Glerá River runs through the town of Akureyri, mostly through a steep canyon. The river is flanked by walking trails for a taste of urban nature. The river originates from glaciers in the mountains of Tröllaskagi peninsula but also draws water from some fresh water springs on its way down the Glerá Valley. At the point where the river reaches the sea at the fjord Eyjafjörður it has formed the sandbank named “Oddeyri” one of the town’s oldest districts.
The river used to separate the town Akureyri from the Glerá Village, which was a settlement north of Glerá river. The Glerá Village merged with the township of Akureyri in early 20th century. Today the part of Akureyri that is north of Glerá is called Glerárhverfi (Glerá Borough) or Þorpið (The Village) and more than 7000 of the town's 18000 residents live there.
The river was important in the dawn of the industrial age in Akureyri when it was dammed and used to produce electricity in the 20th century. The original power station has been demolished now but the dam remains. A new power station was built in 2005 to commemorate 100 years of hydroelectric power in Iceland, producing about 290 kW (rated capacity). In planning stage is to build a new power plant further up along the river that will produce about 3.3 MW.
The name of the river is thought to be derived from a stone that the river brings along. A stone called Obsidian which is a hard, dark, glass-like volcanic rock formed by the rapid solidification of lava without crystallization.