Akureyri is a lovely town in Iceland‘s north. The city is recognized for its kind inhabitants and picturesque surroundings. In this easy-to-follow self-guided Akureyri walking tour, you will explore the town’s history, and gardens, and also be mesmerized by the gorgeous landscape and the views of the Eyjafjörður fjord.
Akureyri has all the modern amenities from a variety of stores, hotels, restaurants, and cafés as well as several museums and cultural attractions to visit.
Hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities are available in the region all year.
Akureyri is an excellent location to visit any time of year. Whether you’re looking for a winter wonderland or a summer getaway, Akureyri has something for everyone.
Akureyri Walking Tour: What to do in Akureyri
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Akureyri is located in northern Iceland, about a 5 hour’s drive from the capital city of Reykjavik. You can also get to this little town via a 45-minute flight or a bus ride.
You can stay in Akureyri and explore more of the north, from the Lake Myvatn area to the waterfalls of the Diamond Circle route and islands nearby.
If you have one day in Akureyri, you can enjoy this nature-culture route, as I like to call it. It is a combined heritage and botanical garden tour.
You can spend anywhere from 4 to 6 hours along this trail and take ample photos and sightseeing stops.
At the end of this Akureyri travel guide, you will also find a handy Google Maps link (one I used to navigate the city) and check off your favorites.
Akureyri Walking Tour Stops
- Start at IcelandAir Hotel or KEA Hotel
- Akureyri Church
- St Peter’s Catholic Church
- Akureyri Junior College
- Akureyri Arctic Botanical Gardens
- Brynja, an iconic ice cream store
- Spítalavegur Street and the home of Akureyri’s first shoe shop
- Oldest House in Akureyri – Laxdalshus
- Akureyri Museum & Nonni House (15 minutes)
- Akureyri Waterfront (via Peking House)
- Whale watching center
- Hof Cultural and Conference Center
- Port of Akureyri
- Oddeyri District
- Town Square (Bank and Indian Curry House)
- Landemar Monument (see signs for Torg guest house)
- Akureyri Art Museum
- Akureyri town centre
Are you ready? Strap your comfortable walking (or hiking) shoes, grab a bottle of water and your camera – let’s go!
There are many ways to tour Akureyri and I did a few permutations and combinations and this one is my favorite!
Stop 1: Start at IcelandAir Hotel or KEA Hotel
For my 3 days in northern Iceland itinerary, I stayed at the IcelandAir Hotel. This was one of my solo trips to the country, and I surely had a great time.
After breakfast at the IcelandAir Hotel, I descended towards the landmark Akureyri Church.
Because IcelandAir Hotel is located on an elevated level, you will have to walk downhill to the church. The views of the Eyjafjörður fjord are just gorgeous from here.
As you walk down, you will see the fjord and the church towers. This will be the next stop on this self-guided walking tour of Akureyri.
Alternatively, if you are staying at the luxury KEA hotel, the church complex will be right behind you. You will have to climb 102 steps to get to the Akureyri church entrance.
Stop 2: Akureyri Church
The Akureyri Church or Akureyrarkirkja is a beautiful church located in the centre of the town. It was built in the year 1940 and is one of the iconic spots in Iceland.
It is a Lutheran Church and its towers are visible from a distance due to its elevation.
The Akureyri Church was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson and boasts a stunning interior with a large organ pipe.
Outside the church, there is a nice complex where you can take in the views of the surrounding fjords, mountains, and the town below.
Depending on your starting point, you can surely climb up or down the steps whilst enjoying the view. There are picnic tables nearby as well where you can hang out.
The church is free to enter and is open on weekdays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (on Friday, it closes at 4:00 pm).
Stop 3: St Peter’s Catholic Church
Your next point of interest is the iconic Arctic Botanical Gardens, but you will pass through two stops that are worth visiting.
The distance from the Church to Akureyri Arctic Botanical Gardens will take about 15 minutes without stopping along the way.
The views on this route are nice with the fjords on one side and houses/roads on the other.
