Known as the capital of the North, Akureyri is the biggest urban settlement outside the greater Reykjavík area. The town has a lot of history and is also the social centre of the agricultural area that is the main part of the north coast of Iceland.
It’s a charming town to visit, whatever the season. The unique weather conditions of the deep Eyjafjörður fjord mean that there is more snow in winter than in most towns around Iceland but there are also more sunny days in the summer.
Iceland usually doesn’t really live up to its name, what with the gulf stream maintaining pretty mild winters, but in Akureyri, it snows with full force. That means only one thing – skiing! We recommend taking the day early and heading straight for slopes of Mt Hlíðarfjall.
After a long day of skiing, a rib-sticking meal is in order. The good people of Akureyri are prepared for this so for dinner, if you dare, why not try the local dish of pizza with steak, fries and sauce béarnaise?
After a long, hard winter, walking around Akureyri when spring has sprung is a pure delight. The botanical garden is an especially nice place to visit when the first buds start appearing but it can still get a bit nippy at this time of year.
To get out of the cold, spend your day visiting the town’s Museum and learn how this town in the north came to be. The museum is located in the historical town centre and a walk among the lovely old houses is a great way to spend the day.
End your day with a visit to the swimming pool. Iceland’s swimming pools are a luxurious experience and there’s nothing like sitting in a geothermally heated hot tub underneath a starry evening sky!
Summer is a delightful season in Akureyri. The sun stays up all night long and the streets are filled with people enjoying themselves in the lovely summer weather Akureyri is famous for. First of all, grab a picnic and head out to the Kjarnaskógur forest, the outdoor recreational area that’s popular with the locals. There are other nature reserves around Akureyri, great for spectating the local wildlife. For birdwatchers, the Krossanesborgir area is heaven!
It’s a great season for travelling outside the town too. Akureyri is a great central location to explore the North of Iceland and all of its wonders. If you’re looking for a great spot to spend a summer afternoon, look no further than the island of Hrísey, just a short drive and a ferry ride from Akureyri. A popular activity in Hrísey is taking a guided tractor ride around the island!
Another great destination not far from Akureyri is Siglufjörður. This fishing town has a fascinating history, as it was the biggest player in the herring-related industrial boom and subsequent collapse during the 20th century. Visit the Herring Era Museum, take a walk around town and have dinner in one of the lovely restaurants in town, overlooking the harbour.
After a long summer, returning to the routine of winter can be a refreshing change of pace. The wild days of summer give way to a more cultured autumn as the people of Akureyri have always prided themselves on appreciating culture and the arts.
To join in the cultured atmosphere, head over to the Akureyri Arts museum. This ambitious museum, located in an old factory, regularly puts on new exhibitions by both established artists and newcomers. You’re bound to see something inspiring!
After the museum, take a walk around the town centre. You’ll find great little stores all over Akureyri, such as a treasure trove of an antique store, the art collective/concept store Flóra and bookstores, one selling used books and another one with new ones!
Now, it’s autumn, so you really should be starting to prepare for Christmas. Lucky for you, just a short drive from Akureyri is a place where it’s Christmas all year-round! The Christmas Garden is a magical place, especially in the weeks and months leading up to Christmas!
Finish your day by attending a concert at Akureyri’s most popular venue, Græni Hatturinn. This popular spot regularly features some of the country’s most well-known artists as well as some popular local musicians.
Classic things to do in Akureyri
No matter the season, you can’t leave Akureyri without ticking off at least a few of these items
- Climb the church steps leading up to the Beautiful Akureyri church
- Get some ice cream at Brynja, it’s delicious!
- Take a day tour from Akureyri, explore lake Mývatn, go whale watching from Húsavík or take a tour of the Diamond Circle
- Visit the house of a poet, the Akureyri museum has preserved the homes of children’s books’ author Nonni, Matthías Jochumsson, the poet who wrote the national anthem and Davíð Stefánsson, one of the most popular poets of the 20th century.
- Stop by Hof, Akureyri’s concert hall, preferably for a concert or a show.
- Admire the old buildings in the historical centre.
- Go swimming in Akureyri’s luxurious geothermal swimming pool.
- Eat something local, such as smoked salmon on rye bread!