Take a Walk in Reykjavik: Get in Touch with Icelandic Nature in Seltjarnarnes Without Leaving The City Limits

Take a walk in Reykjavik: hut and city views
I was super-excited to take a walk in Reykjavik. I'd spent so much time over the previous few days driving around South Iceland that all I wanted to do was stretch my legs and go for a hike. But what are the best places to walk in Reykjavik? I discovered that Reykjavik's Seltjarnarnes Peninsula was the perfect place to get in touch with Icelandic nature and birds without leaving the city limits. Starting in Reykjavik's city center, I took myself on a self-guided walking tour in Seltjarnarnes. Read on to learn more about how to spend a day in Reykjavik on foot.

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 out 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.
Snaps Bistro sign in Reykjavik Iceland

Cemetery Walk and Birdwatching at Hólavallagarður

Walking path through Hólavallagarður cemetery in Reykjavik Iceland
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 in Hólavallagarður cemetery in Reykjavik Iceland
Bird building a nest in Hólavallagarður cemetery in Reykjavik Iceland

Exploring the Seascapes at Skerjafjörður on Foot

Sea views at Skerjafjörður on a walk 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.
Sea views at Skerjafjörður on a walk in Reykjavik Iceland
The rocky 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, Reykjavik, Iceland

A Hike and Coastal Birdwatching In Seltjarnarnes

Shorebird hiding among the grass and flowers on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik Iceland
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.
Terns spotted on a walk on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik Iceland
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 edge 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 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 Reykjavik 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.
Inside the bird hide spotted on a hike through Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Reykjavik Iceland
I spotted a pair of whooper swans in the distance with cygnets.
Whooper swan spotted on a walk in Reykjavik 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.
White house on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik Iceland
I watched Eider ducks take flight...
Eider ducks taking flight over Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Reykjavik Iceland
...and a merganser dive and resurface on the lake.
Merganser spotted on a walk in Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Reykjavik Iceland
From inside the hide at Bakkatjörn, I could see geese and oystercatchers waddling in the grass.
Inside the bird hide spotted on a hike through Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Reykjavik Iceland
Geese and oystercatchers spotted on a hike through Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Reykjavik Iceland
I spotted some geese heading north against a backdrop of beautiful mountains and decided to continue my walk to follow them.
Geese in flight over Bakkatjörn Nature Reserve in Reykjavik Iceland

Glimpsing Grótta 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. 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

Nesting Eider Ducks on the north coast of the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula in Reykjavik Iceland
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

A Great Place to Walk for Reykjavik City Views

Take a walk in Reykjavik: hut and 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. Conveniently, 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

View of Reykjavik city with mountains behind
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 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.
Walking through the wetlands at Vatnsmýri in Reykjavik Iceland
When I visited in June 2017, 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 this 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.
Giant chair in Vatnsmýri in Reykjavik Iceland

Post-Walk Dinner at AALTO Bistro

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.
Glass of champagne served at AALTO Bistro in Reykjavik Iceland
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
Have you taken a walk in Reykjavik? What are your favorite places for a self-guided walking tour? Leave a comment below to let me know.

Reykjavik Self-Guided Walking Tour Map Around Seltjarnarnes Peninsula



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Take a Walk in Reykjavik: Get in Touch with Icelandic Nature in Seltjarnarnes Without Leaving The City Limits

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Sidewalk Safari: Take a Walk in Reykjavik: Get in Touch with Icelandic Nature in Seltjarnarnes Without Leaving The City Limits
Take a Walk in Reykjavik: Get in Touch with Icelandic Nature in Seltjarnarnes Without Leaving The City Limits
Take a walk in Reykjavik Iceland. Explore the scenery and go birdwatching on foot on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula. A photo-rich post by travel blogger, Jennifer (aka Dr. J) from Sidewalk Safari.
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Sidewalk Safari
https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2017/11/take-a-walk-in-reykjavik-iceland-seltjarnarnes-peninsula.html
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