One of the things Iceland is most famous for is its hiking trails. From the paths surrounded by hot springs in Landmannalaugar to hiking near Reykjavik, there are lots of places to go. One of the best Reykjavik day trips to go hiking is actually quite close to the capital city. Mount Esja And its trails are perfect for everyone, from inexperienced climbers to more experienced climbers. So tie up your hiking boots and let’s get moving.
Mount Esja: Hiking Near Reykjavik
The Reykjavik mountain Esja is only about 15 km (9 miles) from Reykjavik. This means that not only do you have a gorgeous mountain view from the city, but you can also see Reykjavik once you’ve climbed to its scenic peak. It offers gorgeous views all year long; sometimes you can see it clearly on a cloudless day while other times it’s covered with snow. It’s quite picturesque and breathtaking and is part of Iceland’s unique scenery.
Because it’s so close to the city, it makes for the perfect day trip if you’re looking to get out of Reykjavik but don’t want to drive for a very long time. Some Icelanders have even been known to head there after work to go climbing. If you’ve got a case of wanderlust and are looking to escape the city, this is the perfect choice. Some travelers only have a few days in Reykjavik, and this is an excellent chance for them to explore Icelandic nature.
How to Arrive
It’s quite easy to arrive at this popular destination by either car or bus. If you don’t have your own transport, just head to the Hlemmur bus station and take bus number 15 going towards Mosfellsbær. You’ll want to exit the bus in Háholt. Get onto bus number 57 which will take you to the Esja hiking center.
When coming by car, you’ll need to take Route 49 (Vesturlandsvegur), and then take Route 1 (Þjóðvegur), which will take you out of the city. You will eventually arrive at Kollafjörður, which is a small, charming fjord. You’re going to take the exit to the right at the Northeast edge of the fjord and this will take you to a large parking lot. Like most parking lots in Iceland, this one is free. If you want to grab a bite to eat either before or after your hike there’s a restaurant /cafe at the bottom of the hill.
Mount Esja Hiking Trails
There are a few different paths that you can take. The most popular one is around 8 km (5 miles) long. It’s to the right once you start on your journey on the trailhead. This will take you to a big rock called Steinn, which means “stone” in Icelandic. This winding path and popular hike is considered the official trail on Mount Esja. It’s a beautiful trail that even goes through a lovely little forest. When the weather’s nice, it’s great for children. It’s less steep and much easier to walk than the other trail on the mountain. There are also connections to other treks that have various levels of difficulty.
There is also a shorter, more challenging hike which is the path on the left. You start at the trailhead but eventually you’ll come to a crossroads and this is the direction you’ll take to do the more difficult hike. Although, because it is so steep it will be a shorter way to the top. You will reach Steinn quite quickly, after just two and a half kilometers (1.5 miles).
Go For The Top?
Once you scaled part of the mighty mountain, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view. Fingers crossed that it’s a clear day you can see not only the beautiful fjord but also the stunning blue waters of the bay and its islands. And of course, Reykjavik city is one of the star attractions of the lookout points from the top of Esja. There’s a guest book for you to sign at around the 780 meter altitude mark at Varða (literal translation: rock pile). Most day-trippers stop here for a rest and sign the guest book before heading back. If you are an experienced hiker, however, then ascend all the way to the highest point.
The path becomes increasingly difficult as you ascend, so you really want to make sure you know what you’re doing. There are often thick clouds covering the top, so you might not be able to see very well. Additionally, conditions can change very quickly as we all know the unpredictability of Icelandic weather. They actually have steel chains at some parts.
If you’re not the most experienced hiker or don’t have good equipment you might have a very difficult time. But if you’re used to mountain terrain and have the right gear, you can have a lot of fun. You’ll find yourself facing exposed cliffs, which you will find easy to ascend.
Climbing Mount Esja
If you are one of the intrepid few who continue to the summit, you’ll reach it at 914 meters (2,998 feet). It’s called Hábunga or “the highest hill”. Once you reach the top it’s relatively flat. Be sure to pack your GPS, because if it becomes foggy, you won’t be able to find your way around.
The Reykjavik Mountain Esja
Iceland is a hiker’s paradise, and if you’re staying in Reykjavik for a few days, this could be a wonderful option for an excursion. Your level of experience doesn’t matter and this is a lovely, enjoyable way to spend the day. If you decide to climb a single mountain, make it Reykjavik mountain Esja and you won’t regret it