A Winter’s Hike up Mount Helgafell Near Reykjavik
Winter in Iceland is a strange time. The streets are quieter, the tourists are drowsier, the sun is lazier and the days are mostly as dark as my mindset on the morning after a big night out.
But dark days mean longer sunrises and sunsets – sometimes seemingly bleeding into a single pink and purple experience. And sometimes they happen to be your day off work and you get to appreciate the fairy floss sky while hiking through a snow-covered mountain.
My friends and I chose a particularly frosty day to climb mount Helgafell, but despite the soul-chilling -10 degrees and my numb fingers and toes, it was absolutely stunning.
Just a half hour drive out of Reykjavik, mount Helgafell is easily accessible from the city and attracts a lot of locals walking their dogs, their children and their husbands. Some even run up (probably to get away from the children and husbands).
The day we went there were no other insane humans to be seen. Did I mention it was cold?
The hike starts near a big beautiful body of water that resembles a pond or a stream that contains 1000 year old water. Running 1.1 km long, it is the smallest river in Iceland. That particular morning the water reflected the fairy floss sky in an almost magical way and the beauty of the view almost distracted me from my numbing toes once we jumped out of the car.
Being the clumsy Australian that I am I put on my friends spikes before we began the icy hike.
We began to hike through what was apparently lava fields (it was impossible to tell under the thick layer of snow). The actual climb of Mount Helgafell is a 7km walk from the beginning of the hike so it’s a bit of a flat start.
The hike was lovely and although the mountain is a mere 352 m high the view from the top is lovely. The top of the mountain is marked by ruins that likely once belonged to the chapel of an Augustine monastery – and there is apparently a guest book you can sign if your hands aren’t numb by then.
Getting There by Public Transport
Unfortunately mount Helgafell is not easily accessible by public transport (which makes it less popular with tourists) but the closest bus stop is Vortutorg. Take bus number 1 rom Hlemmur main bus station in Reykjavik to the bus stop called Fjordur (approximately 30 min.). At Fjordur bus stop take bus number 44 to Vortutorg (10 min.).