The Akureyri Botanical Gardens, or Lystigarðurinn, are the world’s northernmost botanical gardens, sitting just 50 kilometres shy of the Arctic Circle.
The Akureyri Botanical Gardens are, the name suggests, located in the capital of north Iceland, Akureryri. They were established in 1957, within a city park that had been created by local women in 1912. The gardens, which now cover 3.6 hectares, are home to over 7,000 species of plant; around 400 are native, but the vast majority are alien to Iceland.
Since their creation, the Akureyri Botanical Gardens have been a favourite attraction for both visitors and locals throughout the summer; they are an oasis of colour and a perfect place for quiet contemplation. The gardens have, however, also been used extensively for scientific research purposes.
Amongst the flowers and plantlife are several busts. One is of Jón Rögnvaldsson, whose donation helped create the botanical gardens; one is of Margarethe Schiöth, whose early work on maintaining the site helped it flourish; and a third is of Matthias Jochumsson, a local clergyman and poet who penned Iceland’s national anthem.
There are also several quaint wooden buildings within the park, some of which are amongst the town’s oldest.
The Akureyri Botanical Gardens are free to enter, although only accessible in summer, from June 1st to September 31st. On weekdays, they are open from 08:00 to 22:00; on weekends, they open at 09:00. There are bathrooms on site.
In winter, it is still sometimes possible to walk through the gardens, but the facilities will not be open and the paths may be impassable due to snow.
The Botanical Gardens are easy to reach by foot, bus or car, just fifteen minute’s walk south from the town centre. They are also very easy to reach from the harbour, making them perfect for those taking a cruise to Akureyri, and the airport, for those flying.
Like many sites in the capital of the North, the gardens look over the fjord of Eyjafjörður.