Can I go Skiing in Iceland?
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
In a country famed for its long winters and volcanic terrain, you might think that it would be known for skiing. Not so though. You will rarely hear a snow hound say that they are taking their skis on a long weekend in Iceland. More like the Alps or the Canadian Rockies.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some great skiing to be found in Iceland though. It just happens on a smaller scale here. There are also some pretty incredible things to get up to off of the slopes. There aren’t many ski destinations where you’ll have quite so many extracurricular choices! Combine skiing with a rental campervan road trip to some of Iceland’s highlights and you’ll enjoy an unforgettable vacation. Both on and off the slopes!
So, depending on your expectations and what you are looking for in a trip, Iceland might be just the place. In this article, we will take a closer look at the potential for snowboarding and skiing in Iceland. We will run you through what to expect both on and off the slopes. And we will also take a look at the main ski areas around the country.
What should I expect from the ski resorts in Iceland?
The ski resorts in Iceland are mostly found in the north of the country. There are a few slopes within really easy reach of Reykjavik too though. If you are used to skiing the mega-resorts of the Alps or similar then you will find Iceland’s resorts quite bijou. Winter sports are popular here but on a small island with a small population resort skiing is just different.
This also means that the slopes will be much quieter in general than you are likely accustomed to. This is great news for beginners who will get to practice on un-crowded blue and green runs. They won’t need to worry about avoiding groups of school children zipping around in front of them. So the ski slopes are calmer and quieter with less competition for ski lifts and space.
The resorts in Iceland are often to be found quite close together. Usually, they are within a very short drive of each other. So it is easy and convenient to ski one area in the morning and then change it up in the afternoon.
When is the ski season in Iceland?
The best months for skiing and snowboarding in Iceland are March and April. But the full ski season usually runs from late November to early May depending on the weather. Snow conditions are generally best in March and April when the weather is more settled. The daylight hours are longer than in mid-winter and the slopes still have good snow coverage.
The main ski areas in Iceland
Bláfjöll Ski Resort
This is the South Iceland ski resort of choice at just thirty minutes' drive from the capital. This is where Reykjavik locals head at the weekend or for a sneaky after-work ski. There are sixteen ski lifts and a good range of slopes to suit all levels of skier or snowboarder. The slopes are floodlit during the winter months when the daylight hours are in short supply. There is even backcountry skiing to be had here. It is often possible to see the Northern Lights from the Bláfjöll slopes. So do be careful that the dancing lights of the Aurora don’t put you off balance!
Skiing in North Iceland
For a bigger range of ski areas, you’ll want to head to north Iceland and base your self in Akureyri. This is the largest town in the region and there many more options to choose from around here.
Hlíðarfjall Ski Resort
This is one of the most popular ski areas with 24 ski trails and six ski lifts. The snow conditions are consistently good and there is a good range of slopes. Beginners can take it easy and cruise the well-groomed greens and blues. While the more experienced can head up to a set of challenging black runs. There are quality ski schools here with English-speaking instructors. Views of the beautiful Eyjafjörður fjord greet you at every turn.
Dalvik Ski Resort
This small fishing village is about a forty-minute drive from Akureyri so it is perfect for a day trip. It is famous for being the training ground for some of Iceland’s biggest snow sports stars. The area is also known for its backcountry skiing. Specialist tour operators offer ski touring and cross country skiing in the area.
The Troll Peninsular
For the ultimate in Iceland, skiing trips head to the Tröllaskagi Peninsula in the far North. This is some of Iceland’s wildest terrain and it is a remote place steeped in folklore tales. If you’d like to encounter trolls in Iceland then this is the place to come! You can also enjoy some epic heli-skiing here. Pilots will fly you over the snowy peaks for some incredible views. There are runs that take you all the way down to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Skiing here is quite an experience!
Things to do off the slopes in Iceland
There is so much to do off of the slopes in Iceland. In fact, on any skiing trip to Iceland, you will likely spend at least 50% of your time sightseeing. With glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, and volcanoes to discover there’s no wondering why. Camping around Iceland in winter can be a great way to explore. Dividing your time between city-based skiing and exploring the incredible landscapes by road. Short distances are the name of the game for a winter road trip. Perhaps along Iceland’s south coast, around the Golden Circle or the Diamond Circle in the north.
Another must is a good long soak in one of the many hot springs in Iceland. In the Alps, you will find the classic resort combo of the ski by day and hot tub by night. But in Iceland, you can hop into a thermally heated outdoor hot spring. As we said, this is no ordinary place for a ski trip.