Top 5 reasons why you should visit Akureyri, North Iceland in 2018

2018 is appearing on the horizon, and it is only natural to start considering where you want to escape to for your next dose of wanderlust.

There are already plenty of reasons to visit Iceland, its magnificent nature, vibrant towns, stunning scenery and welcoming atmosphere. However, tourism in Iceland seems to be fixated around the capital, Reykjavik, when the country has seven other regions, the highlands (only accessible during the summer months), East, North, Reykjanes, South, West and the Westfjords.

Iceland’s second largest city is Akureyri, which offers its visitors culture, arts, a lively music scene, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses. It’s the destination for savvy travellers, those who are constantly are scouting for untrammelled landscapes and those who are willing to get off the beaten track.

Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest urban area and fourth largest municipality
Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest urban area and fourth largest municipality

It’s a popular destination for day-trippers from Reykjavik, as with less than an hour’s flight you will find many of Iceland’s most beautiful natural wonders such as the Goðafoss waterfall.

Here are our top 5 reasons for why you should be heading to Iceland’s shinning capital North in 2018.

1. Relax in a tube of beer at the Beer spa

The Bjórböðin Beer Spa at Árskógssandur has been redefining Iceland’s spa experience since opening its doors in June 2017. North Iceland’s residents and tourists have been flocking in their numbers to bathe in the spa’s blend of young beer, fresh spring water, brewers yeast and hops.

The 50 minute invigorating treatment is cleansing for the hair and skin and is known to tighten and soften your hair follicles. Broken down into two parts, the first 25 minutes is spent relaxing in the beer bath alongside a free-flowing Kaldi beer draught.

Make the most of your private Beer bath tub and lie in it naked so all of the nutrients absorb into your skin. To ensure you get the benefits don’t shower until some hours later.

The final part sees guests being taken to a relaxing room where you’ll be pampered and tucked away into a snooze of serenity. The spa is open seven days a week and gives you a chance to refuel your appetite at the restaurant near to the spa.

Use your time wisely in the area by exploring some of North Iceland’s colourful beer history. Near the spa, is the first Icelandic brewery, Kaldi, which was opened in 2006 in Arskogsstrond.

2. See whales dance on Arctic Sea Tours’ Whale Safari

Whale watching is one of the most common activities among visitors to North Iceland. A good starting point for day tours and excursions is Arctic Sea Tour’s Whale Safari in Dalvik, just a mere 30 minute drive from Akureyri.

During this three hour tour you have an exceptionally good chance to witness the magnificent dances of the great humpback whale. The renovated traditional oak boat not only allows you to get up close to humpbacks but also dolphins, minkes and a fluttering scenery of squawking seabirds.

You are bound to see some Humpback whales during Artic Sea Tours Whale Safari
You are bound to see some Humpback whales during Artic Sea Tours Whale Safari

There are plenty of fish in the North Atlantic sea and you’ll have the opportunity to do a spot of fishing towards the end of the tour. The main species from a wild catch in Icelandic Waters are cod, haddock, saithe, golden redfish, herring, mackerel and capelin. Your freshly caught fish will be grilled and later shared among you and your fellow adventurers to eat for an early dinner.

The tour provides protective clothing to keep you warm from the chill of the fresh arctic air, but still bring additional layers of clothes, a waterproof jacket, scarf, hat, gloves, good walking shoes and warm socks. Always expect the unexpected in Iceland, the weather can change quickly, snow, sleet, rain or sun, you name it this country has you covered!

3. Discover Icelandic music talent at Iceland Airwaves Festival

The start of November marks the beginning of Iceland’s annual five day music festival, Iceland Airwaves. Now in its 19th year, the festival has become a state-of-the-union for Icelandic music and one of the best alternative music events on the calendar. Previous acts have included the likes of Björk, PJ Harvey and Hot Chip.

Iceland Airwaves 2017 was one of the best places to discover the best up-and-coming artists from all corners of the country’s thriving scenes. This year’s festival saw it spread its wings for the first time, to Akureyri for a two day takeover, with 25 artists from the Reykjavik line-up performing in four official venues. With all the venues within walking distance of each other festival goers were spoilt for choice of performances to watch.

The main stage was at the striking Hof Cultural and Conference centre, which played backdrop to a soulful performance from Emiliana Torrini and an electrifying set from rock band Mammút. Meanwhile, at a little dive bar called Graeni Hatturinn we had a taste of Icelandic Hip Hop with rap duo JóiPé x KRÓLI and a pinch of electro-pop from Milkywhale.

We may have been lost in translation for some of the performances but without a doubt our spotify is now filled with cool new music. Iceland Airwaves 2017 also received a mainstream nod from the likes of Mumford and Sons, Be Charlotte, Mura Masa and Fleet Foxes.

So, why not plan something different for your 2018 festival itinerary and head to Iceland Airwaves.

