Iceland’s second largest city after Reykjavik is Akureyri, located in the North. While Reykjavik gets a lot of attention for its close proximity to the airport and being the most cosmopolitan place on the island, its counterpart in the North is definitely worth a visit for the unique experiences it can offer, which are quite different from Reykjavik. While Iceland is currently a hotspot on the tourist map with a plethora of recommendations for what to see and do all over the island, there are a few things that can be overlooked.
Akureyri’s location in the North should not be disregarded as it makes the small town a great base for exploring the entire Northern region of Iceland, which features some of the most incredible natural phenomena. Akureyri also offers a one-of-a-kind experience in all of Iceland: the beer bath. From Akureyri, you can make trips to Lake Mývatn and to the Askja Caldera as well. You can also enjoy whale watching in the fjord along which Akureyri sits, as well as horseback riding, skiing, and hiking in the surrounding mountains.
Within the town itself, you can find many hiking paths, especially around the mouth of the river Eyjafjarðará toward the south, as well as the nature conservation area Krossanesborgir in the north. There is also the woodland area of Kjarnaskógur, which can be found in the south of town as well. We likewise recommend a walk up mount Súlur, as it rises 1,214 metres above town and offers an astonishing view over the fjord.
An often overlooked activity for tourists is a visit to Gásir, located just 11km north of Akureyri. Gásir was the main trading post in northern Iceland during the Middle Ages and is mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas. On the third weekend of July each year, a medieval market is held there with historical reenactments by actors in Viking costumes who reenact life in Gásir.
Another local recommendation is to not miss the bar and live music venue, Grænni Haturinn (The Green Hat), located in the basement of the cafe, Bláa Kaninn (The Blue Can.) Here you can listen to mostly local acts as well as touring musicians making their way around the whole island.