The Friendly Town of Akranes
Akranes is one of the major economic centres of West Iceland and has a lot to offer the tourist.
Akranes has a lot more to offer tourists than might immediately be apparent. You see, Akranes is not an unattractive town by any means; but it can appear a bit ragged, unloved and windswept at first glance. Stay a while, though, and you’ll realize this is not the case. Get there by car or bus.
Museums, sports and beaches
Akranes, along with places like Keflavík and Selfoss, would probably be major stops on every visitor’s travel agenda were it not for one big factor: they are too close to Reykjavík. All three towns (and smaller ones in between) have in common that a lot of residents commute to the Big City for work and leisure. In Akranes this has been true since the Hvalfjörður tunnel cut the journey time to Reykjavík by about an hour in 1998.
For you though, that means simply that Akranes is easier to get to. And there are plenty of good reasons:
Akranes has one of Iceland’s best museums – or should we say museum centers. The Garðar museum area is home to the national sports museum, a geological museum which also charts the story of the above-mentioned tunnel and the very well-stocked Akranes Folk Museum. There you’ll find thousands of interesting displays, including the country’s largest collection of thimbles. Yes, thimbles! There is also a good café.
Akranes sports club, ÍA is one of the most successful football teams in all Icelandic football history swoon. If you’re a football fan, you’ve probably even heard of Akranes before. They have won the championship 18 times, including five years in a row in the mid-nineties. After a catastrophic fall in form, the team is once again doing well in the Pepsi League.
In the area around Akranes you will find a lovely beach, popular with sun bathers and swimmers in the summer, pleasant nature trails, and the beautiful Mount Akrafjall.
You can clearly see Akrafjall from Reykjavík (it’s the one just to the left of Esjan) and you’ll be pleased to know it makes a great hike for all the family. It’s challenging but not too much so – and the views from the top cannot easily be beaten.
Akranes is not on Route 1, but turning left after the Hvalfjörður tunnel and detouring through the town will not add too many kilometres to your northward journey. Alternatively you could eschew the tunnel altogether and drive the old Hvalfjörður road, making Akranes your destination for an interesting day trip! Or better, yet, leave the car and hop on the ferry that sails between Reykjavik city centre and Akranes daily.