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.
On the trails you will only see an occasional hiker or runner; sheep are much more common than people. The weather reflects the landscape, completely unpredictable from one moment to the next.
To get the most from your visit follow our top seven tips on running in the land of the midnight sun!
Participate in a trail race
Why : To explore new routes
During summer there are many trail races in Iceland. The distances vary from 10K up to the 81 km Hengill Ultra which is the longest ultra marathon in Iceland. These races are on some of the most amazing trails in Iceland – in the highlands and in all parts of the country, each offering their own different challenges.
Experiencing Icelandic nature in your trail running shoes is a great way to escape your daily stress. It is also a great way to take your running to a new level and explore new routes. The course is always marked and with aid stations so it´s a great chance to explore new routes that would be more difficult to follow on your own.
Race Calendar: https://runninginiceland.com/running-calendar/
Use the seaside paths in Reykjavik
Why: To enjoy the views
In the capital region the best and most scenic running paths can be found by the coastline, both on the north and south side of the city. It’s a run with a view, just a few meters from the ocean and away from any traffic.
The paths are mostly well connected. 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.
A map of the Long run https://runninginiceland.com/the-long-run/
Explore the trails just outside the cities and towns
Why: to escape the city hustle and bustle
The urban areas in Iceland are relatively small and Icelanders love being close to nature. This means that wherever you are staying, great paths are never far away.
On the edge of Reykjavik is Heiðmörk, the dreamland of Reykjavik trail runners, with tens of kilometers worth of woodland trails. Mt. Esja is only 20 minutes’ drive from the city with great hiking trails – during summer it can be as crowded as an average city street in Reykjavik.
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 with hot springs around. 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.
Head for the swimming pools
Why : To soak in the hot tub!
Icelanders love their swimming pools! Soaking in the hot tub after a run is a long standing tradition for Icelandic runners. Recently, many swimming pools have set up ice baths as well, which are gaining popularity among runners who believe that going into ice cold water helps sore muscles and improves recovery. And the hot tub feels even better after 30 seconds in the freezing cold!
Many swimming pools have maps that show running routes from the pool.
Join a running club
Why: To meet the locals
There are many active and lively running clubs in Iceland. There are numerous running clubs in Reykjavik and the surrounding neighborhoods and you can also find running clubs in most of the larger towns around Iceland.
Many of the runs start out from one the local swimming pool which gives you the opportunity to relax in the hot tub after a good run and chat to your new friends.
There is no need to sign up before, just show up and introduce yourself to someone and they will hopefully point you in the direction of the coach!
List of clubs: https://runninginiceland.com/where-to-run/running-clubs/
Run in the midnight sun
Why: To experience something unique
The long daylight during the summer months also makes Iceland a very attractive country for runners. Even well away from the city lights, the middle of the night is almost as bright as day. Try going out for a run late in the evening with the midnight sun shining, it’s an experience you won’t forget.
Stay off the road!
Why: To run safely
Keep in mind that the ring road and the roads to popular sights like the Golden Circle are very busy. The roads are narrow so there is not a lot of room when cars pass by. Keep to the trails, with so many miles of trails on your doorstep you should have no trouble avoiding the roads!