view-countries-simple.phtml

Akureyri - A view from our expert author


Akureyrarkirkja, Akureyri, Iceland by Pavel Svoboda/ShutterstockAn original window from Coventry Cathedral in England decorates the far back wall of Akureyrarkirkja © Pavel Svoboda, Shutterstock

Akureyri might be the most civilised place in Iceland, insisting on normality despite its Arctic reputation. Nowhere else are gardens planted with such gusto: there’s a white picket fence around every well-kept ‘gingerbread’ house, and sailboats glide up and down the fjord all day long. Church bells chime the hour, the streets are lined with tall trees and someone sweeps the town square with a broom. There are days when the town feels a bit like a child’s drawing.

Akureyri lies at the base of Eyjafjörður, surrounded on either side by a sloping wall of snow-capped mountains. The determined town clings to one hillside before spilling onto a small stretch of land that seems to float upon the shimmering water – hence the name Akur-eyri, or ‘the field upon the shoreline’. The view is simply astounding, but the scenery also blocks out a good deal of bad weather, granting a unique play of sun and fog. Clear skies mean lots of sunny days (and nights) in summer and a healthy dose of clean snow come winter.   

Akureyri is pleasantly small but with much to enjoy. Take in the many views, wander through the small gardens, see the church and then head out into the breathtaking landscapes.

Akureyri often gets tagged with labels such as Iceland’s ‘second city’ or ‘capital of the north’, though the actual population (around 18,000) and size (the country’s fourth largest) imply otherwise. Why it gets the nod as the ‘other big city’ is because it’s the only town that gives Reykjavík a run for its money. It may be small and compact, but it’s also a very independent place. It’s also a great place to visit, as a destination in and of itself, for the idyllic countryside of Eyjafjarðarsveit, or as a home base from which to suit up and explore great swathes of Iceland’s wildest landscapes. Beyond the well-trodden tourist path to ‘big’ attractions (Mývatn, Goðafoss and Húsavík), Akureyri allows easy access to some of the country’s less-visited parts (eg: Grímsey, the interior, and the outermost corners of Thingeyjarsýsla).

Back to the top

Iceland articles

View all

The best places to see the northern lights

From Alaska to Finland, these are best places to marvel at the northern lights. 

Read more...

The world’s best whale-watching destinations

With whale-watching being the fastest-growing tourist activity worldwide, you may be keen to catch a glimpse of some for yourself. Here are some of the best destinations to do so.

Read more...

12 European national parks that you’ve probably never heard of

There are many national parks in Europe that remain fairly unknown. Here you can discover 12 of the best. Why miss out on visiting somewhere spectacular? 

Read more...

Related guides and other books

View all
Previous
Next