Akureyri is located in north-east Iceland surrounded by mountains reaching 1000-1500 m at the head of Iceland's the longest fjord, Eyjafjörður. While only about 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, summer days in Akureyri can reach 25°C. Winters provide the opportunity to experience heavy snowfalls and the occasional cold day interspersed with calm and still weather.
Akureyri has had a considerable influence on development of Northern Iceland. Despite the geographical isolation there has always been contact with the outside world through trade and export, chiefly of seafood products. Eyjafjörður was first settled by Helgi the Lean and his wife Þorunn in about the year 890. 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 charter; its population was then around 300.
Akureyri now has about 17,000 inhabitants making it the largest community outside the Reykjavik area. As the center of trade and services in northern Iceland, Akureyri has a varied and vibrant economic life. Its facilities for conferences and meetings are among the best in Iceland. The opening of the University of Akureyri in 1987 ushered in the city's role as a center of learning.
Sports and leisure activities abound. Akureyri swimming pools 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 national and international skiing competitions held over the winter.
The town's verdant surroundings have earned Akureyri the name the Green Town. Within the town limits the forested area (Kjarnaskógur) 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 its kind in the world, with a great number of plants and flowers. This is a particularly popular attraction for tourists.
Akureyri lies within easy reach of Goðafoss, Dettifoss, Hrísey, and of Grímsey, an island bisected by the Arctic Circle. There is a wide range of accommodation available in Akureyri and the surrounding area. Akureyri offers everything a small city has to offer but still manages to retain its small town appeal.