Is Akureyri Iceland really the best European destination in 2015?
Much ado about the nomination of Akureyri Iceland as the best European destination in 2015 by travel giant Lonely Planet. But is it really so hot?
The answer is yes and no. While such nominations suffer from really being just the opinion of a travel writer or two, there is a case to be made that Akureyri is indeed one of the nicest towns to visit on this island.
The pros are as follows: Akureyri actually has a real center with people and decent shops and restaurants. In a country of 300 thousand people where 75% live in or around Reykjavik city that is quite a feat. Akureyri also has a very rich cultural offering for its size. It has one of the nicest botanical gardens in the country and few areas rival Akureyri in wintertime regarding skiing. The town´s swimming pool is world class and here is a pretty good golf course as well. The town church is excellent too. Last, but not least is still retains a handful of its oldest buildings beautifully restored which is always a pleasure to see.
But one thing Lonely Planet gets very wrong in their nomination. One of the key things they say is the tranquility of the place not least because of the limited number of tourists around. That is simply utter nonsense. The center of Akureyri is pretty jam-packed with tourists in summer season. Bear in mind this is still a very small town with only 20 thousand inhabitants and Akureyri has always been a popular stop for Icelanders themselves. Add hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists in the short summer season and it takes no Sherlock to know that it takes quite a while to get a seat in most restaurants here in summertime. Hotels are mostly full and expensive and there is an awful lot of traffic.
Do visit and take a day out at least but don´t expect to have the place to yourself. Especially not now that the recommendation will undoubtedly send thousands more to this place.