With almost 19,000 inhabitants in 2018, Akureyri is the biggest town in North Iceland. Akureyri is an important fishing centre and has been nicknamed the Capital of the North. From Reykjavík, it takes about 4.5 hours driving to get there. Akureyri has a lot to offer to offer for tourists, like a swimming pool, botanical garden, and cosy restaurants and cafés. Akureyri is also the perfect starting point for day tours in North Iceland. In this article, we will tell you more about these day tours from Akureyri.
The Diamond Circle is a popular day tour in North Iceland, with five primary stops. The tour usually starts in Akureryi. You will then head to Goðafoss waterfall, Mývatn lake, Dettifoss waterfall, Ásbyrgi canyon and the town Húsavík. With these stops, the Diamond Circle covers 265km, and if you want to drive back to Akureyri afterwards, it is 360km. Other stops you could include, are Vatnajökull National Park, Dimmuborgir, Eider Falls, The Whispering Cliffs, and Laugar.
From Akureyri you can go on whale watching tours in the beautiful Eyjafjörður fjord. Eyjafjörður fjord is known as a really good whale watching location, and Whale Watching Akureyri has had a 100% sighting success in the summers of 2016, 2017 and 2018. Cetaceans often sighted are minke whales, humpback whales, sei whales, fin whales and blue whales.
Grímsey is an inhabited island 40km off the coast of North Iceland, touching the arctic circle at its northern point. The island is home to many birds, of which especially the Atlantic puffin attracts many visitors each year. You can take the ferry from Dalvík (35 minutes by car from Akureyri) to get to the island. The boat ride takes about three hours one way. It has happened more than once that people see whales along the way. In summertime, you have four hours to look around on the island before the ferry heads back to Dalvík, which is enough to see most of it and take a picture on the arctic circle. You can also fly to Grímsey from Akureyri in 30 minutes.
Mývatn Nature Baths
Everyone knows about the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal pool located in the middle of an incredible natural lava field. But fewer people are aware of the Mývatn Nature Baths, a similar spa of half the size in North Iceland. In addition to the lagoon itself, Mývatn Nature Baths also has a steam bath with natural geothermal steam. Situated by the Námaskarð geothermal area, this natural hot spring has high levels of dissolved silica which has a very similar effect to the Blue Lagoon.
Askja is one of the biggest volcanoes in Iceland and it has had a couple of big eruptions in the past. The last eruption of Askja was in 1961. It’s located in the remote central highlands. Inside Askja caldera, you will find one of the biggest lakes in Iceland, Öskjuvatn lake, with a surface area of 11km2 and a depth of 217m. Next to the lake the popular Víti geothermal lake is located. A tour from Akureyri takes 11-13 hours and takes you past scenic roads through desolate landscapes, passing landmarks like Herðubreiðalindir oasis and Drekagil gully along the way.
In North Iceland, close to Mývatn lake, you will find Lofthellir cave. This is a natural lava cave, and because it’s always below freezing inside the cave, it contains ice sculptures. They are formed by dripping water that freezes over. The dark red and black colours of the lava contrast beautifully with the white and glassy ice. Tours are offered between 1st of May till the 31st of October. A tour from Akureyri takes about 8 hours and includes pickup from your accommodation.