Akureyri: The capital of Iceland’s north
The hub of Iceland’s north is booming with new activities after the carrier Nice Air began offering direct flights between Akureyri and Europe. From the hot Forrest Lagoon to the cold waters of whales, here are some of the top things to do in Akureyri.
The Public Pool in Akureyri
Sundlaug Akureyrar – the public pool in Akureyri – is a huge place designed for children and their pool-guardians. Three badass new water slides rise from the kids’ pool with varying age limits. Young children can enjoy a shallow leisure pool with a water playground. The large outside pool area – one of the largest in Iceland – has two swimming pools and five hot tubs of varying temperature.
Akureyri Art Museum
The art scene in Akureyri takes a high road – the long, steep hill off Main Street is lined with galleries and craft stores. The Ravine, as the street is known, centers around the ambitious Akureyri Art Museum.
The museum covers four floors, and showcases classic and contemporary pieces, from photography to performance pieces, Icelandic to international.
The Forest Lagoon
The Forest Lagoon is a luxury bath resort with something of a Scandinavian charm. Opening its (wooden) doors in 2022, the bath uses geothermal heat discovered during the construction of the nearby Vaðlaheiðar Tunnel. The main leisure pool, where guests relax with a drink in hand, has a cold plunge and a sauna attached.
The baths are well connected with walking paths through the surrounding forest, as well as to the center of Akureyri in about 4 km (2.5 mile) distance.
Whale watching in Eyja Fjord
Whale watching ships dock by the downtown harbour for tours in the Eyja Fjord. Narrow and long, sailing conditions tend to be smoother in Eyja Fjord than out on the open seas. Tours are also shorter than in most other places known for whale watching – about two hours, over summer. Expect to see humpback and minke whales.
Skiing in Hlíðarfjall
Akureyri is a popular weekend getaway for Icelanders, especially over winter. The ski slopes of Hlíðarfjall, the mountain looming over the town, are considered Iceland’s best – and they typically stay open for longer than elsewhere due to the volume of snow. Skíðaþjónustan, the Skiing Service, offers gear for rent.
In recent years, service for cross country skiing has improved along with its popularity. Most slopes start inside the Kjarnaskógur forest, by the edge of town. Some are litd up, but fortunately not all: darkness brings out the Northern Lights.
Brynjuís ice cream
The Brynjuís ice cream store is a landmark in Akureyri and remains busy year round; one of the hidden pleasures of Icelandic life is the possibility of having ice cream whenever you want – not just when sunshine allows. The shop is located in a residential neighborhood, but within walking distance from the city center.
If you happen to order bragðarefur – an enourmusenormous candy mix – please know there are 92 steps leading up to the Akureyri church.