Destination Discovery: Akureyri, Iceland

by Janis on June 15, 2011

Akureyri Church overlooks Iceland’s second largest city.   

Situated at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord, 62 miles above the Arctic Circle, the port city of Akureyri is often referred to as the “capital of Northern Iceland.”

With a population of 17,300, Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest urban area. The city is home to both the world’s northernmost botanical garden and 18-hole golf course.

Two spires of the iconic Akureyri Church puncture the skyline from its prominent site on the edge of a hill above midtown. Built in 1940, Icelandic architect Gudjon Samuelsson designed the stark modern Lutheran church.

Despite its far north location, Akureyri has a surprisingly mild climate and an ice-free harbor, a fact related to Iceland’s active geothermal zone that provides underground heat.

Botanical Garden

The Akureyri Botanical Garden is known for its luxuriant flowers and beautiful walking paths. Founded in 1911, the garden showcases most plants found in Iceland as well as about 4,000 foreign plants. The Garden is free to the public.

Art and shopping mecca

Kaupvangsstrí;ti, a street that curves through central Akureyri is nicknamed Artists’ Alley. Home to the Akureyri Art Museum and the School of Visual Arts, the area is packed with artist studios, small galleries, restaurants and trendy clothing shops.

Iceland’s currency is the Icelandic krona pronounced “kro neh” and referenced as ISK.

Learn more about Akureyri in this video.

Nearby Attractions

Many visitors take day trips to the nearby Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), Lake Myvatn, Dimmuborgir (towering lava formations) and the boiling sulpher pits at Hveranond. Another popular side trip involves flying to the small island of Grimsey on the Arctic Circle known for its intense birdlife.

Getting to Akureyri

The easiest way to visit Akureyri is via cruise ship. Princess, Oceania, Azamara Club and several other cruise lines make calls during summer months.  We visited on Holland America’s Northern Isles Adventures transatlantic cruise sailing from Copenhagen to New York City.

If you want to read more about Iceland and Greenland, check out”; 

We enjoy discovering unique and out-of-the-way places. What’s your favorite destination discovery?  Please share in comments.

Follow us on Twitter or interact with us on Facebook.

Previous post:

Next post: