You do not have to go far outside of Akureyri for a great hike. Hiking trails range from family-friendly to challenging and unique, offering options for those looking for a leisurely stroll as well as avid hikers. Always check the weather forecast before you set off, as Icelandic weather can change in a heartbeat, and it is good to be prepared. Ensure you have the right equipment and leave your travel plans on www.safetravel.is if you are going far.
Glerárdalur is an uninhabited valley southwest of Akureyri, named after the river Glerá. There is an 11km hiking trail with a gentle slope leading down the valley to mountain hut Lambi, which needs to be booked beforehand if you want to use it. Newly developed trails connect the valley to the recreational area Kjarnaskógur and Mt. Hlíðarfjall. Take the ski lift up Mt. Hlíðarfjall for easy access to the Glerárdalur hiking trails.
Krossanesborgir is a nature reserve north of Akureyri with beautiful coastal trails and lots of bird-watching opportunities in summer. No less than 27 bird species nest there, including the arctic tern, black-headed gull, herring gull, and black-tailed godwit. With 190 plant species, vegetation is also diverse. In autumn, locals like to pick berries in the area.
Naustaborgir and Kjarnaskógur
Naustaborgir is a nature reserve southwest of Akureyri with lots of family-friendly tracks. Some of them will take you into the nearby Kjarnaskógur forest, another popular outdoor area. During the summer months, Naustaborgir offers a fun and easy walk to a bird-watching shelter overlooking a low-lying wetland with grassy vegetation. Often sighted bird species include the whimbrel, godwit, common snipe, several species of gulls, the white wagtail, and the meadow pipit.
Skólavarða (School cairn) is a cairn in the Vaðlaheiði mountain range on the eastern side of Eyjafjörður fjord, opposite Akureyri. A popular round trip to the cairn takes two+ hours on a straight but steep path, starting from the parking lot. From the cairn, you can see Akureyri, Eyjafjörður fjord, and Fnjóskadalur Valley if you walk east up on the mountain.
Hrísey is a small island of 11,5 square kilometres close to Akureyri, with high cliffs on the east coast and sand beaches on the west and south coast. Access to the island’s northern side is limited as it is privately owned and protected because eider ducks breed there, but the south side, where the village is, has plenty of good hiking options. You can read more about Hrísey on page 12.
Mt. Súlur Mt. Súlur is Akureyri’s much-loved “town mountain”. The hike up Mt. Súlur takes about 4.5 hours from the parking lot by the mountain and has an elevation of 800 m. From the top, you get beautiful views of Akureyri and Eyjafjörður fjord. It is also possible to start this hike from downtown Akureyri, adding two hours each way to the hiking time.