Loading ...

Why the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula is Worth Visiting on a Day Out in Reykjavik

Take a walk in Seltjarnarnes Iceland. Explore the scenery and go birdwatching on foot on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula within the Reykjavik city limits.
Seltjarnarnes Iceland in Reykjavik was the perfect place to get in touch with Icelandic nature and birds without leaving the city limits. I was super-excited to take a walk in Reykjavik. 

I'd spent so much time over the previous few days in a car driving around South Iceland and the Golden Circle that all I wanted to do was stretch my legs and go for a hike around town. But what are the best places to walk in Reykjavík? 

Starting in Reykjavik's city center, I took myself on a self-guided walking tour in Seltjarnarnes. Seltjarnarnes is part of Reykjavik but you'll feel like you've been transported to an entirely different place. 

Read on to learn more about how to spend an afternoon walking from Reykjavik to Seltjarnarnes in Iceland's capital region.

Take a walk in Reykjavik: hut and city views in Seltjarnarnes

Pre-Walk Lunch at Snaps Bistro in Reykjavik City Center

Pre-walk: Lunch plate of the day at Snaps in Reykjavik
I knew that I had a long walk ahead of me to Seltjarnarnes so it was important that I was well fed before setting out. I stopped into Snaps Bistro for their lunch plate of the day and a glass of wine. 

Cemetery Walk and Birdwatching at Hólavallagarður

I planned my Reykjavik walking route over lunch and set out toward Seltjarnarnes with Google Maps as my guide. En route, I discovered Hólavallagarður and decided to take a detour on my hike through the cemetery.
Gravestones in Hólavallagarður cemetery in Reykjavik Iceland
Hólavallagarður was idyllic. I especially enjoyed seeing the garden birds of Iceland foraging for nesting material and worms.
Bird building a nest in Hólavallagarður cemetery in Reykjavik Iceland

Exploring the Seascapes at Skerjafjörður on Foot

Sea views at Skerjafjörður on a walk to Seltjarnarnes in Reykjavik Iceland
Continuing my Reykjavik city walk, I emerged onto the sea at Skerjafjörður. Looking out over the calm blue waters, I felt like I'd left Iceland's capital behind. 

I'd only walked for about 30 minutes but I felt like I was in another world as I made my way closer to Seltjarnarnes. The rocky Seltjarnarnes Peninsula jogging path hugged the coast.
Rocky path that's great for a hike along the coast in Setjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik Iceland
Looking inland, I was surprised to seeing two silver statues, modern art at its finest, sitting outside someone's home in Reykjavik. The scene just made me smile. This is something I totally would have missed if I hadn't taken the time for this Icelandic city walk.
Two silver modern art statues hugging in Seltjarnarnes Iceland

A Hike and Coastal Birdwatching In Seltjarnarnes

Reykjavik Seltjarnarnes: Shorebird hiding among the grass and flowers
Pressing further into my Reykjavik walking route, I arrived at the far end of the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula. As I walked, the houses faded away and I was left with pure nature. 

As I was staring at the scenery, I heard an insistent bird call. Looking around the trail, I discovered a wayward seabird perhaps looking for a mate in the tall grass.

The black rocky beach on the protected south side of Seltjarnarnes Peninsula was dotted with terns and plovers.
Plover on the black sand beach on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik Iceland
A black-headed gull in full breeding plumage pranced about. It was hard to believe that my city walk in Reykjavik had taken me to such a remote and beautiful place.
A black-headed gull spotted on a walk through the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik city
The weather in Reykjavik can be fickle and highly dependent on where you are. The Southern area of Seltjarnarnes peninsula forms a protective bay and the water is extremely calm. 
Calm waters on the southern edge of the Setjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik
Walking to the far western edge of Seltjarnarnes Peninsula near the Seltjarnarnes Golf Course and peeking over the dunes is an entirely different story. The sea is rough and the wind blows fiercely. I quickly retreated back behind the protective barrier.
Rough waters on the west side of Seltjarnarnes Peninsula on a walk in Reykjavik

Hiding Out at Reykjavik's Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve

Bird hide spotted on a hike through Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Seltjarnarnes Iceland
A large lake forms the center of Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve. I spotted a bird hide and walked over to it.

This was a great spot to do some birdwatching while taking a break to warm up from the chilly early June air. I spotted a pair of whooper swans in the distance with cygnets.
Whooper swan spotted on a walk in Seltjarnarnes Iceland
Even beyond the birds, the view from the hide was simply magical. Who knew that there was so much to do on a day in Reykjavik without a car. I watched Eider ducks take flight and a merganser dive and resurface on the lake.
Merganser spotted on a walk in Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Seltjarnarnes Iceland
From inside the hide at Bakkatjörn, I could see geese and oystercatchers waddling in the grass. I spotted some geese heading north against a backdrop of beautiful mountains and decided to continue my walk to follow them.

