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Things to do in Akureyri, Iceland

Things to do in  Akureyri

Welcome to Akureyri

Dark night skies hang over snowy peaks in Akureyri, a little port city at the head of the Eyjafjörður Fjord in Iceland’s far north. Its remote location (it’s a 5-hour drive from Reykjavík) and proximity to the Arctic Circle make it one of the best places in Iceland to chase the northern lights. But while the sun’s still up, travelers keep busy exploring the Diamond Circle—where waterfalls, canyons, and geothermal wonders abound—and cruising the fjord in search of humpbacks, minke whales, and porpoises.

Top attractions in Akureyri for Spring

#1
Godafoss

Godafoss

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Often said to be one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, Godafoss (which translates to “Waterfall of the Gods”) cascades into the Skjálfandafljót River that tears through Bárdardalur lava field. It lies along the “Ring Road” and leads to the Sprengisandur highland plateau, nestled between Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers.More
#2
Mývatn Nature Baths

Mývatn Nature Baths

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Iceland’s natural hot springs, fed by volcanic activity and dotted all around the country, are world renowned. The most famous is the Blue Lagoon, but it’s almost always crammed with day-trippers from nearby Reykjavik. Myvatn Nature Baths, on the other hand, remain a pocket of tranquility, hidden away in the less-visited north.More
#3
Lake Mývatn

Lake Mývatn

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Formed by a massive volcanic eruption more than two millennia ago—and surrounded by surreal lava formations, mud pots, volcanic craters, and steaming fumaroles—Lake Mývatn remains geothermally active. The lake’s name comes from the swarming midges that fuel the local bird population.More
#4
Vatnajokull National Park

Vatnajokull National Park

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Established in 2008 by combining Iceland’s former Jokulsargljufur and Skaftafell National Parks, Vatnajokull National Park is one of Europe’s largest national parks. It presents incredibly diverse and dramatic scenery including glacial plateaus, active volcanoes, towering ice caps, black-sand beaches, and terrain that is bubbling with geothermal activity. The park is dominated by the Vatnajokull glacier, Europe’s third-largest glacier, and contains Iceland’s highest mountain (Oraefajokull) and deepest lake (Jokulsarlon).More
#5
Dettifoss

Dettifoss

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Marvel at the sheer natural force on display at Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, and one of Iceland’s most extraordinary attractions. Dropping some 132,000 gallons (500 cubic meters) of water per second 148 feet (45 meters) down the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, Dettifoss is a must-see for visitors to North Iceland.More
#6
Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir

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Dimmuborgir (“the dark castles” in Icelandic) is a surreal, unusually shaped lava field composed of volcanic caves and rock formations resembling an ancient collapsed citadel. It is frequently cited as being one of the most striking naturally-formed landscapes in a country filled with exceptional scenes– that’s saying something. It is consequently one of Iceland’s most visited attractions.Although Dimmuborgir recently gained worldwide popularity after being featured in the acclaimed TV showGames of Thrones, it has long been part of Icelandic folklore. Indeed, Dimmuborgir is said to be the home of homicidal troll Grýla, her husband Leppalúði and their mischievous sons the Yule Lads; the story of this psychopathic family has been told to Icelandic children for centuries now as a means to get them to behave.Moreover, Icelandic folklore says that Dimmuborgir connects earth with the infernal regions, and is rumored to be the very place where Satan landed when he was cast from the heavens. But contrary to popular beliefs, the Dimmuborgir area was not born out of divine intervention; science has a more plausible explanation. It was formed about 2,300 years ago during a volcano eruption caused by the Þrengslaborgir crater row. Lava started flowing in the area, forming a massive lava pool in the process and bringing water from nearby marshes to a boil. The vapor resulting from this chemical reaction created lava pillars that measured up to a few meters in diameter. But eventually the reservoir’s top crust collapsed under the lava’s weight, miraculously leaving the hollow pillars that we see today completely intact.More
#7
Hverir

Hverir

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With its gurgling mud pools, hissing steam vents, and plumes of volcanic rock, it’s easy to see why the Hverir geothermal area was chosen as a filming location for HBO’sGame of Thrones. It’s a mesmerizing sight, with the pockmarked terrain bubbling with silver-gray mud and steaming fumaroles, and the stench of sulfur omnipresent.More
#8
Akureyri Church (Akureyrarkirkja)

Akureyri Church (Akureyrarkirkja)

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With its futuristic facade looming over the city, the hilltop Akureyri Church (Akureyrarkirkja) is one of Akureyri’s most striking landmarks. The Lutheran church is not only a place of worship, but an architectural marvel, designed by Iceland state architect Guðjón Samúelsson, whose bold designs include the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík.More
#9
Ásbyrgi Canyon

