Biking is an increasingly popular activity in Reykjavík, both as a hobby and as a way of transportation. The city has plenty of green spaces and there’s wilderness as well, just outside the city limits. Renting a bike to explore the city is not just a recipe for a great afternoon, it’s also a great way to see a side of the city that most people don’t get to see.
Most cyclists are drawn to the less busy paths outside of Reykjavík’s centre. There are a number of paths along the coast that will take you around the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, such as Sæbraut to the north and Ægissíða to the south.
Another popular cycling area is Elliðaárdalur valley, a lush, green nature preserve centred around Elliðavatn lake and the streams that run from it along the valley. If you really feel like getting lost in the great outdoors, then hit the much larger Heiðmörk wilderness south of Elliðaárdalur. The cycling path brings you all sorts of landscapes from evergreen forests (a rarity in Iceland, you might have noticed) to scrub and lava fields.
In the city…
Riding a bicycle is a great way to get around Reykjavík and to get to know the city. Be aware that some drivers are not used to sharing the road with cyclists, so take care. The city has made strides in introducing bike lanes, but you can also bike on sidewalks, walking paths, and the street, as long as you don’t interfere with traffic or pedestrians.
Bike tours are organised year-round (bikes and helmets provided) where you’ll get beyond the city centre to discover some of the city’s extensive green spaces. If you’re up for a real adventure, rent a scooter to zoom along the coast and explore the wilderness on the outskirts of town.
A Bicycle TOUR ACROSS THE CAPITAL
1 | Old Harbour
Start your tour from the old harbour area in the city centre. This area used to belong to the fishing industry, but when that moved to the new harbour, there were plenty of empty buildings left. These buildings were taken over by artists, designers, boutiques, and restaurants and the area is quickly becoming one of the most interesting places to explore in Reykjavík. The view over the ocean and the mountains isn’t bad either!
2 | Grótta
Ride along the seaside all the way to the northernmost tip of the Reykjavík peninsula. The Grótta lighthouse against the backdrop of the ocean view is very picturesque and in winter, this is a great spot for northern lights viewing.
3 | Ægissíða
Get back on your bike and head along the coastline on the other side of the peninsula. This is the Ægissíða coastline, a popular recreational area for the inhabitants of West Reykjavík. You’ll likely find plenty of locals running, cycling, or just walking their dogs in the fresh sea air.
4 | Nauthólsvík
The geothermal beach at Nauthólsvík is one of the most popular spots in Reykjavík on sunny summer days, and it’s connected by good bike paths. The yellow sand and heated water make for a little slice of the tropics in the middle of Reykjavík (at least if you close one eye and squint a little).
5 | Perlan
Cycle a little bit farther and find Perlan towering on a forest-clad hill (another rarity in Iceland) close to the beach. The name translates to The Pearl, which makes perfect sense for the glass dome atop six giant hot water reserve tanks. You can visit the Wonders of Iceland exhibition there, which includes a 360° viewing deck at the top with one of the best views in Reykjavík.
6 | Hallgrímskirkja
Finally, ride from one landmark to another, from Perlan to Hallgrímskirkja church. At 74.5m, Hallgrímskirkja is the tallest building in Reykjavík proper and the view from the top, over the colourful little houses of the city centre, is quite charming.