Often referred to as the “Capital of North Iceland”, Akureyri is a small city at the base of the Eyjafjörður Fjord. It was originally settled in the 9th century by the Norse Viking Helgi Magri but didn’t receive its charter until the 18th century. Akureyri’s ice-free harbour has played an important role in its development.
Things to do in Akureyri
In the heart of the city is the Akureyri Art Museum, which occupies a Bauhaus-style building that was once used as a dairy. It showcases changing exhibitions by Icelandic artists and hosts the Icelandic Visual Arts Awards. For a dose of local history, head to the Akureyri Museum to see artefacts dating back to the Viking period.
Don’t miss the Akureyri Botanical Garden, which was founded in 1910 by a group of local women. It’s planted with Arctic species native to Iceland, as well as plants from high mountain and temperate zones. Akureyri Botanical Garden serves as a place for scientific research and it’s also home to one of the oldest wooden buildings in the city, Eyrarlandsstofa.
Dominating the cityscape is Akureyrarkirkja, a striking modern church designed by Guðjón Samuelsson and completed in 1940. It houses a 3,200-pipe organ and bas reliefs by Asmundur Sveinsson, as well as an altarpiece that dates back to 1863. Hanging from the ceiling is a ship that’s believed to protect those at sea, while the church’s stained-glass windows depict scenes from Icelandic Christian history.
Getting around Akureyri
Akureyri Airport is a five-minute drive from the city centre and has flights to destinations across Europe. Long-distance buses connect to Akureyri while a network of public buses travels throughout the city. Akureyri’s city centre is compact enough to explore on foot.