Glimpsing Grotta Lighthouse and Nature Reserve

Places to walk in Reykjavik, Iceland: Grótta Lighthouse on Setjarnarnes Peninsula
The geese led me right to Grótta Lighthouse. It looks like you can walk out to this island off the coast of Reykjavik at certain times of year at low tide. 

In fact, Grotta Lighthouse is known to be a great spot for seeing the Northern Lights in winter in case you are planning a January trip to Iceland. When I visited Reykjavik, the island was closed off due to nesting birds. I satisfied myself with a view from a distance and then moved on.

Walking the Windswept North Coast of Seltjarnarnes

My self-guided walk around Seltjarnarnes soon brought me to the windswept north coast of the peninsula. Birds nested and hunted from the rocks as choppy waves broke.
Birds along the north coast of the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik Iceland

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other ideas of what to do near Reykjavik? Visit the iconic Blue Lagoon and bath in the steaming waters under a midnight sun.

A Great Place to Walk for Reykjavik City Views

Take a walk in Reykjavik: hut and city views in Seltjarnarnes
The north coast of Seltjarnarnes is a great place to walk for Reykjavik city views. Looking back, I could see Reykjavik's iconic cathedral (Hallgrímskirkja) and the modest skyline of Iceland's capital.

Reykjavik Transit Pass is a Leg Saver

By the time I'd hiked a loop around Seltjarnarnes and emerged on the north shore of the peninsula, I'd been walking for a few hours. Prior to my departure, I'd checked Google Maps and learned that there was a bus stop nearby. 

You may be wondering about where to stay in Reykjavik. One consideration is location. My hotel (Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura) included a Reykjavik City Card with our accommodation so all I had to do was wave my pass and get on the bus. 

It's worth checking to see if your hotel does something similar or if it would be possible to purchase a Reykjavik City Card for unlimited rides on the city bus in Reykjavik. 

Reykjavik Bus from Seltjarnarnes to the city centre

Download the Klappið app on Android of iPhone and you can buy a single ride ticket whenever you need it. Buy your ticket and then scan the QR code as you board the bus. Buses in Reykjavik do not accept cash.

The walking distances in Reykjavik are deceptively large and the scenery is so nice that as I was hiking I kept telling myself "I'll just go a bit further". The Reykjavik City Card was a real leg-saver.

If you don't have a City Card, the Klappið app can also be a lifesaver if it starts to rain in Reykjavik and you need to catch a bus in a hurry.

Expanding A Reykjavik City Walk to Include Vatnsmýri

The bus dropped me off near Radisson Blu Saga Hotel and from here, I was able to continue my Reykjavik city walk to Vatnsmýri. Vatnsmýri is a park with the Reykjavik domestic airport on one side. 
Iceland's Domestic Airport in Reykjavik viewed on a walk in Vatnsmýri
The wetlands in Vatnsmýri are a great place to walk in Reykjavik. When I visited in June, geese and their chicks were foraging near the water's edge with beautiful views of Reykjavik Cathedral in the background.
Geese on a walk in Vatnsmýri in Reykjavik Iceland with views of Hallgrímskirkja in the distance.
I was even able to climb a giant chair. The chair almost looked like a lifeguard station but in reality was just a lovely spot to get above it all, rest my legs, and reflect on how I'd spent the day in Reykjavik.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in other Nordic travel ideas? Why not consider a a visit to Norway covering things to do in Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, and Oslo?

Do you plan to travel to Iceland? Have you taken a walk in Reykjavík? What are your favorite places for a self-guided walking tour? Drop me a line on social media to let me know your thoughts.

Reykjavik Self-Guided Walking Tour Map Around Seltjarnarnes Peninsula

Click on the image of the Seltjarnarnes map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps to explore this Reykjavik walk in more detail.
Seltjarnarnes Map

Did you enjoy this post about taking a walk to Seltjarnarnes Iceland? Sharing is caring...

Take a Walk in Seltjarnarnes Reykjavik

Post Archive

This post has been updated since I originally wrote it in 2017. One of the restaurants that I dined at is now closed. I'm including the details here for my own travel records 😎

Post-Walk Dinner at AALTO Bistro

**Note: AALTO Bistro permanently closed in 2019** 

I concluded my self-guided walk in Reykjavik with a fine dinner at AALTO Bistro, a small restaurant located at the edge of Vatnsmýri in Norræna húsið (the Nordic Cultural Center).
Norræna húsið (Nordic Cultural Center) in Reykjavik Iceland
I toasted the discovery of so many great places to walk around Reykjavik with a glass of champagne.
AALTO Bistro has a vegetarian focus with Nordic flair. 

