The Best 5k Running Routes in Downtown Reykjavik

Running in Reykjavik is surprisingly nice and a great way to explore the city. If you are a runner travelling to Reykjavik, here are a few suggestions for you how to plan your 5k route.

Some travellers would never spend their precious time abroad working out and that is totally understandable. “Being on a vacation” is probably one of the most valid excuses you can find for not working out. Other travellers try their best to work out during their travels and research beforehand whether they can take yoga classes or go for a run somewhere near their hotel.

If you are a runner and a tourist you can actually kill two birds with one stone, since running often involves a great deal of sightseeing.
 

Running in Iceland

If you are planning to go out for a run during your visit in Iceland, you will be surprised how nice it actually is to run in here. Iceland’s remoteness and sparse population means less traffic and less people to bump into, even if you are running in the city. 

Also, it never gets really hot in Iceland, not even in the summertime. The average temperature in Reykjavik in the summertime is only around 10°C/50°F and there’s always breeze. The evercool climate in Iceland makes life easier for runners since it never gets too hot.

If you are visiting in the wintertime, you have to be careful since it the roads become icy and thus very slippery. In the autumn and spring, there’s usually no ice, just rain and wind (which is no excuse not to run). 

If you will be staying at a hotel in downtown Reykjavik, there are actually endless possibilities for good running routes. Running in the city center is perfectly fine, and since we have a lot of daylight, it is very enjoyable and safe to run late in the evening. 

So what do you say about combining some sightseeing and workout? If you like the idea, we’ve chosen a few scenic 5k routes, all starting at Hallgrímskirkja church.
 

Route #1: Öskjuhlíð, Perlan and Klambratún

5k running trail idea in Reykjavik city, Iceland.

Famous attractions you will see during your run:

  1. Hallgrímskirkja Church
  2. Perlan
  3. Klambratún

If you like running up hills, this is the perfect route for you. This route actually starts by running down the Skólavörðuholt hill, where Hallgrímskirkja cathedral towers over the city, so it’s easy to begin with. 

Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik, Iceland. Hallgrimskirkja Church. Travelade/iStockphoto

Then you run towards the Öskjuhlíð hill, one of the few “forested” areas in the city. Running up the Öskjuhlíð hill will be the highlight of your workout and it actually requires a good deal of effort. 

When you’ve reached the top of the hill you’ll come across Perlan. Perlan is perhaps Reykjavik’s most bizarre building, and if you aren’t too sweaty you can go and take a look inside, it offers wonderful views from the top. 

Perlan in Oskjuhlid, Reykjavik Iceland. The bizarre Perlan, a small geyser in Oskjuhlid in the foreground. Travelade/iStockphoto

Coming down the north side of Öskjuhlíð you might have to stop at a traffic light. Cross the street and go straight ahead, down Litlahlíð and Langahlíð, until you reach Klambratún public park.

Klambratún is home both to Kjarvalsstaðir, one of the largest museums in Iceland, and a great frisbee golf course, a strangely popular sport in a country where it’s windy 400 days a year.

Make your way through the park and down Snorrabraut to Hverfisgata, before finally climbing Frakkastígur back up to Hallgrímskirkja.

Pros: 

  • You’ll get even more from your routine 5k since you’ll run uphill.
  • You’ll get to see Perlan up close.
  • You might spot some rabbits in Öskjuhlíð.

Cons:

  • There is a traffic light as soon as you come down from Öskjuhlíð hill so you might have to stop. That’s annoying since you’ve probably gained a lot of speed by running downwards.
  • You’ll have to run along one some traffic heavy streets, but just for a couple of minutes, though.

 

Route #2: Harpa and tjörnin (the Pond)

Another 5k running trail idea in Reykjavik city, Iceland.

Famous attractions you will see during your run:

  1. Hallgrímskirkja
  2. Sólfarið
  3. Harpa
  4. The Pond

If you like running by the seaside, or the lakeside, this is the running route for you. At first you start running to the promenade that goes along the northern seaside in Reykjavik. There you’ll see the iconic Viking ship sculpture, Sólfarið, and then the fabulous Harpa music and conference hall.

Solfarid - The sun voyager sculpture - by Reykjavik's north coast. The Sun Voyager. Travelade/iStockphoto

Harpa music hall in Reykjavik. Harpa Music Hall. Travelade/iStockphoto

After Harpa, you turn to the left, towards the Pond, or Tjörnin. After running along the Pond you’ll go through the nicest public park in Reykjavík, called Hljómskálagarðurinn.

Tjornin - the pond in central Reykjavik in the winter. The Pond during winter. Travelade/iStockphoto

You’ll go straight through the park, and do a small climb up Gamla-Hringbraut. Go past the Landspítali hospital, immediately take a left down Snorrabraut, then take Eiríksgata back up to Hallgrímskirkja.

Pros:

  • Not too many traffic lights.
  • You get to see both Harpa and Sólfarið.
  • Ducks and swans.

Cons:

  • In the summertime, the streets can be crowded with people.

 

Route #3: To the harbour and back

Another 5k running trail idea in Reykjavik city, Iceland.

Famous attractions you will see during your run:

  1. Hallgrímskirkja
  2. Sólfarið
  3. Harpa
  4. Old Harbour

Reykjavik’s old harbour has just recently become one of the city’s hippest areas. There is a nice little promenade that connects Reykjavik’s city center to the harbour so you don’t have to worry about traffic while you’re running.

The old harbour in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Old Harbour. Travelade/iStockphoto

You can easily make your 5k route longer if you want to explore the harbour area further. If you are running in the summertime, we recommend that you go for a midnight run since this is one of the best places in Reykjavik you can catch a glimpse of the brief summer sunset, and in the fall and winter, a great place to see the northern lights.

The snowy slopes of Mt. Esja. Videy Island in the foreground.
A glimpse of Mt. Esja. Isn't she gorgeous? Travelade/iStockphoto

Pros:

  • Few traffic lights.
  • Hip area.
  • Fantastic views of Mt. Esja
  • Wonderful midnight sun.
  • Large area and not too crowded.

Cons:

  • This route is a back-and-forth route, some people prefer circles.
  • It can get very windy by the seaside.

Bonus tip: If you need even more excercise than running, then also check out this article about where to find the best gyms in Reykjavik