Essential Iceland Self Drive
When travelling in Northern Iceland, a stop in Akureyri, the «capital of the north» is a must. A bustling city, downtown is one of Iceland’s most young and happening places thanks to the city’s many universities. Only 50 km from the Arctic Circle the city is nestled in the arm of the Eyjafjordur fjord, at the feet of vast volcanic mountain chains (Hlidarfjall, Sulur and Kerling). You’ll appreciate the charm of its coloured homes that line up on green hills. Akureyri is on the banks of the Glera River. A unique and enchanting setting!
– If you’re spending a day discovering Akureyri, the city’s botanical garden is a wonderful place to begin. The gardens house almost every flower and plant native to Iceland! A true accomplishment, we like it much more that the one in Reykjavik.
– The church, Akureyrarkirkja is a regional symbol. Nicknamed the “ice cathedral”, it dominates the cityscape from its hilltop. Like that of the cathedral in Reykjavik, its structure is also inspired by the basaltic rock formations that one finds everywhere in Iceland.
– You’ll find lots of interesting museums to visit in Akureyri. The Museum of Art and the Minjasafnid History Museum (with a wonderful exhibit on the history of Eyjafjordur) are our favourites.
– In Akureyri you can also visit the old homes of Icelandic poets and writers, most notably that of Jon Sveinsson, the famous author of Icelandic fairy tales.
– For travellers that are passionate about aviation or that are just passionate about learning, don’t miss the aviation museum that is at the airport! Housing many historical and beautiful planes, a visit here is very instructive and only a 20 minute walk from downtown.
– If your plans take you to Akureyri at the end of August, you’ll be lucky enough to participate in the city’s grand festival! Among the many attractions: theatre, concerts, exhibits, literature and many more.
On the edge of the city is a surprising forest of pine trees and birches, that is an ideal starting point for your exploration of the wild lands of the Oxnadalur valley!
From Akureyri, go on a beautiful excursion to the island of Grimsey (3h30). Located on the Arctic Circle, this is a great place to catch (around June 21st) a real midnight sun, whose incandescent rays run parallel to the horizon.Grimsey is also reachable by plane (25min flight).
The Eyjafjordur fjord is a great place to spend the day thanks to its temperate breezes. An excursion to its western coast will lead you to the fishing port of Dalvik. Not for from there, at Arskogssandur, take a boat to the island of Hrisey, home to a picturesque little village (15min crossing).
Finally, Hlidarfjall’s snow-covered peaks offer ski lovers many thrills during the winter!
Accessible off of route 1, Akureyri is 390 km from Reykjavik, 99 km west of Lake Myvatn (1h10), and 91 km southwest of Husavik. All these cities are also reachable by bus. Akureyri has an airport only 2 km from downtown, right in the middle of the fjord. A beautiful view during take-off and landing!