Skiing in Iceland: Bláfjöll Ski Resort

Skiing resort Bláfjöll, skiing in Iceland

Iceland is famously referred to as the country of fire and ice. Fittingly, there are also some great ski resorts to discover. Luckily, the biggest ski resort in Iceland “Bláfjöll”, is right next to Reykjavík. We have compiled everything you need to know before heading on the wintery journey, from ‘How can I get there?’ & ‘Where can I find the best equipment?’ to ‘What slopes can I expect?’

The best thing about skiing in Iceland? – The ocean view!

As most ski resorts are (naturally) close to the island’s shores, it is likely that you can enjoy the most beautiful ocean view while gliding down the powdery mountains. If you are used to skiing or snowboarding in the European Alps, this is something quite peculiar! In total, Iceland has about 9 skiing resorts, with most of them located in the northern part of the country.

Bláfjöll Ski Resort: Wintersport adventure close to Reykjavík

Iceland’s biggest ski resort, Bláfjöll (“The Blue Mountains”), is just a 30-minute drive away from Reykjavík and perfect for a sporty pit-stop in between exploring Iceland’s sights. During the season from late November to early April (depending on the weather), skiers and snowboarders alike can enjoy 15 kilometres [10 mi] of slopes and 14 ski lifts. 

Bláfjöll ski resort opened in 1970, according to operating manager Einar Bjarnason, and has been the place where many Icelanders stood on skis for the first time in their lives, as the resort started out as a ski school. Just in the fall of 2023, the resort got two new chairlifts and snow-making machines in the hopes of making the season longer and more predictable.

Skiing resort Bláfjöll
The view from Bláfjöll mountain, photo: Alina Maurer
What you can expect?

Generally, when it comes to skiing in Iceland, don’t expect huge resorts with hundreds of kilometres of slopes, like in popular skiing areas in Austria and Switzerland. The views do make up for it, though! 

Most slopes in Bláfjöll are blue (easy), there are some red slopes (intermediate level) and even one black slope – which was actually fairly easy to ski on. The area is, therefore, perfect for beginner and intermediate ski enthusiasts and more than enough for just a day out on the slopes!

Skiing resort Bláfjöll, skiing in Iceland, Einar Bjarnason, operating manager
Einar Bjarnason, operating manager at Bláfjöll ski resort; photo: Alina Maurer

Before planning your visit, you should always be prepared and check the resort’s website or Facebook page. Icelandic weather can be unpredictable, so they make their decision whether to open the area on a day-to-day basis. On the weekends, the slopes are open from 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM. During workdays, you can ski from 02:00 PM until 09:00 PM in the evening with floodlights, which is a pretty cool experience. If you’re racing down the slopes is a bit too adventurous, you can also head on a cross-country-ski adventure at the foot of Bláfjöll.

If you are lucky, you can even watch the sunset right above the ocean as you’re skiing down, which is pretty unique! Many Icelanders make use of the long opening hours during the week to cool off after work on the slopes and send their kids to ski school in the evenings.

Skiing resort Bláfjöll, skiing in Iceland
Skiers shredding down the Bláfjöll slopes in the dark with floodlights, photo: Alina Maurer
How can you get there?

If you’re renting a car, you take the ring road (No 1) in the direction East to Hveragerði. After about 20 minutes, you will see the sign “Bláfjöll 11 km”. You take a turn to the right side, and then it’s only about 10 minutes until you reach the slopes.

There is also a bus commuting directly to the ski resort from the N1 Gas station, close to the BSÍ central bus terminal in Reykjavík and from other locations in the Reykjavík suburbs. The return ticket costs about ISK 4,000 [€ 26 / $ 28].

Where can you get the best equipment & ski passes?

Whether you are a skier or a snowboarder, you can rent all of your gear on-site, including ski helmets and snowsuits. A pair of skis, boots and poles costs about ISK 7,000 [€ 46/$50] per day. A snowboard and boots are the same price. Cross-country skies run for ISK 6,230 [€ 42/$45] per day. You can always get a helmet for free—which you should definitely wear safety-wise!