I tried the herb omelet. The food was amazing and AALTO really felt like a hidden gem for fine cuisine in Reykjavik.
 Vegetarian dinner at AALTO Bistro in Reykjavik Iceland
 The decor was fantastic too with lots of light streaming in through the bottles filled with colored water sitting in the window.
Colored glass bottles at AALTO Bistro in Reykjavik Iceland

#DrJSabbatical,38,Adriatics,5,Africa,12,Americas,52,Argentina,7,Asia,40,Asia Pacific,25,AUNZ,21,Australia,13,Austria,5,Baltics,4,Barcelona,1,Belfast,1,Belgium,13,Berlin,3,Best of,405,Best of Europe,2,Beyond Dublin,31,Bologna,3,Boston,2,Brazil,2,Bruges,2,Brussels,2,Bucharest,2,Budapest,1,Buffalo,3,Bulgaria,2,California,13,Cambodia,6,Canary Islands,1,Canterbury,2,Cardiff,1,Central America,3,Central Europe,69,Chile,7,China,5,Christmas Market,4,Copenhagen,1,Cork,3,Costa Brava,3,Costa Rica,2,Croatia,2,Cyprus,1,Czech Republic,1,Denmark,3,Dresden,1,Dublin,51,Dusseldorf,1,Eastern Europe,8,Edinburgh,3,El Calafate,1,England,19,Essen,1,Estonia,1,Europe,236,Faversham,1,Featured,5,Financial District,1,Finland,3,Fisherman's Wharf,1,Flanders,1,Florida,3,France,19,Galway,2,Gdansk,1,Germany,19,Girona,1,Granada,1,Greece,4,Greece and Cyprus,5,Hamburg,1,Hangzhou,1,Hanoi,3,HCMC,2,Helsinki,1,Ho Chi Minh City,2,Hobart,1,Hoi An,2,Hungary,1,Hurling,1,Hyderabad,2,Iceland,5,India,5,Ireland,93,Ireland & UK,122,Ireland Road Trips,16,Italy,14,Itinerary,3,Jackson Square,1,Japan,12,Kaunas,1,Kilkenny,1,Kuala Lumpur,1,Kyoto,1,Languedoc,2,Lanzarote,1,Latvia,1,Leipzig,1,Liechtenstein,1,Lima,1,Limerick,1,Lisbon,17,Lithuania,2,Ljubljana,1,Lloret de Mar,1,London,9,Los Angeles,2,Louisiana,1,Lucerne,1,Luxembourg,2,Machu Picchu,1,Madeira,3,Malaga,1,Malaysia,1,Malta,1,Marrakech,1,Marrakesh,1,Massachusetts,2,Mendoza,1,Menton,1,Miami,1,Midwest,3,Modena,2,Monaco,1,Montpellier,1,Morocco,1,Muenster,1,Munich,1,Naples,1,Netherlands,4,New England,3,New Orleans,1,New York,9,New Zealand,8,Nice,2,Noe Valley,1,Nordics,19,Norrkoping,1,North America,43,North Beach,1,Northern Ireland,1,Norway,5,Nuremberg,2,Ollantaytambo,1,Osaka,1,Palafrugell,1,Panama,1,Paris,1,Parma,2,Patagonia,3,Pennsylvania,6,Perth,1,Peru,5,Philadelphia,1,Pingyao,1,Piran,1,Pittsburgh,5,Poland,9,Porto,1,Portugal,42,Puerto Natales,2,Punta Arenas,1,Queensland,1,Recent,102,Regensburg,1,Reykjavik,1,Riga,1,Rio de Janeiro,1,Rochester,1,Romania,3,Rotterdam,1,Rovinj,1,Russia,2,San Francisco,4,San Sebastian,1,Santiago,1,Scandinavia,10,Scotland,5,Seattle,3,Segovia,1,Seoul,2,SF - Further Afield,7,Sicily,3,Siem Reap,2,Singapore,1,Sligo,3,Slovakia,1,Slovenia,2,South Africa,1,South America,19,South Beach,1,South Europe,1,South Korea,2,Southeast Europe,14,Southern Europe,75,Spain,19,St. Petersburg,2,Stockholm,2,Strasbourg,1,Stuttgart,1,Sweden,3,Switzerland,12,Sydney,3,Taipei,2,Taiwan,3,Tallinn,1,Tasmania,4,TBEX,1,Telegraph Hill,1,Texas,3,Thailand,1,Tipperary,1,Tokyo,2,Top World Destinations,4,Torres del Paine,1,Transylvania,1,Trieste,1,Uganda,10,UK,29,Union Square,1,United States,46,Uruguay,1,Valparaiso,1,Vietnam,9,Vilnius,1,Wales,2,Warsaw,2,Washington,3,Western Australia,1,Western Europe,39,Westfield,1,Whitsundays,1,Wicklow,2,Wroclaw,1,WWI,1,Xi'an,1,Zurich,5,
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Why the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula is Worth Visiting on a Day Out in Reykjavik
Why the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula is Worth Visiting on a Day Out in Reykjavik
Take a walk in Seltjarnarnes Iceland. Explore the scenery and go birdwatching on foot on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula within the Reykjavik city limits.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog