Top 15 things to do in Akureyri

Incontournables Akureyri

Want to visit the largest city in northern Iceland? Follow our guide and discover the 15 must-see things to do in Akureyri.

Akureyri is located in northeast Iceland, in one of the country’s longest fjords and just 60 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. It is the island’s second-largest city after the capital Reykjavík, with a population of around 19,000.

Akureyri is a popular tourist destination for both short- and long-term visits. The town offers a wide range of activities and places of interest, including outstanding museums, a charming botanical garden, one of Iceland’s most popular swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course, the country’s best ski area and numerous hiking trails.

The town is also a good starting point for discovering North Iceland’s most beautiful natural wonders, such as waterfalls, volcanic areas and canyons, as well as exciting activities such as rafting, hiking, fishing, whale watching and horseback riding.

Don’t wait any longer, follow our guide and discover the 15 must-do things to do in Akureyri!

Visit Akureyrarkirkja, the church of Akureyri

Visitez l’église d’Akureyri

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  • 📍 Location: Eyrarlandsvegur, 600 Akureyri
  • Duration: 1h
  • 💙 We love: discovering this charming church with its astonishing architecture

Discover Akureyrarkirkja, Akureyri’s magnificent church. Designed by the famous architect Gudjon Samuelsson and consecrated in 1940, this Lutheran church is one of the prettiest in Iceland.

From the top of its hill, it overlooks Akureyri, offering visitors a superb panoramic view of the town. Inside, take time to admire the central stained glass window (from England, placed just above the altar) and the bas-reliefs on the nave balcony, the work of Icelandic sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson.

Visit the Akureyri Museum

Visitez le musée d’Akureyri

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  • 📍 Location: Aðalstræti 58, 600 Akureyri
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • 💙 We like: learning more about the history of Akureyri and the region

The Akureyri Museum is a modern museum focusing on local history. Accessible to families, it offers fun and exciting exhibits.

The two permanent exhibitions, « Eyjafjorður from ancient times » and « Akureyri – the city on the bay », describe the history of the region and the colonization of the island in modern times. You’ll find a wealth of artefacts from the Viking period and the Middle Ages. The museum also hosts events and temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

Due to the ever-increasing presence of international tourists, all exhibition texts are translated into English. Finally, the museum is surrounded by a magnificent garden, which also houses a charming 19th-century church. Don’t hesitate to take a look!

Discover the house of the writer Nonni

Découvrez la maison de Nonni

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  • 📍 Location: Aðalstræti 58, 600 Akureyri
  • Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • 💙 We love: immersing yourself in Icelandic folklore

It was in this lovely wooden house that writer and Jesuit priest Jón Sveinsson, better known by his pen name « Nonni », spent his childhood. His books, adventure stories for children, have now been translated into over forty languages.

Built in 1850, Nonni House is one of Akureyri’s oldest buildings. Today, it houses a commemorative museum. Here, you’ll find period objects and some previously unpublished illustrations of the writer’s work. You can also buy some of his books, available in several languages.

Visit the aviation museum

Visitez le musée islandais de l’aviation

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  • 📍 Location: Akureyri Airport
  • Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • 💙 We like: discovering historic aircraft models

The Aviation Museum is housed in a large hangar at Akureyri airport. The museum covers the history of aviation in Iceland, with photographs, videos and numerous objects. It also houses some 30 aircraft recovered and restored by enthusiasts. Most of them are still flying, and take part in the annual air show organized by the museum in June.

Take a stroll through the botanical garden

le jardin botanique d’Akureyri

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  • 📍 Location: Eyrarlandsholt, 600 Akureyri
  • Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • 💙 We love: strolling the paths of this magnificent botanical garden

The Akureyri Botanical Garden is a gentle bubble in the heart of the city. Built in 1957, it was added to the Akureyri Public Park, inaugurated in 1912. The aim was to successfully grow trees and plants in the demanding climate (temperature and light) of northern Iceland.

Sheltered by the Eyjafjörður, one of Iceland’s longest fjords, the Akureyri Botanical Garden enjoys a microclimate favorable to the growth of trees and plants. There are 430 species of native plants and trees, and over 6,600 exotic species.

