Akureyri is in Northern Iceland, what we would consider the cusp of the Arctic Circle. This far North, the climate is cold, but Akureyri does see some warmer months, with temperature highs of 52 degrees between June and September. This far North is a great area to take in the Northern Lights, which can easily be seen in favorable conditions. Delicious food is prepared with some of the freshest seafood around, so don’t hesitate to give your taste buds an adventure.
With a 100% success rate, Elding Whale Watching has had a few fantastic years spotting humpback whales. Elding offers two tours for spotting the whales – a classic 3-hour and a 2-hour express. When taking the classic tour, you’ll take a ship around the fjord, taking I the sights of Eyjafjorour. This larger ship will provide a more stable ride for those who are not as comfortable on the open water. The express tour takes place on a 12-man custom-made open boat. Similar to a large raft, this boat may give a choppier ride, but it allows you to get very close to the whales as they emerge from the waters below.
Oddeyrarbot 2, 600 Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-497-1000
2.Arctic Botanical Gardens
With such harsh climates and strange daylight hours in Iceland, Arctic Botanical Gardens attempts to grow native and nonnative plant species while fighting against the cold and polar night. While the summer months and its midnight sun are a great time for plants to get all the sun and warmth they need, Arctic Botanical Gardens is open for visitors. The garden is open in the winter, but the plants have all died or are in hibernation, so you will only go for a stroll through the beautiful landscape. Along with the over 430 native species grown, Arctic Botanical Gardens also successfully grows about 6,600 nonnative species.
Eyrarlandsvegur, 600 Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-462-7487
3.The Christmas House
When visiting the Arctic, the North Pole is not too far from reality. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Akureyri is home to the Christmas House, also called jolagardurinn. Open year-round, visitors to the Christmas House will feel as if they’ve stepped right into the holiday season once they enter the Christmas House. A fire roars in the fireplace and Christmas Carols play over the speakers. Inside, you’ll find many locally made crafts, Icelandic Christmas traditions, and the largest Christmas calendar in the world. When the weather is nice outside, visit the Well of Unborn children to make a wish, or picnic in the manicured gardens.
Sveinsbaer, Hrafnagil, 601 Akuryri, Iceland, Phone: 354-463-1433
Godafoss Waterfall may be the most famous waterfall in Iceland. In 1,000 AD, leader Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi declared Iceland to be a Christian land. It is believed that he threw all Norse idols over the waterfall. This very large waterfall stands roughly 39 feet and is about 90 feet wide. The waterfall is curved, but not quite a horseshoe shape. The surrounding black rock is lava from the Highland volcanoes aging over 8,000 years. Many tours are offered year-round to get a good look at the falls. Near the falls is a gift shop and eatery for those who want to spend time exploring the waterfall and surrounding areas.
Baroardalur, Akuryri, Iceland
This Lutheran church was built in 1941 in the heart of Akureyri. It is situated on a hill overlooking the entire city and reminding locals and visitors of the presence of God. Designed by Gudjon Samuelsson, who was the first Icelander educated in architecture. The large, stained glass window that greets guests was once part of a church in England that was destroyed in WWII. Guests may be surprised to find a hand-made ship hanging above the pews, which harkens back to the old Norse traditions and the maritime culture of Iceland. This church is still in use, so it is closed during funerals and services, though feel free to join in for a service during your visit.
Vid Eyrarlandsveg 600, Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-462-7700
6.Ski at Hlidarfjall
If skiing is an activity you enjoy, the cold climates of Akureyri are perfect for hitting the slopes. Hlidarfjall Mountain is a perfect spot for cross country skiing, skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking. For those who are unprepared for the visit, ski rentals are available at the foot of the mountain. For those who have never skied, ski school offers adaptive skiing lessons, private lessons, children’s’ lessons, and snowboarding lessons. Accommodations can be found in nearby Akureyri for those who are specifically visiting Hlidarfjall, and the mountain includes chairlifts for those who want to get to the top of the mountain.
7.Northern Lights Tour
Nowhere in the world will you have a better chance to see the great Northern Lights. This natural phenomenon happens quite frequently in the Arctic Circle, so your chances of seeing the Lights without light pollution from big cities are great in Akureyri. In fact, many tours include guarantee clauses, so you can come for free another night if you do not see the Northern Lights on your scheduled tour. Be sure to nap during the day, because most tours won’t even begin until 9:30 or 10:00 pm. Most tours are about two to three hours in length. You will travel by bus out to a dark location where the lights will be more visible.
