Akranes. A fun place for adults and children alike
A fun place for adults and children alike
It’s time to get out of the city and see what the rest of the country has to offer. Across the bay, Akranes beckons to you in the sunlight. If you’re travelling light, the easiest thing is to catch a regular city bus that will take you there for a few euros. If you’re driving, it’s just as easy. Head out of town, taking the ring road north. After passing under Mt. Esja, you come up to the tunnel. You have a choice: speed or sights. If you want to get there quickly, dive into the tunnel; but if you want to enjoy the sights, turn right and take the scenic route to Kjós. Passing the farms, you can’t help but enjoy the beauty of the countryside. Surrounded by summerhouses is Lake Meðalfellsvatn.
If you enjoy fishing, you can buy a license, sit down and wait for the fish to bite. Alternatively, you can continue down Hvalfjordur. At the bottom of the fjord stand the spectacular Glymur Falls, considered the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland. At a height of 198 m., it is also the highest. Hvalfjörður was, in times past, used for whaling and you pass the old, disused whaling station on your way around the fjord and the huts left over from World War II, when convoys used to gather here. Arriving at the roundabout, you will meet those who chose the tunnel route and will turn right on Road 5 towards Akranes.
The mountain on the right, Mt. Akrafjall, is a popular place to climb, as the view is quite spectacular in all directions. Be sure to sign your name in the Visitors’ Book when you reach the top! (It is an easy climb taking the route from the water works to Háahnúkur. Marked maps are available at information centres and petrol stations.) Watch for the gulls, as this is home to the one of the largest colonies of black-backed gulls in Iceland. Bird life in the Akranes area, both along the seashore and inland, makes it a popular choice for birdwatchers. The casual observer doesn’t even need binoculars, to enjoy them. There is a lot to see and do, so it’s a good idea to plan a stay, if you have time, in one of the guesthouses or on the well-equipped campsite – a popular place in summer for visitors from many countries to camp under the midnight sun.
Sports and pastimes of almost every description are available in the town. There is the excellent Garðavöllur 18-hole golf course on the edge of the town. Renowned for its beautiful surroundings, it is popular with golfers with its roofed practice stalls, special practice greens – and a course that is a surprise even for experienced golfers with one of the longest fairways in the country, dotted with sand bunkers – beware!
Next to the course is the Garðalundur recreational area, where you will find outdoor entertainment for the whole family – and a grill to cook a meal on after you have built up an appetite! While the children play in the playground, you could join a football or volleyball game. Be warned – football is the town’s sport and several international players playing in different countries began their careers here!
Iceland doesn’t suffer the sweltering heat, overcrowded beaches and polluted seas of the Mediterranean but Akranes has a beach where the children can build sandcastles or look for shells or colourful stones to take home. Here, the water is comfortably warm to swim in and it’s clean. Langisandur (Long Beach) is a place to relax and let the stresses of everyday life be soothed away by the gentle sounds of the surf.
Many people like to swim every day – though most use the swimming pool and take advantage of the hot pots, also. The pool is open to all and is a good place to meet people and discuss everything under the sun – literally!
Akranes’ Museum area is an unusual grouping of Folk Museum, Sports Museum and the Mineral Kingdom.
The Folk Museum houses a collection of exhibits covering farming, housekeeping and social conditions in and around Akranes. A seafaring section shows an 1874 fully-rigged rowing boat, models of boats and ships, along with interesting items from the Cod Wars with the British. The largest exhibit won’t fit in the museum: the cutter Sigurfari, built in 1885 is a twin-masted ship on display outside, though there are hopes of raising the capital needed to put it under cover and protect it from the violent Icelandic weather. The only ship of its type in Iceland, you can go on board and get the feeling for what it was like to sail in. There is a wide range of exhibits that anyone interested in the past will find fascinating. The Sports Museum features memorabilia from Akranes FC and from different Olympic disciplines. The Mineral Kingdom contains the country’s largest collection of rocks, minerals and fossils. Some are cut and polished to present a different perspective and many may be handled by visitors.
Over the past few years, efforts have been made to not only preserve the past but to present it in a living way. Old houses connected to the history of the town have been moved to the museum area and renovated in the style of their day. For instance, the minister’s old house, Garðahúsið, was the first concrete-built house, not only in Akranes but in the whole Nordic region. Each summer, visitors enjoy the celebrations that make such fun days for everyone – whether it be the fish feast, the doughnut-baking competition or market days.