Iceland Skiing

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Iceland is an intriguing travel and ski destination
Iceland is an intriguing travel and ski destination
The Troll Peninsula has Iceland
The Troll Peninsula has Iceland's best ski terrain (photo: Arctic Heli Skiing)
Powder skiing in the Troll Peninsula, Iceland (photo: Michael Neumann)
Powder skiing in the Troll Peninsula, Iceland (photo: Michael Neumann)
Ski from summit to sea in northern Iceland (photo: Icelandic Mountain Guides)
Ski from summit to sea in northern Iceland (photo: Icelandic Mountain Guides)
Be amazed by the Aurora Borealis in Iceland (photo: Ice Axe Expeditions)
Be amazed by the Aurora Borealis in Iceland (photo: Ice Axe Expeditions)
Ski direct from your door at Guesthouse Baegisa in northern Iceland
Ski direct from your door at Guesthouse Baegisa in northern Iceland
Discover the small ski resorts of Iceland like Blafjoll near Reykjavik
Discover the small ski resorts of Iceland like Blafjoll near Reykjavik
Dalvik ski area on the slopes of Boggvisstadafjall has access to amazing backcountry terrain
Dalvik ski area on the slopes of Boggvisstadafjall has access to amazing backcountry terrain
Hlidarfjall ski area above Akureyri is Iceland
Hlidarfjall ski area above Akureyri is Iceland's best
Iceland is full of culinary delights including wonderful fish soup
Iceland is full of culinary delights including wonderful fish soup
Ski powder in Iceland when the wind stops blowing!
Ski powder in Iceland when the wind stops blowing!
Expect incredible coastal landscapes in Iceland
Expect incredible coastal landscapes in Iceland
Iceland
Iceland's volcanic origins are reflected in its black beaches
The classic tourist sites in southern Iceland can be busy with tourists
The classic tourist sites in southern Iceland can be busy with tourists
The harbour & mountains at Ólafsfjörður on the Troll Peninsula, Iceland
The harbour & mountains at Ólafsfjörður on the Troll Peninsula, Iceland
Active geothermal sites are dotted throughout Iceland
Active geothermal sites are dotted throughout Iceland
The famous Icelandic ponies are full of character
The famous Icelandic ponies are full of character
Iceland
Iceland's coast has all manner of wildlife spotting possibilities
Reykjavik has a lively city centre & harbour, worthy of a few nights stay.
Reykjavik has a lively city centre & harbour, worthy of a few nights stay.
Visit Iceland - explore, see & ski!
Visit Iceland - explore, see & ski!

Iceland Skiing

Skiing Iceland

Skiing Iceland is perfect for when the snows start melting in the mainland Europe ski resorts. Iceland has a deep, cold snowpack well into late May & early June making it perfect for skiing spring powder & corn all the way to sea level. The Icelandic ski resorts are small, so the journey across the Atlantic Ocean is usually made with heli-skiing & boat or land-based ski touring in mind.

Skiing in the mountains & fjords of northern Iceland combines with the country's unique 'fire & ice' natural environment enhancing any Iceland snow holiday experience. But visitors be warned. Many of the alleged sightseeing highlights of southern Iceland have been way over-hyped & have succumbed to mass tourism of the worst kind. If you want to see the real Iceland, it is in the north. So happens that is where the best ski terrain is too!

Iceland Ski Resorts

Iceland's numerous small ski resorts are near the main population centres. All are tiny by world standards with short skiable verticals & at most around 15km of trails. There are a few in & around the capital of Reykjavik, with Bláfjöll being the largest. On the northern coast near the famed Troll Peninsula above the town of Akureyri, 200km northeast of Reykjavik, the ski resort of Hlidarfjall is the nation’s second largest & best due to its longer skiable vertical & backcountry access. A new quad chair for Hlíðarfjall in season 2020/21 extends the resort's skiable vertical to a respectable 538m.

Elsewhere in Iceland, the most useful of the small ski areas are dotted around the Troll Peninsula & in the Western Fjords. The ski areas above the towns of Isafjordur, Siglufjordur & Dalvik are good examples of how these ski areas (they don't rate as resorts!) can provide easy access to amazing backcountry terrain.

