Updated: Sep 1
Iceland is well known for its volcanoes, glaciers and thunderous waterfalls, but did you know you can go skiing in Iceland too? Just when you thought Iceland couldn’t possibly offer any more excitement; they go and add skiing to the list!
If you’re an adventurous and outdoorsy person who is looking to add some extra excitement to your Iceland vacation, make sure to add skiing to your Iceland itinerary.
Whilst skiing is one of the best things to do during the winter in Iceland, it goes hand-in-hand with some necessary planning. This guide to skiing in Iceland will help you find the best skiing spots in Iceland. We'll explain the Iceland ski season, and give you some handy tips and tricks to get started on your ski adventure.
Why Should I Go Skiing in Iceland?
Whether you’re a ski expert or a beginner, skiing in Iceland is a unique adventure with a lot to offer. You’ll probably be cruising across some of the most majestic landscapes you’ll ever see in your life. If you’re still sitting on the fence about going skiing in Iceland, here’s why this experience needs to be on your bucket list:
Iceland’s Breathtaking Landscapes
Given Iceland's reputation for breathtaking landscapes, it makes sense that skiing in Iceland offers some of the most scenic skiing in the world. Where can you fly down the ski slopes with a view of the ocean, a volcano and a glacier?!
Skiing under the Northern Lights doesn’t have to be a dream; in Iceland, it can be a reality if you visit between the months of October and March.
Skiing Without The Danger of Trees
One of the best parts about skiing in Iceland is the lack of trees. The slopes in Iceland are quite mountainous. However, they have unobstructed views of the surroundings, including trees. This is particularly good if you’re a ski novice.
Skiing In Iceland Is Easy With A Ski Pass
Unlike alpine skiing, where you are inundated with ski resorts; Iceland has far less. It’s all quality over quantity!
In North Iceland, there are five ski resorts. You can purchase a 5x5 Iceland ski pass that gives you access to all five North Iceland ski resorts for five days. How and where you spend those five days are up to you.
The areas covered by this Iceland ski pass are:
Cheap Flights From Europe To Iceland
Direct flights to Iceland are becoming more frequent. It makes tickets cheaper and the opportunity to vacation in Iceland easier. With flight times averaging 2.5 hours from within Europe, a ski trip to Iceland is a no-brainer.
Family Skiing In Iceland
There’s no reason to scramble around to find babysitters for the kids as skiing in Iceland is family-friendly. There are plenty of opportunities for children to take on the kid-friendly slopes.
Skiing Isn’t The Only Thing You Can Do In Iceland
A ski trip to Iceland doesn’t mean you’re stranded on a snow capped mountain with nothing else to do in your downtime than sip hot chocolate. Iceland has a ton of fun activities and attractions to see and do that are literally just a short drive away from the ski resorts.
Is Skiing In Iceland Suitable For An Expert?
Yes, even the most seasoned skier will enjoy the slopes of Iceland. And if you go too hard during the day, there are plenty of geothermal hot springs to relax your aching muscles before bed.
Is Skiing In Iceland Suitable For A Beginner?
Yes, skiing in Iceland is suitable for beginners. Not every slope will be good for a novice, but Hlidarfjall for example boasts a total of 24 ski slopes, most of which are suitable for beginners.
When Is Iceland Ski Season?
Iceland ski season is between December and March, during winter. Even though the slopes might be open, any avid skier will tell you that the most reliable and epic skiing conditions tend to be from around February.
It can come as a surprise to some that Iceland isn’t actually icy all-year round. In fact, just as in the rest of the world, you have particularly rainy seasons and seasons where the most snowfall occurs. And, as in most parts of the world, snowfall tends to happen during the winter season.
Skiing In Iceland With Little Daylight
Some tourists get concerned regarding the winter season in Iceland, as it means so few daylight hours. With daylight hours as little as four hours each day, you may be wondering how it’s possible to ski at all.
Iceland is well prepared for the winter season and won’t let a little bit of darkness stand in the way of their skiing fun. Skiing in Iceland is available until late in the evenings, with the slopes lit up by floodlights.
The Different Types of Skiing Available in Iceland
Skiing in Iceland is not just about starting at the top of the mountain and getting to the bottom. There’s a whole host of other types of skiing from which to choose. Read on to see which type of skiing is best for you.
Downhill Skiing In Iceland
Downhill skiing in Iceland mostly has short slopes with lifts that are few and far between, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s not a lot of fun. There are various ski resorts all over the island known for their downhill skiing.
Cross Country Skiing In Iceland
Cross country skiing in Iceland is like a multi-day hike, but on skis. There are a couple of cross country ski trails on the island, but the one that’s probably the most popular is the Landmannalaugar Cross Country Ski Tour.
