Akureyri is one of the most popular cruise destinations in Iceland and it lies at the end of Iceland’s longest fjord, Eyjafjördur. Cruise ships will actually cross into the Arctic Circle to reach the fjord and Akureyri. This small but bustling town is the forth largest in Iceland and is the farthest north with a population of about 18,500 people. It is located near some of the most spectacular scenery in Iceland and is sometimes called the woodland town because of the nearby forests.
Where Your Ship Docks
Cruise ships will dock at a pier right near the downtown area with only a short walk into the town center. It’s a popular port and can handle three cruise ships at a time with additional anchorage in the enclosed bay. While there is no terminal with public facilities there is a tourist information center only a short walk up the pier with information for visitors and clean restrooms.
In Akureyri all public transportation on city buses is free of charge. The buses start at 6:28 am and run till 10:36 pm on weekdays and 12:18 till 6:55 pm on weekends. All the city buses routes drive in circles that begin and end at the main stop in the city center designated as “Miðbær” on time tables. Each circle route takes 30 to 50 minutes.
Taxis are available but can be expensive with the a main taxi stand in the city center and there are a number of car rental agencies in town
The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona with an exchange rate of 128.41 Krona to 1 US$. Credit cards are welcome and there are ATM machines available.
One of the benefits you should take advantage of shopping in Iceland is to get a VAT (value added tax) refund on your purchases getting up to 24% back on leaving Iceland but you need to save your purchase receipts..
It’s hard to miss the Akureyrarkirkja, a tall church perched high on a hill, whose twin towers dominate Akureyri’s skyline. This Lutheran church was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson and consecrated in 1940. On a clear day, you can see tremendous views of the nearby fjord and mountains from the back of the church.
The old town of Akureyri brings you back to the beginning of the town. The area is located just a short stroll from town center, towards south.
The area is a monument to the town‘s history and culture. Many of the town oldest houses have been preserved and the original street planning has been maintained. Informative signposts guide visitors about the history of a different era. On this walk you see the old Theatre, the old Primary School and the Old Hospital built in 1827 as well as the oldest building in Akureyri, Laxdalshús, built in 1795. You will also have the possibility to visit several museums as Akureyri Museum, Jón Sveinsson (Nonni) Memorial Museum, Toy Museum, Industrial Museum and the Motorcycle Museum of Iceland.
The Christmas spirit is alive and well year-round, and at the Christmas Garden (Jólagarðurinn) you can buy yuletide souvenirs, taste some local treats and learn all about Icelandic Christmas traditions, including the 13 Yule Lads and the “Christmas Ogress” and her child-eating cat. The vivid red house a 10 minute drive outside of Akureyri also features a fairytale tower complete with the world’s largest Christmas calendar, a play area for young visitors and beautiful gardens for everybody to enjoy.
If you’re more fascinated by the history of aviation than Santa’s elves, then a visit to the Aviation Museum is right up your alley. Housed in an airport hangar a short drive outside of central Akureyri, visitors to the museum will find a detailed history of aviation in Iceland and the lives of Icelandic pilots portrayed through images and video. Also on display are a number of airplanes, including the first aircraft owned by Loftleiðir Airline, Iceland’s oldest ambulance airplane and the first glider built in Akureyri 1937. The museum is open to visitors daily from June through August and on weekends in May.
Last but not least, Safnasafnið, or the Icelandic Folk Art Museum, is built on a hill overlooking Eyjafjörður. The museum exhibits folk art together with works by modern artists and houses an impressive book collection. There’s also an old fashioned garden which adds to its charming atmosphere. The museum is open daily from 17 May through 31 August.
Booking excursions through your ship, selecting any number of available tours in Akureyri or renting a car there is some spectacular scenery in the surrounding countryside which includes some incredible waterfalls.
Only a half hour drive out of Akureyri is the picturesque Goðafoss Waterfall one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. The water from the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 36 feet over a width of 90 feet.The waterfall is one of the beautiful larger falls in Iceland. In the year 1000, the Law speaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion, Þorgeir threw his statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall, hence the name “waterfall of the gods”.
The Dettifoss Waterfall is believed to be Europe’s most powerful waterfall, with 4,500 cubic feet of water per second plunging over its edge. Dettifoss is 135 feet high and 300 feet wide and is fed by the powerful glacier river Jökulsá á Fjöllum which flows from the largest glacier in Iceland.
Aldeyjarfoss is a waterfall surrounded by unique basalt columns in the river Skjálfandafljót in the valley Bárðardalur. The river Skjálfandafljót originates from the glaciers Vatnajökull and Tungnafellsjökull flowing towards the north, covering a distance of about 130 miles, on its way to Skjálfandi Bay. Making it the fourth longest river in Iceland.
The Northern Lights is a what attracts a lot of visitors to Iceland, they’re also called Aurora Borealis and it produces a spectacular show in the night sky and can frequently be seen in Akureyri from September through April on clear nights. The Northern Lights exist in the outermost layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. They are created by electrically charged particles that make the thin air glow, like a fluorescent light.