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North iceland, an arctic experience

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Akureyri

Whatever the time of year, Akureyri is a lively and energetic town, and home to around 17,200 inhabitants. It is by far the most densely populated community outside the Reykjavík area, and is the centre of trade, culture and services for the north of Iceland.

It is a town closely associated with educational institutions and cultural events, all of those having strong traditional roots. Two of the largest fisheries in Iceland are based in Akureyri, and the growth of the tourist industry means that this is playing an ever more important role in the life of the town.

Akureyri is close to many of Iceland's most renowned natural beauty spots and the town itself is a popular stopping place for both long and short stays.

Below is a list of places we would recommend as being well worth a visit while in Akureyri:

  • The Akureyri Botanical Garden (with 400 plants indigenous to Iceland and more than 7,500 foreign species)
  • the Akureyri Art Museum Listagil Art Centre
  • Akureyri swimming pool
  • Húni II ? a boat built from oak in 1963, which is to be found at Torfunefsbryggja pier
  • restaurants which offer dishes prepared from produce originating in the surrounding countryside
  • Kjarnaskógur wood the
  • old town ?museums, a church and historical buildings
  • Jađar golf course ? the most northerly 18-hole golf course in the world
  • Hrísey island ? the pearl of Eyjafjörđur
  • the Akureyrarvaka festival which is held in August each year and is the culmination of the Summer Festival (Listasumar) which runs from mid -June until the end of August
  • beer from the local breweries, Víking and Kaldi
  • Brynja ice cream ? a favourite with the local people
  • Akureyri Church
  • Hlíđarfjall ski slopes.
Bárđarbunga

Bárđarbunga, is a stratovolcano located under Vatnajökull, Iceland's most extensive glacier. The second highest mountain in Iceland, 2,009 metres (6,591 ft) above sea level, Bárđarbunga is also part of a volcanic system that is approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) long and 25 kilometres (16 mi) wide.

Kjarnaskógur woods

South of Akureyri is Iceland´s most visited "forest" Kjarnaskogur woods. The area has 2km long athletic course, walking tracks, picnic tables and children´s playground. Campsite at nearby Hamrar.

Borgarvirki

Borgarvirki is a 10-15 metre high ridge of columnar rock. This phenomenon is a volcanic plug, and there is speculation as to whether it was, in ancient times, a district fortress and even, perhaps, a battleground.
From Borgarvirki there is a wide panoramic view over a large part of the region and a viewfinder is in place to help locate some of the important landmarks.
This is truly a unique natural phenomenon, but one which has also seen some improvements by the hand of man in bygone days.

Raufarhofn

Raufarhöfn is a fishing village with 250 inhabitants and is also the most northerly community in Iceland. Because of its position, Raufarhöfn has the longest days in Iceland during the summer and the shortest ones in winter.

The Arctic Circle lies just off the coast and in the village an arctic henge is being prepared.

There is a good camping site with excellent facilities, including showers and electric hook-ups for caravans, tent trailers and camper vans. And for the youngest and most energetic members of the family there is a playground, situated close to the elementary school, and a sports centre beside the camping site.

In Raufarhöfn can be found all the basic services, such as a health centre, chemist's shop, food store, a bank, post office, petrol station, garage, hotel, pub, gallery, etc. And from the village it is possible to book a sail to take you north across the Arctic Circle.

There are many other pursuits which may tempt the visitor, for example bird watching, fishing by the harbour or in one of the many lakes and rivers, or going for a walk on Höfđi or around the flatlands of Melrakkaslétta.

27. July
The Great Seal Count
The Great Seal Count is a special project performed at Vatnsnes peninsula and the east coast of Heggsstađanes peninsula every year, in July and August in rotation.
Stóri- Karl

Langanes is a veritable outdoor paradise teeming with birdlife, great for nature study and hiking as well as some tangible history. A trip to the outlying peninsula is an unforgettable adventure, passing remnants of ancient farms and more recently deserted buildings like Skoruvík. Below Skoruvík cliffs is Stóri Karl rock column, one of Iceland's largest gannet colonies.

Seal Watching

Seals are incredibly beautiful and entertaining creatures and they are also said to be quite curious. Seal watching is a wonderful activity for the entire family.

6.-13. March
Iceland Winter Games
The northernmost slopestyle competition of the season. In March 2015 6.-14. Icelands first ever AFP slopestyle competition will take place in Akureyri, the ski capitol of Iceland.
Jeep- & Glacier Tours

Many travel agencies specialize in different kinds of jeep exhibitions. A jeep tour on a glacier with breathtaking views is an unforgettable experience.

Snowmobile and ATV Tours

Many agencies offer snowmobile or ATV tours. They are suitable for anyone looking for a little excitement and adventure while on vacation.

Hólar in Hjaltadalur

Hólar is one of the most famous historical sites in Iceland and was, for many centuries, an Episcopal See. It was also the capital of North Iceland for over 700 years. There has been a church on the site from the 11th century, and the present Hólar Cathedral was consecrated in 1763. It is the oldest stone built church in Iceland.

Hólaskóli School, founded in 1882, was an agricultural school, but there is evidence that some form of school has been present at Hólar right from the time of the first bishopric. Archaeological research has been carried out at Hólar over the past years and more than 40 thousand items found, some of which are now on display in the old schoolhouse.

Hvítserkur

Hvítserkur is a 15 m-high sea stack just off shore on the eastern side of Vatnsnes. Good seal spotting place at the estuary of the Sigridarstadir lake, south from the stack.

Grímsey Island

Grímsey is a green, grassy and particularly agreeable island, probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. Many visitors go there solely to step across that line, south to north.

The island is 5.3 km2 in area, its highest point is 105 metres and the distance from "Iceland" is 41 km.

Life on Grímsey is bright and energetic, and the inhabitants are of a happy disposition, working and playing with equal wholeheartedness. A good swimming pool was opened there in 1989. The inhabitants of the island do their shopping in the village store, Búđin, which is privately owned, and sells a wide variety of goods. There are two guesthouses on the island, one of which is open all year round.

The ferry, Sćfari, sails from Dalvík to Grímsey 3 days a week all year round. There are also regular flights by Air Iceland, 3 times a week during winter and 7 days a week during summer.

Kolugjúfur
As you drive along Víđidalur, you will come to Kolugil Farm which stands beside the Víđidalsá river. Just below the farm, the waters flow peacefully downwards to plunge into the deep, rugged gorge called Kolugljúfur. Their journey then sends them cascading over many waterfalls which bear the name Kolufossar Falls in honour of the giantess, Kola.
It is a breathtaking sight to drive across the bridge and watch the calm waters of the river suddenly leap and tumble onwards over so many impressive falls ? a sight which will leave no one unmoved.

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    North Iceland

    Towns & Villages

    Society and the economy have many faces. Whereas agriculture is the mainstay of rural areas, the towns depend upon fishing, industry, trade and a range of services, with each village having its own characteristics though they all prove hospitable hosts. 
    The availability of food and accommodation and the possibilities at every location for recreation and entertainment make hopping between the villages informative as well as fun.   
    In every case, the residents are lively and ready to celebrate.

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    Map Akureyri Hrafnagil Grímsey Raufarhöfn Kópasker Ţórshöfn Bakkafjörđur Húsavík Mývatn Laugar Svalbarđseyri Grenivík Hjalteyri Hauganes Árskógssandur Dalvík Hrísey Ólafsfjörđur Siglufjörđur Hofsós Hólar Varmahlíđ Sauđárkrókur Skagaströnd Blöndós Hvammstangi Laugarbakki Borđeyri
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