Best of Akureyri

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Akureyri
Home to just under 20,000 people, Akureyri is Iceland’s largest city outside the southwest. The so-called “Capital of Northern Iceland” barely qualifies as a town in most other countries, but it has a surprising number of attractions, from art galleries and museums to top-notch restaurants and a convivial bar scene. The setting alone is worth a visit: Akureyri sits at the head of Eyjafjörður, Iceland’s longest fjord, and is backed by snow-capped peaks.

Beyond the town center, there’s much to discover. You can go rafting on the Vestari-Jökulsá (West Glacial River), stopping by riverside hot springs en route through a rocky canyon. A three-hour drive inland leads to dramatic highland scenery sprinkled with thermal pools and a remote caldera filled with a warm volcanic lake. Off the coast of Akureyri, cliff-lined Grimsey has a tiny village, basalt formations and abundant birdlife, including puffins. The fascinating island is the only piece of Iceland that’s above the Arctic Circle.
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Akureyri Essentials

The scenery of Northern Iceland
Best Things to Do in Northern Iceland

Northern Iceland is a special region offering unique experiences not experienced by those who only visit the country's southern and western portions. In the north, you'll find an idyllic stretch of the famed Ring Road, passing through places like Húsavík, Iceland's whale-watching capital. In addition, you'll discover less-crowded alternatives to the popular Blue Lagoon and can explore Askja, one of the country's wildest regions. But don't worry, the north also boasts waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and thermal baths!

Iceland's famed glacier lagoon
Top Winter Experiences in Iceland

Winter in Iceland offers many unique activities that you can't always experience in other seasons. Make the most out of the limited daylight with wintry adventures, such as kayaking amongst icebergs, exploring electric-blue ice caves, dogsledding with a pack of Huskies, snowmobiling atop glaciers, hiking in the snow, or tracking the country's wild reindeer population during their annual migration.

Akureyri Itineraries

Hverfjall Crater rises in the distance of the Dimmuborgir lava fields
Map of 5-Day Tour of the North: Akureyri, Lake Myvatn, Waterfalls, and Geothermal Hotspots
5-Day Tour of the North: Akureyri, Lake Myvatn, Waterfalls, and Geothermal Hotspots

For a unique Iceland experience, avoid the crowds of the south completely. This trip has it all: volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, nature baths, whale watching, fjords and more. Below are 2 great ways to experience the north: all the highlights with only a fraction of the people. You can maximize your time by taking a domestic flight over the beautiful highlands of the interior to Akureyri, or you can drive one way and fly from Akureyri back to Reykjavik.

Wild Icelandic horses in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Map of Iceland Off the Beaten Path: Snæfellsnes, Akureyri,  Lake Mývatn & More - 9 Days
Iceland Off the Beaten Path: Snæfellsnes, Akureyri, Lake Mývatn & More - 9 Days

This 9-day self-drive adventure is a great alternative to the full Ring Road loop, especially during summer months when Iceland tourism hits its peak. With more than a week, you'll experience a range of incredible landscapes all over the island, like rugged peninsulas, hot springs, volcanoes, lava fields, small fishing towns, and waterfall hikes with only a fraction of the crowds. To shorten this itinerary, skip the East Fjords and fly back to Reykjavík from Akureyri.

Hverir near Lake Mývatn
Map of Best of Iceland's West & North - 7 Days
Best of Iceland's West & North - 7 Days

Lose the tourists crowding the South in the summer, and hit Iceland’s West and North, instead. This weeklong journey is a great second trip plan for those who’ve already visited popular areas (like the Golden Circle and South Coast). Spend time along the Arctic Coast and explore the remote northeast. Go whale watching in Husavik, tour the geothermal marvel that is Lake Mývatn, discover the fishing towns, black-sand beaches, and cliffs along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and more.

Explore Iceland along its most-famous road
Map of Iceland Road Trip: Reykjavik to Akureyri - 8 Days
Iceland Road Trip: Reykjavik to Akureyri - 8 Days

This photogenic self-drive adventure along the Ring Road travels from Iceland's capital to its 2nd largest city on the sunnier north coast, with stops in lesser-known Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Husavik, and Lake Myvatn. This all-season itinerary is especially ideal for anyone interested in the unique geological features of Iceland, with lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and geothermal pools, not to mention cool cultural sites and Scandinavian cuisine.

Godafoss waterfall in the north
Map of Iceland's Western & Northern Highlights - 7 Days
Iceland's Western & Northern Highlights - 7 Days

On this scenic road trip, you'll skip Iceland's busier south coast in order to explore the lesser-known Snaefellsnes Peninsula and northern beauties of Akureyri, Husavik, and Lake Myvatn. This all-season itinerary is especially ideal for anyone interested in the unique geological features of Iceland, with lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and geothermal pools—all there for the taking.

Dettifoss waterfall in northern Iceland
Map of Iceland Relaxed Self-Drive Tour - 8 Days
Iceland Relaxed Self-Drive Tour - 8 Days

This scenic road trip traverses highlights along Iceland's west and north regions at a more relaxed pace. Starting from Reykjavik, you'll explore the Golden Circle, the lesser-known Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and continue northwest to Akureyri (Iceland's 2nd biggest hub), Husavik and Lake Myvatn for lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and natural hot springs.

