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.
Pre-Walk Lunch at Snaps Bistro in Reykjavik City Center
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 ($1990 ISK, about $19 USD at the time of writing) and a glass of wine. Eating in Reykjavik can be very expensive but it's a little more affordable when you seek out a lunch deal like the one that I found at Snaps.
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.
Exploring the Seascapes at Skerjafjörður on Foot
A Hike and Coastal Birdwatching In Seltjarnarnes
The black rocky beach on the protected south side of Seltjarnarnes Peninsula was dotted with terns and plovers.
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.
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.
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.
Hiding Out at Reykjavik's Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve
Glimpsing Grotta Lighthouse and Nature Reserve
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. 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.
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
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. 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.
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.
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).
I toasted the discovery of so many great places to walk around Reykjavik with a glass of champagne.
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.