Published September 13, 2017
While you won’t find many crunchy leaves or pumpkin spiced treats in Reykjavík, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a plethora of other ways to celebrate the upcoming fall season here. Our pick? A jaunt through the good ole’ outdoors.
The Heiðmörk nature reserve lies just a short drive away from the city center, and boasts some of Reykjavík’s most beautiful unspoiled natural areas. Stroll through dramatic red rocky outcrops dotted with foggy lakes and jagged lava fields all while waving hello at the occasional friendly horse or songbird. If you’re looking to make it a whole afternoon event, pick up a portable BBQ at Bónus, relax in one of Heiðmörk’s many grassy enclaves, and fry up some Icelandic style pylsur (aka hotdogs) to munch on. The area contains many easy walks and hikes so feel free to bring the tykes along, too.
Reykjavík’s old harbour area is the ideal backdrop for a seaside sunset stroll. Watch the boats coming in and out, visit the little lighthouses behind Harpa, or just relax on the rocks with your sweetheart as you take those #nofilter Instagram posts guaranteed to get the likes you’ve always dreamed of. For something a bit more secluded, continue past the Sun Voyager sculpture to an outcropping of land known as Laugarnes. There’s a sculpture garden there, and some tucked away benches with views across the sea to Viðey Island and Mount Esja. Finish your jaunt off with some lobster soup at The Sea Baron or a cocktail at Slippbarinn.
That large mountain towering over the Faxaflói bay across from Reykjavík is called Esja. The base camp is at the very end of the city’s bus system, so the trek up it is a convenient excursion for those that haven’t sprung for a car rental. You can either hike up to the base camp level, or continue all the way up the rough path to the top. While it can get a little nippy in autumn, be warned: The hike can get slippery in winter, so take along your best snow grips and waterproofs. Seriously. You’ll thank us later.
Viðey Island is situated just off the coast of Reykjavík and contains a staggering array of winding walking/biking paths showcasing everything from old Icelandic ruins to mind-blowing modern art. Gaze at Yoko Ono’s famed Imagine Peace Tower, a stunning selection of Icelandic birdlife, and—if the weather is clear—a view that journeys all the way to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Ferries operate from the Skarfabakki pier and Ægisgarður harbour daily during the summer season (May 15th until September 30th) and on the weekends for the the rest of the year. Admission is 1.500 ISK for adults, free for children under six years old, and reduced for students, the elderly, and the disabled.
Just a stone’s throw away from Reykjavík lies the port city of Hafnarfjörður and just a short drive from there is Helgafell—a small mountain with a lovely view of the Reykjanes peninsula. The easy trek takes about one hour and is safe to hike all year, although the ascent can be icy and difficult—bordering on dangerous—in the winter. But with tourist season dying down and sunlight still strong, autumn is the perfect time to mosey on over. Warning: Hafnarfjörður is known as the elf capitol of Iceland, so make sure to be respectful of the mountains supernatural inhabitants.
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