If you’re looking for a unique skiing experience, Iceland may be just the destination for you. Known primarily for its stunning landscapes and natural wonders, many visitors are surprised to learn that there are actually several ski resorts in Iceland with some of the best slopes around.
While not as well-known as some European or North American ski destinations, Iceland offers something truly special. Imagine skiing down untouched powder while surrounded by breathtaking scenery, including glaciers, mountains, and volcanic terrain.
Don’t let the northern location fool you – Iceland’s ski season is a long one, starting in November and lasting through April. While it’s true that the weather can be unpredictable, especially at higher elevations, locals say that when conditions are good, they’re absolutely phenomenal.
“Iceland is like nowhere else I’ve ever skied before,” says Maxime, a French ski instructor who now calls Iceland home. “The snow quality is amazing, and the views are simply unforgettable.”
Whether you’re an expert skier or a beginner, there’s sure to be a resort in Iceland that caters to your needs. So why wait? Read on to discover everything you need to know to plan your ultimate Icelandic ski adventure.
Yes, You Can Ski in Iceland: Top Spots to Hit the Slopes
If you’re considering a winter vacation destination that has more to offer than just cozying up by the fireplace, then look no further than Iceland. Yes, there is skiing in Iceland! Despite being known for its rugged landscapes and glaciers, Iceland also boasts some excellent ski resorts that attract both locals and visitors each year.
Hit the Slopes at Reykjavik’s Closest Ski Resort
If you’re short on time or want to stay close to Reykjavik, then Bláfjöll Ski Resort should be your first stop. Located only 30 minutes from the city center, this small resort offers fantastic views of the capital and surrounding countryside. Bláfjöll is suitable for all skill levels, with nine lifts servicing 15 slopes ranging from beginner-friendly to more challenging black runs.
The resort also provides rental equipment, including skis and snowboards, as well as professional lessons for those who are new to the sport or wish to improve their skills. When it’s time to take a break, head over to one of the cozy cafes on-site, where you can savor hot chocolate and Icelandic delicacies while relishing the stunning views of the nearby mountains.
Experience the Rugged Terrain at Iceland’s Highest Peak
For adrenaline seekers looking for a greater challenge, plan a visit to the majestic Mount Hvannadalshnúkur in Vatnajökull National Park, which is Iceland’s highest peak, rising 6,919 feet above sea level.
Although scaling to the top of the mountain requires a fair amount of technical climbing expertise, intermediate skiers can still enjoy exciting descents down its steep slopes. The area receives plenty of snowfall from November through June, providing an extended skiing season.
Due to its remote location, it is recommended that visitors contact a local tour operator to arrange transportation and guides. If you plan to visit during peak season, book well in advance as accommodation options are limited.
Ski in the Shadow of a Volcano at This Unique Resort
If you prefer a more unique ski experience, then head over to Hlíðarfjall Ski Resort in Akureyri, which offers breathtaking views of Iceland’s volcanic landscapes. The resort features 6 lifts servicing 18 slopes ranging from beginner-friendly greens to challenging blacks.
The stand-out feature of Hlíðarfjall is undoubtedly its most challenging run, aptly named Ragnarök after the Nordic myth of the end of the world. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but those brave enough to tackle the steep descent will be rewarded with panoramic views of the fjord below.
Aside from skiing, visitors can also enjoy other activities like dog-sledding, ice-skating, and snowmobiling. After a long day on the slopes, warm up with a soak in one of Iceland’s geothermal hot pots located nearby.
“Iceland isn’t just about huskies, glaciers, and soaking in thermal pools; skiing is another reason to come.” -Lonely Planet
Skiing may not be what initially comes to mind when considering Iceland as a winter destination, but these resorts prove that there is no shortage of adventure or excitement. Whether it’s skiing down dramatic peaks or enjoying Icelandic cuisine while watching skiers glide past, there’s something for every level of skier in this beautiful country.
