10 Things to Do in North Iceland
Already soaked in the Blue Lagoon and drove through the South Coast? Go North! North Iceland is charming, unique and filled with fascinating attractions and wildlife.
Wondering what to do in Akureyri, Iceland year round? Have Kay our Akureyri expert tell you all her favs. This guide is sure to help with any travel in the North of Iceland.
So you want to visit Akureyri in the North of Iceland. Well, let me share my time in Akureyri with you, but first, maybe, you want to know a bit more about this small city of just 19,000 citizens. This jewel of the north is on magical Eyjafjörður (The Island Fjord) surrounded by mountains. It really is a crazily amazing place: arty, lively and with spectacular nature all around.
For your convenience, there are different ways you can reach Akureyri from the capital: it’s either by plane, bus, or car. If you’re interested in reaching the town as soon as possible, hop on a plane, and approximately 45 minutes later, you’ll reach Akureyri from Reykjavik’s airport. The road leading to the capital of North Iceland is surely worth taking as you’ll be surrounded by magnificent landscapes, so your trip won’t feel that long. If you want to spice up your experience, you can drive from Iceland’s capital to Akureyri following the famous Ring Road. It should take you approximately 5 hours to reach the destination. And if you’re an enthusiastic cyclist, you can also have a blast, making your way to Akureyri by going there on a bike! Just don’t forget to prepare for the weather challenges that might present themselves along the way.
Among the top things to do in Iceland, a trip to the second-largest town in Iceland, Akureyri, is a must. A whole variety of attractions to see and activities to try out await you here during the summer. Here are some of the finest ideas of things to try out while traveling through Akureyri, Iceland.
Mount Súlur rises south-west of the town, a great hiking trail which will take you to Súlar’s two peaks at 1210 m. Hiking the trail will give you around six hours in majestic mountain scenery.
To get to the start of the trail follow Þingvallarstræti, Súluvegur then Miðhúsavegur out of the town, then it is about 3 to 4 km to the car park at the trail.
Wander through the oldest part of Akureyri, it is charming with a real Scandinavian feel. Follow Aðalstræti as it threads its way between the Fjord and the richly forested hillside. What might interest you is that many houses and the streets' layouts are authentic. This is what makes it so photogenic. If you're interested in learning more about Akureyri's history, museums such as Akureyri Museum and Industry Museum are ready to tell the tale.
If you want to know the history of the area this is the place to go. There is a permanent exhibition centered on local life and an exhibition which changes from time to time.
You have to visit this museum, the shows are eclectic and thought provoking. This is the bohemian part of Akureyri where you will also find the iconic Ketilhúsið (The Kettle House).
An inseparable symbol of Akureyri is its Lutheran church, which was designed by the architect Gudjon Samuelsson and consecrated in 1940. What makes the church so special is its size and majestic facade, created in a way that reminds of the basalt columns in Svartifoss waterfall.
Icelandic seafood feast, curry, Asian, sushi, fish and chips, burger, Thai, pizza, pasta, hot dog, Icelandic soup and more are available here. I loved the soup and salad buffet at Bautinn, and also kaffi Ilmur, which has chips and cakes to die for!
Trails around the Glerá River will take you up through the magnificent gorge beyond Akureyri University, then on into the forest. This lush area is a great place to find wild angelica. Some say this is elf country. The Icelandic clairvoyant, Erla Stefánsdóttir, made a map of elf habitats in the area. Whatever your beliefs about these things, this is a great hike.
In June, this far north, the sun barely dips below the horizon. Listagarðurinn, with its mature trees and colorful flowers and shrubs, is just one of many great places to enjoy the bright nights.
The nice coffee shop at Listigarðurinn, Botanical Garden.
North of Iceland is famous for its marine life, especially the whales. The breathtaking Dalvik, a village in North Iceland, allows its visitors to see these great mammals with their own eyes. To make sure that your mission is a successful one, simply book a whale-watching tour in Dalvik and prepare for an unforgettable view.
If you feel that a truly successful trip should have some hair-raising activities, sports enthusiasts should try their strengths by going on a World-Class Whitewater rafting day tour departing from Akureyri and taking place in East Glacial River. The good news is that you don’t actually need to have experience in rafting to be able to take on this adventure. So get ready to see the wild side of East Iceland.
Have you ever wondered what it's like to walk on the moon? If there's a place on Earth where you can feel like you're one of the crew members of Apollo 11, then you can do so by exploring Askja Caldera and the volcano Viti. Its landscape was actually used as a training area for astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Want to visit Akureyri on a guided multi-day tour? Arctic Adventures can take you there. Your options are three, Akureyri is on the route of the famous Ring Road in Iceland which more and more travelers and looking to do. This is the perfect bucket list-checking tour!
There are the 6 days around Iceland Ring Road tour, The 7 days around Iceland with Snæfellsnes peninsula and then there are the 8 days around Iceland including two nights in Reykjavik pre and post trip.
Once you’ve enjoyed everything that the town has to offer, why not take a road trip from Akureyri to Snaefellsnes to further explore Iceland.
If you haven't had time to hop on an Akureyri summer train, don't worry; there are also things to do here during the winter, from hearing all about Icelandic festivities to trying out its relaxing activities and learning what's worth seeing around Akureyri, Iceland.
If you love Christmas and everything associated with it, you must make your way to the Jólahúsið, or the Christmas house. Open since 1996, it's a true wonderland full of Icelandic festive spirits. Here you'll learn about Yule Lads and Gryla and find beautiful things related to Christmas. Also, the good news is that it's open all year round.
One of the very Icelandic activities includes looking for Northern Lights, as winter is quite a perfect time for that. This also allows you to admire the country's beauty more and witness one of the greatest natural phenomena. To be sure you'll get to see Aurora Borealis, simply book a tour from Akureyri and wait for the magnificent light performance in the sky.
In case you suddenly miss summer activities, don't worry, Akureyri has you covered with its fun and lovely pools. Named a popular spot for a reason, the facility has two 25m pools outdoors, a pool indoors, a water slide, a steam bath, and hot and cold pots. What's interesting about this place is that its pools are heated by geothermal water. The water temperature here varies from 5°C to 43°C.
Some people can't imagine their winter without putting on skis, and that's great because one of the things to do in Akureyri, Iceland, during the winter is skiing. One of the popular spots for this activity is Mt. Hlíðarfjall, situated not far from the town, about 8 kilometers. Mt Hlíðarfjall ski center awaits its visitors from December up until April. Another popular place for skiing near Akureyri is Dalvík, a scenic fishing village known as one of the great spots for whale watching.
After you're done exploring the beautiful Akureyri, it's time for some rest. But spending time in North Iceland means that you'll also have a rare and crazy opportunity to have none other than a beer spa. Icelanders mixed two of their best things and created a recipe for the ultimate relaxation experience. Soak in a beer hot tub and taste Icelandic beer until you regain your powers back.
Iceland is full of surprises; anyone with an extra day to explore it is considered lucky. So if you're rich in time, go further than just spending time in Akureyri, the capital of the north of Iceland. If you're a Eurovision fan, you should definitely visit Husavik – a town situated on the shores of Skjálfandi Bay. This is where the plot of the musical comedy "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga" took place. Besides, this is where you can also watch whales and enjoy hot tubs or swimming pools if you missed your chance to do so while in Akureyri.
Anything else you would like to know? If you're looking for ideas on what to see and do in Iceland, look for an answer here.