The BEST of Akureyri
Updated: Jun 7
Akureyri is the North's capital city and the largest town in this remote region. Akureyri is located in North Iceland, approximately five hours' drive from Reykjavik. Despite being one of Iceland's largest towns, it has fewer than 20,000 people. One thing is sure, whether Akureyri is just a quick stop on your itinerary or you decide to base yourself in Akureyri for a day or two and take advantage of being so close to some of Iceland's top attractions. Akureyri is a beautiful place to visit. So, before you go, here's everything you should know about Akureyri.
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What not to miss?
The Akureyrarkirkja Lutheran church, perched high above the town, is the work of architect Gujón Samelsson, whose designs also shaped the Hallgrmskirkja in Reykjavik. As a result, basalt rock columns were formed. The church, built in 1940, houses a magnificent 3200-pipe organ. The beautiful central stained-glass window above the altar, which once adorned Coventry Cathedral in England before being partially destroyed in an air raid, is one of the church's most striking features. The suspended ship from the ceiling alludes to the old Nordic custom of making offerings to protect fishermen at sea.
Many beautiful waterfalls can be found in Iceland, and one of the most famous is only a thirty-minute drive from Akureyri. Waterfalls are found all over Iceland, so it's not surprising that you'll see a few while visiting this area. Godafoss, also known as the Waterfall of the Gods, is widely regarded as one of Iceland's most beautiful waterfalls.
When you visit the Kjarnaskogur forest, you'll be surprised to learn that this area south of Akureyri had no trees in the early 1950s. The first trees were planted in this 800-hectare area to create a green area near Akureyri. Kjarnaskogur forest is now a popular recreational area for locals. There are hiking trails, family playgrounds, grilling areas, and even a 6-mile (10-kilometer) mountain biking trail.
Mountain Sulur, affectionately known as the "town mountain," is a great place to go hiking outside of town. It is only 6 miles (9 kilometers) from Akureyri and is a popular destination for locals looking for natural beauty without traveling too far. Mount Sulur is 3,980 feet tall (1,213 meters). The hike is moderate to difficult and should be done with a guide in good weather.
Laufas Turf House
Laufas, one of Iceland's best-preserved turf homes, is a twenty-minute drive from Akureyri along the picturesque fjord. When driving the Ring Road, you can see quite a few turf houses, even through your car window. Still, if you want to learn more about Icelandic history and rural life in the past, you should consider visiting Laufas Museum. Aside from the traditional houses representing old farming ways of life, there is also a lovely Laufsskirkja.
The Arctic Botanical Garden in Akureyri is one of the world's northernmost botanical gardens. It is only 50 kilometers from the Arctic Circle and worth visiting. The botanical garden should be on your list of the best free things to do in Akureyri. The botanical garden contains foreign and native plant species, and almost all plants grow naturally in Iceland. The botanical garden is more like a peaceful park, so it's a great place to walk around and admire the unusual plants.
What else to visit?
This Christmas House (Jolahusid) is a charming little gift shop that will put you in the mood for Christmas at any time of year. It resembles a cross between a traditional Nordic house and a gingerbread house, with candy on the roof. It's painted red and has a smattering of Christmas ornaments hanging from it. You can always buy Christmas gifts, decorations, and even traditional Icelandic Christmas food, no matter what time of year you visit.
Hlidarfjall (place to ski)
If you're looking for more ideas on what to do in Akureyri in the winter, the Hlidarfjall Ski Resort is less than ten kilometers west of town. Hlidarfjall is a ski resort that caters to skiers of all levels and abilities. There is a good mix of slopes, with plenty of easier runs for families and beginners and more difficult ones for advanced skiers. Chair lifts and surface lifts can be found here. While there are more ski resorts in Iceland, Hlidarfjall's main advantage is its accessibility and the fact that it is open for up to six months of the year.
Akureyri Swimming Pool
Every village or town in Iceland seemed to have a heated swimming pool or, at the very least, a natural hot pool. One thing to know about Iceland is that bathing in hot springs is deeply ingrained in the country's culture. As a result, it's not surprising to discover a fantastic swimming pool in the heart of town, about 500 meters west of Hafnarstraeti Street. The geothermal swimming pool in Akureyri is one of Iceland's most significant. A sizeable 25-meter swimming pool, hot tubs, sauna, and water slides can be found here.