What to Expect When Skiing in Iceland: Climate, Terrain, and More
Prepare for Unpredictable Weather Conditions
Skiing in Iceland can be an unforgettable experience, but it’s essential to prepare for the country’s unpredictable weather conditions. Generally speaking, winter is the best time of year to plan your trip if you want to hit the slopes. However, even during the winter months, it’s not unusual for Iceland to experience drastic temperature changes or heavy snowfall.
In addition to packing warm clothes, including base layers, a waterproof jacket, and pants, make sure to bring a helmet and goggles. Avalanche transceivers also come in handy while skiing in Iceland; while most resorts offer them for rent, bringing your own is advisable.
Get Ready for Unique Terrain and Natural Features
Iceland boasts some of the most spectacular natural features on the planet, and its ski terrain cannot go unnoticed. The bulk of Icelandic ski resorts are located in the Troll Peninsula region, Northern Iceland, surrounding the Akureyri town.
The Icelandic ski terrain offers something for every skill level offering everything from groomed Nordic tracks, challenging backcountry powder runs, wide-open bowls, cliffs, gullies, and breathtaking mountain views. For this reason, many enthusiasts hail Iceland as ‘Ski-touring Wonderland.’
Learn About Iceland’s Ski Culture and Community
In comparison with other parts of Europe and North America, the skiing culture in Iceland is relatively small, tight-knit, and unique. While resorts in Swedish France offer apres-ski and nightclubs, most Icelandic resorts are quieter, more relaxed, traditional and reflect local customs.
Being friendly and welcoming people by nature, Icelanders appreciate tourists learning about their history and culture. This welcoming community vibe, coupled with the breathtaking scenery and skiing opportunity they offer is sure to provide any ski enthusiast an unforgettable experience.
Discover the Best Time of Year to Hit the Slopes
If you’re looking for a time to visit Iceland specifically for skiing, then it’s Winter. The prime skiing months are typically from November through May, but snow conditions can change daily so getting the local advice is always advisable before booking your trip.
Iceland has very long daylight hours during summer months making Summer skiing possible on some glaciers; in particular, there are popular summer activities around Reykjavik’s city offering incredible views while skiing. Heli-skiing operates between March to June but depends heavily on weather and availability.
“Ski trips can be tough to plan due to fluctuating snow/weather or travel restrictions. Luckily, that’s where guides come in handy.” – Nick Martin, Founder & CEO, Matt’s Flights.
Skiing in Iceland is becoming more and more popular and gaining plenty of traction worldwide. If you are adventurous and open-minded and ready for a unique experience that combines skiing and nature, Iceland certainly should be on top of your list when considering Ski-touring Wonderland spots.
Why Iceland Should Be Your Next Skiing Destination: Unique Experiences
Iceland is known for its stunning natural beauty, geothermal hot springs, and puffins. However, what many travelers don’t know is that the country also offers some of the most unique skiing experiences in the world. From skiing under the Northern Lights to exploring incredible natural wonders while skiing, Iceland has something truly special to offer any ski enthusiast.
Ski Under the Northern Lights for an Unforgettable Experience
Iceland is one of the few places in the world where you can ski under the Northern Lights. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is nothing short of magical as you glide through the snow, surrounded by the colorful lights dancing above you. Aurora Borealis is visible in Iceland from September to April when there is sufficient darkness, making it possible to combine a ski tour with this otherworldly phenomenon.
“Gliding in skis along the crisp Nordic winter landscape watching the northern lights dance across the sky is the ultimate skiing experience I have had.” -Giulia Monego, professional freeride skier
In addition to witnessing the Northern Lights, you’ll be able to enjoy Iceland’s winter landscapes bathed in soft moonlight, riding up empty lifts, and experiencing untouched backcountry terrain. For extreme skiers or those daring enough, nighttime descents are even more thrilling. It’s an all-around sensory spectacle that creates moments of pure joy.