Land-based Ski Touring in Iceland

A world of adventure awaits anyone looking to earn their turns in Iceland. Ski touring the mountainous geothermal region of Landmannalaugar in the south, traversing the mammoth Vatnajökull Glacier (Europe’s largest by volume!), or climbing peaks & charging down steep couloirs into the fjords of the Troll Peninsula (Tröllaskagi) will provide life-long memories. At the end of a day, relaxing in a hot spring, eating local cuisine in a comfortable hotel or guesthouse & perhaps viewing the amazing northern lights will top off the adventure.

See Iceland Backcountry Ski Tours & Packages here.

Heliskiing Iceland

One of the major reasons for a ski trip to Iceland is for the heliskiing. At least 3 heliski operators are based in & around the Troll Peninsula between the towns of Akureyri & Siglufjörður. The season running from February to the end of June taking in cold, powder days of winter all the way though to delicious summit to sea corn snow skiing into late spring. The original & best heliski operator in Iceland is Arctic Heli Skiing based in a remote valley near the town of Dalvik on the Troll Peninsula.

See Iceland Heli Skiing Packages here.

Ski & Sail Iceland

From March several operators venture out from Ísafjörður harbour into the remote north-western fjords of Iceland near the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Wild & spectacular, the region offers an amazing ski & snowboard experience based on a local yacht - ski touring during the day, eating fresh seafood & sailing to different locations every night. Ísafjörður is 220km north of the capital Reykjavik 'as the puffins fly'!

See Iceland Boat Based Ski Tours & Packages here.

Getting to Iceland & Beyond

The island of Iceland is situated in the mid-north Atlantic, between Greenland & Norway. The capital Reykjavik, is around 1,900km northwest of London & 4,200km northeast of New York.

Flights to Iceland are plentiful from a host of North American & European origins. International flights arrive at the Keflavik International Airport (KEF), 50km west of Reykjavik.

Internal (domestic) flights depart from the Reykjavik Airport (RKV), located in the heart of the city. The major ski-touring, heli-ski & sail-ski locations like Ísafjörður (IFJ) & Akureyri (AEY) are best accessed by flights direct from Reykjavik (RKV).

Search for a great deal on a flight to Reykjavik or other Icelandic destination here.

Once you arrive in Iceland, several private & shared transfer options exist from Keflavik International Airport to Reykjavik & beyond. Search & book your private or shared transfer to & from Keflavik (KEF) here.

A wonderful way to truly experience the country is to travel by car. Renting a car is easy, but driving conditions can be extremely challenging depending on weather, road & on-coming traffic conditions! Iceland in winter & early Spring is best driven by those with experience in icy & windy (very windy) conditions. Anyone just heading to the Troll Peninsula (the pick of the mountainous terrain) should fly to Akureyri & get a rental car from there.

Rental cars for winter & early Spring driving should be all wheel drive (AWD) as a bare minimum, preferably with studded winter tyres. All cars will come standard with winter tyres (generally non-studded).

For a host of driving hints, tips warnings & more information on the best ways to get around Iceland, read our Travel to Iceland page.

Accommodation

Iceland has a wide range of superb hotels & guesthouses, many in glorious coastal locations right on the sea. The country tends to provide hotels & apartments in the larger towns, guesthouses in the villages & loads of cabins, houses & self-contained apartments dotted across the remaining landscape. Search & book accommodation in Iceland here.

Reykjavik is the country’s main population centre & launching place for all your adventures in Iceland. Staying the city centre is far & away the most vibrant & convenient – it is only 3km from the Reykjavik domestic airport which is so close one can walk there via the city’s many paths.

On any visit to the country, stay at least one night in Reykjavik. It has a lovely city centre and interesting adjacent harbour district. The Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina is a wonderful, quirky hotel with a bespoke style perfect for its location. The old harbour precinct and city centre are within a short walk. The area is replete with bars, restaurants, and breweries.

Search & book Reykjavik accommodation here.

