Beautiful nature can be found in all corners of Reykjavík. With mountains, islands, seasides, and dark parks to view the northern lights, you don‘t have to go far to experience a touch of nature. One of Reykjavík’s most beautiful areas is Heiðmörk (Hiking Haven) nature reserve, a wonderful recreational area with many trails leading through a vast expanse of bushy vegetation and lava formations. Dramatically dominating the Reykjavík City skyline and providing a stunning backdrop to the capital area is the impressive Mount Esja, a popular destination for day-trippers and riddled with well-worn hiking trails. Once surmounted, the view from the top of this 914-metre high mountain is breathtaking. Mount Úlfarsfell is lower than its sister "Esja", and definitely not as well known. But it's actually closer to central Reykjavík and offers just as an impressive view over the city.
A system of walking and cycling paths has been developed to enable the people of Reykjavík – and visitors – to travel around the city in a safe, pleasant and environmentally friendly manner. Many main roads can be crossed via pedestrian/cycle bridges and underpasses, and paths pass through popular recreational areas such as the Elliðaár valley and along the coastline Ægissíða on the southern side of the city.
For avid bird watchers and others alike the nature around Reykjavík and the city itself is home to a diverse selection of birds and their habitants including gardenbirds, shorebirds, seabirds, waterbirds and heathland birds. Places like the Tjörnin Pond, Vatnsmýri, Reykjavík Botanical gardens or Viðey Island are easily accessible and all have a rich birdlife.
In Bláfjöll (Blue Mountains), you can walk down towards the center of the earth. Leiðarendi Cave is an impressive lava tube and a guided journey in to its depths reveals a wealth of knowledge about Icelandic history, geology and folklore. The dormant volcano Þríhnjúkagígur, is one of the few volcanoes in the world that allows entry through the top crater and all the way to the bottom of its empty magma chamber which once was filled with red-hot molten magma.
Of course the Northern lights have to be mentioned as they can be seen in the city on clear and crisp winter nights. They appear in a variety of colours and intensity, either twirling gently in shades of milky green, or occasionally blazing in a wild and multi-coloured dance across the night sky. The quality of darkness is surprisingly high in many areas of Reykjavík, with beautiful secluded dark parks such as Reynisvatn Lake, Borgarholt Church Hill and Grótta Lighthouse, ensuring a great experience.