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Akureyri, Iceland

Destination:
Akureyri, with a population of around 18,000, is the largest town in Iceland outside the Southwest region, and the unofficial capital of North Iceland.

See

Akureyri is a very picturesque town with its location by a scenic fjord, eclectic building styles and streets winding their way through gorges. Spend some time walking around the town centre, see the impressive church and check out Listagilið (literally "the art canyon"), home to a number of arts and crafts galleries and shops. The tranquil municipal

botanical garden

, Lystigarðurinn, is worth visiting, as are the several small museums dotted around town.
Note that Akureyri is perhaps picturesque by Icelandic standards, but one may question whether it is a tourist destination in its own right. Tourists to Iceland typically go there because of the splendid scenery, not because of the cities. Akureyri is primarily a local hub, a place to start excursions to more interesting places.

Do

  • Akureyri Drama Society (Leikfélag Akureyrar), Strandgata 12, +354 460 0200. The only professional theatre in Iceland outside of Reykjavík
  • Akureyri Swimming Pool (Sundlaug Akureyrar), Þingvallastræti 21, +354 461 4455. 28 May-1 September: 6:45-21:00 M-F, 8:00-19:30 Sa-Su; 2 September-27 May: 6:45-21:00 M-F, 10:00-18:30 Sa-Su. A recently renovated and expanded pool. Two pools for swimming, several hot tubs, a water slide and a childrens pool. Close to the centre of town. 450 kr. 
  • Hof, Strandgata 12, 354 450 1000. Akureyri's new house of culture, home to the North Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Sinfóníuhljómsveit Norðurlands) and regularly host to other performances.
  • Akureyri Art Museum

    , Kaupvangsstræti 12. Open 12:00-17:00, closed Monday. Small art museum. Free.

Buy

Hafnarstræti, in the centre of town, is Akureyri's main shopping street. Shops there include an Eymundsson book store with a café, several souvenir shops, clothing stores and the curiosity shop Frúin í Hamborg.
For local art and design, head to Grófargil, colliqually known as Listagil ("art canyon"). It's a steep canyon by the street Kaupangsstræti and home to several studios galleries and shops.
A small shopping mall, called Glerártorg, is a short distance north of the town centre.

Eat

A local way to eat a hamburger is with french fries included in the bun and kokteilsósa (a cocktail of mayonnaise and ketchup). A shop that sells a delicious version of this, called a MacGratsky burger, is Nætursalan located downtown right next to the main bus stop. This is a popular snack to end the evening after a heavy night of drinking.
Akureyri also has the world's northernmost Domino's Pizza.
Rub23, located just below the cathedral of Akureyri, has a most friendly atmosphere and serves one of the best fish dishes in the area.
The Indian Curry Hut, located at Hafnarstraeti 100b, has some of the best curry in all of Iceland--perfect for warming up after a winter's day! It's a take-away, though there are two stools and a counter. The owner of the restaurant is very friendly, with an interesting life's story.
Splurge
Strikið: Fresh, high quality restaurant. Their chocolate cake is the best I've ever had, hands down. Mostly fish, lobster, but one or two meat dishes. Has an amazing view at the top floor of a building at the coastline.
Greifinn: Considered high quality, just sells sandwiches, starters, soups. Obviously a nice restaurant though.

Drink

A nice bar is across the street from the main movie threater. It seems that people in the city enjoy an 'early' movie theater around 8 pm or so, and, as customary in Iceland, go clubbing/barhopping after midnight. However, the clubs close at 1 am, at least during the weekdays. A strange wheel-of-fortune with shots, beer, and nothing, is there, for 1500 Kr.

Get out

Akureyri is a good base to explore some of the more remote areas of Iceland, such as Mývatn. Several buses run mostly hourly from the city centre to other important places like the airport and neighbouring settlements and bus tours are available which take you to see the enormous crater of Víti, and Goðafoss (waterfall of the gods).
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