Ásbyrgi Canyon

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As one of the highlights of the Diamond Circle, Ásbyrgi Canyon doesn’t disappoint. The horseshoe-shaped depression is technically part of the Vatnajökull National Park (the largest in Europe) and measures approximately 3.5 kilometers in length, 1.1 kilometer across and up to 100 meters high at its steepest cliffs. What makes this canyon so unique though is the distinctive rock formations present in over half its length, divided through the middle by a 25-meter-high piece called Eyjan ("the Island"), which offers spectacular views to curious hikers and day visitors.Those would who prefer to stay down the canyon will enjoy walking in the typically Icelandic woodland, which consists of knee-high shrubberies, birch and willow trees. The canyon was actually formed by a catastrophic glacial flooding of the river Jökulsá after the last Ice Age -roughly 10,000 years ago—resulting from a volcanic eruption underneath the Vatnajökull ice cap. At least, according to science; Icelandic folklore has a different take on this story. Legend has it that the canyon was formed by the hoof print of Odin's (the all-father of the Norse gods) steed, a colossal eight-legged horse, which explains both the canyon’s odd shape and size.Ásbyrgi Canyon stands guard to the Jokulsa Canyon and holds numerous wonders like the Hljoðaklettar rock formations, the mighty Dettifoss and even entire villages of hidden people, Iceland’s version of elves. A few Arctic foxes, gyrfalcons, ptarmigans and green-winged teals can also be seen.More
#10
Akureyri Botanical Garden (Lystigardur Akureyrar)

Akureyri Botanical Garden (Lystigardur Akureyrar)

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Iceland’s most famous garden and the northernmost botanical garden in the world, Lystigardur Akureyrar—or Akureyri Botanical Garden—defies its close proximity to the Arctic Circle by growing trees, plants, and flowers from all around the world.More
#11
Icelandic Aviation Museum

Icelandic Aviation Museum

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The Icelandic Aviation Museum, housed in a large hangar at Akureyri Airport, displays a varied collection of large and small aircrafts, photographs, artifacts, and flight memorabilia. The museum devotes itself to preserving Iceland’s aviation history, such as documenting key moments like the country’s first flight in 1919.More
#12
Akureyri Museum (Minjasafnid á Akureyri)

Akureyri Museum (Minjasafnid á Akureyri)

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The city’s namesake museum focuses on the history of Akureyri, the Eyjafjörður fjord, and the region’s former inhabitants, displaying a collection of art, artifacts, and photographs dating back to the Settlement Era. The museum takes visitors on a journey through the past with reconstructions depicting everyday life throughout the ages.More
#13
Gjastykki

Gjastykki

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In far northern Iceland, the extraordinary natural landscapes of Gjástykki are among the region’s most striking. Hewn from a series of eruptions by the neighboring Krafla volcano, the rift valley features 65-foot-high (20-meter-high) walls of lava rock and valleys of multicolored slag, still hot with volcanic activity.More
#14
Húsavík

Húsavík

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Albeit being one of the main settlements in North Iceland, Húsavík is home to only 2,500 inhabitants. It is, however, considered to be the whale-watching capital of the country, as the immense mammals are seen on about 95 percent of expeditions. Sitting on the eastern shore of the Skjálfand Bay (“the Shaky Bay”, due to the frequent earthquakes in the area), Húsavík played a significant role in Icelandic history, as it is the first place where a Norsemen settled, a Swedish viking named Garðar Svavarssonb; he stayed for one winter around year 870 and left a few of his people behind as he embarked on a new journey. This is precisely where the town got its name, which means “bay of houses” in Icelandic, as the lodgings built by Garðar where most likely the only ones in the country at that moment.Attractions in Húsavík include, unsurprisingly, the Whale Museum (Hafnarstétt 1, Húsavík), a non-profit organization aiming to provide visitors with thorough and pertinent information on whales and their habitat. Also high up the list of things to do is the quaint wooden church Húsavíkurkirkja, which was built in 1907. The nearby Jökulsárgljúfur Park (part of the Vatnajökull National Park, the largest in Europe) and its Diamond Circle both make for a fascinating day trip destination, with wonders like the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi, the turf houses in Grenjaðarstaðu and the famed waterfalls Dettifoss (the most powerful in Europe at 6,816 cubic feet per second), Hafragilsfoss and Selfoss.More
#15
Dalvik

Dalvik

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The small settlement of Dalvik, tucked between one of Iceland’s longest and most stunning fjords and the rolling hills of Svarfaðardalur, serves as the jumping-off point for ferries to Grimsey Island. It’s also a destination in its own right for outdoor adventures like hiking, whale watching, golfing, and bird watching.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Akureyri

Lake Myvatn and Godafoss Waterfall Day Tour from Akureyri
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Whale Watching RIB Boat Tour from Husavik
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Whales and Puffins Tour from Husavik
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Whale Watching in Husavik
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Whale Watching in Husavik

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West Glacial River Rafting Tour from Varmahlíð, North Iceland
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Horse Riding Tour in Akureyri

Horse Riding Tour in Akureyri

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Diamond Circle Day Tour from Akureyri
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Lake Mývatn and Goðafoss Shore Excursion
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Family Friendly Horse Riding Tour in Skagafjörður
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