Many come to Iceland for the grand adventures, whether it’s hiking through barren highlands, snowmobiling on a glacier, or taking a whale-watching tour just kilometres from the Arctic Circle. But sometimes it’s just as nice to take a walk through a park on a sunny weekend afternoon. Elliðaárdalur Valley is just minutes away from central Reykjavík, and one of our favorite places to get some fresh air on the weekend! In addition to several kilometres of walking, jogging, and bike trails, this beautiful area of Reykjavík has also recently added a café, meaning you can easily spend an entire day here just taking in the sights.
For visitors to Reykjavík who don’t have a car, you can get to the park by taking the city bus, Strætó. One of the easiest way is with Route 12, which services much of the main downtown area. Take the bus that is heading from Skerjafjörður to Ártún (it will say so on the bus sign) and simply get off at the stop for Elliðaárdalur. Easy! Here’s more information on taking the bus in Reykjavík.
For those with a car, there are several places to park and get to Elliðaárdalur. One of the easiest places is at Elliðaárstöð, an old power plant by the river.
The main part of the park is sandwiched between two branches of a salmon river, so you’re surrounded on all sides by babbling brooks and charming waterfalls. In fact, just by the old power station and the new café is also the headquarter of the Reykjavík Angling Club. On nice summer afternoons, you can often see fathers teaching their sons how to properly fly fish.
In addition to the trails for walking, biking, and jogging, there are also several picnic areas throughout the valley. Some just have a picnic table, but a couple of spots even have grills. It’s a great place to come with your friends, fire up the grill, and have a couple hot dogs as you lie out in the sun!
Amateur mycologists and botanists will also enjoy poking around the mossy, shaded forests here. Angelica is ubiquitous here, which is an edible plant used to flavour some spirits. Foodies who visit the New Nordic restaurants in Reykjavík will also likely recognize this plant, as there has been an increasing appreciation in recent years for everything local and natural. In addition to many real mushrooms that can be found here, there are also some very unique play areas for children that can only be described as a magical fairy forest. Pictured above are metal mushrooms that sound in different tones when struck (my wife and I may have spent longer than I’d like to admit trying to make our own fairy song). It’s a great place for both adults and children to let their imaginations run wild!
After a day of strolling in the sun, you’re probably ready for a treat! Just a couple weeks ago, a new café recently opened in Elliðaárdalur, and we have to say that it’s much-welcomed addition to what was already one of our favourite areas in town.
It’s already a great place to spend a nice afternoon, but getting a coffee and an ice cream after a walk in the sun is about as good as it gets, as far as we’re concerned! Near the café there is also a playground equipped with slides and a mini water park, making this one of the best places in Reykjavík for a family outing.