Often referred to as the capital of north Iceland, Akureyri can be found on the country’s north coast. It is Iceland’s second largest city with a population of 15,000 people, and is an important port and fishing center. The area around Akureyri enjoys a relatively warm climate, thanks to several geographical factors, several pleasant tree-lined streets, and a busy town center. This is a lovely town in a beautiful location, and it is easy to spend two or three days here exploring all the sights.
Nestled at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord, Akureyri boasts a number of lively cafés, restaurants, and bars, and has a robust cultural scene. Although the town is very close to the Arctic Circle, Akureyri enjoys some of the warmest weather in Iceland. Brightly planted gardens, flower boxes around local houses, and blooming flowers are a common sight in summer time. The Botanical Gardens are one of the best known attractions in Akureyri. This is home to over 2,000 plant species, some native and some from as far afield as New Zealand, all grown without a greenhouse. Museum lovers are catered for too with a folk museum, the National History Museum, and museums in the homes of Matthias Jochumsson and Jon Sveinson, a native poet and children’s book author respectively. Sitting at the base of and surrounded by snowcapped mountains, the skiing conditions are excellent and attract many visitors, and there are also a number of lively winter festivals to provide plenty low-season fun. With its relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, this is a great base for exploring Eyjafjörður, and beyond.
The area around Akureyri was settled in the 9th century, though it was not until 1786 that it received a municipal charter. The town played host to Allied units during the Second World War, and it enjoyed further growth and an increase in population after the war.