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Akureyri

Updated on March 16, 2014

The Pearl of the North

Akureyri is a town located deep in the magnificent Eyjafjordur fiord in North Iceland. With a population of about 18 thousand, it is Iceland's second largest urban area (behind the Greater Reykjavik area). So as you see, there aren't that many big cities in Iceland. Which is why a trip there is ideal for those seeking a relaxing getaway. If you enjoy unspoiled nature and beautiful scenery, Iceland is definitely a place to consider, and if you want a mixture of nature and city comfort (you might for example prefer a hotel room to a tent), Akureyri is ideal. Admittedly, Akureyri is where I was born and raised, maybe that makes me biased. But then I challenge you to go and judge for yourselves! If you're not completely satisfied I'll personally refund your whole trip. Just kidding. I couldn't afford that. But I would be very surprised if you didn't like the visit. Akureyri is often nicknamed the Capital of North Iceland, but I would like to call it the Pearl of the North.

To-do list:

1. Visit Akureyri

Akureyri Airport
Akureyri Airport

How to get there

First things first. You will of course need to know how to get to Akureyri. Once you've landed in Iceland's main airport in Keflavik (maybe flying Icelandair), you'll want to start by going to the capital Reykjavik, about 40 minute drive. You could rent a car at the airport or take the Flybus to get there. From Reykjavik you have a few options of transport to Akureyri. You can fly with Flugfelag Islands (http://www.airiceland.is/) from Reykjavik Airport, that's a 40 minute flight. You can go for the cheaper option of taking the Intercity bus (which takes a lot longer, see bsi.is for further information) or maybe you want to use a car rental service. You should be aware that the roads in Iceland are not like the fancy highways with multiple lanes found in more populated countries, but at least the road from Reykjavik to Akureyri is paved (maximum speed allowed is 90km/h). It's about 5-6 hours drive, depending on how many stops you want to make.

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Iceland

The Rough Guide to Iceland
The Rough Guide to Iceland

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Akureyri on Google Maps

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Akureyri, Iceland
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Accommodation

So. Now you’ve made it all the way to Akureyri. Welcome, and I sincerely wish you a pleasant stay. There are at least five hotels (not bad for a town this size!) plus a myriad of guesthouses and apartments to choose from. There are also camping sites if you prefer. I’ll leave it up to you to choose where you want to stay, but I will say that you can’t go wrong with Hotel KEA, which is located right in the center, and has been serving guests since the birth of the Icelandic Republic in 1944. For a detailed list of accommodation options, see: http://www.visitakureyri.is/en/accommodation

Top Ten Things to do in Akureyri

Now that you've found a place to stay, here are a few suggestions of what to do and see.

1. Look at where you are!

Simply take in the beauty of the surroundings. The long Eyjafjordur and the mountains all around have a majestic beauty that I find difficult to put into words.

I call it "the Pearl of the North" - Marion23

2. Take a stroll in the center

The main street is called Hafnarstraeti ("Harbor Street"), but known by the locals as "Gngugatan" ("The Pedestrian Street"). Shops, cafs, restaurants and more. The shopping mall "Glerartorg" is within walking distance. Just ask the locals for directions and tips, they're quite friendly.

Welcome to Akureyri

May you have a pleasant stay!

3. Check out the Akureyri Church

Whether you're a churchgoer or not, this is undeniably a brilliant piece of architecture, and the symbol of Akureyri (sort of an Eiffel tower in that sense). Check it out, inside and out.

4. See The Old Town

Walking south from the main street, you come to the oldest part, with wooden buildings from the 19th century (plus the oldest building in Akureyri, called Laxdalshus, built in 1795). Have an ice-cream at Brynjus, the best ice-cream in Iceland (that's what many, including myself think). If you're into museums, there are four of them in the Old Town, including The Nonni House (featured in the picture) and Akureyri Museum (http://www.akmus.is).

5. The Botanical Garden

Lystigardurinn
Lystigardurinn

Known locally as "Lystigardurinn", 5-10 minute walk from the center, this is well worth visiting. With a wide variety of flowers and plants, trees and fountains, this is a nice place to relax. Go for a picnic in summer!

6. The Swimming Pool

Considered not just by locals, but by Icelanders in general to be one of the best swimming pools in the country, this is an excellent place to unwind. Works fine in winter too!

7. Kjarnaskogur Woods

About five minutes drive south of Akureyri is this brilliant recreational area, where the locals go to relax and have fun. There are playgrounds, picnic areas, barbeque facilities and trails for walking, hiking and jogging (in winter it's perfect for cross country skiing).

8. Go Golfing

Akureyri has an 18-hole golf course where the "Arctic Open" is held in June every year. If you want to play golf in the midnight sun, this is the place. Check out http://www.arcticopen.is/

9. Go Hiking to Mount Slur

Mount Sulur
Mount Sulur

This majestic cone shaped mountain is just south-west of Akureyri and is about 1213 meters high. How long it takes to climb depends of course on what shape you’re in, but I would say about 5-6 hours (I climbed it twice in the 90s, but don’t remember exactly how long it took us).

10. Go skiing in Mount Hlidarfjall

Needless to say, you won’t be doing this in summer, but if you’re there between December and April, it’s highly recommended. One of the best skiing areas in Iceland, and only ten minute drive from Akureyri.

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    • stereomike83 profile image

      stereomike83 3 years ago from UK

      I would love to visit Iceland, just need my kids to grow up a little first!

    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 4 years ago

      Looks like a beautiful place@

    • RestlessKnights profile image
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      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you! And it really is!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Looks like a really neat place! *blessed by a squid angel*

    • RestlessKnights profile image
      Author

      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      @aesta1: I hope you will. Thanks for visiting.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      One day, I want to go to Iceland.

    • RestlessKnights profile image
      Author

      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      @ohcaroline: Thank you so much.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      What a great lens. I enjoyed the tour.

    • RestlessKnights profile image
      Author

      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      @Ahdilarum: Thank you.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 4 years ago

      Great description with images..

    • RestlessKnights profile image
      Author

      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      @randomthings lm: Thank you. I hope you will. Thanks for visiting.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 4 years ago

      This is great! It is beautiful and I hope to visit there some day. Thanks for sharing!

    • RestlessKnights profile image
      Author

      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      @MikeRobbers LM: Thank you Mike, I'm glad you liked it.

    • Diva2Mom profile image

      Diva2Mom 4 years ago

      Marion dear-I'm so tempted to visit Akureyri! May I go there please to actually see it with my own two eyes, hahaha! It's really beautiful and fascinating. You made your lens so inviting as you did a great job in presentation. Wow, great lens! Love it! God bless you!

    • MikeRobbers LM profile image

      MikeRobbers LM 4 years ago

      Wonderful travel lens about Akureyri , thanks for sharing!

    • RestlessKnights profile image
      Author

      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      @Diva2Mom: Thank you for all the compliments! You make me feel like a very successful squidwriter! If we're ever in Akureyri at the same time I'll give you a tour of my childhood town.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Flott hj r Smri !