Even if not a real megalopolis, Akureyri, the Capital of North Iceland, with a population of 18.000, is a sparkle of civilization in the mostly wild northern belt of the island. Situated at the bottom of narrow Eyjafjörður, the area of Akureyri was one of the first settlements of Iceland in the 9th century. The spectacular location, the mild climate and the arty vibe make of this city a very attractive spot.
The first sensation when coming here is a comfortable ease. Akureyri feels like the “next door city” from the very beginning of a stay. It surely would look bigger compared to the towns and villages of the Diamond Circle or to any other town you passed by from Reykjavík. But the tidy streets, the small houses and the friendly atmosphere make this city a very livable place where to stop for while, relaxing in front of a black coffee in one of the many intriguing cafés or aimlessly strolling around, forgetting the rush of your strictly scheduled journey for a moment.
One of Akureyri’s icons is the architecturally unusual Akureyrarkirkja which overlooks the city with its two towers of the facade from the top of a green hill. Likewise unusual for being in Iceland is the botanical garden, Lystigarðurinn, where grow and bloom plants and flowers from Spain, New Zealand and Tanzania (yes, Tanzania). The walking paths lead to the various corners of the gardens and a pleasant nature-looking wooden and glass café stands in the center.
What you’d probably find most surprising is the amount of museums and art galleries Akureyri offers. The “Akureyri Museum”, the “Akureyri Art Museum” and the “Nonni House” are only some of the museums to which several art galleries must be added, including the round shaped basalt black Hof, a cultural building where music and other performing arts are displayed. And of course don’t forget paying a visit to Santa Claus at the Jólahúsið, the Christmas House. It’s located South of the airport and it’s open all year round but during Christmas time it is a simply magic place!
How to get there
Akureyri is 75km west of Húsavík. If you select the shorted option through the tunnel please read the instructions for the road toll. The old and longer road over the mountain Víkuskarð is still open but might be tricky in winter time. However, the old rout offers a spectacular view over the area on both sides.