A City that Wears its Heart on its Sleeve
Iceland's second largest city is located on the Arctic Coast Way, one of the island's most beautiful driving routes. This impressive route stretches 900 kilometres along the north coast, through many small towns and spectacular scenery. There is a special atmosphere in Akureyri: Colourful wooden houses, cosy bars, and steep streets shape the city's image. With around 19,000 inhabitants, Akureyri is large enough for a lively cultural life yet small enough for cosy flair. The traffic lights there are the only ones in the world to light up with red hearts. The city wanted to set an example for greater cohesion in society in the crisis year 2008, when the Icelandic state was close to bankruptcy.
Cake and Soup for Breakfast
A day in Akureyri is best started with a hearty Icelandic breakfast. Bakaríið við Brúna at Dalsbraut 1 is a good address for this. The bakery boasts a huge selection of national and international breads, wonderful cakes, sweet treats, and sandwiches. One speciality is Skuffukaka, an Icelandic chocolate cake. Be sure to try the soup of the day, which is served - in typical Icelandic fashion - in a hollowed-out bread. Icelanders love to eat soup like this when it’s cold outside. A vegetarian option is usually also offered - but either one will give you a good base for a walk through the city.
Magnificent Church Architecture
Perhaps the most spectacular building is the Akureyrarchkirkja at Eyrarlandsveg 600, which is also a landmark of the city. This modern protestant Lutheran church was built in 1940 by the Icelandic architect Guðjón Samúelsson, who also designed the famous Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik. The organ with its 3,200 pipes and the large stained glass windows made in England are of particularly large. In 2017, the church was damaged with hate graffiti, which let to extensive renovation on the exterior walls. Almost all the city's sights, including its museums, can be reached on foot or by free city buses.
Visiting Nonni and Manni
Those familiar with the 1980’s television films about "Nonni and Manni" can meet the writer in Akureyri who provided the literary model for them: Jón Sveinsson (1857-1944). The author grew up in the Nonnahús, ðalstræti 54, a wooden house built in 1850, and one of the oldest buildings in Akureyri. Today, his life and work are depicted here with numerous original objects and photographs. For lunch (until 2 p.m.), Rub23 at Kaupvangsstræti 6 offers fresh sushi and light fish dishes, as well as vegetables or meat.
Natural Wonders Near the Arctic
The afternoon belongs to nature. The Botanical Garden in the Lystigarðin of Akureyri (free admission) is within easy walking distance. Located directly on the fjord, the area is home to over 1,500 plants from around the world, which are tested for suitability for the Icelandic climate. There is also a delightful coffee house. To round out the day, the Strikið restaurant at Skipagata 14 offers a delicious menu. The menu includes, for example, tenderloin steak or grilled salmon and Icelandic potatoes. Plan a whale watching tour for the coming days while you enjoy a delicious dessert ...
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