Akranes is for people who enjoy nature, culture, and life
The town you can see gleaming in the sunshine across the bay from Reykjavik harbour is Akranes, a haven for photographers, campers, hikers, nature, bird and beach lovers and history buffs.
It’s only a bus ride away, with the regular bus service no. 57 or 58 taking you past picturesque farms, setting the stage for the variety of nature and bird life as you approach it. Once in the town, the local bus service is free.
Akranes is a very popular place for camping and caravans. The sites are well set up with all the facilities easily available. Shops and the two swimming pools are close by. There is also the golden sand beach, which is unusual for Iceland. There are changing facilities and a sun veranda right next to it. Hot showers and a jaccuzzi make it a relaxing place to enjoy the long summer evenings.
The geography of the area is inspiring for hikers, who have all levels of hiking open to them—including Akrafjall mountain that forms the backdrop to the town and, to a large extent, its protection from the northerly winds. From its peak, the view in every direction is absolutely spectacular, and provides the best view over Faxaflói Bay to be found anywhere. There are planned hikes twice a week or hikers and walkers can follow the different marked routes.
The town is surrounded on three sides by the sea—which gives plenty of scope for some good fishing. Since the camp site is right next to one of these fishing spots, catching your dinner is all the easier, if you’re a fisherman. There are a range of good restaurants available for those who aren’t!
Lighthouses with a view
The summers are usually warm and pleasant but the same cannot be said for the winters! At Breiðin, on the westernmost part of the Akranes peninsula, stand two lighthouses. The smaller is one of the oldest concrete lighthouses in the country, built in 1918. It is a little closer to the sea than the newer one and has been abandoned now. The rough winter’s seas pound it and send spray right over it. The taller new lighthouse is open to visitors from 10 am till noon daily throughout the summer and provides a beautiful panoramic view of the Akranes area and all the way to Keflavík, making it a spot for photographers to take full advantage of, as the birdlife around it is also diverse all year round.
Art, culture and sport combine
The town is known for its culture. The Music School is right in the centre; art and crafts are found everywhere, as is writing, singing and poetry.
Akranes is a family town with plenty of activities and sports. The 18-hole golf course is one of the country’s best and you can rent a set of clubs and enjoy it yourself. Football is very popular and their top team boasts several stars who have gone to famous international clubs. There is a great bar-b-que area in the park, surrounded by trees, with games and crazy golf. Walking and cycling are popular pastimes, with bikes available to rent and paths of different lengths to enjoy. Swimming is popular – either in the pools with their hot tubs or in the sea, where the bathing club invites guests to swim with them three days a week.
A dramatic picture of the past
The museum area is really worth visiting. Besides examples of fishing vessels down the years displayed outside, including the only example of a 3-masted cutter, the indoor section has samples of practically every aspect of the fisherman’s life. Next to it is another unusual museum: The Icelandic Sport Museum. Check out the footsteps on the floor. A Geological museum is housed in the same building with a large collection of stones which show just how colourful Iceland is. There is always an exhibit on display.
Lighthouse photo credits: Finnur Andrésson