According to Landnmabk, the first Viking ships sailed into Eyjafjrur fjord, its mouth barely 40km south of the Arctic Circle, around 890, fifteen years after the Settlement began. The first intrepid pioneers to set foot in the hitherto uninhabi-ted north, Helgi Magri (Helgi the Lean) and runn Hyrna, made landfall at Kristnes, 9km south of where AKUREYRI presently stands, believing that r had guided them into Eyjafjrur. Their faith seems, however, to be been in a state of confusion since they curiously chose to bestow an unqualified Christian name (Christ's Point) on their new home. Although little more is known about this early period of Akureyri's history, it is thought that Helgi suffered from a nutritional disease he developed as a child in the Hebrides, where he lived with his Irish mother and Swedish father before coming to Iceland.
Several centuries would then pass before mention of what is now Akureyri was made, its name "the cornfield on the sand spit" a clear indication of its current location, the land promontory where Laxdalshs, the oldest building in town dating from 1795 and now a private home, currently stands at Hafnarstrti 11. In 1602, however, Akureyri became a trading post with the establishment of a commercial monopoly which gave the Danish merchants of Helsingr the exclusive right to trade with Iceland. Curiously though, the traders were not permitted to take up permanent residence in the town, forced instead to leave for Denmark after closing their stores in the autumn. It wasn't until 1787 that this punitive monopoly was lifted and Akureyri became one of six towns in Iceland to be granted municipal status, despite the fact that its population then numbered little more than a dozen and most trade remained firmly in the hands of Danish merchants and their families. However, it was to the sea and its sheltered harbour, today located right in the heart of the town between Drottningarbraut and Strandgata, that Akureyri looked for renewed prosperity. Indeed, from then on the town prospered, and in the late nineteenth century one of Iceland's first cooperatives, KEA, was established here, going on to play a key role in the economy. Iceland's only university outside Reykjavk was established here in 1987 giving the town a much needed youthful boost.
Today, the transport hub and commercial centre of the whole of northern Iceland is divided into two distinct areas: the town centre, harbour and commercial district north of Hafnarstrti, the main street, and the suburban areas to its south, where the distinctive Akureyrarkirkja church, museums and the superb botanical gardens can all be found. As far as entertainment goes, the town is a decent enough place to relax in for a day or two, with an excellent open-air swimming pool and enough cafes and restaurants to keep you well fed and watered. That most un-Icelandic thing, the forest, makes a welcome appearance just south of Akureyri in the form of Kjarnaskgur, easily accessible on foot from the town centre and a popular destination for locals at weekends who come here to walk the many trails that crisscross the forest and to picnic. If you're doing much touring, you're almost certain to find yourself in town sooner or later, as it makes an excellent base from which to explore nearby Lake Mvatn, Hsavk and the Jkulsrgljfur National Park.