The beautiful Botanic garden in Akureyri is not to be missed when visiting the city. It was founded in 1912 after a group of housewifes founded the Park society and wanted "to have a park in Akureyri for the adornment for the town and a recreational place for the inhabitants". They were given 1 ha and created the first public park in Iceland and ran it with pride until 1953 when the town of Akureyri took over the management of the public garden and added a botanical garden in 1957. At first it was only open on Sunday afternoons, but now it is open all summer long until late in the evening.
Since 1957 it has grown every year into a beautiful park with over 400 species of native plants and 6600 alien plants. It is a really popular park both amongst the inhabitants of Akureyri and tourists alike. So pay it a visit if you are in the area.
All over the garden are poems by our beloved poet Jónas Hallgrímsson.
Opening hours are June 1st - September 30th - Weekdays from 8-22 and weekends from 9-22.
In June 2012 a big café was opened in the park.
The landmark of Akureyri is Akureyrarkirkja - The Church of Akureyri with 112 steps to the top of the hill. It is such a beautiful church, consecrated in 1940. It was back then the biggest church in Iceland. Our state architect drew this church.
Inside the church there are 17 beautiful stained glass windows, one of which is from a cathedral in Coventry, England, which was destroyed in WW2.
The christening font is a replica of a font one of our most known sculptors made, Berthel Thorvaldsen, and the altarpiece above the font is from the first church in Akureyri, which was consegrated in 1863 (see my 4th photo).
Do pay it a visit while in Akureyri and don't forget to count the steps!
For most Icelanders there is an obligatory stop at Brynja ice-cream parlour to buy ice-cream - when visiting Akureyri. This is just what is done :) It is almost the best known place in Akureyri :) I haven´t had this ice-cream since I turned vegan though, but my friends say that it is still delicious. But take care - as it is also said that this ice-cream can be addictive ;)
Fríður Leósdóttir, the owner of Brynja, says that they make their ice-cream from scratch, and that 100 g contain 4,74% fat, 4,43% protein, 17,69% lactose og 23,2% fat-free solid matters - and 130 calories!
Brynja is open daily from 11:00 - 23:00.
Do pay it a visit and find out if you like it as much as Icelanders do :)
You can take your photo in Akureyri with the parents of the Yulelads, who are ogres. They stand in Hafnarstræti, the main shopping street in Akureyri, and are quite grim looking and scary.
Here in Iceland we have 13 Yulelads, which are quite different from Santa Claus, but now we have all but adopted the American Santa Claus. There are records of names of 80 Yulelads, but somehow these 13 Yulelads have stayed with us until the modern times.
Our original Yulelads were spranksters and all of them have their special name. 13 days before Christmas the first Yulelad comes to inhabited areas and then a new one arrives every day until the last one arrives on the 24th of December. We Icelanders celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th of December.
The parents of the Yulelads are Grýla and Leppalúði (see my photo). Grýla is a very bad and grim ogre, and she eats badly behaved children, she comes to pick them up, puts them in her sack and then cooks them in her cauldron
Grýla and Leppalúði own the Christmas cat, he eats people who don't get any Christmas presents containing clothes. So you better get some soft Christmas presents if you don't want the Christmas cat to eat you ;)
Now this is my favourite museum in Akureyri, and I have fond memories of visiting Nonni's house when I was a child :) Nonnahús was the child-hood home of Nonni, Jón Stephán Sveinsson (1857-1944) and is one of the oldest houses in Akureyri, built in 1850 and opened as a museum in 1957. Nonni became a well-known writer of children's books and wrote 12 books on his life (I read all his books as a child and love them all and one can read them as an adult as well).
Nonni's father died when he was 11 and his mother couldn't raise her 5 children alone. Nonni and his brother, Manni, were sent to a Catholic college in France and later Nonni became a Jesuite priest.
Nonni's books have been translated into 40 languages and at the museum you will see his books in different languages on display. It is so awesome that different nations in the world love his books as well as we Icelanders :)
The museum is so lovely as it is like you have come to visit Nonni in his home as the rooms are preserved as they were - and I loved the kitchen as well :) In the garden of Nonnahús you can see old Icelandic toys (see my last photo), which consisted of sheep-bones and horns and sticks and stones. Times have changed, eh?
In one room there is a film on Nonni running on TV - there was an Icelandic film made on his life. There was a group of German tourists watching the film last time I visited Nonnahús - somehow Germans seem to like Nonni as much as we Icelanders do.
Opening hours: June 1st - September 15th from 10:00-17:00. From September 16th - May 31st the museum is open upon agreement.
Entrance fee: ISK 600
I highly recommend visiting Nonnihús while in Akureyri.
I have added a special page on Eyjafjörður:
The inhabitants in Eyjafjörður are 1.031. The viking settler in Eyjafjörður was Helgi magri or Skinny Helgi.
Here you have the lovely turf houses of Laufàs, beautiful old churches, the Grundarkirkja church, which is one of the most beautiful churches in Iceland in my opinion, and the old Saurbæjarkirkja turf church and the old church at Munka-Þverá.
Here you can also find The Christmas house and the wishing well of unborn children. And several museums.
Here you can find an island which is called The Pearl of Eyjafjörður fjord Hrísey.
Once a year there is a big festival called The great Fishday in Dalvík village. The theme of the festival is for people to get together, have fun and eat fish :D And the nation is invited to a great sea-food buffet - it is all for free and a lot of people from all over Iceland show up and stay for the night.
Opposite Nonnahús stands an old country-church painted black just like Nonnahús so it looks like both houses belong to one another. But that is not the case. The church belongs to Minjasafnið of Akureyri museum which is above the church. When visiting Nonnahús they will ask you if you are just paying the entrance fee to Nonnahús or if you want to get a discount to both museums (musei).
The church was built in 1846 by Þorsteinn Daníelsson who was well known for his church buildings. These old Lutheran country churches made of timber were void of extravagance, just nice small friendly churches and there are a lot of those in Iceland. This church was originally in Svalbarðseyri. See my tip on Safnasafnið in Svalbarðseyri. The timber churces replaced the old turf-churches so back then they were very modern. The alterpiece depicts the Last Supper.
The church is open so I visited it, even though I didn't pay entrance fee to the Minjasafnið á Akureyri museum.
By the church is Minjasafnsgarðurinn or the Museum garden, a lovely botanic garden since year 1900 with old cannons and more artefacts.
It's hard to miss the Akureyrarkirkja, undoubtedly the most distinctive building in town. This church is quite similar to the Halgrímskirkja in Reykjavík -- in fact, it was designed by the same architect, Guðjón Samúelsson. It's especially impressive looking at the structure from the bottom of the long staircase leading up from Hotel Kea on Kaupvangsstræti. On a clear day, look around the back of the church for tremendous views of the fjord and mountains.
A tree grows in Akureyri? Actually several do, along with lots of flowers and plants. A worthwhile diversion is to take the walk to the Akureyri Botanical Garden and Public Park. Stroll around the grounds and take in the pretty surroundings. We especially enjoyed the flowers growing near the greenhouse.
The gardens are open daily June - September from 8AM-10PM weekdays and 9AM-10PM weekends.
I just love the swimming pool at Akureyri and go there every time I visit Akureyri. Swimming pools are a favourite pastime here in Iceland and are heated with natural geothermal water. When ever I (and this goes for most Icelanders) am travelling in Iceland, I seek out the swimming pools. And most of them are excellent.
The special feature at Akureyri swimming pool are the two small waterfalls and it is absolutely lovely sitting under them. Highly recommended.
Our swimming pools used to be open much longer at nights, but due to the crisis in Iceland they are now closed way earlier than they used to be.
In summer time: May 28 - September 1st
Mondays-Fridays: 6:45 - 21:00
Weekends: 8:00 - 19:30
Winter: September 1st - May 31st
Mondays-Fridays: 6:45 - 21:00
Weekends: 10:00 - 18:30
Closed on Dec. 25-26, Jan. 1st, May 1st and June 17th.
Admittance fee: Adults: ISK 450 (2011), kids up to 15 years old: ISK 150.
I only have photos of the outside of the swimming pool, it is of course frowned upon taking your camera with you to take photos of the pool itself - and cell-phones with cameras are forbidden in the locker room.
Outside by the swimming pool there is a hot dog stand - take care not to get attacked by the cranky black-headed gulls there - they are nasty :(
Next to the swimming pool there is a pond with ducks and geese, which I go feed with bread while I visit Akureyri. Last time I visited there were some yellow chicks there, so sweet. But beware of the black-headed gull (see my warning tip). Last time I visited in the summer of 2012 I saw that there is a net over the pond. I was wondering why and threw one piece of bread to the ducks. Immediately the sky got filled with black-headed gull and we had to run away as they were very aggressive. Now I know why the net is there - to protect the ducks and geese from this aggressive bird :(
The pond is located beneath the swimming pool in quite a steep hill. There is a small park by the pond with sculptures and flowers, so this makes for a nice place to sit down and rest. I used to stop there often just for the flowers as there were rows of snapdragons there, which are my favourite flowers. Didn´t see them the last time I visited though.
One of the things that I love about Akureyri is that there are always big cruise liners there when I visit. During the summer time a lot of cruise liners stop in Akureyri harbour and the town gets filled with tourists from the cruise liners, it is so lovely.
As Akueyri stands by one of the longest fjords in Iceland, Eyjafjörður, then it adds a lot of character to the fjord when the cruise liners visit. I just love the sight of them. In the summer 2010 a big yacht of one of the managers of Microsoft visited (see my last two photos) - I remember that they were looking for something in the ocean, forget what though, but it stayed in Eyjafjörður fjord for days.
In my opinion, the best views in town are to be had by wandering down Strandgata, on the north side of the harbor. On a clear day, you get excellent perspective on the town, as well as an impressive panorama of the fjord and the mountains. You can get an extra treat if a cruise ship is in town -- these dock at the eastern end of Strandgata.
When there isn't a service going on (normally at 9AM), you are normally welcome to enter and view the church (though I've been told the church is locked off-season). The interior is quite majestic. Note the stained glass windows. I've read these windows were originally from Coventry Cathedral, removed during World War II to protect them from the bombs. They eventually made their way here to Akureyri.
Sigurhæðir is the former home of Icelandic poet Matthías Jochumsson, author of the the Icelandic National Anthem. It has been turned into a museum on Icelandic verbal arts, open from June to August. Entry is Kr 300.
I suspect the subtleties of Icelandic poetry would have been lost on me, though I did enjoy looking at the artificial waterfall attached to the property. The mirror-like quality of the water flow was quite striking.