Akureyri is situated in north-east Iceland, on the longest fjord in the country and is surrounded by mountains reaching 1000-1500 m. Akureyri is about 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, but summer days can reach 25°C. Winters, however, bring heavy snowfall and cold weather, with calm and still weather also being common.
The northerly position of Akureyri has had a considerable influence on the community that has sprung up there. Despite the geographical isolation there has always been contact with the outside world, firstly through trade and then through export, chiefly of seafood products. It is thought that Eyjafjörður was settled by Helgi the Lean and his wife Þorunn around 890.
The history of the town is very closely linked to trade and services. Trade began in Akureyri in the 16th century but it was not until 1760 that merchants began living there year round. In 1862 Akureyri was granted its municipal rights and the population was around 300.
Akureyri is the largest community outside the capital area, with around 15,000 inhabitants. Akureyri is the centre of trade and services in northern Iceland and its economic life is very varied. Its facilities for conferences and meetings are some of the best in rural Iceland. The town's role as a centre of learning is increasing, particularly after the opening of the University of Akureyri in 1987.
Cultural life and entertainment are flourishing in Akureyri. It has a symphony orchestra, theatres, art museums, cafés, restaurants and night-clubs. There is a wide range of shops in the town, offering brand-name products.
Sports and leisure activities are also well-catered for. Akureyri swimmingpools are fabulous and heated with hot water from deep in the earth. There are several gyms, golf courses, sports grounds and the skiing area is the best in the country. Akureyri is truly a winter sports enthusiast's paradise. The town boasts an excellent skating rink, superb cross-country skiing trails through an ever-changing landscape and fantastic slopes for slalom skiers and snowboarders. There are several skiing competitions, including international ones, held over the winter. Jeep and snow mobile trips are readily available to individuals and groups.
The town's verdant surroundings have earned Akureyri the name the Green Town. Within the town limits there is a forested area (Kjarnaskogur) which is a popular recreational area both in summer and winter. The area offers a number of walking and cross-country skiing trails.The Botanical Garden is the most northerly one of it´s kind in the world, with a great number of plants and flowers. This is a particularly popular attraction for overseas tourists.
Eyjafjordur, with Akureyri at its centre, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. There are a great number of hiking trails, many of them mapped. Horse-riding trips are popular, as are jeep and snowmobile trips. There is excellent deep see fishing and angling in the lakes and rivers.
The most northerly golf course in the world is located in Akureyri. Every June there is an international competition called the Arctic Open which attracts a number of overseas players. The competition has gained attention overseas because competitors play through the night in the midnight sun. There are also a great number of cultural and artistic events.
Akureyri lies within easy reach of a host of interesting places, including Godafoss, Dettifoss, Hrisey and Grímsey, an island bisecting the Arctic Circle. There is a wide range of accommodation available in Akureyri and the surrounding area. Akureyri offers everything large town has to offer but still manages to retain its small town appeal.