Explore Iceland’s Incredible Natural Wonders While Skiing
Iceland boasts numerous impressive volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, and other scenic spots perfect for skiing enthusiasts. Almost every mountain in Iceland is open to skiing during the right season. You’ll get to explore new peaks, valleys, and dramatic fjords while taking in breathtaking views of Iceland’s natural attractions.
“Skiing in Iceland is a great experience. From the top, you have fantastic views overlooking fjords and glaciers, and then you can ski all the way down to the shore. The skiing itself ranges from gentle slopes to steep couloirs, so there’s something for everyone.” -Asbjorn Gjerden, professional ski mountaineer
Langjökull glacier provides numerous opportunities for cross-country skiing, while Snaefellsnes National Park offers various terrain types. Whether it be lift-served or skinning up into remote backcountry areas, Iceland is filled with irresistible, uncrowded ski runs. It may not have world-renowned black diamond runs like Aspen or Whistler-Blackcomb, but what sets Icelandic skiing apart is the sublime combination of stunning landscapes and unique skiing experiences that take your breath away.
Visit Iceland if you want to experience new ski terrains and breathtaking sights under extreme Northern Lights. Ski enthusiasts should miss no chance to explore Iceland’s incredible natural wonders as they offer endless thrills on skis. Pack your bags and plan your perfect skiing trip today!
Skiing in Iceland: Tips for Planning a Memorable Trip
Pack the Right Gear for Iceland’s Unique Climate
One of the biggest challenges when skiing in Iceland is its unique climate. It’s important to pack the right gear, so you can stay warm and dry while hitting the slopes.
- Dress in layers – Start with a base layer made of moisture-wicking material, add an insulating layer, and finish with a waterproof outer shell.
- Hat, gloves, and scarf – Icelandic winds are famous for their strong gusts, so protect your extremities with warm accessories.
- Socks and boots – Keep your feet warm by investing in insulated ski socks and waterproof boots.
- Goggles or sunglasses – The snow reflects sunlight, which can be blinding. Don’t forget to bring proper eye protection.
Icelandic mountains offer some of the best backcountry skiing in the world, but it comes with risks. Weather conditions can change quickly, and glaciers may have hidden crevasses. It’s recommended to hire a guide who can navigate the terrain safely and show you the best spots.
“It’s easy to underestimate the dangers of skiing in Iceland, so I always advise people to book a guide,” says Siggi Bjarni Jónsson, a professional skier from Iceland.
A guide will not only keep you safe, but also enhance your experience by showing you hidden gems most tourists wouldn’t know about. Plus, they’ll share local knowledge about Iceland’s fascinating culture and history.
Take Advantage of Iceland’s Hot Springs and Saunas for Relaxation After a Day on the Slopes
Iceland is famous for its hot springs and saunas, which offer an excellent way to relax your muscles after a day of skiing.
- The Blue Lagoon – One of Iceland’s most famous hot springs, offering warm, mineral-rich waters that soothe sore muscles.
- Hellalaug – A lesser-known but just as beautiful option, this natural hot spring is located in Fljótshlíð, South Iceland.
- Banana Farm Hot Springs – If you’re looking for something more private, try Banana Farm’s man-made hot springs located in Varmahlíð, North Iceland.
For those who prefer indoor relaxation, Reykjavik has some world-class spas with various saunas and jacuzzis to choose from. Try Laugar Spa or the Viking Sauna at Grand Hotel Reykjavik.
Skiing in Iceland may not be as well-known as other winter sports destinations, but it offers unique challenges and rewards you won’t find anywhere else. With proper preparation and guidance, you will have a memorable trip that includes breathtaking landscapes, cultural experiences, and rejuvenation in geothermal pools. Book your trip today!
Explore More Than Just Ski Slopes: Other Winter Activities in Iceland
When you think of winter activities in Iceland, skiing may be the first thing that comes to mind. However, there is so much more to do and explore in this beautiful country beyond hitting up the ski slopes.