Skiers will generally be headed up to the north of the country to ski the fjords. Important starting points Isafjordur in the north west plus Akureyri & Dalvik on the Troll Peninsula. The Siglo Hotel on the waterfront of Siglufjordur is a new deluxe hotel providing contemporary lodgings in a traditional setting. Self-contained cabins, guesthouses & apartments are across the north and provide sensational opportunities to get to know the locals. Many are on local farms with skiing directly from the door.

On the Troll Peninsula, stay in the area between Dalvik & Akureyri as this allows access to great terrain & superb snow without the complication of getting trapped by the road closures so common on the western side of the region. We can recommend the Guesthouse Baegisa as an exceptional location to stay near the Troll Peninsula.

Search & book Northern Iceland accommodation here.

Weather

One thing that is often said of Iceland’s weather is it’s unpredictable. Rapid changes can occur & a bright sunny day can turn into a wintry blizzard very quickly. Regardless if one is ski-touring or driving, paying attention to the local weather forecast is essential driving. The wind causes the most havoc - don’t underestimate it! Check the Iceland weather forecast here. Check local road conditions here.

When to Go

We recommend going to Iceland from late February through to early May. For the hardcore, a winter visit from December to February can have its positives, however days in winter are short, temperatures are cold are roads are more prone to closure. Mid-winter daylight is only 4 or 5 hours. By March the day are getting longer, the roads are more friendly & the snow is still fresh!

Activities & Sightseeing

Iceland is rich in history - both natural & human. Getting torn apart by two Atlantic Ocean tectonic plates certainly creates alot of geomorphological intrigue, particularly when combined with its sub-Arctic location. The mix of volcanoes, lava fields, steaming vents, thermal pools, waterfalls, mountains, coastline, ice, snow & glaciers is eye candy in the extreme, but not so much in winter! Many of the more impressive active volcanic sights are only accessible via guided ski tours in winter. Some of the more iconic sightseeing locations can be over-run with tourists at all times of the day. In Southern Iceland many of the sights (i.e. the Golden Circle route et al) are inundated with humans on any given day, making them some of the most over-hyped, busy natural tourist attractions in the world. If skiing is your goal in Iceland, avoid it, guilt free. You are missing nothing!

From an animal perspective, marine mammals (whales & seals), coastal birds & Icelandic ponies are the major beasts observable in winter. Whale watching tours leave from many major ports along the coast. You will see the adorable Icelandic ponies all over the island. They are full of character and love getting fed apples!

When buying Icelandic woollen ware (a major product peddled to tourists), ensure to check the provenance. Much of the clothing in the larger stores is made overseas and some of it even uses ‘Australian merino wool’. What the ….? Alternatively, shop in small local stores and ask if the items have been locally made/knitted. The favourite items tend to be socks, slippers, jumpers, beanies. Our favourite was the tiny, boiled egg cosies...

Don’t forget to look for the Northern Lights when in Iceland. You need a clear night with no light (artificial or moon!) & the right solar activity.

View the forecast for the northern lights here (yep, there’s a forecast!).

Iceland on a Budget

Accept that the following items can be expensive in Iceland: Fuel (similar to Western Europe though) restaurant food (cheaper than Switzerland though), alcohol (reasonable from retail outlets but pricey in bars/restaurants (similar to Scandinavia, Australia & a few other places though), coffee (& much of it is blah), beef, chicken (incredibly over-priced) & cheese. Other travel expenses like car rental, flights and accommodation are comparative with any 1st world travel destination, with the exception of car rental damage excess charges, which in Iceland, are exorbitant. Public transport in winter is limited beyond Reykjavik so provides no real budget transport alternative. We do not recommend relying on it.

For the budget conscious, staying in guesthouses and hostels with kitchens, buying food from the many Bonus, Kronan or Netto supermarkets and not drinking excessive alcohol are the key money saving factors. In northern Iceland, many guesthouses are relatively empty in winter, so a room with ‘shared bathroom/toilet’ often ends up effectively a private facility, but for the cheaper price of ‘shared’.