The red and white St Peter’s Catholic Church will welcome you first.
The church is dedicated to Saint Peter who is also known as Peter the Apostle, Peter the Rock, Simon Peter, and Simeon. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ and is regarded as one of the first leaders of the early Church.
Read: 3 days in Iceland itinerary
Stop 4: Akureyri Junior College
The Akureyri Junior College is one of the oldest educational institutions in Iceland. It has a national ranking of 2.
The college is set on a large green complex, and the building was set up here after the original one was burnt down in 1902.
The roots of the Junior College date back to an ancient school in Hólar in Hjaltadalur valley.
Stop 5: Akureyri Arctic Botanical Gardens
A must-visit free attraction in Akureyri is its Arctic Botanical Gardens and Public Park. The park dates back to 1912 and later with the help of a few local women the garden was opened in 1957.
Today it is a popular spot for locals and visitors to explore. There are over 7,000 species of plants on display and a few greenhouses. The site also conducts scientific research on a regular basis.
Take the time to wander the gardens, and check out the busts of popular men and photo exhibits. There are benches as well as a café and a gift shop where you can stop for a bit and rest your legs.
The gardens are open year-round and offer a beautiful place to relax and take in the scenery.
Stop 6: Brynja, an iconic ice cream store
After the botanical gardens, continue walking towards Nonni House and the Akureyri Museum complex. It will take you about 15-20 minutes to get there.
But I bet, it will be longer as the route is scattered with cute gems and an ice cream shop which is a must-visit.
Brynja is a popular ice cream parlor in town – it is quite easy to spot from a distance. Be sure to try some flavors here!
The area in and around the ice cream shop has some of the oldest signs of settlement in Akureyri such as houses, museums, churches, and other sites.
This comprises the old town area of Akureyri. You will also find a little informative sign sharing their history.
Stop 7: Spítalavegur Street and the home of Akureyri’s first shoe shop
As you make your way to Museum, you can wander to Spítalavegur Street and check out the first shoe shop in Akureyri.
You will also find colorful and cute wooden houses that are so picturesque and perfect for a photo prop!
Interestingly, you will also find book-like informative boards where you can read about each house, and street with some historical details.
Stop 8: Oldest House in Akureyri – Laxdalshus
Along this route, you will also find Laxdal House or the Laxdalshus. This is the oldest house in Akureyri, dating back to 1795.
From here, you will be walking along a scenic pathway with water views.
Very soon, you will find a statue on your right. This is your next stop – Akureyri Museum & Nonni House.
Read: Best Iceland guided tours | 8-day Iceland itinerary
Stop 9: Akureyri Museum & Nonni House
Akureyri Museum, Nonni House, and a 19th-century church are all located in the same complex. To enter the grounds and garden is completely free.
But to visit the Akureyri Museum, church, and the Nonni House interiors, there are set operating hours and an entry fee of 2000 ISK per person.
The Akureyri Museum has two permanent exhibitions, and sometimes they also have temporary displays.
The permanent collection highlights the life and stories of residents from its early settlement days to modern times.
During my visit, the museum had music and grocery history-related exhibits.
As you leave the museum, you will see a nice garden with a cannon on display.
Nearby is the 19th-century church. The church is usually closed/locked, and you have to pay to get in (the same ticket, paid at the Akureyri museum).
Lastly, visit the Nonni House. This wooden house dates back to 1850 and is one of the oldest houses in Akureyri. The house is named after its owner, who was lovingly known as Nonni.
Inside the house, you will find furniture, clothing, and utensils from the 19th century. Everything is kept in an immaculate condition. There is also a second floor, and you can take the stairs/ladder to go up and see the bedroom upstairs!
Stop 10: Akureyri Waterfront (via Peking House)
After exploring the museum complex, enjoy a lovely stroll along the waterfront of Akureyri.
Now, instead of taking the usual/previous route, take the path alongside the red building with – Peking – written on it.
You will see the view of fjords. Note that you have to cross the road to get there.
The waterfront area had cute wrecked ships, covered wood bridges, beautiful paved areas, and of course gorgeous views.
