Nestled in the heart of North Iceland, Akureyri is a charming town boasting picturesque landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and countless opportunities for adventure. Known as the “Capital of the North,” this vibrant destination offers a plethora of experiences for visitors and expats alike. From exploring the city’s thriving art scene to indulging in its delectable culinary offerings, there’s something for everyone in Akureyri. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting or settling down in this enchanting town, including popular hotels and long-term accommodation options.
I. Getting to Akureyri:
- By air: Akureyri Airport (AEY) connects the city with Reykjavik and a few international destinations, including seasonal flights to Greenland.
- By road: Akureyri is a 5-hour drive from Reykjavik along the scenic Ring Road. Car rentals are available at both the airport and city center.
- By bus: Scheduled buses operate between Akureyri and other major towns in Iceland.
II. Top Attractions in Akureyri:
- Akureyri Church: This architectural gem is an iconic symbol of the city.
- Akureyri Botanical Garden: A serene oasis home to over 7,000 plant species.
- Húsavík: A nearby town renowned for its whale watching excursions.
- Laufás Turf House Museum: A well-preserved example of traditional Icelandic architecture.
- Myvatn: A beautiful lake area with stunning geothermal features, bird-watching opportunities, and the Myvatn Nature Baths.
III. Popular Hotels in Akureyri:
- Hotel Kea: A centrally-located hotel offering comfortable rooms and an on-site restaurant.
- Icelandair Hotel Akureyri: A modern hotel with spectacular views of the fjord, a stylish bar, and free parking.
- Hotel Akureyri: A budget-friendly option with private rooms and shared facilities.
IV. Longer Term Accommodation:
If you’re planning to stay in Akureyri for an extended period, you might want to consider renting an apartment or house. Here are some options:
- Akureyri Downtown Apartments: These fully-furnished apartments are ideal for longer stays, featuring modern amenities and a convenient location.
- Hlíð Bed and Breakfast: Perfect for a homely atmosphere, this B&B offers private rooms and apartments for longer stays.
- Akureyri HÍ Hostel: Budget-friendly and well-equipped, this hostel provides private rooms and dormitories for travelers and students.
Akureyri Backpackers: This hostel offers both private rooms and shared dorms and is a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers. It’s located in the heart of Akureyri, making it easy to explore the town.
HomeAway: If you’re looking for a more traditional Icelandic experience, consider renting a cabin or cottage through HomeAway. These properties are located in the surrounding countryside and offer stunning views of the Northern Lights and the fjords.
V. Dining in Akureyri:
- Rub 23: A sushi and seafood restaurant featuring locally-sourced ingredients.
- Bautinn: A cozy eatery offering Icelandic and European cuisine.
- Akureyri Fish and Chips: A popular spot for delicious, freshly-prepared fish and chips.
VI. Nightlife and Entertainment:
- R5 Microbar: A trendy bar offering a wide selection of craft beers and cocktails.
- Græni Hatturinn: A popular music venue showcasing local and international acts.
- Götubarinn: A lively sports bar with a relaxed atmosphere.
VII. Shopping in Akureyri:
- Glerártorg: A shopping mall featuring a variety of local and international brands.
- Hafnarstræti: A bustling shopping street lined with boutiques, cafes, and art galleries.
- Friðbjarnarhús: A charming store offering Icelandic handicrafts and souvenirs.
VIII. Practical Information:
- Currency: Icelandic Krona (ISK)
- Language: Icelandic, but English is widely spoken and understood.
- Climate: Akureyri has a subarctic climate with cool summers and relatively mild winters. Be prepared for variable weather and pack accordingly.
- Emergency Services: Dial 112 for emergency assistance in Iceland.
IX. Getting Around Akureyri:
- On foot: Akureyri’s compact size makes it easy to explore on foot.
- By bus: The local bus system, Strætó, offers a free service within the city.
- By bicycle: Akureyri has a network of bicycle paths, and bike rentals are available at various locations.
- By car: Renting a car provides flexibility for exploring the surrounding areas and attractions.
X. Health and Safety:
- Tap water in Akureyri is clean and safe to drink.
- Pharmacies can be found in the city center, and healthcare facilities are easily accessible.
- Akureyri is considered a safe destination, but it’s always wise to take basic precautions.
XI. Local Customs and Etiquette:
- Tipping is not customary in Iceland, as service charges are usually included in the bill.
- Respect the environment and follow designated paths when exploring natural attractions.
- Swimming pools are an important part of Icelandic culture, so be sure to visit one during your stay.
XII. Day Trips from Akureyri:
- Dettifoss and Ásbyrgi: Discover the powerful Dettifoss waterfall and the horseshoe-shaped canyon of Ásbyrgi.
- Goðafoss and Aldeyjarfoss: Visit these beautiful waterfalls set amidst stunning landscapes.
- Húsavík and the Diamond Circle: Explore the picturesque town of Húsavík and embark on the Diamond Circle tour, which includes a variety of natural wonders.
XIII. Things to Do in Akureyri
Akureyri has plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy during your stay. Here are some of the most popular things to do:
Visit the Botanical Gardens: The Akureyri Botanical Gardens are one of the northernmost botanical gardens in the world and are home to a wide variety of plants and flowers.
Explore the Town Center: The town center of Akureyri is a bustling hub of activity, with shops, restaurants, and cafes to suit all tastes.
Hit the Slopes: Akureyri is home to the Hlíðarfjall Ski Resort, which offers a variety of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
Akureyri is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and modern amenities. Whether you’re a visitor seeking a short getaway or an expat looking for long-term accommodation, this charming town has plenty to offer. With its scenic landscapes, diverse activities, and warm hospitality, Akureyri is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Iceland.