The large flat-topped mountain looming large and proud across Faxafloi Bay is Mount Esja, rising some 914 meters (2,999 ft) above sea level. This prominent landmark overlooking the capital city of Reykjavik often looks so close that that it seems almost possible to reach out and touch the upper peaks.

The beautiful Mount Esja draws thousands of local citizens to climb its summit every year. It is a relatively easy hike with several well-marked routes up and around the mountain, of varying skill levels. From its summit the mountain offers truly mind-blowing views of the entire city, the bay and beyond.

Esja is not a single mountain, but a mountain range, made from basalt and tuff. It built up at the end of the Pleistocene with beginning of the Ice Age. Volcanic activity built up lava and tuff, creating what seems like layers in the mountain, which are quite visible in the many cliffs. The western part of the Esja is the oldest one, about 3.2 million years old. Tectonic movement is constantly pushing the strate to the west and away from the active volcano zone which Esja once belonged to.

The easternmost summits of the mountain range, the strange yellow colored ones, are called Moskardshnjukar. This strange color is due to the rhyolite stone which dominates that part of the range. Rhyolite can be found in many places in Iceland and is often near old, and also active, central volcanoes.

The mountain is named after an infamous witch, that used to; according to Kjalnesinga saga, one of the Icelandic Sagas; live on a farm near the mountain.

How long does it take to hike the mountain?

Mount Esja is a popular hiking area in Reykjavik and offers many different routes. The most common routes taken at Mt. Esja leading to Thverfellshorn take about two to four hours up and down, depending on the paths you choose and of course your fitness level.

Can you hike Esja in all weathers?

Esja is open for hiking all year round. However, during stormy and extreme winter weather, it can be very dangerous to hike there. Besides, for most people it probably isn’t very desirable in the first place. Trust your instincts and show caution.

How to get to Esja?

Esja is located 20 km north of Reykjavik, and getting there is very simple. Just follow the ring road northwards, and soon after you pass Mosfellsbaer you will clearly see signs where to turn.

GPS: 64.245157 N, -21.658578 W