Akureyri, IcelandLocation: Europe
Akureyri, Iceland is located at the base of Eyjafjordur Fjord, approximately 60 miles from the Arctic Circle. This charming travel destination is a fishing center and gateway to the natural wonders of Northern Iceland—including waterfalls, volcanic areas and canyons.
With a population of 17,000, Akureyri is Iceland's second-largest city. It's often referred to as the Capital of North Iceland.
Things to See and Do
Enjoy a scenic walking or biking tour of the town. Visit botanical gardens filled with lush plants indigenous to Iceland. Or, visit an art gallery or museum and learn about the town's rich culture and history.
Iceland is known for its ruggedly beautiful coastline and iconic geothermal pools. Stroll along the shores of Akureyri and be on the lookout for whales—a common sight from April to October. Or, take a dip in one of the area's geothermal swimming pools, an important part of Icelandic culture and a great place to relax with the locals.
During the summer, the sun does not fully set, and visitors and residents alike seem to make the most of the sunshine with golf, cycling and social activities.
Local Culture and Flavor
Akureyri is rich in culture—and home to several museums, including a folk museum, natural history museum and art museum. The town also hosts an arts festival, Litsamar, each summer from mid-June to the end of August.
When you're ready for refreshment, you can choose from an array of cafÚs and restaurants in Akureyri. Fishing is a predominant occupation in Iceland—as well as a popular pastime—so fresh seafood is easy to find. More adventurous diners should look for Icelandic delicacies such as puffin and whale meat.
Stroll the streets of Hafnarstæti and Glerártorg to find designer brands and high-fashion labels—they're typically less expensive in Iceland compared to other countries. While shopping, be sure to look for the tax-free sign, which can give you an additional discount on select purchases.
Popular souvenirs include sweaters, hats and mittens made of hand-knitted Icelandic wool. Other local specialties include handmade ceramics, glassware and silver jewelry.
Past and Present
The area was originally settled in the 9th century by Norse Vikings. In the 17th century, Akureyri became a popular base camp for Danish merchants in summer months.
Permanent settlement began in 1778, though the area had a population of approximately 12 residents for many years. In the mid-1800s, Akureyri began to grow, as merchants recognized that it was an optimal port with an ice-free harbor, mild climate and fertile grounds.
Today, Akureyri is a bustling port city, rich academic center and popular travel destination.
Fun Facts & Tips
If you're craving a casual meal or snack, look for a hot dog stand. Iceland is renowned for its delicious hot dogs, which are typically made with lamb.