The town of Akureyri, with its population of approximately 15,000 inhabitants, is the administrative, transportation and commercial centre of North Iceland. The town is snugly sheltered by the mountains surrounding the fjord which Akureyri is in the bottom of, this fjord is called Eyjafjörður.
The history of this northerly town has been over the centuries closely associated with commerce, transport and fisheries. Akureyri has provided rural communities in these high latitudes with sundry services as well as educational and industrial facilities. Fishing, food production and service industries have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and the region is currently one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland.
Since 1985 Akureyri has also been the home of a University, which offers courses in such fields of study as nursing, industrial management, fisheries management and education.
Within easy travelling distance from Akureyri are the coastal communities of Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður, Árskógsströnd, Grenivík and Hauganes. The two islands of Hrísey and Grímsey can be reached by boat and Grímsey has the added advantage of a regular air service that is operated from Akureyri.When coming to Grímsey on crosses the article circle.
Whale spotting tours from Dalvík harbour and Hauganes have a success rate of sightings on more than 90% of trips made, and large numbers of whales can normally be seen on these boat tours in the fjord. The countryside that extends southward from Akureyri is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in Iceland and noted for the large number of lovely old country churches that decorate the landscape.
Akureyri and its surroundings offer easy access to sports and outdoor activities. The town was designated the Winter Sports Centre of Iceland a few years ago and skiing tournaments are held there annually on the slopes above Akureyri. Anglers will find themselves spoilt for choice whether to fish in the sea, rivers or lakes. Outdoor swimming pools with hot pots andsteam baths tempt the weary traveller and are open year-round.
The Eyjafjörður area is ideally suited for hikes in places such as the Tröllaskagi mountain range, or the wooded park of Kjarnaskógur which is a mere five-minute drive from the town centre. Akureyri has the northernmost 18-hole golf course in the world and in late June, when the midnight sun barely dips below the horizon, golfers enjoy playing golf round the clock. The international golf tournament, Artic Open which is held in Akureyri every year is getting more and more popular. Dalvík and Ólafsfjörður offer smaller golf courses. Other activities include tours on horseback, highland 4x4 vehicle safaris, and sightseeing by boat, coach, plane or car, to name but a few of the options.
Eyjafjörður is a starting-point for exciting adventure tours, e.g. to some of the beautiful nature reserves in the Northeast of Iceland such as Ásbyrgi, Lake Myvatn and Jökulsár canyon. Other away-from-it-all attractions are the deserted coastline of Fjörður, Flateyjardalur valley on the ridge to the east of Eyjafjörður, and Laugafell in the highlands to the south.
Tourist services and entertainment are within easy reach in Akureyri. Lovers of fine art will feel at home in Listagil, "Street of the Arts." In effect it is a centre of arts, crafts and design. Next to the College of Art and the Art Gallery are smaller galleries, open workshops and studios used by architects, craftsmen, designers and artists. In Akureyri and Eyjafjörður there are several quality restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés offering a variety of meals, drink, music and entertainment.