With almost 20,000 inhabitants, Akureyi is a veritable metropolis by Icelandic standards, and is the country's second most important city, earning the nickname "Capital of North Iceland" thanks to its busy harbour and fishing industry.

Almost within the Arctic Circle, Akureyri is nestled between snow-capped mountains and Eyjafjörður, Iceland's longest fjord. In terms of size, importance and cultural offerings, the city has become the second most important in the country after Reykjavik and earns its spot on any trip around the country.

What to see in Akureyri?

It may not be large in terms of other European cities, but Akureyi is packed with tourist attractions and places of interest:

  • Akureyrarkirkja: built  in 1940 by the same architect as the Reykjavík Hallgrímskirkja, Akureyri Church is the city's main Lutheran temple. Thanks to its hilltop location it offers one of the best panoramic views of Akureyri. Its interior is austere, like most churches in Iceland, and among its white walls only a large organ and a model of a ship hanging from the ceiling stand out.
  • Akureyri Botanical Garden: the Lystigarðurinn, as it is known in Icelandic, is the northernmost botanical garden in the world and home to an extensive range of all of Iceland's native plants, as well as some examples of others brought from all over the world.

Whale watching in Akureyri

Just like in places like Húsavík or Reykjavik, it is possible to see whales in Akureyri. Its location in the north of the country, on the banks of Eyjafjörður Fjord, means Akureyri is one of the best places to enjoy whale watching in Iceland.

How to visit Akureyri?

Like the rest of Iceland, the most common way for visitors to travel to Akureyi is by rental car, as it's located on the Ring Road.

However, being the so-called "Capital of North Iceland" means the city can also be reached by bus (depending on weather conditions); air (Akureyri Airport receives several daily flights, mainly from Reykjavik's domestic airport) and sea (cruise ships stop at the city as part of the Diamond Circle route that includes Akureyri, Húsavík and Lake Myvatn).