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Mount Esja is the mountain seen along Reykjavík’s skyline and is home to popular walking trails for locals and travelers alike. In fact, if you’ve seen images of Reykjavík, you’ve almost definitely seen Esja! Find out all you need to know about the incredible views, neighboring towns, and popular hiking opportunities of Mount Esja in Iceland.

RECOMMENDED TOURS NEAR ESJA

Mount Esja is the crown jewel in the mountain tiara surrounding Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital. For many, Esja is a natural workout station, with its steep slopes testing your strength in every step and its epic views making it all worthwhile. The mountain is the most popular day hiking area in Reykjavík and truly a must for any avid hiker spending some time in the city.

Reykjavik Mt Esja Hike - ICELAND

Mount Esja in Iceland is a flat-topped mountain, measuring 914 meters (almost 3,000 ft) high located only 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) from the capital. It is a part of a mountain range that frames the Kjalarnes area.

The views from the top reach as far as the brim of Reykjanes Peninsula. On a clear day, you can even see the next peninsula, Snæfellsnes, and its towering glacier volcano Snæfellsjokull.

Iceland's Mount Esja in summer

The hiking paths leading up to Mount Esja are all carefully marked. On the way up you will be greeted by informative signs helping you choose the right paths for you. Each path is marked with a fitness level so you can choose an easier path or challenge yourself in the course hills.

Please note that regardless of which way you choose to go, you should always stay on the marked paths. It is not only to keep you safe but also to protect the vegetation and flora.

View from mountain Esja in Iceland

Esjustofa, “the house of Esja”, is a cozy restaurant and café located right at the foothills of the mountain. It is a fantastic stop to make after a good hike up the mountain. It’s also a good place for some of the less active members of the group to wait out the adventures of the others.

FUN FACTS ABOUT ESJA

  • You can fill your water bottle on your hike up the mountain from the river flowing down the mountain.
  • Even though most commonly called as such, Esja is in reality not actually a mountain but a volcanic range.  
  • Esja is one of the few mountains in Iceland with a female name.
  • Concerts have been held at the top of Mt Esja, with the artist flying in via a helicopter and fans flocking up the mountain to enjoy the music.
  • The Esja Ultra is a demanding trail runner’s marathon hosted every year. You can choose from three distances: 14k (2 loops), Mt. Esja Marathon (very demanding 45k course), and Mt. Esja Ultra Xtreme 77k (11 loops).

WHERE IS MOUNT ESJA LOCATED?

Mount Esja in Iceland is located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Reykjavík right above Mosfellsbær. It can easily be reached by car or bus and is the most popular hiking location near the capital. You can easily park your car for free at the well-signposted parking lot at the start of the hiking trails.

GPS coordinates of Esja: 64.2452° N, 21.6586° W

HOW TO GET TO ESJA?

DRIVING FROM REYKJAVIK

It’s hard to miss Esja’s presence in the Reykjavík skyline and you will see the mountain the whole way as you follow Road 1 out of town in a northerly direction. The mountain can easily be put into Google Maps if you wish to follow a map.

Reykjavik City And Esja Mountain Range

PUBLIC TRANSPORT TO ESJA

One of the best things about Mt Esja is that you don’t necessarily need to be an experienced hiker or even used to a lot of exercise to explore the mountain. There are different ways of exploring the mountains, designed to meet the needs of hikers at all stages.

Another exciting way to explore the mountain is via helicopter, but you can take a Helicopter Tour from Reykjavík!

DIFFERENT ESJA HIKING PATHS

One of the best things about mt Esja is that you don’t necessarily need to be an experienced hiker or even used to a lot of exercise to explore the mountain. There are different ways of exploring the mountains, designed to meet the needs of hikers at all stages.

Mount Esja Hiking trail

All the way you will find signs which give an indication of the difficulty levels of each route with a grading system of 1 to 3. This is one of the great things about hiking at Esja - you can choose the difficulty level that you prefer while still enjoying stunning views from the top! Experienced climbers can, therefore, choose to do the one rated the most challenging, number 3.

Those who are most interested in a stroll to the top of Esja are recommended to choose number 1. The path is divided into two sections: there is Þverfellshorn, which goes straight up on the left-hand side, and then there is Kerhólakambur, more on the right-hand side.

The first two signs are met by all hikers but in the third one, you can choose which path you will follow. At this point, more experienced hikers will often choose the left route, going a steep trail directly to the top, but others will make a right turn and follow a more gradual path.

River in Iceland's Mount Esja

After about 6.6 kilometers (4.1 mi) of walking and 597 meters (1,958 ft) in altitude gain, you will encounter the famous big rock called Steinn. This is where many like to stop and take photos. It’s also proof that they victoriously climbed Esja!

Others will continue all the way to the top, up a steep rocky hill. This last part is only advised for athletic hikers so at this point inexperienced climbers often choose to turn around.

Mount Esja nature in Iceland

You will very seldom have the mountain to yourself so if you feel like you might be going the wrong way or just have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask one of the hikers. Most people are happy to point you in the right direction!

WHERE TO EAT NEAR MOUNT ESJA

Whether before or after your climb, you might be after some lunch or a snack. Here are some of the best places to grab a bite to eat nearby.

  1. Esjustofa – a cozy family-friendly restaurant and café at the foothills of the mountain.
  2. Mosfellsbakarí – a lovely café/bakery where you can get good coffee and Icelandic baked goods.
  3. Blik Bistro and Grill at the Golf Course – a delightful restaurant with some grand views.
Mosfellsbakarí bakery in Iceland

WHERE TO STAY NEAR MOUNT ESJA

HOTELS

  • Hotel Laxnes
Room in Hotel Laxnes of Iceland

GUESTHOUSES, B&BS, AND FARMSTAYS

  • Laugaból
  • Minna Mosfell-Guesthouse
  • Álafoss Apartments

CABINS & COTTAGES

  • Skrautholar

WHEN TO HIKE MOUNT ESJA

Mount Esja is as stunning in winter as it is in any other season. However, its paths can get quite hazardous during the coldest periods. If you have sturdy boots, ice spikes for your shoes, and a good GPS, you are well qualified to do the hike in all terrains. If not, you might want to reconsider the timing of your visit or possibly choose an easier hike.

Snowy Mount Esja

ATTRACTIONS NEAR ESJA