Akureyri: the gateway to the north of Iceland

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Akureyri is the destination in the north of Iceland. Anyone travelling around Iceland should make a stop here. The largest town in the north is primarily known for the nature that surrounds it. Whale watching, rafting, horse riding and tours to the great natural spectacles of the north are all possible here. But the city itself also has a lot to offer. Find out more about the Christmas house, heart traffic lights and the largest art museum in North Iceland here.

Why should you travel to Akureyri?

Akureyri is the centre of northern Iceland and therefore a popular destination for anyone travelling around Iceland. The coastal town in the north is not only the second largest city in Iceland, but is also known for the breathtaking nature in the surrounding area. Whale watching, for example, is one of the most popular attractions in Akureyri.

Where is Akureyri located?

Akureyri is located in the north of Iceland, about 400 kilometres from Reykjavík. The town lies on one of Iceland’s largest fjords, Eyjafjörður. Akureyri is about 300 kilometres from the east coast and is between 200 and 300 kilometres from the nearest coastal sections to the west and east.

The weather in Akureyri

The climate in Akureyri is maritime-polar. This means that the summers are cold and the winters are comparatively mild. The average daytime temperature in Akureyri in the warmest months of the year, June to August, is between 9° and 11° Celsius. In winter, the average daytime temperature drops to -4° Celsius.

What is the best time to visit Akureyri?

Akureyri: Best time to travel
The roads in Iceland are at their best in summer.

The best time to visit Akureyri is from June to August. Although this small window means that there are more tourists in Akureyri in summer, it is also the most pleasant in terms of weather conditions.

As Iceland has a rather polar climate and is a high seas island, the weather here changes quickly and can be quite extreme.

Not only is it at its warmest during these months, but June also has the lowest average rainfall.

Another factor to consider when travelling to Iceland is the difficulty of driving on the roads in winter. Iceland is also beautiful in winter, but if you are travelling by car, you should be experienced in driving in winter conditions.

Travelling to Akureyri in winter?
In addition, certain roads are completely closed and you always have to expect that a road on your route will suddenly have to be closed. In addition to the fact that travelling conditions are better in the summer months, this is also the time when whales are most likely to be seen. If you want to travel a little more cheaply but still in pleasant conditions, choose the off-peak times of the summer months.

Akureyri: places of interest

Whale Watching

Akureyri is known for its whale watching opportunities. Whale watching tours are usually offered in the summer months. This gives you the opportunity to observe many different whale species and often also other native animals such as puffins. In Eyjafjörður, you have a particularly good chance of spotting humpback whales.

Akureyri: Sights, Whale Watching
Akureyri is an excellent spot to see the large marine mammals up close.

Museums in Akureyri

Akureyri is home to Iceland’s largest art museum outside of Reykjavík. It is located in a former dairy in the Icelandic Bauhaus style and is a great place to learn about Icelandic art and famous artists. The Akureyri Art Museum is also a great place to visit on days when the weather is bad.

Another interesting museum in Akureyri is the Akureyri Museum. Here you can discover the local history of Akureyri. It has a beautiful garden and is located right next to a 19th century church.

Swimming is also possible in Iceland: swimming pool and hot springs in Akureyri

Whether the weather is bad or you just fancy a swim: at Sundlaug Akureyrar you will find numerous pools and hot pods of different temperatures. Perfect for relaxing after an exciting day of whale watching, hiking or rafting. The hot springs are also a cultural asset in Iceland that you should definitely experience as a guest.

Akureyri: Swimming pool
Goðafoss, about half an hour’s drive from Akureyri.

Christmas house Jólahúsið

A few kilometres south of Akureyri is the Christmas House, known as Jólahúsið in Icelandic. Here you can buy Christmas decorations and typical Icelandic Christmas sweets all year round.

What’s the story behind the heart traffic lights in Akureyri?
One thing that Akureyri is known for is the heart-shaped traffic lights. The red traffic lights are heart-shaped. This was introduced in 2008 in response to the global financial crisis. The aim is to encourage people to think positively.

Akureyri: hotels

Even though many travellers in Akureyri opt for a holiday home or camping, there is also the classic option of booking a hotel room in Akureyri. Small hotels and guesthouses are particularly common in Iceland. Another highlight are often the swimming facilities and whirlpools that some hotels offer.

Holiday cottages in Akureyri

Many people choose a holiday home for their trip to Akureyri. The advantage of this is that you have more privacy than in a hotel, but in contrast to camping you will find more facilities. In addition, holiday homes in Iceland are usually beautifully situated close to nature, so you usually have a great view of the mountains, volcanic landscape and fjords. In the area around Akureyri, you will find a variety of holiday homes of different sizes, facilities and locations. There is something to suit both a couple and a larger group of travellers.

Camping in Akureyri

Akureyri: Camping
Akureyri is particularly suitable for camping in the summer.

Camping in Akureyri is an alternative to a holiday home. Wild camping was permitted in Iceland, as in other Scandinavian countries. However, as visitor numbers increased, this was restricted. In the south of the island, for example, wild camping is now completely prohibited.

In some places it is still permitted under certain circumstances, but you should inform yourself well beforehand. Overall, it is advisable to stay on a campsite, especially as the rules for public urination have also been tightened.

Travelling to Akureyri

You can travel to Iceland either by plane or by boat. Most people opt for the aeroplane and land in Reykjavík. From there, it is advisable to drive along the ring road in a hire car or motorhome, i.e. to make a round trip around Iceland. Akureyri is on this route in the north of Iceland. Alternatively, you can also drive directly from Reykjavík to Akureyri in a hire car. This usually takes just over 4.5 hours.

By ship to Iceland

Alternatively, you can travel to Iceland by boat from the harbour of arrival, which is usually in Seyðisfjörður in the east of the island. You can also easily reach the ring road from there. The advantage of this option is that you can take your own car with you and are therefore more flexible on Iceland itself.

The disadvantage is that the journey is long and the ferry only runs once a week between Norway and Iceland during the summer months. However, you can also make a stopover on the Faroe Islands and combine this with your trip to Iceland.

Akureyri as a cruise harbour

Cruises also stop at the harbour in Akureyri, which allow you to make a stopover in the city and visit many other destinations on the same trip. The journey there and back is also covered. Many providers offer land tours in the area around Akureyri.

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