Iceland’s most famous garden and the northernmost botanical garden in the world, Lystigardur, or Akureyri Botanic Garden, defies its close proximity to the Arctic Circle by growing trees, plants and flowers from all around the world. The 3.6-hectare space first opened as a public park back in 1912, but since the botanical gardens opened up in 1957, the area has served a dual purpose – both as a picturesque picnic spot for locals and an important hub of Iceland’s botanic research.
Over 7,000 plant, shrub and flower varieties are on display in the garden, including around 420 species of native Icelandic flora, the largest collection of its kind in the world, and a number of rare Arctic plants. Most impressive is the array of tropical and subtropical trees and plants, which thrive despite Akureyri’s annual mean temperature of 3.4°C, and an area of the garden is devoted to researching plant species that can survive in the harsh Arctic climate.
The Lystigardur Botanical Garden is located on Eyrarlandsholt in central Akureyri, a short walk from the waterfront and the Akureyrarkirkja. The garden is open June-September from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. Admission is free.