Take the time to enjoy this stroll. Feel free to stop for a break or take photos.
As you approach the town centre, you will see the church towers on your left (this is where we began), and on your right (a bit far away) you will find a red office – this is a whale watching tour office.
At this point, you can cross the road, and head back to the town centre to end the walking tour. The church, KEA hotel, and cafes/stores will be just a few steps away.
Stop 11: Whale-watching center
Now if you wish to continue then head to the whale watching center. Tours can be booked online or in the office.
The spot around the office is very nice, and it is perfect to snap a photo or two of the red heart stop signs (of the traffic lights).
Stop 12: Hof Cultural and Conference Center
As you continue your walk, you will see a round-shaped building, which is the Hof Cultural and Conference Center.
It is a performing arts and concert hall. You can book a show, or grab a bite to eat/drink at their cafe!
Hof Cultural and Conference Center opened its doors in 2010.
Stop 13: Port of Akureyri
The port of Akureyri is also located here. Here you will find ferries and ships docked for tours and transport. You are allowed to walk around that area, and admire the views!
Stop 14: Oddeyri District
When you exit the Hof Cultural and Conference Center and the port, you will be at the cusp of the Akureyri and Oddeyri districts, the latter being one of the oldest areas in Iceland.
Many of the settlers here were of Norwegian and Danish origins. You can turn right to explore Oddeyri.
Or turn left to head to the town square.
Stop 15: Town Hall Square – Ráðhústorg square (Bank and Indian Curry House)
When you turn left, you will cross a taxi stand and then arrive at the Town Hall Square boarded by a bank and an Indian Curry House. This site was supposed to have a town hall, but it was never built.
The town square is where processions and rallies take place in Akureyri.
At the square, you will find signs for the Monument Landnemar à Akureyri, this is the First Settlers Monument.
To get to this landmark statue, it is another 6-7 minute walk, with a slight elevation.
From the square, just follow signs for Monument Landnemar à Akureyri. Make sure you find Torg guesthouse on your way to ensure you are on the right track. (After a few blocks signs are non-existent).
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Stop 16: Landemar Monument
Monument Landnemar à Akureyri is the First Settlers Statue. It has Helgi, the lean, and his wife – Þórunn Hyrna.
Helgi magri (the slim) Eyvindarson was a Norse Viking, and he came to this area in the 9th century.
The first mention of Akureyri in court records is from 1562.
Since then Danish settlers and traders have migrated to Iceland. Permanent settlement at Akureyri started in 1778. It was granted town status by the king of Denmark (who at the time was also king of Iceland) along with five other towns in Iceland (1786).
Back to the Monument Landnemar à Akureyri. The statue is located on an elevated platform, but it is an easy walk/climb to get there.
You will find that the statue is pointing at the town below, and overlooking the settlement.
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Stop 17: Akureyri town centre
From here, turn back and walk the same route to arrive at the town square.
From the town hall square, you will be at the heart of Akureyri again. You will find pretty cafes, street art, and murals along the way.
Stop at a cafe and grab a drink or a hearty soup.
If you prefer something light, opt for an Icelandic hot dog (yup, the same popular one from Reykjavik – Bæjarins beztu).
You will also find lovely restaurants offering seafood and drinks. There are Icelandic cuisine, pizza joints, burger places, shawarma, and even an Indian Curry House.
There are souvenir and gift stores, and a very nice bookstore, Te & Kaffi, and Penninn Eymundsson Akureyri, with coffee/light snacks options.
Stop 18: Akureyri Art Museum
If interested you can visit the Akureyri Art Museum. This museum faces the Akureyri Church where we began sightseeing!
The Akureyri Art Museum first opened its doors in 1993.
The museum houses a collection of Icelandic art from the 19th and 20th centuries. It is open all year round and offers a variety of exhibitions and events.
Town Akureyri Sightseeing Map
Akureyri Travel Guide
Here is a quick guide to Akureyri. This is a small town located in northern Iceland.
