Akureyri, North Iceland.
The town of Akureyri is known as ‘The Capital of the North’ as a result of it’s bustling city-like atmosphere. With a population of over 18,000 people, it is no surprise that Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest town after the city of Reykjavik. With numerous cosy cafes, browse worthy shops, magnificent sights, epic landscapes, exhilarating activities and authentic restaurants in which to indulge, Akureyri has everything you need for a short break. Just 40km from the Arctic Circle, and resting at the head of Iceland’s largest fjord, Eyjafjordur (60km long), Akureyri is a magnificent place to be, and plays host to numerous festivals and events.
In the Winter months, Akureyri is home to Iceland’s most popular skiing resort – Hlidarfjall, which provides the stage for the Iceland Winter Games, as well as the massively popular festival called AK Extreme, the events for which stretch from the mountain top right down to the town. As well as this, Akureyri offers sights such as Akureyrakirkja, the fantastic Church that overlooks the town, Nonnahus Museum, The old farmhouse of Laufas, whale watching, horse riding, Lystigardurinn (Botanical Gardens) and so much more all year round. Just further out of town are the wonders of Lake Myvatn, as well as the waterfalls Godafoss and Aldeyafoss, and the geothermal area of Hverir.
Of course, it is absolutely an area that needs to be on your list when visiting Iceland, however, the question is always ‘where to stay?’. In this article, I am going to focus slightly more on travelling on a budget. Whilst Akureyri has a wide range of accommodation to offer, ranging from hostels with dorms to cosy and private guesthouses, Air BnB’s right up to swarve apartments and luxurious hotels, I am going to recommend a local and well known dwelling called Akureyri Backpackers.
Akureyri Backpackers is situated right in the heart of the town, just a stones throw from the shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and the fjord, you’ll be perfectly placed to indulge in all of Akureyri’s riches. The establishment is a rustic, authentic, no-fuss abode, offering a variety of rooms such as shared dormitories, private double rooms and even family rooms. All bathrooms are shared and very well maintained, and the establishment even has a sauna for guests to use if they wish to relax. If you’re looking to save as much money as you can, Akureyri Backpackers even has a kitchen for guests to use, so you can self-cater as opposed to eating out if you prefer.
If, however, you wish to unwind in a rustically decorated and friendly eatery, look no further than the reception of your hostel. Akureyri backpackers is a much loved ‘hang out’ for locals and tourists alike. With it’s utterly casual scene, good local ales and scrummy meals available, you’ll need look no further when deciding where to unwind and get some grub. As well as this, it is a fantastic place to meet other travellers, and share hints, tips and stories through the evening. Whether you’re travelling alone or with company, you’re bound to strike up a conversation with an interesting character, and even the locals are more than forthcoming to share their knowledge and stories, and you could learn a thing or two about Icelandic life if you’ve got the time spare to sit and listen. The majority of Icelandic people I’ve met have got pockets full of folklore and real life tales of older times and modern advances. The lives of each individual has a different perspective to bring to the table, so if you’re spending your evening hanging out at Akureyri Backpackers, be sure to mingle with anyone who’s willing to chat. Likewise, the tourists here will have their own tales to tell, and you’ll meet all kinds of folk from such a massive range of backgrounds. You may even find yourself making plans with other people, as you’ll find they tend to be like-minded and passionate about the same things as you!
When I first stayed at Akureyri Backpackers I was a solo traveller. I met many people during my time chilling out in the bar area or cooking meals in the kitchen. One lady I met was only staying for one night, yet we spent the time getting to know each other and sharing our stories, which resulted in spontaneous planning and a late night road trip to find the northern lights. As difficult as you may find it in the 21st Century, put down your phones and your tablets, take out your headphones, shut your laptop, and resort to some good old fashioned chit chat. You never know where it may lead you.
If you prefer to have some time to yourself, you can find cosy window seats, built up with colourful pillows and cushions, situated at the end of the corridors, overlooking the town below. They are the perfect place to indulge in a good book, or even just have some quiet time after a busy day.
Overall, Akureyri Backpackers has everything to offer; rooms to suit all budgets and traveller type, be it solo or in company, clean bathrooms and kitchen area, incredibly convenient location, helpful and friendly staff, good food, an exceptional environment to relax in, and even a sauna. Akureyri Backpackers is more than just a hostel, its a traveller’s sanctuary.