A new startup airline based in the north of Iceland is set to open up this lesser-known region to far more tourists than ever before. The timing couldn’t be better, with Iceland’s hottest new attraction, the Forest Lagoon, open now just a few minutes’ drive from Akureyri.
With a new airline and new attractions, Northern Iceland becomes an interesting alternative for travelers in what looks to be a busy summer of tourism in Iceland.
An introduction to Akureyri
While informally known as the ‘capital of northern Iceland’, Akureyri remains small by global standards. Lesss than 20,000 people call it home.
Previously only accessible to tourists by cruise ship, or a 40 minute flight or 4.5-hour drive from Reykjavik, Akureyri is understandably off-the-radar of many travelers despite its status as Iceland’s biggest town outside the capital region.
Despite its northerly latitude, the port’s ice-free harbour saw trade and the fishing industry fuel the town’s growth. What tourism there is has up until now focused on whale-watching tours, the impressive Godafoss waterfall, birdwatching and adventure activities such as hiking on the mainland and the many beautiful islands nearby.
The Forest Lagoon
Open for just a few months, the Forest Lagoon has quickly captured the attention of the world’s media to give Northern Iceland a destination spa to rival the famous hot pools of the southwest.
Set among woodland just 5 minutes’ drive from Akureyri, the naturally-heated geothermal waters were originally a problem for construction of a tunnel connecting Akureyri and Húsavik. Eight years on, that water has become a dramatic new attraction for the area.
Open until midnight seven days a week, the attraction includes two infinity pools featuring two swim-up bars and a separate bistro.
Welcome to Niceair
To begin with, Niceair will use just one 150-seat Airbus A319 to fly to Akureyri from London, Manchester, Copenhagen and Tenerife.
While the latter route is more for the benefit of sun-starved Icelanders, the other three are aimed squarely at tourism. The company’s longer-term goal is to operate year-round scheduled flights from many more foreign destinations to Akureyri Airport.