Take a Dip in a Natural Hot Spring
Iceland is home to some of the world’s most unique and stunning natural hot springs. The geothermal activity around the island makes for perfect soaking spots even during the coldest months of the year. One popular location is the famous Blue Lagoon, which offers an unforgettable experience surrounded by snow and ice.
“The silica mud masks were amazing, the scenery was incredible, and everything looked like it had been pulled from another planet.” – Joy Phelan, Travel writer at Matador Network
There are also plenty of other hot springs located off the beaten path throughout the country, allowing visitors to take part in a more secluded and private soak. For example, Landmannalaugar offers one such opportunity to enjoy the wintery landscapes while taking a bath in its outdoor pools.
Go on a Northern Lights Tour
The Northern Lights (also known as Aurora Borealis) are another must-see attraction in Iceland. During the winter months, Iceland’s long nights provide ideal conditions to see the vibrant green and purple lights dancing across the sky. Several tour companies offer guided tours to find and witness this breathtaking phenomenon.
“I can’t imagine ever feeling blasé about seeing the aurora borealis—it feels like one of those great wonders that make us feel so small.” – Leif Pettersen, Writer and traveler at Lonely Planet
Some tours will even provide you with hot drinks, snacks and warm clothing so that you can be as comfortable as possible while enjoying the show. Whether it’s your first or fifth time seeing the Northern Lights, it’s always an awe-inspiring experience.
Experience Icelandic Culture Through Food and Drink
Icelandic cuisine has seen a surge in popularity over recent years, gaining worldwide recognition for its unique dishes made from fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. Winter is an excellent time to indulge in traditional Icelandic fare like lamb stew, smoked fish, and rye bread while savoring a glass of Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps).
“I consider Iceland one of the most fascinatingly beautiful places I’ve ever been… And nowhere else I’ve visited comes close on diversity and quality of food.” – Daniel Otis, Travel writer at CNN Travel
Reykjavik boasts several top-rated restaurants, including Fiskmarkaðurinn (The Fish Market) and Dill Restaurant. The latter earned Michelin-starred status back in 2017 and remains a favorite among locals and travelers alike. With endless dining options available across the country, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in the local culture through food and drink.
All in all, Iceland provides more than enough activities and sights to keep winter visitors occupied beyond skiing. From natural hot springs to those mesmerizing northern lights, to delicious local cuisine, experiencing the winter season in Iceland will undoubtedly leave unforgettable memories and a yearning to return again soon.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best skiing destinations in Iceland?
One of the best skiing destinations in Iceland is the Bláfjöll ski resort, located just outside Reykjavik. Another popular destination is the Hlíðarfjall ski resort, located in the northern town of Akureyri. Other great options include the Ísafjörður ski resort in the Westfjords and the Dalvík ski resort in the north. Each of these destinations offers stunning scenery and a variety of runs suitable for skiers of all levels.
What is the skiing season in Iceland?
The skiing season in Iceland typically lasts from November to May, depending on the weather conditions. The peak season is from December to April, when the snow conditions are typically at their best. However, it’s worth noting that Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before planning a trip.
What are the average snow conditions in Icelandic ski resorts?
Icelandic ski resorts generally have good snow conditions, with an average snowfall of around 3-4 meters per season. The snow is usually light and powdery, making for great skiing conditions. However, it’s worth noting that the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before planning a trip.
Are there any ski schools or instructors available in Iceland?
Yes, there are several ski schools and instructors available in Iceland. Many of the ski resorts offer lessons and coaching for skiers of all levels, from beginners to advanced. Private lessons are also available for those who want a more personalized experience. It’s always a good idea to book in advance to ensure availability.
What other winter activities are available in Iceland besides skiing?
There are plenty of other winter activities available in Iceland besides skiing. Some popular options include snowmobiling, ice caving, dog sledding, and northern lights tours. Iceland is also known for its natural hot springs, which can be enjoyed year-round. No matter what your interests are, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Iceland’s winter wonderland.