Akureyri is famously known by the nickname ‘Capital of North Iceland’. Located on the northern bank of Iceland, Akureyri is a significant port and a fishing center. The weather of the town is moderate, which is why it has played a vital role in the country’s economy serving as a functional seaport. Several mountains can be spotted around the area along with a flat coastal strip and steep inland hills. Akureyri also has the northernmost botanical garden reserve which is simply magnificent. Add to that ski slopes, golf course, cultural manifestations, and Lake Myvatn as a filming location for Game of Thrones, and you can be sure Akureyri will give you plenty of wonderful reasons to love and adore it.
What is the best time to visit?
The temperature bar of Akureyri keeps fluctuating between -4°C (December) and 11°C (July). Any season is perfect to visit, depending on what you want to explore and enjoy. Winters are the best time for skiing and spotting northern lights (October-April), with March being the coldest month. The Golf Club remains open in summer (mid-May to mid-October), whereas July receives the hottest showers, but if you are yearning for a wet Iceland, then January is the best month to visit.
A few facts about Akureyri
Akureyri is packed with so many activities that it will not end up disappointing any of its visitors. It is only 60 miles from the Arctic Circle, yet it has a more moderate and warmer climate than any other city in Iceland. This mild temperature makes your one day itinerary more fun and manageable. While roaming around the city, you will probably get a chance to participate in one of the festivals as the city has quite a big popularity due to its cultural festivities. Endless opportunities to interact with horses and whales are waiting for you here!
One day in Akureyri itinerary
It’s time for an adventure of a lifetime! Follow this guide and you will see incredible animals, enjoy mesmerizing nature and experience the best of Akureyri in just a day!
Enjoy your coffee first
Start your one day in Akureyri with a cup of coffee and get ready to be amazed by the most mesmerizing display of whales and a horseback ride amid open lands.
Go whale watching…
Eyjafjorour is one of the longest fjords in Iceland and is famous as a habitat of whales. Since Akureyri is located quite close to Arctic waters, the water is brimming with several species of whales and other marine life.
Many whale watching tours operate in Northern Iceland to offer a closer sight of bottlenose whales, mink whales, and humpbacks. Tourists are provided with special suites to enjoy the three-hour tour in a carefree mode.
Check out the official travel guide to Akureyri to book a whale watching tour as they have listed out all the companies which offer an exotic and thrilling experience of interacting with whales.
… or horseback riding
The countryside of Iceland is teeming with picturesque backdrops, surreal farmhouses, and bewildering meadows. How can one miss a chance to go horse riding in such a bewitching setting? Several horse riding tours are available to make your afternoon a memorable one. Horses riding through the mystic valleys leaving their marks in the snow in winter or passing by the gushing rivers is an altogether electrifying experience.
Visit the Arctic Botanical Garden
Located on the southern side of the city by Eyjaford, the garden hosts the most impressive collection of native and exotic plant species. The place was planned out in 1912 to create a reserve of plant species in the most demanding climate. Around 430 native and 6600 exotic plants can be found blooming in the garden.
The Arctic Botanical Garden is also a scientific research center and is actively involved in exchanging seeds and developing an educational relationship with the rest of the world. Visiting it is such a tranquil and serene experience that one can easily feel lost among the tracks and paths.
Stop for lunch
You will definitely want some delicious food after spending a day in such engaging activities. Akureyri is ready to soothe your taste buds with the finest collection of its signature cuisine. Stop by Greifinn to get your hands on the delicious seafood, and their famous pizza.
If you are fond of the traditional cuisine of Iceland, then Nordic Bistro is the best restaurant to check out. Lamb and fish dipped in native spices, as well as Danish smörrebrauð tossed with salmon, fennel salad, and tomatoes are the savoriest dishes to try out.
Enter Akureyri museums
The museums in Akureyri are the places that expose you to Icelandic life at a closer angle through its history, traditions, or its rich culture. Get to know about Icelandic aircraft, planes, air ambulance, and gliders in the Aviation Museum. On the other hand, Art Museum hosts the most impressive displays of visual arts.
You will find 100 years of motorcycle history in Iceland in the Motorcycle Museum. Spare parts, artifacts, and different sorts of ancient motorcycles will fill visitors with awe and surprise. You can also stop by the ‘Akureyri, the Town by the Pool’, to adore the history of the trade and industry in Iceland.
Late in the day, head towards the Mt Hlíðarfjall Ski Center which is located just 5km outside of the town. The place offers an exotic ski experience at an elevation of 500-1000 meters. One gets to ski across the 24 ski slopes and 7 lifts here, so if you’re a fan, this will be a dream come true.
Skíðastaðir is the service center at 506 meters of elevation where you can buy tickets, have some food, use restrooms, or gear yourself for skiing. Ski rental services are there to gear you well for the electrifying experience of skiing at the northernmost skiing center of the world.
