Beautiful scenery, great running paths and a climate that’s perfect for running with plenty of clean and fresh air! There is everything to like about running in Iceland. In the capital region the best and most scenic running paths can be found by the coastline, just a few meters from the ocean and away from the streets. Wherever you are staying just step outside and you are minutes away from the most amazing running paths.
If you are located in the center of town you can run along the coast on the south of Reykjavík, around Elliðaárdalur in the east part, and then over to the north side of Reykjavík along the ocean—well over 20 kilometers—only crossing the road once! One of the advantages of a small country is that there are few cars, so traffic-free runs are easy to find. Reykjavik also has the charm of being close to nature so you don't have to drive for long to get to beautiful and challenging trails. Even in Reykjavik you only have to drive for 5 minutes to get on some great paths. On the edge of town is Heiðmörk, with tens of kilometers worth of woodland trails. These are best enjoyed in the summer as they can be a bit difficult in the winter.
Mt. Esja is the mountain watching over the city and it is a great place for a hike or a run with clearly marked paths - and during summer it can be as crowded as an average city street in Reykjavik. You will always find some runners there training for the popular trail races now being held in all parts of the country during summer time. Next door to Reykjavik are Mosfellsbaer and Hafnarfjordur, with many easily accessible trails. Further away from Reykjavik there are many fantastic places to run. Reykjadalur in Hveragerdi is a good choice for a challenging trail run. Akureyri in north Iceland has great running paths, and just outside of the town you will find fabulous trails in Kjarnaskogur and on Súlur mountain. Just ask the locals for directions, there are runners in every community.
One thing to keep in mind is that the ring road and the roads to popular sights like the Golden Circle are not safe for running due to heavy traffic. The roads are narrow so there is not a lot of room when cars pass by.
Sometimes it feels like there is a little bit too much fresh air while running, especially in wintertime when the wind never seems to quiet down. Just remember to dress accordingly and keep in mind that there is often less shelter on the trails outside of the cities and towns. A unique experience in Iceland is to run in the midnight sun. You can easily go for an evening run or even in the middle of the night. It’s an experience you won’t forget.