hrisey Island

Hrísey is a peaceful island in the middle of Eyjafjörður, it is the second largest island in Iceland, after Heimaey in the south. The island is a well known paradise for bird watchers and the most abundant of all birds on the island is the ptarmigan. About 40 species of bird nest on the island. The northern part of Hrísey, is a privately owned nature reserve. Permission must be obtained from the landowner if you wish to pass through this area.

Lake Myvatn during winter

Lake Myvatn during winter