Heart-shaped traffic lights in Akureyri, Iceland (Peter Moore)
Livorno (Peter Moore)

The heart-shaped traffic lights of Akureyri, Iceland

That time I went to Livorno and they gave me the keys to the city

After the financial crash of 2008, the mayor of Iceland’s biggest northern town decided to cheer up the locals with heart-shaped traffic lights.

There’s a lot to love about Akureyri in Northern Iceland. 

It’s small and manageable, with a quaint city centre that seems to consist entirely of cafes and shops selling outdoor gear.

It sits at the inland end of Eyjafjörður fjord, surrounded by mountains. When I visited in October, the autumnal coloured slopes were lightly dusted with snow.

There’s a municipal pool, heated by hot springs, a great foodie scene and a giant beer can outside the local Viking brewery.

The austere Lutheran church designed by Gudjon Samuelsson is pretty cool too.

But my favourite thing about the city were the heart-shaped traffic lights.

Only the red stoplights are heart-shaped.

The former mayor of Akureyri, Eiríkur Björn Björgvinsson, said the traffic lights were instigated after the financial meltdown to ‘remind the citizens what really mattered’ and give people a reason to smile at crosswalks and intersections.

They certainly brought a smile to my face.

Heart-shaped traffic light in Akureyri Iceland (Peter Moore)
The heart-shaped traffic lights in Akureyri in Iceland
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