Akureyri city special....
Where's hot and where's not......
Akureyri is a great little city nestled in the mountains in northern Iceland. It is considered the capital of the north and is also know as the biggest city outside of the capital region. With a population of around 17,500 it is a rather generous offering to call it a city.. but it defiantly lives up to all the expectations. Anything is possible from this great port city. A thought crossed our mind to fly Copenhagen for a week off... but when we started looking around this city, it has rather more to offer than one first thinks!
There was no clear reference made of Akureyri until 1562. The towns name relates to cultivation 'akur', but the growth of the town was tightly related to trading and exporatation of agricultural products. Danish merchants traditionally handled the trade here, as Iceland was still under the Danish crown.
Akureyri has many interesting hiking areas and trails with picturesque views over snow capped mountains, or back down towards the darling harbour. The central city itself is cute and compact, with possibly the main feature on the eye been the generously sized church, which actually holds part of one stained glass window from Coventry England. The window was removed from the cathedral in Coventry in 1943 to save it from air attacks during the second world war, and has stayed in Akureyri ever since.
During the end of June, Akureyri hosts 'The Arctic Open', on the northern most 18 hole gold course in the world. The crowds weren't bustling into Akureyri to see this manic event but the reports of the event were good. The tournament is played under the midnight sun every summer.
The central swimming pool is a must when visiting Akureyri. The outdoor Sundlaug Akureyrar is one of the most well known and most visited pools in the country. The door tax is 450ISk, which almost nothing when considering the facilities it offers. To mention, 2 heated hot pools, steam room, jet shower, swimming pools and water slides. You can spend all day in the pool if you wish or can handle it. This was great value for money, as for anywhere else in Europe the name Turkish bath always puts up the price of things. In England we would pay much more for these facilities. Great value for money and well worth a visit!!
Popular days trips from Akureyri are Grímsey Island (which is the only actual part of Iceland to dip its head into the arctic circle), boats depart from Dalvík, or planes from Akureyri. Lake Mývatn is a very popular day trip with very close proximity to some Iceland and europe's biggest waterfalls. Goðafoss, Dettifoss and many more. Some of the area around Mývatn is literally like been on mars and then 10 minutes further down the road you could feel like your in Thailand. It is like nowhere on earth. Húsavík is also an extremely popular destination from Akureyri, because it is the capital for whale watching tours. It is also supposed to be a very beautiful town with many great attractions.
During the day Akureyri is a slightly lazy city. A relaxed sort of feeling suits the sea air. At night however on our way into town between 1am and 2am... the party was only just getting started. The selection of late night bars/clubs is definitely limited, however there is still a great atmosphere here in this town and the locals are extremely friendly and make you feel more than at home! The places we found were 'happening' were Cafe Akureyr (with live music on a Thursday night and drinks offers), and Cafe Amour (located towards the end of the main street Kaupvagnstræti). We were even invited back to some random house party to party the morning away and carry on drinking Icelandic style. Prepare yourself for long hard drinking, with some of these crazy guys and even grazier chicks. Don't be scared though... they do't bite!
The city really is a beautiful place. It reminds me a lot of Queenstown in New Zealand. Throughout the week the local buses are free to everyone, but on weekend they don't run... you can't really argue though. It's well worth sitting on the local buses and having a look at some of the beautiful houses that lay around the city, and the lovely views and angles that can be obtained from all over the city of every different angle. We had perfect weather while we here and stayed with some amazing Polish girls through couch surfing, which maybe made it better. The central campsite did house us for two nights and was also more than comfortable.
I feel though with the amazing surrounding, more things could be offered to lure the tourist backpacker money in Iceland. Akureyri will play a big part in this draw or flow. Sky diving would be fantastic and other crazy adventurous activities would be a plus. White water rafting is already available and extensive Polar horse riding schools are dotted all over the country. I just feel there was that slight thing missing.
Icelandic lesson..... weather conditions (Veður)...
- Sunny = Sólríka
- Rain = rigning
- Cloud = ský
- Wind = vindur
- Storm = Stormur
- Mist = mistur
- Fog = Þoka