Mount Esja

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Reykjavík's landmark mountain

Esja is the landmark mountain of Reykjavík, constantly visible off Reykjavík’s North shore across Kollafjörður bay. The mountain is often called Esjan (The Esja) by locals and stands 914 metres at its tallest peak. Esja is actually not a single mountain, but is a chain of volcanic peaks. 

Esja is located in Kjalarnes, 10 km from Reykjavík just past the town of Mossfellsbær. Esja is reference in Kjalarnes Saga, wherein a young Irishman named Búi lives at Esjuberg with his Irish foster-mother Esja. Esja is a self-sufficient, unwed woman and is often referred to as a sorceress. 

According to Reykjavík locals, Esja is the home of Iceland’s 13 Yule Lads, who make their way down from the mountain one at a time in the days leading up to Christmas to cause mischief and leave small gifts in the shoes of children who have been well behaved throughout the year. 

The climb up Esja is popular among locals and visitors as a day-trip outside of Reykjavík. Public transit goes directly from Reykjavík to the trail head and the hike takes a half day, return journey. Good hiking boots and a water bottle are required for this hike. If you are planning on embarking on a hike, check the weather forecast in advance and heed any and all warnings.

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