Get an adrenaline rush by trying out alpine skiing and cross-country skiing as they offer the most electrifying experience of skiing on rugged tracks. Fjallaskíðun and Bergmann Fjallaleiðsögumenn are your go-to marks for alpine skiing, but keep in mind that skiing outside the safe area is done at your own risk.
Play a few holes at the golf course
You can also spend your evening playing on an 18-hole golf course, the northernmost golf course in the world! The splendid views of the countryside are an additional treat to cherish, with vast open lands dotted by clusters of trees and bordered by the mighty mountains in front of you. The views are so surreal and satisfying that one feels lost in a wonderland.
Do participate in Arctic Open (gold competition) if you happen to be in Iceland during summer as the event is open to both international players and amateurs to celebrate golf at its very best.
Seek out northern lights
The thin belt of air near the poles at an altitude of 100-250 km gets lit up with bright luminous light from September to April. This phenomenon occurs high above the earth where electrically charged particles in the thin air project a shiny glow. Both Northern and Southern Poles are illuminated with these enchanting fluorescent lights which is quite a sight to behold.
Northern lights may stay from 2 minutes to several hours and show no particular pattern in their frequency of occurrence. Therefore, it requires a lot of vigilant planning to catch them at the correct time. Check out an explained guide to visit Northern Lights in Iceland for more info on that.
Treat yourself to a beer bath
You must have tried various sort of spa treatments. But have you ever gone for a beer bath? Well, you should!
A muscle relaxing and body healing beer spa is one of those things you simply must add to your Iceland’s bucket list. The fermenting properties of yeast help your body ooze out the lethargy and get active as a fresh soul. Spice up the fun with a glass of cold beer while enjoying the unique spa treatment.
Where to stay in Akureyri, Iceland?
Hotel Kea by Keahotels
Hafnarstraeti 87-89, 600 Akureyri
Hotel Kea is an excellent hotel on Akureyri’s Pedestrian Street, so you will be located dead in the town center, which means you will easily be able to explore the town. The rooms are modern, with minibars and coffee makers, but maybe the best feature is the traditional Icelandic cuisine you can enjoy here. Try it, you won’t be sorry!
Leifsstaðir 2, 601 Akureyri, 601 Akureyri
Hotel North is definitely not in the town center, but when you see its location, you won’t mind that one bit! The scenery is simply spectacular with rolling hills, trees, and meadows as far as the eye can see. Continental or buffet breakfasts will make sure you have plenty of energy for hiking, plus you can even hire a bike. A perfect place for an active vacation!
Stekkjarlækur, 601 Akureyri
A cozy little seaside hotel, Hafdals Hotel will amaze you with the spectacular view you can enjoy from your room’s terrace. This place is absolutely perfect if you want to get away from everything with your significant other, and booking a room here will guarantee an unforgettable visit to Iceland.
Hotel Akureyri Dynheimar
Hafnarstræti 73, 600 Akureyri
You a music fan? Then Hotel Akureyri Dynheimar is where you want to spend your nights. Rock’n’roll is what this place is all about, and you will find things like guitars and old record players in your rooms. And there’s a lovely touch of humour wherever you look. No doubt, this is definitely the coolest hotel in Akureyri.
Day trips from Akureyri
The area outside of Akureyri also has plenty to offer. If you have more days on your hands and want to make the most of your time, then go for these alluring and enchanting destinations for an amazing day trip.
The Diamond Circle
It is the most scenic route just outside of the Akureyri which has so many incredible places that will leave you speechless. Lake Myvatn, the town of Husavik, Dettifoss waterfall, and Hljóðaklettar rocks are some of the most electrifying visitor spots in the Diamond Circle.
Situated by the Krafla volcano, the lake surrounded by lush greenery so serene and tranquil that one feels lost in the mystic air. Check out Dimmuborgir Lava Fields, the Grjótagjá Rift, the Hverir Mud Pools in the surrounding area to explore more in the town.
The water from the river Skjálfandafljót gives rise to these scenic falls whose aerial views are a sight to behold. Its name is translated as ‘Waterfall of the Gods’. Hit upon the Godafoss falls to resolve this mystery.
Extra tips for visiting Akureyri
The weather in Akureyri in winter and in summer is very different. The temperature here is even higher than that of Reykjavik. January is quite rainy, so pack your clothes accordingly.
Pedestrian Street is lined with a series of cafes, restaurants, shops, and hotels. So, do not get panic when you have forgotten some of your essentials to put in your travel bag. You can shop for anything here at an economical price. Oh, and the excellent Hotel Kea is here, too!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Karem Hossen is a globetrotter. He has been traveling around the world since 2012. He visited 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. He loves hiking and exploring places outside the cities and enjoys living like a local wherever he goes. On top of that, Karem is a blogger, project manager and music lover. He considers himself a lifelong learner and keeps improving his skills at each new opportunity.