This one is for beer enthusiasts. Combine a relaxing spa experience with the natural health benefits yeast provides at this Beer Spa, and sample the Kaldi beer, brewed right next door. Sounds a little strange, doesn't it? Opt for the outdoor hot tubs, which are regular geothermally heated pools with panoramic views of Hrísey island, mountains, and Orvalds valley, or try the outdoor sauna.
How to travel there?
Air Iceland Connect operates daily flights between Reykjavik and Akureyri up to ten times per day throughout the year.
Strætó operates a scheduled bus route between Reykjavik and Akureyri up to four times per day. Strætó operates scheduled bus routes between Akureyri and several other towns and villages in Iceland's north and east, including Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður, Siglufjörður, Húsavík, and Egilsstaðir.
The ferries Sæfari (Grímsey) and Svar (Hrísey) run scheduled tours to the nearby islands Grímsey and Hrísey. Norlandair provides scheduled service to the island of Grímsey. However, both islands (Hrsey and Grímsey) are part of Akureyri's municipality.
When to travel there?
Akureyri has a sub-polar oceanic climate with mild summers and cold but not severe winters. The snow cover begins in late October and melts in April, but snow can remain on the mountain peaks around Akureyri all year. Akureyri is a very cloudy town, with only 1047 sunshine hours per year and almost no sunshine between November and February, but precipitation is much lower than in southern Iceland because the prevailing winds are from the south — it is as little as a fifth of what it is in Vík í Mýrdal. April is winter's final month and can be wet and snowy. The best time to visit is in late May or June when the weather is more excellent.
What amount of money will you require for your trip to Akureyri? You should budget around 111€ per day for your vacation in Akureyri, the average daily price based on other visitors' expenses. Previous visitors spent an average of 28€ on one day's meals and 16€ on local transportation. In addition, the average hotel room in Akureyri costs 143€. So, a one-week trip to Akureyri for two people costs an average of 1,555€. All these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your travel budget.
Where to eat & drink?
Bryggjan is located on the waterfront in the area's oldest building. It is an older house made of wood that was built sometime in the mid-19th century and later became a mechanic's headquarters. Its wooden interior creates a relaxed atmosphere that is ideal for families. The Turf House, The Captain, Mr. Akureyri, and The Bank Manager are just a few names given to the kitchen's pizza.
Akureyri Fish and Chips is a simple bistro with a straightforward menu and atmosphere. This is an excellent place to find the traditional fish and chips meal, but with a unique twist that elevates it above the norm. The sauces are in various flavors, with three base options: yogurt, Skyr, or mayo.
Aurora, the first-class restaurant at Berjaya Iceland Hotel Akureyri, is open daily from 11.30 a.m. to 21.30
p.m. Throughout the year, we strive to use only fresh, local ingredients. The patio leads to a lovely hotel garden, where the atmosphere is just as friendly in the winter as it is in the summer because guests can sit around the fireplace and stay warm under leather covers. If the weather permits, you can dine on our terrace, which faces south. Snacks and high tea are available daily from 14.00 to 17.00.
Berlin breakfast and coffee shop. Small breakfast and coffee shop in the heart of Akureyri. Breakfast is served every morning, and brunch is served on weekends. Every weekday, a unique course is prepared with fresh and high-quality ingredients. There is a good selection of cakes and coffee, so everyone can find something special to enjoy.
LYST is a destination coffeehouse nestled in the beauty of Akureyri's Botanical Garden. With sourdough bread, coffee, and chocolate from Iceland's best local producers and a menu that includes fish with vegetables, avocado toast, savory snacks, and natural wines. Evenings are also available, where you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
Summer Solstice Festival (June)
Grímsey residents will celebrate the summer solstice around the 20th of each year with a festival, inviting visitors to join in the festivities. For more information on the Program.
The Arctic Run
Every year in early September, the race takes place on the island of Grimsey. It was first held in 2012 and has grown in popularity since then. The race spans the entire island and crosses the Arctic Circle. Participants can choose between 12 and 24 km / 7.5 and 15 miles in distance. This is the only running event in the world that allows you to circle an island while crossing the Arctic Circle.
An auspicious cake buffet in honor of the island's patron, Mr. Daniel Willard Fiske. It takes place on Fiske's birthday, November 11th.
We've reached the end of the article about Akureyri. This city has a fantastic atmosphere, and we believe you will love it as much as we did! In the meantime, you can read other articles on our blog. How about Stockholm, Oslo, or Tromsø? Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be continuously updated on the new releases. We will be back soon with a new article!