View towards Reykjavík

Hiking Esja, Reykjavík

Mount Esja was the one that almost got away. Every morning we checked the weather forecast, it was too wet and windy to hike safely. So we held off, hoping we would get a chance. Thankfully the weather took a turn for the better on our last day in Reykjavík!

The Esja Mountain is not a single mountain but a mountain range consisting of several volcanic mountains formed over a long period of time and shaped by Ice Age glaciers.


Wooden building
Esja hiking centre

That morning we put on all our gear, packed some lunch and headed out to catch the bus to Esja Hiking Centre. We met two other people headed to the same place; after getting talking we ended up doing our whole hike together 🙂 I’d hurt my hip so I was a bit slow going uphill but they stuck with us all the way.

Mountain trail

View towards Reykjavík

We set off along Esja’s rocky paths; the view in every direction was absolutely spectacular! Vast areas of volcanic rock, moss and orange vegetation. I’ve never seen a burnt orange and black landscape like this before. It was stark but beautiful.

Rain and mist started creeping in and we soon realised we probably wouldn’t get much higher than Steinn — a big rock 200 metres below the peak. Past Steinn, the trail gets considerably steeper and is called Klettabeltið (translates to ‘the cliffs’). Locals had warned us that the last stretch shouldn’t be attempted when the weather is bad because slippery rocks make it dangerous. Had it been dry we would have gone further but it wasn’t worth the risk on this particular day.

Rocky terrain

Esja hiking trail

Meet Steinn! I was expecting this rock to be much bigger!! On a clear day the views are probably amazing haha!

Steinn rock
Steinn on Esja
People at Steinn rock
Me and Scott at Steinn

We all took celebratory photos of each other and thankfully there was someone there to talk a photo of all four of us together. I just realised we didn’t sign the guestbook! To be honest, it was so windy it probably would have blown away if we had tried.

People at Steinn rock
‘Team Esja’
Misty mountain landscape
View from Steinn

At some point in the future I’d like to get a GoPro (or something similar) for recording things like this. I like the idea of looking back at our hikes as we walked them.

Misty mountain top

Mountain in the mist

Steep mountain trail

Mountain stream

When we reached the bottom we had an hour to wait for next bus so we all unloaded our snacks and got to know each other better. I think this bus stop wins an award for the most scenic!

Misty mountain top
Bus stop view

From our apartment we had a fantastic view of the volcanic mountain range where Esja sits. The day after our hike we awoke to find fresh snowfall covering the top!

Reykjavík skyline with mountains have a webcam view of Esja and the harbour. Also check out the time lapse videos, they’re pretty impressive. The beam of light you can see is the Image Peace Tower memorial to John Lennon from Yoko Ono.

4 comments on “Hiking Esja, Reykjavík

  1. Wow looks like a beautiful place to visit. So stark but so vast. Breath taking. Glad you got the chance to go up there 🙂

  2. Ahhh this brings back all the memories from my own honeymoon!
    A GoPro would be awesome for hikes – you can even get chest straps for them, modern technology ey?

    • Indeed! I think I’d have to turn the sound off or I’d hear myself yapping or chewing the whole time. Chest strap is a good idea; they look pretty heavy duty!

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