It‘s fair to say that for those of us living in Reykjavik, we have a particular love affair with Mt. Esja, which dominates the skyline to the north of the city. We look to it to predict the weather; we go there for hikes and runs, talk about it and even sing about it.

Mt. Esja is a large mountain range with a very popular hiking trail. Many people hike up there once a week for sport, some even run, but that‘s for the insane.

It takes about 20 minutes to drive there from Reykjavik. You can also take a bus from the BSI bus terminal. There are a parking area and a café called Esjustofa at the start of the trail. You just head straight to the mountain from the parking, where you will see the hiking trail. After a short walk up the trail, you will find yourself at a crossroad where you can choose to go left or right. The left path is shorter but steeper. The right path is longer and not as steep but quite rocky, so make sure you are wearing good shoes.

Mt. Esja is 914 meters high, but most people hike up to the Stone (Steinn), 780 meters above sea level. Once up there, you will have the most beautiful view of Reykjavik and the surrounding area. We don‘t recommend going all the way up unless the weather is perfect and you are used to hiking. Also, beware during wintertime as the weather can get pretty bad quickly. Stopping by the Stone is also ideal for a bite to eat and to strike up a conversation with the locals, taking a breather before heading down again.

Reykjavik and Mt Esja in March

The hike itself takes about 2,5 hours, depending on how fast you are. It’s a great way to spend half a day. Just make sure you dress in layers, have good hiking boots, and remember this is Iceland. The weather can change quickly, and it can get very windy. Please check the weather forecast or download the app before you head up Mt. Esja.

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