Running in Iceland (JB)


Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

Running in Iceland is great fun. Whether you like to run up mountains, along lovely pathways or in the city center, here are a few suggestions for a good run while living or traveling in Iceland.

There are some great routes in Mosfellsbær, Seltjarnarnes, Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær, all municipalities in the Reykjavík area.

Runners however face a few issues in Iceland, one of the more substantial ones being the wind. Yes the wind. Readers of my columns will know that when I speak of wind, I speak of no ordinary wind.

In Icelandic, one of the words for wind is rok and when it’s horribly windy, locals talk about rokrassgat or ‘an ass of a wind.’ And it is indeed an ass, a capital Ass indeed.

If you can take the usual one-digit temperature in celsius—whether below or above zero—there may still be hope for you. If you can tolerate the wind that is. There is always wind but on a good day, it is a mere strong breeze.

The company I work for very much encourages its employees to exercise and use the facilities provided. A natural facility for a run or a cycle near my work is Heiðmörk.

There are a number of paths to choose from and on a beautiful sunny day a good run is a dream come true whether it’s during a lunch break or any other time of the day.

Best of all is the fact that Iceland is considered to be one of the world’s safest places, so many people don’t think twice about running in the evening or late at night. The gentle Icelandic summer nights are said to be best enjoyed outdoors on a sleepless night.

Another lovely route is Ægisíða, the coast in my local borough Vesturbær. Running along Ægisíða can be absolutely delightful on a beautiful day and challenging on windy day. I usually run from the corner of Hofsvallagata and Ægisíða over Nauthólsvík beach and all the way to the end of pathway near Kringlumýrabraut and back.

I sometimes go up Suðurhlíð to Bústaðarvegur and either choose to run toward the center and back to my home or up the hill to Perlan and back down either along Ægisíða or Hringbraut.

Those two routes are my favorite.

For a short run on a Saturday or a Sunday morning, I also enjoy running through the center and along Grandi, sometime as far as to Grótta, where there is a lighthouse and a spectacular view of the bay.

These routes are also easily passable on a bike.

For the hardcore runners, running up Esja mountain just outside the capital city is also an option. At the foot of the mountain, there is Esjustofa, where beverages, food and information is available. It is important to always check the weather before heading up Esja as conditions can change quickly.

You can also venture further outside of Reykjavík, for example to the small town of Akranes, located roughly half an hour from Reykjavík. There I recommend Skógrækt, a tiny oasis of woodland between the town and the mountain Akrafjall.

Another recommended location is the town’s beach Langisandur. Locals sometimes play soccer on the beach. My father used to train for the football season there.

For the more seasoned runner there is Akrafjall, the mountain that stands tall over Akranes.

Running and cycling in Iceland is not always pleasant but is a wonderful way to explore the city and country as well as meet locals happy to share their local knowledge.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir(at)

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.