Your Essential Travel Guide to Akureyri, Iceland

Home-Akureyri | © Stephendosremedios / Flickr
Photo of Camille Buckley
18 September 2018

Often referred to as Iceland’s capital of the North, Akureyri offers many of the same things as Reykjavik but on a more local scale. As the largest city in the region, it is an excellent place to venture into the surrounding landscape and its mountains, waterfalls, and geothermal areas.

Textures – Godafoss | © Fernando Garcias / Flickr


Godafoss, or waterfall of the gods, is an incredibly scenic place of significant historical influence located less than an hour’s drive from Akureyri. The waterfall received its name from the myth that tells the story of a local priest who tossed his statues of Pagan gods into the falls to represent his adoption of Christianity.

Situated in Akureyri Bay, it offers excellent whale watching opportunities with many different species in the area from blue whales to humpbacks. The mountains surrounding the bay make for a beautiful backdrop as well. With a long-standing fishing tradition, Akureyri also has great selection of seafood restaurants with fresh catches coming right from the bay.

Akureyri Botanical Gardens | © Stephendosremedios / Flickr

The Arctic Botanical Gardens, founded in 1912, are the world’s most northernmost botanical gardens. Here you can see an extensive collection of every known species in Iceland as well as many varieties from abroad. Walking the pathways that wind throughout the gardens makes for a beautiful visit on a sunny day.


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 indoors to outdoors via a plastic door, allowing guests to not having to endure walking through the cold. You are even able to enjoy the pool as many times a day as you can manage.

Bjórböðin, The Beer Spa, is Iceland’s first beer spa. It is located in the North of Iceland in a town called Árskógssandur, which is about 35 km from Akureyri on the coast of Eyjafjörður. Here you can enjoy the unique sensation of immersing yourself in a tub filled with a mixture of warm beer, water, yeast and hops at 38 degrees Celsius. The mixture is said to be very beneficial for the skin, hair and overall health, according to the website.

Delicate Teacup – Cafe Ilmur | © James Petts / Flickr


Akureyri offers many places for food lovers to explore. Kaffi Kú, located only 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Akureyri, allows guests to enjoy their meal in a shed while watching cows get milked. Can we say farm-fresh experience? Strikið offers great views of the bay, classic cocktails and classic Icelandic dishes like lamb and reindeer. You can also enjoy the adorable Café Ilmur, originally built in 1911 as a saddler’s shop. After being extensively restored by the descendants of the original saddler, the café still feels like a relic of the past with the same furniture and pictures on the walls. The café serves breakfast, pastries and lunch with a focus on homemade varieties.

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