In summer, you’ll enjoy strolling along its flower-filled avenues. In winter, don’t hesitate to warm up in the lovely on-site café!

Admire the Eyjafjörður Fjord

le Fjord d’Eyjafjörður

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Akureyri lies on the banks of the Eyjafjörður, one of Iceland’s largest fjords. This exceptional natural setting offers breathtaking scenery. Eyjafjörður literally means « island fjord » in French. Located in the north of the country, it stretches 60 kilometers inland and opens onto the Arctic Ocean to the north. It is bounded to the west by Tröllaskagi, « the troll peninsula », and to the east by Flateyjarskagi, « the Flatey peninsula », named after a nearby island.

From the port of Akureyri, you can get your first glimpse of Eyjafjörður. And if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, don’t hesitate to take one of the many hikes that surround the town. It’s a great way to get some height, and admire the breathtaking panorama!

Watch whales and dolphins

Observez les baleines et les dauphins

Photo credit: Civitatis and Getyourguide

Want to go whale watching? If you don’t have time to go all the way to Húsavík, THE town in northern Iceland renowned for its whale-watching excursions, many boats also leave from Akureyri. They’ll take you to the Eyjafjörður Fjord, where you can easily watch the cetaceans pass by.

Ready for adventure? Head to the Oddeyrarbót quay to board your boat. Once at sea, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of dolphins and humpback whales, all the while benefiting from the commentary of your specialized guide. He’ll tell you all about their behavior and answer any questions you may have. A magical moment not to be missed!

Contemplate the northern lights

Observez les aurores boréales

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Experience the Northern Lights from the comfort of a 4×4. From Akureyri, drive into the Icelandic wilderness at night to observe this magnificent natural phenomenon, visible only in the northern hemisphere.

Your professional guide will take you to some of the best viewing spots in the region for watching the Northern Lights. To cope with the cold, you’ll be treated to a delicious kleina, a typical Icelandic pastry, and hot chocolate! A magical experience and unforgettable memories!

Go horseback riding in northern Iceland

Faites une excursion à cheval dans le nord de l’Islande

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Discover the north of Iceland on horseback thanks to a range of excursions that take you to parts of the island that are unreachable by conventional means of transport.

In small groups, head for the mountains to admire splendid panoramas of the fjord. Enjoy a unique experience on Iceland’s robust and powerful horses! The difficulty of the horseback excursions can be adapted to all levels of riding experience, and the duration varies according to the itinerary.

Dog sledding

Faites du chien de traîneau

Photo credit: Viator

  • 📍 Location: Departure from Akureyri
  • Duration: 2h
  • 🔎

  • 💙 We love: discovering nature in northern Iceland, in the company of a guide and his sled dogs.

Discover the sublime landscapes of the Eyjafjörður fjord with sled dogs. A unique outing in exceptional surroundings, just outside Akureyri.

With your guide, have fun steering the sled and let the dogs pull you through the snow of northern Iceland. An ideal group experience for families and friends alike!

Fly over the Akureyri region in a helicopter

Crédit photo : Shutterstock

Photo credit: Viator

  • 📍 Location: Akureyri Airport
  • Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • 🔎
    Book your helicopter tour

  • 💙 We like: admiring the beauty of Iceland’s landscapes from a different angle

What better way to discover the awe-inspiring landscapes of northern Iceland than by helicopter? Take the full measure of their grandeur by experiencinga spectacular sightseeing flight over some of the country’s most emblematic places, such as Godafoss waterfall, Lake Mývatn and Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, the Askja plateau or the Herubreiarlindir oasis.

Discover landscapes that have served as backdrops for films and TV series such as Game of Thrones, Oblivion and Prometheus!

Ski Hlíðarfjall, Iceland’s best ski area

Skiez à Hlíðarfjall

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  • 📍 Location: Hlíðarfjall
  • Duration: day entry
  • 💙 We love: Iceland’s best ski resort with numerous ski slopes and cross-country trails.

Hlíðarfjall is located in the mountains near Akureyri. Its proximity to the largest city in northern Iceland and the diversity and potential of its slopes make it the country’s most popular ski resort.