4. Admire the sheer beauty and power of Goðafoss waterfall

During your travels to Akureyi there will be many moments and sights that you will remember all your life. On the top of the list will be the Goðafoss waterfall, a glacial river in Skjalfandafljot, just off the ring road by Fossholl.

Also known as the “Waterfall of the Gods”, the name is said to derive from the year 1000 where porgeir the Lawspeaker threw his symbolic likenesses of the old Nordic gods into the waterfall and made Christianity the official religion of Iceland.

While at this scenic beauty, stop and take in a moment to absorb the fact that you are standing before one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls.

This is Iceland’s famous Goðafoss waterfall which is also known as the “Waterfall of the Gods”
This is Iceland’s famous Goðafoss waterfall which is also known as the “Waterfall of the Gods”

5. Walk through the mist of an Icelandic fumerole!

One of North Iceland’s most visited places is Lake Mývatn, a region known for its exceptional beauty and endless phenomenia of volcanic nature and lava fields.

It is also dubbed the ‘Northern lights capital of Iceland’ and is the perfect place to try catch a sight of the Aurora Borealis. Craters and volcanoes have sculpted at the landscape of the Myvatn region, many of which are spots of special interest including Námaskarð.

Located at the foot of the Hverfjall volcano, you will find a boiling pot of mud and a steam spring called fumaroles, where an air of hot sulfurous gases are spiralling from the ground up. It’s a definite Instagram worthy snapshot but bear in mind that the fumes can be harmful for humans as well.

Elsewhere, the Dimmuborgir lava formations has gained popularity due to it being featured as the Game of Thrones setting for the camp of the Free Folk in the Skirling Pass. The area is a lava field with unusually-shaped rocks, which Icelandic folklore says is somehow connected to hell.

Lava fields, caves, and unusual rock formations in Dimmuborgir are known as Dark Castles. Fittingly, this Icelandic destination—which saw a 64 percent increase in traffic—served as the filming site for Game of Thrones.

Several hiking routes have been marked out in this area of lava formations and it could be a whirlwind trying to find them all on your own. Mývatn activity is a leading travel agency, tour operator, bike rental and booking centre in the Mývatn area which provides a hike and bath tour.

Starting off in Dimmuborgir, you’ll meander your way through this landscape of a rocky, grassy, misty, snowy mass of geological self-contradiction. The dark rock formations are a masterpiece, each to be considered a work of art such as The Church”, aptly named, this is a cave, open at both ends and with

It’s not only in summer that Dimmuborgir showcases it splendour, a winter visit is also an invigorating experience especially in late November or December when you’re popping in to see the Yule Lads (Santas) who have made it their home.

Icelanders love visiting outdoor swimming pools and the Mývatn Nature Baths is a paradise for outdoor enthusiast. At the end of the day of hiking, change into your bathing suits and head for a dipin this warm unique geothermal lagoon while sipping on a glass of wine.

It’s definitely an active geothermal area worth exploring. As the day turns into night call our friends at Mývatn Geo Travel to come show the best places to watch sunset from the top a large volcanic area.

Where to eat?
Akureyri may be quaint with a small-town charm but it is bursting with eateries full of flavour. Up north has a diverse range of restaurants where the main emphasis is on cooking varied dishes from fresh and local produce, including both lcelandic and international fare.

Iceland is also renowned for its tantalising free-grazing Icelandic lamb and I thoroughly recommend the Lamb fillet paired with celeriac puree, brioche crumble, crispy potatoes, demi glace and burnt leek at Strikið, a waterfront restaurant in the centre of the town.

Vogafjós Cowshed Café is inside a cowshed and offers homemade local food such as smoked trout
Vogafjós Cowshed Café is inside a cowshed and offers homemade local food such as smoked trout

Visitors can enjoy the full range delicacies the island has to offer from haute cuisine in stunning fine establishments, such as Rub 23. Eat hearty local specialities freshly prepared such as the Arctic Char or pick the sushi pizza, a staple dish which is a favourite with locals and tourists alike.

If you do venture to Mývatn, make a lunch date with Vogafjos Cowshed Cafe, a farm to table restaurant renowned in the area. It consists of a cosy family owned guesthouse, a restaurant in a cowshed and a small boutique with unique local products. Highlights of the menu include homemade Geysir rye bread which is baked in their underground bakery, smoked trout and a heart warming soup to comfort you from the cold. Guests are also allowed to go inside the cowshed to pet the calves and try the fresh milk.

Where to stay?

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri
The eclectic and witty design of this hip, boutique hotel is complimented with good service and a cosy space for you to make your home during your trip. Expect a delicious buffet breakfast in the morning and a constant supply of North Iceland’s rich natural asset of pure drinking water from a tape in your room.

How to get to Aukereyri?

Icelandair serves flights to Iceland from Europe and North America. A quick three hour flight from London to Keflavik International Airport will be followed by a domestic flight to Akureyri International airport. Several Flybus shuttle services are operated between Reykjavik and Keflavik International airport.

For more information on North Iceland check out the Inspired by Iceland or Visit North Iceland website.

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