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Mount Esja is the mountain seen along Rekjayik’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.


view of Esja mountain in summer

Esja mountain panoramic view

Towering over the capital of Reykjavik, Mount Esja seems to follow you wherever you go in the capital. A playground for both experienced and novice hikers, Mount Esja is blessed with moderate to extreme slopes, challenging each per their given level of experience. Hikers, if you miss out on this hiking hotspot in Reykjavík, your trip wasn’t worth it!

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 the mountain range that frames the Kjalarnes area.

Clear days call for scenic views extending as far as the edge of the Reykjanes peninsula. And on the clearest day, you can even see the next peninsula, Snæfellsnes and its towering glacier volcano Snæfellsjokull.

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.


Iceland Drone: Esja, subglacial volcano. Mountains of Reykjavík, Iceland


Stay on the path and avoid venturing into unknown areas as it is not only unsafe for you but also unsafe for the biodiversity of the area.  

Whether or not you’re hungry, Mount Esja’s Esjustofa is there at your service. Translating to “the House of Esja”, the cozy restaurant and cafe is tucked in the foothills of the mountain and is an essential stop after an exhausting hike.  

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. 


Esja mountain scenery in winter

Mount Esja landscape

Where is Mount Esja located?


Mount Esja in Iceland is located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Reykjavik, right above Mosfellsbær. It can easily be reached by car or bus and is the most renowned hiking location near the capital city of Iceland. You can park your vehicle 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 Mount Esja?

road in Iceland by the mountains

Road to Mount Esja, Iceland


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.


You can easily get to Esja by public bus, taking the number 15 route from Hlemmur Bus Station. You’ll then need to change at Háholt in Mosfellsbær, getting off here and taking the number 57, which will then take you right to the base of the mountain itself.

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


Esja mountain hiking trek in near Reykjavik

Hiking trail to Mount Esja

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.

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.

hiking trek in Esja mountain

Trekking path to Mount Esja, Iceland

For others, the steep rocky hill climb awaits. This is only recommended for athletic hikers, so the inexperienced are free to turn back or give it a try when they are more prepared.  

Another great thing about the hike is that you will be in the company of other hikers, both professional and newbies. So, feed your curiosity with their expertise and don’t feel out of place because there are going to be others like you!


General information about Mount Esja

  • Height - 914 m (2,999 ft)
  • Location - Rif, Iceland
  • Best time to visit - Winter
  • Activities - Hiking
Infographic of Esja mountain

Infographic of Mount Esja

Short History of Mount Esja

Mount Esja on winter in Iceland

Scenic view of Mount Esja in winter

Mount Esja formed during the beginning of the last Ice Age. Magma from eruptions accumulated beneath the glacier, and then the ice retreated, leaving a formed mountain.

The composition of Esja is basalt and tuff rock. It has a pretty rich flora for an Icelandic mountain, and many wildflowers can be found on it during the summer.

Fun Facts About Mount Esja

Foggy Mount Esja in Iceland

Windswept Mount Esja, Iceland

  • 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 challenging trail runner’s marathon held 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 to eat near Mount Esja

Esja mountain view from Reykjavik city

Reykjavik city by the Esja mountain

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.

  • Esjustofa – a cozy family-friendly restaurant and café at the foothills of the mountain.

  • Mosfellsbakarí – a lovely café/bakery where you can get good coffee and Icelandic baked goods.

  • Blik Bistro and Grill at the Golf Course – a delightful restaurant with some grand views.

Where to Stay Near Mount Esja?


  • Hotel Laxnes 
  • Iceland Wellness 

Guesthouses, B&Bs and Farmstays 

  • Fitjar Guesthouse 
  • Laugaból 
  • Minna Mosfell-Guesthouse 
  • Lundur Guesthouse 
  • Álafoss Apartments

Cabins and Cottages 

    • Skrautholar 

Esja in Winter

Reykjavik city near enormous mountain

Reykjavik and Mount Esja during winter

The snowy white winter paradise that Mount Esja becomes is a must-see. However, the paths are equally discouraging as the cold wind blows and snow covers the trails. But if you wish to witness this winter wonderland, you have to invest in sturdy boots and a good GPS. If not, then you would have to find another way out! 


Attractions Near Mount Esja