Hlíðarfjall has 26 marked runs and 23 alpine runs, linked by 7 lifts. The ski area is open from mid-December to the end of April. If you’d like to discover Iceland from a sporting point of view, don’t hesitate to visit!

Visit Jólahúsið, the Christmas house

Visitez Jólahúsið, la maison de Noël

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  • 📍 Location: Hrafnagil
  • Duration: 1h
  • 💙 We love: discovering Icelandic culture and traditions

The Christmas house, Jólahúsið, is located in Hrafnagil, just outside Akureyri. Open all year round, it’s a must-see in the region. The house has two floors filled with Christmas-related items – decorations, sweets, books, toys and so on. There are many Icelandic handicrafts, as well as international products representing the different ways of celebrating Christmas in cultures around the world.

As the festive season approaches, the house is transformed into a mini Christmas village. Here, you’ll discover Icelandic traditions and enjoy caramel apples, waffles, mulled wine and toasted almonds around a roaring fire. Icelandic Christmas traditions are among the most curious and interesting in the world. There’s no Santa Claus here, but rather various characters from local folklore: 13 mischievous trolls, Grýla, their child-eating mother, and her cat. A visit not to be missed!

Visit the Laufás peat house

Visitez la maison en tourbe de Laufás

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  • 📍 Location: Laufás, 610 Grýtubakkahreppur
  • Duration: 1h
  • 💙 We love: discovering charming traditional 19th-century Icelandic houses

The Laufás peat house is a traditional 19th-century grass-roofed house in the Eyjafjörður fjord. It’s a must-see on any trip to northern Iceland.

Although the house looks like a series of five row houses, it is in fact a single dwelling built around a central corridor that connects them all. Each « house » constitutes a room. In its present form, it dates from between 1866 and 1870, but probably replaced earlier grass houses.

Relax with a beer bath at the Bjórböðin spa

bain de bière au spa de Bjórböðin

Photo credit: Viator

  • 📍 Location: Ægisgata 31, 621 Árskógssandur
  • Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • 🔎

  • 💙 We like: enjoying a local beer while admiring the view of the magnificent surrounding landscapes

In Iceland, the sauna is an extremely popular activity. Try the beer bath in the countryside outside Akureyri. With unlimited beer flowing from the tap outside your bathtub, relax and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Icelandic landscape. A relaxing and typically Icelandic experience!

The largest city in northern Iceland is a welcome stopover after several days of trekking through the island’s wilderness. Quiet and provincial, Akureyri is home to many cultural treasures and is the starting point for numerous activities and excursions in the north of the country. Don’t hesitate to share your experience of Northern Iceland with us!

A successful stay in Akureyri

    How do I get to Akureyri from Reykjavík?

    To get to Akureyri, you’ll need to pass through the capital Reykjavík. You can then choose to travel by plane or car to the north of Iceland.

    Akureyri has an airport that handles many daily flights, the majority from Reykjavík national airport. For several years now, Icelandic airline Icelandair has been offering flights between Paris and Akureyri, with a stopover in Reykjavík. Allow 30 minutes for the flight.

    ✈️ Find the best flight with Ulysses

    Akureyri is located in northern Iceland, on the banks of the Eyjafjörður fjord and the Glerá river. It can be reached by car via Route 1, also known as the Ring Road, which circles the island. This is a 2-lane road, almost entirely asphalted and in good condition. It is accessible all year round, in winter as well as in summer. Allow 4 hours 30 minutes (390 kilometers) from the capital Reykjavík.

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    Getting around Akureyri

    Akureyri has free city buses. The bus timetable runs from 6.28 a.m. to 10.55 p.m. every weekday, and from 12.18 p.m. to 6.55 p.m. at weekends. All city buses run in circles, starting and finishing at the main downtown stop, « Miðbær ». Each circle takes between 30 and 50 minutes, depending on the route.

    What to do around Akureyri

    Many places of interest are relatively close by, and Akureyri is an ideal starting point for day trips. Discover our selection of the 5 best activities to discover North Iceland from Akureyri.

    🥾The4 best excursions to discover North Iceland

    Where to stay in Akureyri for these experiences?

    Discover our selection of the best places to stay in Akureyri :

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