Despite some of the apparent high costs, northern Iceland is a place to have a private/group ski tour (either heli or ski-touring). Aside from the ease of logistics, when one understands the overall cost of living in Iceland, the price of tours that include all meals starts to sound reasonable. That said, anyone with experience can do their own ski-touring direct from a ski lift, roadside or guesthouse for a fraction of the cost of a private/group tour.

Why Visit Iceland?

Iceland is a unique location that provides an all-round experience unlike any in the world. Surprisingly easy to get to from London and other major airports, the locals rely on tourism & will embrace your presence. The skiing & snowboarding can be as challenging or easy-going as you like, and as expensive or cheap as you like. The food has some wonderful quirks as does drinking beer in a beer-filled hot tub! The weather provides it challenges but also contributes hugely to the overall experience. The landscape is stark, but after a day skiing the mountains down to the sea, its quiet, remote feel on a clear night with an Aurora Borealis shimmering overhead is the stuff of everlasting memory.

Reviews

The Powderhounds visited Iceland in March 2020. We had to leave early due to the Covid pandemic but got to sample much of the country despite some incredibly challenging snow (blizzard) & wind (hurricane force) conditions.

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Ski Tours in Iceland

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Mountains & Fjords of the North Ski Tour (Photo: Guenter Kast)
GUIDED SKI TOUR | TROLL PENINSULA ICELAND
6 Days | 5 Nights | 6 Ski Days
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski from summits to the sea in the fjords of northern Iceland. Explore the fabled Troll Peninsula & Eyjafjörður, ski touring & riding powder for 6 days, soaking in geothermal pools & staying in country guesthouses. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group together for a private custom tour.
Price p/p From price based on fixed date tours, twin/double-share room & min 6 people
Base/invoice currency is in EUR or ISK incl taxes.
USD 2,582
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See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit Iceland here

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Alpine Ski Touring Landmannalaugar
GUIDED SKI TOURING | LANDMANNALAUGAR ICELAND
5 Days | 4 Nights | 5 Ski Days
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Ski tour in the third largest geothermal area in the world. Exploring a snowy volcanic landscape, skiing powder for 5 days, soaking in geothermal pools & staying in a cosy mountain hut. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group together for a private custom tour.
Price p/p From price based on a 5-day tour, shared rooms & min 4 people on tour.
Base/invoice currency is in EUR (or ISK) incl taxes.
USD 2,491
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The Peaks of Siglufjörður Ski Tour
DELUXE GUIDED SKI TOURING | TROLL PENINSULA ICELAND
6 Days | 5 Nights | 6 Ski Days
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Explore the peaks of Iceland's fabled Troll Peninsula, ski touring & riding powder for 6 days, soaking in geothermal pools & staying in comfort at Sigló, a new, comfortable traditional style hotel at the town of Siglufjordur. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group together for a private custom tour.
Price p/p From price based on 6-day tours, twin/double-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in EUR (or ISK) incl taxes.
USD 3,342
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See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Iceland here

Heli Skiing Tours

©Dirk Collins
GUIDED HELISKIING | TROLL PENINSULA ICELAND
4 or 6 Day Packages or Fully Customised Tours
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Heliski the fabled Troll Peninsula with exclusive access to the longest runs & best summit to sea skiing in Iceland. Combine world class heli-skiing, with the Northern Lights, midnight sun, fjords, volcanic activity, hot springs, lava fields & a unique Viking culture for a true ski adventure experience.
Price p/p From price based on a 4-day heliskiing program, double occupancy accommodation.
Base/invoice currency is in EUR incl taxes.
USD 9,163
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See all Heli Skiing tours that visit Iceland here

Boat Skiing Tours

Iceland Ski and Sail
BOAT BASED GUIDED SKI TOURING
6 Days | 5 Nights | 5.5 Ski Days
Ability: Advanced to Expert
This trip is to the beautiful Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the West Fjords of Iceland, close to the Arctic Circle. The focus is on backcountry skiing between the remote fjords, anchoring in a different harbour each night. Join the fixed date tour.
Price p/p
USD 6,800
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See all Boat Skiing tours that visit Iceland here