Iceland’s capital of the north is definitely Akureyri. This town is smaller than Reykjavik and has many of the same offerings, just on a smaller scale. Cafes, restaurants, vintage shopping, art museums, hiking trails, skiing trails and whale-watching – Akureyri has a lot to offer its visitors, especially if they’re looking to experience Iceland on a small scale. Here is our suggested itinerary for spending 24 hours in this charming northern town.
One of the best coffee shops in town and a perfect place to start your day in Akureyri is at The Blue Can, or Bláa Kannan, a cozy place in the middle of town with delicious cakes, coffee and light dishes. With the friendly atmosphere and staff, you are bound to have a good start to your adventures here. Another great option is at cafe Berlin, where you can eat breakfast all day in a timber-lined cabin.
The first exhibition space focusing solely on visual arts to open outside of Reykjavík, the Akureyri Art Museum is one of the main cultural centers in the north. Emphasis is on supporting and promoting visual arts in Akureyri and on art appreciation. You can see a variety of both established and emerging artists from Iceland and abroad.
Akureyri is the second-largest town in Iceland after the capital and offers many places for food-lovers to explore. For lunch or dinner, head to Strikið to enjoy great views of the bay, cocktails and a diverse offering of classic Icelandic dishes, like lamb and reindeer.
The Akureyri Pool is one of the larger pools in Iceland. It includes two 25-meter pools, pummeling water jets, water slides, a splash pool, an indoor pool, four hot pots of varying temperatures, a steam bath, sauna and an area for sunbathing. The pool has the added luxury of being able to swim from indoors to outdoors via a plastic door, so no having to endure walking through the cold. Enjoy the pool as many times a day as you can manage.
There are many pleasant forest trails surrounding Akureyri for hiking or skiing in the wintertime. Within the town itself, you can find interesting hiking paths, especially around the mouth of the river Eyjafjarðará, toward the south of town, as well as the nature conservation area Krossanesborgir in the north of town. There is also the woodland area of Kjarnaskógur to the south of town. We also recommend a walk up mount Súlur as it rises 1,214 meters over the town and offers an astonishing view over the town and the fjord.