In the travel world, there are two types of people who drive me up a wall: First, people who brag about how many countries they’ve been to, and second, those who include among that count countries in which they’ve only had a connecting flight. I’m sorry, but an hour in an airport gift shop with a Starbucks coffee in hand does not a fruitful visit make—nor does a two-hour layover, nor a one-day business trip before a speedy flight back home.
When we launched Here’s Travel Crush series in 2019, we designated it as a column for dreaming—the idea being that we had to write about places we’d never been before, but would love to go. But I think there’s also space to long for the places we’ve passed through but didn’t really get a chance to know. Rather than checking those destinations off the list with a “been there, done that,” I’m avoiding my own pet peeve and choosing to imagine what I might have experienced if I’d had a little more time to explore. (Plus, it’s 2020; there are no rules here!)
Being the die-hard Iceland fan on staff, I’m really craving a trip up north; when I’ve been, it’s always been around this time of year. That’s why this week, a return to Akureyri is on my mind.
The second-largest city in Iceland after Reykjavík (but still small by most standards), I passed through Akureyri while on a road trip in 2018, but never got the opportunity to explore much beyond an afternoon stop for lunch and a quick jaunt around town. But from what I can tell, there’s plenty to be done in this tiny destination at the base of the Eyjafjörður, Iceland’s longest glaciated fjord.
Fjordloose and Fancy-free
Icelandic food is notoriously pricey—and while there are ways to get around that, it’s usually worth going all-in on at least one meal. This time around, I’m eyeing waterfront restaurant Strikið for small plates like fried potatoes and steamy langoustine soup, fresh grilled salmon, and wine by the fjord.
“Look at that VIEW!”
This is the phrase I find myself repeating constantly anytime I visit Iceland. In Akureyri, I don’t expect any less: The views from the Hafdals Gistiheimili hotel or the Skjaldarvik Guesthouse, both of which sit on the water with mountain views, should keep me staring lovingly out across the landscape for at least a few hours each day.
Iceland: Nation of Unique Museums
Much like Reykjavík—home to such hallowed halls as the Punk Museum and the Phallological Museum (enter at your own risk!)—Akureyri has its fair share of odd museums: the Motorcycle Museum of Iceland, the Icelandic Aviation Museum, the Old Farmhouse Laufas (a look into how Icelanders of the past lived through preserved turf homes), Fridbjarnarhus (an antique toy museum), and Sverrir Hermannsson’s Sundry Collection (Ariel’s gadgets and gizmos aplenty, nor her whosits and whatsits galore, have anything on this eccentric artist’s enormous collection of stuff.)