It‘s fair to say that those of us living in Reykjavik have a particular love affair with Mount 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, we talk about it and even sing about it.
Mount Esja is actually 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. From the parking, you just head straight to the mountain 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.
Mount Esja is 914 meters high but most people hike up to the Stone (Steinn) which is 780 meters high. 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 very good and you are used to hiking. Also, beware during wintertime as the weather can get pretty bad quickly. Stopping by the Stone is also perfect for a bite to eat and to strike up a conversation with the locals, also taking a breather before heading down again.
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, that you got good hiking boots and remember this is Iceland. The weather can change quickly and it can get very windy.