Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjörður in North Iceland.
It lies just 100 kilometres (62 miles) away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 19,500.
Learn more about this area on an Akureyri tour.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years, tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An airport is located about three kilometres (two miles) from the centre and a large number of cruise ships lay anchor in its busy harbor.
Traditionally, Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies such as Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies are also based here, and in recent years, a number of well-known breweries have begun calling Akureyri their home, such as the Einstök brewery and Víking brugghús brewery.
SAk (Akureyri Hospital) is also a significant employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travellers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions. Additionally, one of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlíðarfjall and it is the location for AK Extreme, an annual skiing and snowboarding festival.
Nature & Landscape
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling at 1,538 metres (5,064 feet). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The island of Hrísey sits in the middle of Eyjafjörður and Grímsey Island, which straddles the Arctic Circle; both islands belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrísey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjörður’ and Grímsey 'The Pearl of the Arctic', and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travellers.
Both are also home to puffins.
Furthermore, Akureyri is a very popular place to stay due to its proximity to Lake Mývatn. This is one of the country’s most popular destinations, due to its incredible natural beauty, intense geothermal activity, a wealth of birdlife and many surrounding sites, including Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
It is also close to the seal-watching capital of Iceland, Hvammstangi, on the Vatnsnes Peninsula. This peninsula is also home to the captivating ‘elephant rock’ formation, called Hvítserkur.
The convenience of Akureyri is added to by its position on the Icelandic Ring Road, a route that encircles the country, passing almost every major destination. This means that reaching it from Reykjavík is little trouble, even in winter and the journey takes just under five hours.
History & Culture
During World War II, Akureyri was an essential site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has an active cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants as well as frequent concerts and shows. During the summer there are several notable festivals and events in Akureyri and its surroundings, such as the annual Ein með öllu family festival on the first weekend of August and the Arctic Open, the world's only golf tournament where participants play golf under the midnight sun.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the Hof concert hall, several museums and art galleries, and the Christmas house which is open all year round.
The city boasts the world's northernmost botanical gardens which are located close to the swimming pool which is worth a visit.
Akureyrarkirkja church sits in a prized position halfway up the hill upon which most of the town is built. It was completed in 1940 and was designed by one of Iceland's most famous architects, Guðjón Samúelsson, who also was also responsible for arguably Iceland's most famous church, Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík.