Akureyri is the largest town in Iceland outside of the Reykjavik area. Akureyri is classed as the "northern capital" of Iceland and for residents of the north is the "big city" with a population of approximately 18,191 people (as of 2015). The city is a center for commerce, industry, government and cultural services for about a quarter of the population living in the northern region of Iceland. The town has a hospital, an airport with international flights, a concert hall, TV and Radio stations, a university, golf courses and a ski resort.

Akureyri in autumn

The tourism in Akureyri is highly developed and the city is a great starting point for trips in the region. Akureyri offers a variety of accommodation, restaurants and is in close proximity to many attractions in North Iceland.

Most guesthouses and hotels are centrally located or within walking distance from the center. Visitors to the city can choose between high standard hotels, small and friendly hotels and youth hostels.

For those looking for a peaceful place to stay, or something a little different, Akureyri with its superb views of the surrounding, picturesque streets and laid-back atmosphere, is the perfect place.

Geography

Akureyri is located in North Iceland at the edge of Eyjafjörður fjord, which is the longest fjord in Iceland. The fjord is surrounded with towering mountains that reach an altitude of 1500 meters and the inner area is a flat terrain of fertile valleys that stretch southwards and form the Eyjafjörður district.

Despite the fact that Akureyri is located only 98 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, it has a relatively mild climate. This is due to the fact that its location lies deep in the fjord and thus is protected from the North Atlantic sea winds, common in the rest of Iceland. The average temperature in Akureyri is 0 ° C in winter and 14 ° C in summer.

History - In a Nutshell

The earliest documentation of Akureyri is from the legal archive of the mid-16th century. Until then there was no verified documentation, other than the stories of Icelandic sagas. A Viking named " Helgi the Lean " one of Iceland's first settlers, settled in the area now known as Eyjafjörður, around 900 AD.

In the 18th century, the natural fjord harbor turned Akureyri into a trading point for Danish merchants, who exported wool and beef from the fertile valleys of Eyjafjörður, however the number of permanent residents then were only about 12 people. From the 19th century, onwards the community grew and developed, mainly due to the deep natural harbor that provided protected mooring for boats against winds, and the fertile soil where the mainland and the fjord meet.

Many improvements were introduced, thanks to the Danish traders that stayed there through the generations, agriculture was developed with varieties of crops such as potatoes, corn being introduced. The Danes also implemented the love of gardening, and the streets of Akureyri are renowned for the beautiful gardens of the residents who live there.

Local farmers joined and formed the "Cooperative Society of Eyjafjörður" otherwise known by the name KEA, which exists to this day. This society brought an increase in profits and the development of trade with Denmark. Fishing companies were only established in the 19th century in Akureyri, which is surprising as the fjord has always been rich in fish and is now the headquarters of some of the largest fishing companies and fish processing plants in Iceland.

During the British occupation in 1940, military bases were established here and the airport and port were used for military purposes. As the population in the area grew, a university opened in 1987, and besides degrees in business administration, humanities and social sciences, students can also study for a degree in "Justice and the Law of the Arctic" (Polar Law).

Interesting sites in Akureyri

Lystigarðurinn á Akureyri - Botanical Garden

Akureyri Botanical Garden was initially a public park in 1912. In 1957, a botanical garden officially opened here, and with its development, blossomed into a beautiful garden. This is the most northern botanical garden in the world and is also a place of research and a place in which species of trees and shrubs are adapted to the north Icelandic climate. The garden boasts around 6600 species of plants from outside Iceland and 430 species of native plants.

Golfklúbbur Akureyrar – Golf Course

Akureyri Golf Club opened in 1935, with a variety of "18-hole courses" that are the most northerly located in the world. The "Arctic Open" tournament takes place annually in mid-June, on the longest day of the year. Because the sun never sets on this day, the tournament is also played at midnight in broad daylight.