Easy Hike in Reykjavik: Öskjuhlíð Hill
Heading to Iceland? There are many healthy things to do in Reykjavik, and hiking at Öskjuhlíð hill is one of them! Approximately 20 minutes on foot from the Reykjavik’s centre, Öskjuhlíð is the perfect little nature escape from the city. Best of all, it’s free!
At just 200 metres above sea level, Öskjuhlíð hill is an easy hike suitable for all ages and fitness levels. I went in February so it is definitely possible to hike in winter (though full disclosure, I’m Canadian and used to far worse temperatures). Overall, the entire hike took me 2 hours, but I started on foot from downtown and was also walking pretty slow the entire time to take photos. You could easily explore the area in a half hour if you drove there and parked.
Öskjuhlíð hill is home to one of Reykjavik’s famous architectural structures, Perlan. The hill has a series of wooded trails around it, including some old architecture from World war II still remaining within the forest. Apparently these walls were built to contain British army fuel tanks which occupied the country at the time. If the fuel tanks were hit by a German raid, these walls would prevent flames from spreading down the hill to civilians.
Getting to Öskjuhlíð:
From the Hallgrímskirkja church downtown, you can walk to the trail in 5-10 minutes, making this an accessible hike for those who don’t have a vehicle. There is also parking at Öskjuhlíð, so if you are driving you can park at Perlan and then explore the trails starting from the top down. I really liked the walk though though and would recommend traveling by foot!
Pro tip: If you are directionally challenged like me and haven’t already discovered MapsMe, I highly recommend it: it’s a free navigation app you can use offline. Conversely, you can download the Google map directions here.
Even though it was drizzling rain the day that I went, I still spent a good amount of time wandering through the trails. After meandering through the woods, I headed up the hill to Perlan, where there are some pretty stunning views overlooking Reykjavik. At first I wasn’t exactly sure what the building was or whether you had to pay to go inside, so I took some photos from the hill outside.
Eventually I caved and went to check the building out. At this time, they were renovating Perlan to create an indoor Icelandic glacier museum that would open summer 2017. At this point it was only open to the public for its café and free observation deck. I’m not sure whether it will remain free once the museum opens.
Time: 30 minutes minimum
What to Wear & Bring:
If you’re new to hiking, here is a helpful list of what to wear and pack before setting out for your trip to Öskjuhlíð hill.
- Water resistant jacket
- Thermal top
- Water resistant pants or insulated pants
- Comfy hiking shoes or winter boots
- Hiking socks
- Neck warmer
- Backpack rain cover
- Water bottle
- Trail snacks
- Hand sanitizer
- External charger
- Travel wallet
I hope this post helps you to plan your time in Reykjavik! If you are needing some Iceland inspo, you might want to read about the reasons you will fall in love with Iceland or browse through these healthy activities to do in Reykjavik!
If you are traveling on a budget, be sure to check out the best hostels in Iceland for backpackers!
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