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Akureyri, known as Iceland's capital of the north, is one of the country's largest cities – even with only around 20,000 residents. Don't be fooled by its size though: there's plenty to see and do here, with a variety of museums and art galleries to explore, flourishing gardens to wander through and cool cafés and bars to unwind in. It's also at the head of Iceland's longest fjord, 60km-long Eyjafjörður, where you'll have scenic views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and the chance to spot whales in the fjord's tranquil waters.
You can expect free Wi-Fi at hostels in Akureyri, as well as a free breakfast in some. Step into the future at a hostel where you can sleep in a sci-fi style pod instead of a bunk or stay in a well-established family-run hostel that will offer plenty of local tips. If you're looking to meet other travellers, choose an Akureyri hostel with an on-site bar for budget-friendly drinks.
Despite being a small city, Akureyri has a surprisingly busy centre that offers everything you'd find in a larger urban area. Its streets of colourfully painted buildings house quirky coffee shops and buzzing bars, and there's even an open-air swimming pool. Further out of the city is the awe-inspiring Eyjafjörður fjord, bordered by majestic mountains thousands of metres high. Mount Hlídarfjall is a particular favourite in the winter for its ski resorts, offering cross-country and downhill routes.
When in Akureyri, you can spend time at one (or five) of the city's excellent museums. Top of the list is the Akureyri Art Museum, which has exhibitions by local and international artists. You could also catch a concert or show at the Hof Cultural and Conference Centre. To see how Icelanders lived in the past, head a few kilometres out of town to check out the Laufás turf houses. If you want to experience northern Iceland's natural wonders, take a boat trip to spot minke and humpback whales or simply look to the winter night sky for the magical but elusive Northern Lights.
There are flights directly into Akureyri from airports around Iceland, including Reykjavík, as well as from Greenland and the UK. The airport is just 3km out of town: you can reach it in about 5 minutes in a taxi or rental car. You can also catch a Strætó bus into Akureyri from Egilsstaðir, Reykjavík, Húsavík and Siglufjörður. To get around the city centre, jump on one of the city's free-to-ride yellow buses.