Although small (less than 20,000 inhabitants), it is the country’s second-largest urban area and fifth-largest municipality.
Akureyri was an important fishing and farming village. It also has one of Iceland’s busiest airports after Keflavik and Reykjavik City Airports.
The town is located on the Eyjafjörður fjord.
The best way to get to Akureyri from Reykjavík is by plane. Flights leave daily from Reykjavík’s airport, and the flight takes about an hour (or less if it’s a direct flight). You can also take a bus or drive to Akureyri.
- To get to Akureyri from Reykjavik, you can rent a car and drive (5 hours)
- Hop on a 45-minute IcelandAir flight from Reykjavik airport
- Take a bus (6.50 to 7 hours)
Where to stay in Akureyri?
Akureyri is an ideal base for exploring northern Iceland. It is within easy driving distance of many of the region’s attractions, including the Lake Mývatn area, the Dettifoss, and the Godafoss waterfall.
Here are some hotel recommendations.
IcelandAir Hotel: This is a lovely 3-4 star property where I stayed for the duration of my trip, I absolutely loved the hotel.
My room had mountain views, a large king-size bed, a desk area, and a nice (big) washroom. What I loved most about the hotel was its lobby and a lovely outdoor area where you can hang out.
There is a generous parking lot if you are driving to town. Click to view availability here
KEA Hotel: Another luxury property located super close to the Akureyri Church and the town centre is KEA Hotel. This hotel is centrally located and within walking distance, you will find all the restaurants and attractions. Check availability here
Staying in Akureyri will allow you to enjoy this wonderful town, and more.
The town offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors. There are several museums, including the Akureyri Art Museum and the Icelandic Transport Museum.
The town is also home to the world’s northernmost botanical garden, the Lystigarður Akureyrar.
You can enjoy hiking and skiing in the nearby mountains, chase the northern lights or take a boat tour of the fjord. There are also several golf courses in the area.
Other self-guided walking tours in Akureyri
The guided tour above was a mix of history, town, and nature trails that I followed to explore the city of Akureyri. But their tourism board has 4 distinct routes that they recommend, plus there are walking clubs too that you can join.
Akureyri guide recommends the following
Historical Path (blue): This trail takes you through the historical old town of Akureyri, with its colorful and historic buildings.
It covers Ráðhústorg square aka Town Hall Square, Hafnarstræti, the ice cream shop, Brynja all the way to Akureyri Museum. It is shorter than the self-guided tour we have covered above.
The First Settlers and town architecture (green): This route starts at Town Hall Square again and then takes you to statues of the first settlers of Akureyri. Helgi magri and Þórunn Hyrna, look over Eyjafjörður.
Then you will check out Akureyri geothermal swimming pool, followed by the Botanical Garden and Akureyri church.
Rivers and Gardens route (orange): This trail is all over nature. Begin the walk from the statues of the first settlers and then get to the Glerá river that crosses through Akureyri.
Follow the walking path along the river and take in the wonderful scenery. When you walk back towards the town centre, you’ll pass through green areas and playgrounds in the residential areas of Akureyri and end your walk back at the Ráðhústorg square/Town Hall square.
The Sea and Oddetrin (pink): This short trail is an easy way to wander through parts of Akureyri, and the old neighborhood of Oddeyri by the sea.
You will find cute and colorful old houses, outdoor artwork, and stunning views of Eyjafjörður fjord and the mountains.
You will start at the Ráðhústorg square again, and walk east, towards the sea. You will pass Hof Cultural centre and walk to the waterfront area.
This route is the second half of the self-guided tour we have outlined above – but it is done in reverse!
Here is some contact information for walking clubs
- Súlur Vertical: firstname.lastname@example.org (local running club)
- Wide Open: email@example.com (hiking club)
- Walk and visit: (+354) 623 9595 (guided tours)
So there you go – now you have all the trails and walking routes to get started!
If you have never heard of this little town of Akureyri, we hope this travel guide has shed some light and inspiration to visit!
We have more Iceland guides below so feel free to pick one and get traveling!