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Akureyri Holidays

Gateway to Iceland’s wild, rugged north

Akureyri may only be home to around 18,000 people, but it is – by some distance – the largest town, transport hub and cultural centre in the north of Iceland. It lies less than 100 kilometres below the Arctic Circle, nestled on the edge of the Eyjafjörður Fjord and surrounded by mountains that remain snow-capped throughout most of the year.

There’s a distinct wilderness frontier feel about travelling around this raw, remote and breathtakingly beautiful part of the country that you don’t quite get to the same extent in the south. Up here, it’s much more sparsely populated, the distances between settlements are greater, and visitor numbers pale in comparison to those of Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. If you’re wanting to get off the beaten track and away from the crowds to experience some of the wildest, most dramatic landscapes Iceland has to offer, consider heading to the north to Akureyri and beyond– you certainly won’t regret it.

Outdoor adventures and awe-inspiring nature

The region around Akureyri is full of stark contrasts, from majestic fjords and jagged mountains to glistening lakes and vast geothermal fields punctuated with belching mudpots, hissing fumaroles and steaming hot springs. Lake Myvatn, in particular, is renowned for its extraordinary variety of mesmerising geological features and abundant wildlife.

The summer months are ripe for whale watching, hiking and biking under the midnight sun, while winter brings a totally different charm, with opportunities for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing across the tundra and, if you’re lucky, spotting the Northern Lights.

Charming towns and villages

Akureyri, Iceland’s ‘Capital of the North’, is where most adventures in the north of Iceland begin. It’s a major fishing port and an increasingly important hub for tourism, featuring a thriving cultural scene, a handful of lively bars, several excellent restaurants, and also the world’s northernmost botanical garden.

Continuing further north on the Tröllaskagi Peninsula, Dalvik is the starting point for many fantastic hiking trails and the ferry to Grimsey island (the only part of Iceland that crosses the Arctic Circle), while Siglufjordur is one of the region’s most picturesque villages with a fascinating industrial past. To the east, Husavik is another worthy stop – Iceland’s oldest settlement, and the best place in the country to see whales, with humpbacks, minke whales, orcas and even blue whales frequenting the waters of Skjálfandi Bay.

All resorts in the Akureyri region

Exploring the Akureyri region

Three tips for a top trip

Best things to see and do in the Akureyri Region

The Diamond Circle

So you’ve probably heard of the Golden Circle – the hugely popular loop between Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area and Gullfoss Waterfall in the southwest of Iceland – but how about the Diamond Circle? This lesser-known but equally spectacular route ticks off five mightily impressive sights along a 250-kilometre route: Godafoss waterfall, Husavik, Ásbyrgi Canyon, Dettifoss waterfall and Lake Myvatn. The entire circuit can be completed in a single day, or at a more leisurely pace with an overnight stop en route. 


It isn’t quite the northernmost settlement in Iceland – there are a couple of tiny villages at slightly higher latitudes – but as far as proper towns go, Siglufjordur, at 66.1 degrees north, is more or less as close as you can get to the Arctic Circle while staying on the mainland. The hour-long drive to get there from Akureyri is incredibly scenic, while the town itself is one of the region’s most attractive, dramatically sandwiched between towering mountains on the edge of a fjord that carves its way out to sea. Find out all about Siglufjordur’s rich maritime heritage at the Herring Era Museum, drink the local craft beer at Segull 67 brewery, or go hiking in the gloriously peaceful, pristine surroundings. 

Myvatn Nature Baths

No trip to Iceland is complete without soaking in a geothermal pool, and Myvatn Nature Baths is one of the best places in the country to do so. Typically less crowded than the Blue Lagoon, and set against an even more wild and rugged volcanic backdrop, the milky blue, mineral-rich water is heated to around 36-40℃ and provides a wide range of health benefits. There’s also a sauna by the side of the lagoon, as well as a swim-up bar where you can fetch a drink without having to leave the water. 

Your Akureyri region questions, answered

It takes around three hours and 20 minutes to fly directly from London Gatwick to Akureyri. 
Akureyri Airport is only a five-minute drive from the town centre. You can either take the bus, a taxi or book a private transfer in advance. 
Icelandic is the official language, but English is spoken fluently by the vast majority of people so you’ll have no trouble getting by. 
A long weekend would be enough to get an initial taste of what the region has to offer, although you’d have to be selective about what to include in your itinerary. Four or five days is an ideal amount of time to cover the highlights of the region as well as some lesser-known spots without feeling like you’re cramming it all in. If you’re hoping to see the Northern Lights, the longer you stay, the better your chances of getting lucky with the conditions.
Icelandic Króna is the official currency of Iceland. You can easily take it out before your trip or withdraw it when you arrive – although most bars and restaurants accept card payments. 
It depends what kind of activities you’re looking to do. Day time temperatures in the height of summer tend to hover around 10-15 °C and it doesn’t get dark at all. This is the best time of year for hiking, cycling and whale watching. In winter, temperatures rarely rise above freezing and can drop below -10°C, there’s often heavy snowfall (more so than in the south of the country), and the shortest day of the year sees only three hours of daylight. This is the time to go snowmobiling and enjoy other wintery outdoor activities as the landscape is carpeted in a thick blanket of snow. 

You can see the Northern Lights any time from September through to April when the skies are clear and the solar activity is strong enough. October and March are particularly favourable months as the auroral activity is typically strongest close to the autumn and spring equinoxes, and the weather is milder than it is in the middle of winter.