Practical information

Akureyri and the North

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Akureyri is situated in north-east Iceland, in one of the longest fjords in the country – Eyjafjörður – and is surrounded by mountains reaching 1,000-1,500 m. high. The Arctic Circle in only 60 km north of Akureyri (passing through the island Grímsey), but still the climate is mild, with summer temperatures up to 25°C and winter temperatures in average around 0˚C.

Akureyri literally means sandbank field, from the Old Norse words akr (field) and eyrr (a gravel bank).

Akureyri is the second largest urban area after the capital area of Reykjavík, with a population of about 18,500. It is the centre of trade and services in northern Iceland. It is also a town of culture and education, building on a firm foundation. 

Akureyri has all the required institutions and companies in place, such as a local public transport system and a local energy company. Akureyri is the centre of education in the north. The town hosts a well-known University of Akureyri. Many institutions and laboratories houses here in Borgir center, the research building, such as University of Akureyri Research Centre, the Stefansson Arctic Institute, CAFF, Icelandic Tourism Research Centre, PAME, and others. 

Akureyri is a popular tourist destination for short or long visits. The town offers a wide range of activities and interesting places e.g. notable museums, the world's most northerly botanic garden, one of Iceland's most popular swimming facilities, 18-hole golf course, the best skiing area in the country, good hiking trails and free city bus. 

The town is also a good base for many of Iceland's most beautiful natural wonders as waterfalls, volcanic areas and canyons as well as exciting activities as river rafting, hiking, fishing, whale watching and horse riding.

Akureyri has spectacular conditions for sustainability with almost CO2-neutral pollution and highly integrated waste flow into the local energy system. The local waste (such as old cooking oils and gas) is managed and processing into recycled carbon fuel for local cars and public transportation. These ventures make local buses free of charge within Akureyri. There are six free bus lines which connect different parts of the town. 

Organic waste after composting and fertilizing is also used in local agriculture. This processing allows nutrients remain in the local food production system. Accordingly local farmers use less artificial fertilizers.   

Akureyri is a well-known area of afforestation in Iceland. Apart from recycling ventures an artificial forest Kjarnaskógur on treeless land was cultivated in Akureyri. This forest is approximately 600ha with more than 1 million trees of many species was planted since the beginning 1960’s.  

There are 12 museums in Akureyri. Detailed information about each museum is on the Visit Akureyri website.

 
 
The North of Iceland is rich in natural wonders and  places to visit. Below are a few examples of what you can find within one hour driving from Akureyri.
 
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Diamond Circle

The Diamond Circle can be described as a magnificent circuit of about 260km in the Northeast of Iceland, which includes some of the most stunning sights and of the most scenic landscapes in the whole country.

Húsavík is the main town and the obvious starting and ending point of the Diamond Circle. It is worldwide famous for its great whale-watching  but there are several other good attractions and reasons for coming here, to one of the most charming town of Iceland, that also makes it an excellent base to explore the Diamond.

Among the other most known highlights of the circuit a special mention goes to a few places: the gigantic horseshoe-shaped canyon of Ásbyrgi; the astonishing valley of Vesturdalur with the bizarre rock formations of Hljóðaklettar; the mighty and striking Dettifoss waterfall; the otherworldly volcanic fields of Krafla until the geothermal area of Hverir ; the amazing lake Mývatn and its surrounding nature bath of Jarðböðin and lava field of Dimmuborgir; the elegant yet dramatic Goðafoss waterfall.

Just out of the most beaten track some hidden corners and forgotten spaces are as surprising as the most famous ones: from the sparkling Skjálfandi bay to the beautiful Tjörnes peninsula, which hides fossils and bird nests, from the east side with the lush valley of Hólmatungur to the less know location around Mývatn such as the dark Hverfjall and the turquoise pool of Grjótagjá, from the little visited west side with several inviting places to some little known yet striking areas of lava and ice. 

Read more at the Diamond Circle website

 

Grímsey 

From Dalvík village which is 40 km north from Akureyri you can take a ferry to the island of Grímsey. Grímsey is the northernmost inhabited Icelandic territory with population of 61 inhabitants. Along with island Hrísey (the second largest island in Iceland) which is located in Eyjafjörður the Grímey island belongs to the Akureyri Municipality.

The Arctic Circle currently runs through the island. An eight-tonne, 3-meter sphere stone marking the Arctic Circle placed on the northern part of the island and called ‘Orbis et Globus’. The position of the Arctic Circle moves in accordance with the Earth’s axial tilt, which fluctuates over time. Before the 2018 Summer Solstice Festival in Grímsey, the artwork was moved about 130 meters to the south, and this year it will be moved approx. 69 meters. The Arctic Circle first entered Grimsey 300 years ago and will move north off the island by 2050, to return in 20,000 years. 

 

Arctic Coast Way

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Traveling the Arctic Coast Way (Norðurstrandarleið) means leaving the common routes behind you and going off the beaten track to discover some of the most remote places in North Iceland; a unique adventure following 900 km of coastal roads close to the Arctic Circle.

Here, where volcanic land meets the icy ocean, nature´s force has carved a coastline of wild and pure beauty. The route includes six peninsulas reaching far out in the ocean, taking you from black sandy beaches to spectacular cliffs, along glacial river deltas and fjords to high mountains. Going one step further into remoteness, five beautiful islands offer unforgettable experiences and you might even want to straddle the Arctic Circle. Each of the little towns along the way tells unique stories about life on the edge of the Arctic.

You could drive the whole route in one go – but there is no need to do so. You are free to slow down and indulge yourself, as you discover the wonders of the Arctic Coast Way. Moving to the rhythm of waves and wind, feel a surge of energy on stunning hikes and meet friendly people who will make you want to return again and again. The dramatic shifts of light from the Midnight Sun to Northern Lights and the seasonal palette of colors from winter´s pristine white to autumn´s fiery tones offer you a different perspective each time, with new adventures awaiting you.

Visit the Arctic Coast Way website.