The Akureyri Museum is broken into four areas, with some being as far away as a 30-minute drive. You’ll find a strong depiction of the Viking history from the area, including artifacts and maps. Along with this, many large artifacts cannot be stored inside. The black timber Memorial Church is by far the largest artifact housed on Museum property. The Old town of Laufas is the 30-minute drive, but it is well worth it. As part of the National Museum of Iceland, Old Town is made up of small cottages that have grass growing on their roofs. People dress up as Icelanders from another time to show what life was like.
Adalstraeti 58, 600 Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-462-4162
Iceland may get a bad rap for having odd-tasting food, fermented shark, or herring 80 ways on the menu, but there are plenty of delicious gourmet restaurants that visitors must try. Strikid is a restaurant and bar with an elaborate menu and a beautiful vista to look out on. In nice weather, you can choose to dine on the balcony. Though they want to feature Icelandic ingredients, they do reach out for spices and ingredients from the rest of the world. One of the most exciting experiences at Strikid is the Strikid Appetizer Tasting, which comes with a glass of sparkling wine and four appetizers to try.
Skipagata 14, Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-462-7100
, Michigan beaches
Bryggjan Restaurant is a pizza place with many offerings for guests. Since Iceland is the land of the Vikings, it is remarkable to come across langoustine pizza and other delicious fish dishes. Though far North, Bryggjan proves that Iceland is not old-fashioned and behind trends. A keto burger is offered that comes with double cheese, bacon, bearnaise sauce, broccoli, mushrooms, and other delicious veggies. Of course, pizza is the star of Bryggian, and one delicious option is the pizza that was named after the town: the Mr. Akureyri pizza. This pizza comes with onion, mushrooms, bearnaise sauce, sliced beef, and French fries to top it.
Strandgata 49, 600 Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-440-6600
A fantastic seafood restaurant in Akureyri is Rub23. Though it is primarily a seafood restaurant, sushi and meat dishes are also offered. Some of the most enticing starter dishes include smoke-infused scallops on black garlic mash, Robata grilled veal sticks, and sushi pizza with sweet soya chili sauce. Dinner options include more than the sushi options listed. Other seafood, like flounder, cod, Wolfish, Arctic char are just some of the seafood available. If seafood isn’t for one of your dinner mates, duck, Angus, and chicken are also on the menu. Top the meal off with fun desserts like matcha panna cotta or caramel popcorn and chocolate cake pops.
Kaupvangsstraeti 6, 600 Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-462-2223
12.Mulaberg Bistro and Bar
© Mulaberg Bistro and Bar
While burgers are often thought of as an American specialty, Mulaberg Bistro and Bar may change your mind about who reigns at the top of gourmet burgers. With a balcony location that provides a view of the beautiful vista, ocean, and top Akureyri spots (like the Church of Akureyri), you’re guaranteed to enjoy the stop. There are three menus to choose from: the Bistro menu, the bar menu, and a la carte. Once excellent burger choice is the Galloway hamburger which comes with Tindur cheese, truffle mayo, and apple ketchup. Still not sold? The Catch of the Day is a guaranteed fresh seafood delight.
Hafnarstraeti 89, Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-460-2020
© Krua Siam
Krua Siam brings Asian-inspired food from one island to another: Thailand to Iceland. Chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and fish dishes are available for selection. For a starter, the fresh Tom Kha Kai is a popular chicken and coconut milk soup that is often found on Asian menus around the world. Curry is popular across all the menu with all the proteins, and a children’s menu includes sweet and sour options with shrimp, haddock, chicken, or pork. A lunch buffet will let you try your palette with several delicious options. Each day, the selections change, so be sure to stop in more than once.
Strandgata 13, Akureyri, Iceland, Phone: 354-466-3800
13 Best Things to Do in Akureyri, Iceland
- Whale Watching, Photo: Marcel/stock.adobe.com
- Arctic Botanical Gardens, Photo: alfredo914/stock.adobe.com
- The Christmas House, Photo: CASSANDRA/stock.adobe.com
- Godafoss, Photo: picturist/stock.adobe.com
- Akureurarkirkja, Photo: Fyle/stock.adobe.com
- Ski at Hlidarfjall, Photo: icepictures/stock.adobe.com
- Northern Lights Tour, Photo: surangaw/stock.adobe.com
- Akureyri Museum, Photo: jarcosa/stock.adobe.com
- Strikid, Photo: Strikid
- Bryggjan, Photo: Bryggjan
- Rub23, Photo: Rub23
- Mulaberg Bistro and Bar, Photo: Mulaberg Bistro and Bar
- Krua Siam, Photo: Krua Siam
- Cover Photo: Doin Oakenhelm./stock.adobe.com