With almost 20,000 inhabitants, Akureyri is known as the capital of the north. And while the town has plenty to offer, the surrounding mountains offer so many great hiking trails that you’ll want to venture out to get in touch with northern Iceland’s pristine nature. We have compiled the best hikes close to Akureyri.
Hiking trails range from family-friendly to challenging and unique, so there are options for those looking for a leisurely stroll as well as avid hikers. Always check the weather forecast before you set off, as Icelandic weather can change in a heartbeat, and it is good to be prepared. Make sure you have the right equipment and leave your travel plans on www.safetravel.is if you are going on a longer hike.
Glerárdalur is an uninhabited valley southwest of Akureyri, named after the river Glerá. There is an 11km (6.8mi) hiking trail with a gentle slope leading down the valley to mountain hut Lambi, which needs to be booked beforehand if you want to use it. Newly developed trails connect the valley to the recreational area Kjarnaskógur and Mt. Hlíðarfjall.
Adjacent to Kjarnaskógur is Naustaborgir, a nature reserve with lots of family-friendly tracks. During the summer months, Naustaborgir offers a fun and easy walk to a bird-watching shelter overlooking a low-lying wet land with grassy vegetation. Often sighted bird species include the whimbrel, godwit, common snipe, several species of gulls, the white wagtail, and the meadow pipit.
Off the coast of Akureyri is Hrísey, a small island of 11,5 square kilometres with high cliffs on its east coast and sand beaches on the west and south coast. Access to the island’s northern side is limited, as it is privately owned and protected because eider ducks breed there. The island’s south side, where the village sits, has plenty of good hiking options.
Krossanesborgir is a nature reserve north of Akureyri with beautiful coastal trails and lots of bird-watching opportunities in summer. Around 27 different bird species nest there, including the arctic tern, black-headed gull, herring gull, and the black-tailed godwit. With 190 plant species, vegetation is also diverse. In autumn, locals like to go berry picking in the area.
Skólavarða is a man-made cairn in the Vaðlaheiði mountain range on the eastern side of Eyjafjörður fjord, opposite Akureyri. A popular round trip to the cairn takes two+ hours on a straight, but a steep path, starting from the parking lot. You have a great view of Akureyri and Eyjafjörður fjord from the cairn. If you walk east up the mountain, you have an amazing view of Fnjóskadalur valley.
Mt. Súlur is Akureyri’s much-loved “town mountain”. The hike up Mt. Súlur takes about 4.5 hours from the parking lot and has an elevation of 800m. From the top, you get beautiful views of Akureyri and Eyjafjörður fjord. It is also possible to start this hike from downtown Akureyri, then you need to add 2 hours one way to the hiking time.