Oskjuhlid hill is a woodland area nestled in the city center of Reykjavik, offering relaxing outdoor activities and incredible views to hikers and cyclists.
If you take the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour of Reykjavik or go Sightseeing at Perlan Museum, you’ll have the chance to visit Oskjuhlid hill. Travelers on a self-drive tour, like this 5-Day Self-Drive Tour of Iceland with Reykjavik, can also explore the peaceful forest of Oskjuhlid at their leisure.
Oskjuhlid hill may be best known for its walking and cycling trails, but it is also home to the historic Perlan Museum. A trip to the forested area provides a quick escape from the city and a chance to learn more about the natural wonders of Iceland.
Photo from Flickr, Creative Commons, by Jeff Hitchcock. No edits made.
About Oskjuhlid Hill, a Quiet Spot in Reykjavik
Oskjuhlid, written as Öskjuhlíð in Icelandic, is a woodland hill in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city. Reykjavik is a vibrant city and the country’s financial, cultural, and political center.
In contrast, this area is a quiet spot that allows you to sit and soak in the wonders of Iceland.
The Reykjavik hill stands at 200 feet (61 meters) above sea level, giving visitors to the area a spectacular view of the scenic city. The hill is one of your best options if you want a panorama of Reykjavik and its coasts, especially for photographers.
Besides its vantage point, the best feature of Oskjuhlid is its thick forest cover. The hill is home to nearly 200,000 trees of different species covering most of its slopes. The most common plant species include birches, spruces, lupines, conifers, and pines. Some of these trees reach over 49 feet (15 meters).
As one of the best forest in Reykjavik, Oskjuhlid hill makes for a great recreational area.
There are trails here specifically made for hikers and mountain bikers.
Activities in Oskjuhlid Hill
Hiking and Biking in Reykjavik
The most popular outdoor activities on Oskjuhlid hill are hiking and cycling. There are different trails here that will excite thrill-seekers and those who want an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Much of the terrain of Oskjuhlid is partly rocky and steep, perfect for an adventurous outdoor activity. If you want a more laid-back trek or biking exercise, fret not, as certain parts of the hill are semi-paved and flat.
Some of the hill’s trails lead down to the Nautholsvik beach and the Seltjarnarnes coast. Nautholsvik beach has unique golden sands, unlike most beaches in Iceland that have black sands.
It also is heated with geothermal energy in summer, allowing you to swim comfortably in arctic seas.
The trails on the southeast end of Oskuhlid hill can lead you to the valleys of Fossvogsdalur, Ellidaardalur, and Heidmork. While the first two valleys are within five miles (eight kilometers) from the foot of the hill, the conservation area of Heidmork is a little further at 10.5 miles (17 kilometers).
From time to time, cycling competitions are even held on the hill because of its great trails. Bike rentals for the Oskjuhlid courses are available at the base of the hill.
Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Ray Swi-hymn. No edits made.
Many visitors of Oskjuhlid hill come to the area to explore the Perlan Museum. The museum lies on top of the hill, surrounded by six large hot water tanks. The stunning view of the museum and the tanks is one of the notable landmarks in Reykjavik.
Perlan Museum features a unique glass dome that serves different purposes for locals and tourists. What used to be just a restaurant and observation deck is now exhibition space of Iceland’s geology, natural history, and wildlife.
Inside Reykjavik’s Perlan, you will see the Wonders of Iceland and the Glacier Exhibition of Iceland. These two permanent exhibits are the best avenues to learn about the landscapes of the land of fire and ice, from glaciers to ice caves. In the museum, you will also see a model of Westfjords’ Latrabjarg cliffs.
The museum also has an interactive planetarium where you can learn different trivia about the northern lights. The Arora Northern Lights Show is a film produced by some of Iceland’s best photographers, writers, and musicians.
The immersive experience will let you see Icelandic landscapes under the aurora borealis in 8k resolution.
Meanwhile, the Forces of Nature exhibit shows the volcanic activity of the land of fire and ice. Learn about volcanoes and see the most significant eruptions that shaped Iceland’s geology in this exhibit.
While in the area, you may also try the cafe of Perlan while overlooking the beautiful city of Reykjavik. To visit Perlan and Oskjuhlid, you may join tours such as Perlan - Wonders of Iceland.
Picnic, Sightseeing, and Zipline at Oskjuhlid
For travelers who want a more relaxed and chill experience, you may try exploring Oskjuhlid woodland by sightseeing or having a picnic.
You can find picnic tables in various parts of the hill, especially near the top. While enjoying the serene environment of the forest, don’t miss out on taking landscape photos of the views around you, such as the city center and Esjan mountain.
On the other hand, birdlife started thriving in the area because of the lush greenery. As many as 10 nesting birds live in the area, including sparrows and starlings. The presence of these birds makes birdwatching a fun activity in Iceland’s capital.
If you want an activity that will give you an adrenaline rush, you may also want to try the newest attraction in the area. In particular, Perlan’s Zipline Reykjavik is 755 feet (230 meters) long, reaching a speed of 31 miles (50 kilometers) per hour. Ziplining here can be an experience you will never forget.
Attractions Near Oskjuhlid Hill
When in Reykjavik, don’t miss out on the many attractions and activities you can do after exploring the Oskjuhlid forest.
Exploring Downtown Reykjavik
Just two miles (three kilometers) from Oskjuhlid hill is the shopping street of Laugavegur. The main street is filled with several shopping centers, boutiques, bars, and restaurants for all travelers.
Laugavegur was built in 1885 and is one of the oldest streets in the city. The name of this shopping area means ‘the Water Road’ since women used to go down this road with their laundry to wash in the hot pools.
Another attraction to check out in downtown Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja church, a Lutheran church that sits atop the Skolavorduholt hill. As the tallest church in Iceland, it towers around (245 feet) 75 meters. The unique feature of the church is its stunning architecture inspired by the landscapes of Iceland.
On the other hand, Harpa is a concert hall and conference center located near Laugavegur and Oskjuhlid hill. The concert hall is so beautiful that it received the European Prize for Contemporary Architecture in 2013, two years after its opening. The concert hall is an excellent place to see some of Iceland’s best orchestra and theater plays.
To explore more scenic and historical locations in the city, you may purchase either the 24-Hour Reykjavik City Card or the 48-Hour Reykjavik Card with Entry to Museums, depending on the duration of your visit.