Akureyri, Iceland

Established in the mid-17th century and affectionately nicknamed “The Capital of North Iceland,” Akureyri is an industrious port, and home to the country’s largest and most well-known fishing company.

Your guide to Akureyri.

Known as the capital of the North, the Icelandic city of Akureyri offers a port call in a majestic setting and (for the lucky few) the possibility of glimpsing the Northern Lights. The small city is nestled at the base of Iceland’s longest fjord, Eyjafjörður; a spectacular stretch of water that spans nearly 40 miles. First settled by Norse Vikings in the 9th century, today Akureyri is the perfect launchpad from which to explore Northern Iceland’s greatest treasures. Piercing blue fjords, bubbling mud pools, snow-kissed mountains and tumbling waterfalls all form part of the spellbinding cocktail that is Akureyri’s scenery. While the usually mild climate makes for pleasant exploring on long midsummer days.

Exploring.

Sailing into Akureyri evokes the feeling of an explorer entering unchartered terrain. Though technically a city, Akureyri is smaller than most towns, with several museums, as well as the beautiful Akureyrarkirkja church among the highlights to explore. The latter a striking example of Lutheran architecture. Akureyri's evolution from Viking settlement to present-day fishing port is the theme at Akureyri Museum, while the childhood home of author Jón Sveinsson provides another insightful step into the past. Golf fans, however, may be tempted to stray to Akureyri’s Golf Club Jaðarsvöllur. Founded in 1935, the 18-hole course is said to be the most northerly in the world.

Eating and drinking.

When in Iceland you can never have enough seafood. The fish is as fresh as can be and Akureyri’s supply is no exception. In many of the city’s restaurants the emphasis is on salmon, trout, monkfish, lobster, herring and shrimp. You may also come across the classic Icelandic dish, hangikjöt – a type of smoked lamb said to get its unique flavor from the wild herbs growing in highland pastures. Summer brings sorrel and wild mushrooms to Iceland, which invariably make their way into the cuisine. Game, such as ptarmigan (highland grouse) and reindeer are another seasonal Akureyri delicacy, and many restaurants offer buffets specializing in an assortment of native dishes.

Shopping.

Outerwear clothing shops are widely represented in Akureyri – offering the perfect opportunity to invest in quality winter-wear while on shore. In particular, look out for the characteristic hand-knitted lopapeysa (a traditional Icelandic sweater) identifiable by its decorative patterned yolk. Replicas of Viking-age jewelry and traditional silver filigree items, often with Icelandic semi-precious stones, are typical of Akureyri’s souvenir shops and if shopping is high on your in-port itinerary the main street Hafnarstraeti, in downtown Akureyri, offers a variety of options. A shopping mall, Glerártorg, is also located just a few minutes’ walk from the city center.

Beyond Akureyri.

Venturing beyond Akureyri reveals mesmerizing volcanic landscapes and Iceland’s magnificent Godafoss waterfall, one of Akureyri’s most popular excursions. Just shy of forty feet, the sight of Godafoss’s icy water plummeting into the waiting mist will take your breath away. Lake Myvatn, formed thousands of years ago by lava flows, is 35 miles east of Akureyri while an area of lava formations known as Dimmuborgir can be found just east of here still. Alternatively, heading north allows you to discover the sulfur wells, hot springs, and bubbling mud pots of Namaskard, and Krafla volcano, whose bubbling magma chamber lies just two miles beneath the ground’s surface.