Lake Mývatn
Map of West & North Iceland Escape: Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Arctic Coast, Lake Mývatn, & More - 8 Days
West & North Iceland Escape: Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Arctic Coast, Lake Mývatn, & More - 8 Days

Explore the scenic peninsulas, waterfalls, lakes, and more on this eight-day tour through Iceland’s west and north regions. This route, especially, allows you to beat the summer crowds headed to the South Coast and Golden Circle, providing more time to hike and take in magnificent viewpoints in destinations like Glymur Falls, Lake Mývatn, Asbyrgi Canyon, and Dettifoss. Absorb the stunning black-sand beaches and small fishing towns in Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Take more time in the Arctic Coast and remote Northeast, and go whale watching in Husavik. End the trip with a tour of the geothermal highlights of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Ultimate Ring Road Adventure - 9 Days
Map of Ultimate Ring Road Adventure - 9 Days
Ultimate Ring Road Adventure - 9 Days

For road trip enthusiasts, it doesn't get much better than encircling Iceland along its infamous Route 1 (Ring Road). This quick-paced, self-drive itinerary will take you to the best spots along the 828-mile (1,332 km) route with plenty of detours to work the leg muscles and camera batteries. With a bit more than a week, you'll experience a variety of landscapes, like geysers, hot springs, black sand beaches, volcanoes, lava fields, small fishing towns, and massive glaciers in protected national parks.

The Road to Adventure
Map of Classic Circle Tour of Iceland - 9 Days
Classic Circle Tour of Iceland - 9 Days

If you want to see Iceland's top natural highlights, a self-drive tour is by far the most popular option. Travel at your own pace with plenty of changes to head off the main road in search of your own adventures. This tour also includes the Snaefellsnes peninsula which many call "mini-Iceland" as almost every natural phenomenon in Iceland can be found there, albeit on a smaller scale than elsewhere. 

Glymur Falls
Map of Iceland Summer Escape: West & North Iceland - 9 Days
Iceland Summer Escape: West & North Iceland - 9 Days

Visit the best of the west and north regions of Iceland on this nine-day trip. Although this route is not recommended for winter travel, it is a great way to skip the summer crowds headed south. Visit the black-sand beaches and fishing towns in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, go on scenic hikes to Dettifoss and Asbyri Canyon, and take in the incredible sights around Lake Mývatn. Enjoy time in the Arctic Coast and less-populated Northeast, along with some whale watching in Husavik. On the way back to the capital, stop in West Iceland’s Borgarnes, and take a memorable hike to Glymur Falls.

Godafoss Waterfall in Northern Iceland
Map of Iceland Relaxed Ring Road Adventure - 10 Days
Iceland Relaxed Ring Road Adventure - 10 Days

With 10 days on the road, you can discover a variety of regions and landscapes as you loop around Iceland's famous Route 1 (Ring Road). This moderately paced self-drive itinerary will take you to the best spots along the 828-mile (1,332 km) route with stops in its two biggest cities, as well as volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, small fishing towns, and massive glaciers, as well as major attractions in the Golden Circle. This is going to be one gorgeous ride!

Goðafoss Waterfall
Map of Iceland From West to North: Golden Circle, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Husavik, Akureyri, & More - 10 Days
Iceland From West to North: Golden Circle, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Husavik, Akureyri, & More - 10 Days

This 10-day trip covers North and West Iceland and is meant for bypassing the crowded south during the summer months. Enjoy time exploring the geological features of the Golden Circle, the black-sand beaches of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Arctic Coast in Varmahlid. Discover the best of the Trollaskagi Peninsula and visit the whale watching capital of Husavik. Tour the geothermal wonder of Lake Mývatn, stay in the second city of Akureyri, and go sightseeing in lively Reykjavík.

Iceland Escape
Map of Iceland Off The Beaten Path: West and North Escape - 10 Days
Iceland Off The Beaten Path: West and North Escape - 10 Days

This 10-day driving itinerary is great for the summer when the crowds of the south coast and golden circle area are at their peak and accommodation can be hard to find. Instead, escape to the more remote areas of the country to experience some of the best that Iceland has to offer, with few other people to share it with.

Kirkjufell's landscape and waterfalls on the west coast
Map of Iceland Ring Road & Snaefellsnes Peninsula - 11 Days
Iceland Ring Road & Snaefellsnes Peninsula - 11 Days

On this spectacular self-drive itinerary, you'll hit the four cardinal points of Iceland as you loop clockwise around the famous Ring Road. Stop to explore volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, and glaciers from Reykjavik to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and beyond. Finish the adventure with a rewarding soak in the Blue Lagoon before you depart.

North Iceland's Viti crater is filled with a bright blue lake
Map of Iceland Ring Road & Westfjords Adventure - 12 Days
Iceland Ring Road & Westfjords Adventure - 12 Days

This epic 12-day road trip is a perfect way to absorb Iceland as you traverse all four corners of the country. You'll visit popular spots along the famous 828-mile Ring Road, and head off the beaten path to detour through the Westfjords (great for mountain biking and kayaking). The self-drive loop also includes stops in Iceland's two biggest cities, and numerous natural sites like volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, glaciers, and more.

Godafoss waterfall in the north
Map of Best of West & North Iceland - 12 Days
Best of West & North Iceland - 12 Days

This off-the-beaten-path road trip is especially great during summer months when peak crowds head for Iceland's south coast and Golden Circle (and accommodations can be hard to find). Instead, you'll escape to more remote areas of the country, traveling from Reykjavik all the way to its sunnier north coast with stops in Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Westfjords (by way of car ferry), Husavik, and Lake Myvatn. There's plenty of time to experience unique geological features along the way with lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and geothermal pools, not to mention cool Scandinavian culture and cuisine.

Explore Iceland on a road trip of a lifetime
Map of 2-Week Ring Road Self-Drive Itinerary: Highlights of Iceland and the Remote Westfjords
2-Week Ring Road Self-Drive Itinerary: Highlights of Iceland and the Remote Westfjords

With 2 weeks in Iceland, you can complete the entire ring road and add some great detours. This grand tour will take you to all the best places giving you plenty of time to hike, explore, and soak it all in. This 14-day itinerary covers all the major regions except the highlands, which you can see with a couple more days or by spending less time in some of the areas below.