Backcountry Skiing In Iceland
Backcountry skiing in Iceland is just another way of saying that you’re skiing the “road less travelled”. Some trails offer unmarked skiing, while others provide a wilderness skiing adventure. A few options when it comes to backcountry skiing in Iceland are Mount Esja, Skalafell, and Snaefellsjokull.
Heli skiing in Iceland is reserved for experienced skiers. This is because you get the opportunity to ski from extreme mountain-top heights that can only be reached via the air (cue the helicopter).
Due to this extreme height, Heli skiing is available until June due to colder conditions. Up there, conditions are colder, and the snow remains for a much more extended period.
The Best Iceland Ski Areas
If you’re not sure which slope is the perfect one for you, here are a few of the best Iceland ski areas:
Blafjoll Ski Resort: Skiing Near Reykjavík
Blafjoll Ski Resort is the best choice for those who want a ski resort near the capital of Reykjavík.
This Reykjavík skiing destination is situated in the Blue Mountains, just 12 miles / 19km from the capital. These slopes usually open around January.
Siglufjordur Ski Resort
Siglufjordur Ski Resort can be found at the edge of the Arctic Circle in the northernmost part of the Troll Peninsula. Here you can choose to start your skiing adventure off with one of the lifts taking you 650m above sea level or via helicopter.
Dalvik Ski Resort: Akureyri Skiing Destination
Dalvik Ski Resort is only 40 minutes from Akureyri; the skiing and snowboarding capital of Iceland. This resort offers visitors some backcountry skiing and boasts one of the longest runs, reaching almost 1220 metres.
Isafjordur Ski Resort: West Iceland Skiing
Isafjordur Ski Resort is a beautiful resort situated in the Westfjords. This is an extremely family-friendly place with runs catering to all skiing skill levels. Isafjordur Ski Resort also boasts one of the longest and steepest runs in the entire country. It also offers visitors some backcountry skiing options.
Hljidarfjall Ski Resort: Most Scenic Skiing in Iceland
Hljidarfjall Ski Resort has gotten a reputation as one of the most scenic ski resorts in the entire world! The resort is yet another that’s located close to Akureyri and is believed to have the perfect snow conditions for skiing.
The snow is not too deep or too hard and the snow is constantly being “restocked” by the resort’s built-in snowblowers. It’s these snowblowers that allow Hljidarfjall to have an extra-long ski season from as early as November ‘till as late as May.
Tips For Beginner Skiing in Iceland
If this is your first ski trip to the Iceland, or your first ski trip in general, here are a few things you should know:
Renting Ski Equipment
Buying equipment for an untried hobby is expensive, and even if you did, travelling to Iceland with it would be difficult. Most resorts will offer visitors the opportunity to rent skis and other equipment from them.
Wearing A Helmet When Skiing
There are still too many newbies showing up at the slopes dressed in full gear – except a helmet. We’re not quite sure why people feel a helmet is not really a skiing essential, or if they just don’t like the look of it on their Instagram selfies. A helmet is absolutely critical when it comes to your safety. One wrong move without a helmet and you can suffer serious head and brain injuries.
Invest In A Ski Instructor
It’s easy to get caught up in DIY mode and attempt to teach yourself in order to save a few bucks. But in this case, we highly recommend that you fork out for an experienced teacher. You will learn more and faster and enjoy your ski holiday for longer if you can start carving the slopes up sooner.
Always Wear Sunscreen When Skiing
It might feel counterintuitive, but that’s exactly the problem. It might be cold, but not wearing sunscreen or not reapplying regularly could lead to very nasty sunburn. That is because higher elevations mean that the Earth’s atmosphere is thinner and, therefore, the UV rays are stronger.
Stretch And Hydrate
Firstly, skiing actually uses a lot of muscles that are rarely used in our everyday lives. That’s why you’ll find many little “stick men and women” complaining that they’ve got muscle pains in places they didn’t even know they had the day after their first ride down the slopes.
That’s why it’s imperative that you stretch to avoid any further pain in the form of injuries.
High altitudes can make your body dehydrate faster since there is less oxygen in the air, so you really need to double up on your water drinking.
Check Iceland Weather Before Skiing
Make sure to check the weather before you choose your slope for the day. An easy way to do this is to visit the Snow Forecast website, which gives a comprehensive guide to each of Iceland's ski resorts.
Make Skiing in Iceland an Even Bigger Adventure
There really is only one way to truly explore the island, and that’s by making a road trip out of your visit. Not only are you in charge of your time and your itinerary, but by renting a campervan in Reykjavík you’ll also save a ton of money in accommodation costs.
Just remember that certain roads and routes are closed during the winter season. Keep an eye on the Iceland weather and the Iceland road conditions to avoid getting stuck after a sudden road closure. And remember, some of these roads in Iceland do require a 4x4 camper rental by law. So have a chat with your rental company to get the right model.
What are you waiting for? The ski slopes, glistening glaciers, and the spectacular display of the Northern Lights is just one flight booking away!