Nestled between the tip of the Eyjafjörður Fjord and the snow covered mountains of Iceland lies the charming town of Akureyri. With a population of just under 19,000 people, the capital of the North is a beautiful little town that is well worth a visit if you plan to get out and explore Iceland beyond Reykjavik.
If you do decide to visit Akureyri on your trip to Iceland, it’s always a great idea to get away from the more touristy areas and experience the town in the same way that the locals do. In our blog, we’ll walk you through some of the best ways to experience Akureyri like a local, from the best places to eat to the best things to do.
Places to eat
For a town on the smaller side, Akureyri has no shortage of excellent restaurants and cafes to choose from. A unique fact about this town is the fact that bearnaise sauce is extremely popular and the locals absolutely love it. In various restaurants dotted around the town, you’ll find burgers and pizzas served with bearnaise sauce.
Kaffi Ilmur is a wonderful cafe that is very popular with the locals and serves excellent coffee, homemade cakes and bread, breakfast, soups, sandwiches and lighter bites. Bautinn is another restaurant popular with locals, which offers a wide variety of meals, including fish, meat, burgers, pizza, pasta and more. This is perfect if you’re looking for a larger meal.
Take in the Culture
The culture scene in Akureyri is strong, and there is always either a festival, art exhibition or music show to attend. Some of the top events include Akureyri Art Summer from June to August, Midsummer Magic in June, Motorbike Days in July. Winter also has plenty to offer, with amazing New Year celebrations and Twelfth Night.
There are also many art galleries and museums you can visit which are open throughout the year. The Akureyri Museum beautifully displays the history of the town with fascinating artefacts, while the Akureyri Art Museum promotes local art, as well as from all over the world. The Icelandic Aviation Museum is another one worth visiting, sharing the story of Iceland’s fascinating aviation history.
You might assume that because Akureyri is so far north that it is extremely cold. While it is certainly Iceland, the town’s location means that it is actually quite mild. Getting outdoors is a big part of life for locals, whether it’s heading to the public pools (a very popular destination amongst Icelanders), visiting the northernmost Botanical Garden in the world, hiking along the fjords, visiting the many park areas, or heading up to the mountains for skiing.
After you’ve filled your day with excellent food, taking in the culture and spending time in the great outdoors, you’ll probably want to experience the nightlife. Ölstofa Akureyrar serves an extensive selection of local craft beers, with the Brewer’s Lounge upstairs serving a further selection of local brews. R5 Beer Lounge has more beer to offer, as well as whiskey from around the world and offers a relaxed vibe, perfect for meeting and mingling with the locals. From time to time the bar also puts on live music.
If you’re looking for something more on the lively side, pay a visit to Café Amour. The drink menu has an array of cocktails as well as wines from all over the world. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some live music, or you can head upstairs and dance the night away in the small club.