During the first months of a year, Reykjavik and its surrounding lava fields are covered in snow, creating a winter wonderland that’s ripe with opportunities to beat the post-Christmas blues. It’s the time to use the short days to get outdoors, warm up your muscles, and have some fun along with other winter enthusiasts. With that in mind, we’ve summed up some of our favourite seasonal excuses to go out in the snow.
Snowboarding and skiing
Iceland might not be the finest place for alpine slopes, but a 25-minute drive from Reykjavík, you’ll find the skiing areas of Bláfjöll and, heading east, Skálafell. Both offer excellent opportunities for snowboarding and downhill skiing. Plus, it’ll probably be your first time racing down volcanic slopes.
Note! Due to changing weather conditions on any given day, make sure the mountains are open before going.
When there’s proper deep snow cover, both Bláfjöll and Skálafell also have tracks for cross-country skiing. However, up north, Hlídarfjall in Akureyri has been one of Iceland’s prime skiing areas over the last forty years. With cross-country tracks for all skill levels and an astounding view over the surrounding fjord of Eyjafjörður, it’s a must-visit place for cross-country skiers.
If the worst has come true and there’s no chance of catching a snowflake on your tongue, you could escape from the outdoor greyness in the Skautaholl ice skating rink in Laugardalur. However, if you’re lucky enough to feel the frozen wind, check out Tjörnin pond next to the City Hall. If the temperature is below freezing, the lake transforms into an outdoor ice rink. Even if it goes against your adventurous instincts, remember to be careful and double check before you step on the ice.
Whether it’s a glacier-topped volcano or a snow-clad lava field, numerous tourist agencies provide exhilarating snowmobile tours, all over Iceland. Daytime snowmobiling on Langjökull and Mýrdalsjökull are breathtaking by day, and you can chase the Northern Lights at night.
For more information about snowmobiling, check snowmobile.is or a variety of other tour operators.
Glacier hiking and ice climbing tours give everyone a chance to safely venture onto volcanoes and glaciers. Some of them are well known, such as Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Closer to Reykjavík are Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, both located atop active volcanoes, and there are many more besides. The best part is that no previous experience is required, as climbing tours cater to any skill level.
If steep slopes and high speeds aren’t really your thing, a hike up Mount Esja is a more peaceful alternative. You can either stop at the base camp level, or push yourself for the more demanding ascent to the top. There’s a summit book at the peak where you can write down how happy you were to have strapped crampons onto your climbing boots to tackle the snowy, slippery-slippery path. The hike down is even more beautiful, with a view towards Reykjavík on the horizon. Be safe, and have fun!
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