An adult ski pass for one day runs for about ISK 5,940 [€ 40/$ 43] – when compared to American prizes, that is a definite bargain! 

Children’s day passes are ISK 1,320 [€ 8.85/$ 9.61].

Skiing resort Bláfjöll, skiing in Iceland
Snowboarders at the peak of Bláfjöll during sunset, photo: Alina Maurer
What should you wear?

The simple answer is layers

While you tend to be moving while skiing or snowboarding, you should still make sure that you are dressed warm enough! It can get pretty frosty on top of the mountain, especially with strong and ice-cold winds blowing straight in your face. Make sure to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. 

Generally, it is great to wear long woollen undergarments, thick wool socks, a fleece or woollen sweater, a ski mask, ski goggles for visibility, snow pants, gloves, and a thick anorak. During our visit to Bláfjöll, the temperatures reached about -18 °C [-0.4°F] on the top and even with many layers of clothing and a ski mask, the adventure got a bit chilly after a while. Luckily, the resort has a small restaurant right next to the ticket hut, where you can get some treats to warm up!

Skiing resort Bláfjöll, skiing in Iceland
Photo: Alina Maurer, the restaurant at Bláfjöll ski resort
What can you eat at Bláfjöll Ski Resort?

The small restaurant right at the bottom of the slopes is the perfect spot to warm up and gather more strength for the next descent. You can buy sandwiches, traditional Icelandic flatkökur (pancakes) with smoked lamb meat and butter, bagels, fries, hotdogs and sweet pastries. They also offer sodas and hot drinks from a vending machine, which tasted pretty good and helped to warm up quickly again. 

The prices are quite affordable, with a hotdog costing ISK 700 [€4.70/$5] and a hot chocolate running for ISK 500 [€3.35 / $3.64], which is even cheaper than in some downtown Reykjavík places.

More winter sport adventures in Iceland

If skiing or snowboarding in a regular ski resort isn’t enough adrenaline for you, you can always head on a guided winter expedition to one of Iceland’s many mountain tops for the ultimate endorphin rush. After an exhausting but thrilling 9 to 13-hour hike to Rótajallshnúkur, you are awarded by descending the mountain by skiing back down. If that sounds like the right adventure for you, make sure to check out this tour here.  If you are a cross-country ski enthusiast, make sure to check out our magazine feature on our expedition to Kerlingarfjöll in the midst of the Icelandic highland. 

Skiing resort Bláfjöll, skiing in Iceland
The ocean view from Bláfjöll, photo: Alina Maurer

Twenty Rescued from Ski Lift in High Winds

Twenty people were rescued from a chairlift at the Hlíðarfjall ski area outside Akureyri on Friday afternoon, RÚV reports. The lift stalled when the wire was blown off its spool by a strong blast of wind, stranding about 20 people mid-air for close to two hours. Luckily, the area’s Search and Rescue crew was able to get everyone to safety and no one was injured in the process.

Weather conditions are assessed at ski areas every day to determine if it’s safe to open. But while conditions weren’t ideal at Hlíðarfjall on Friday, the wind wasn’t initially so strong that it was thought unsafe to ski and snowboard. By the afternoon, however, the weather had taken a turn for the worse.

From noon, the wind started to pick up again, and it was decided to stop letting people in the lift at 12:30,” explained a post on the Hlíðarfjall Facebook page. “There were still 21 people on the lift. Our chairlifts have built-in wind protection that slows down and stops the lift at certain wind speeds. An attempt was made to drive the lift slowly backwards in the hope of evacuating it, but as the wind continued to increase, it did not work and the lift came to a complete stop.

The Súlur Search and Rescue team used special equipment to rescue those who had been stranded on the chairlift in high winds. Image via the Hlíðarfjall Akureyri Facebook page.

It was then that Search and Rescue and police were called, explained Hlíðarfjall director Brynjar Helgi Ásgeirson. Ski area staff regularly train in ski lift rescues, but the wind, which had reached 20 m/s [44.7 mph], made the process much more difficult.

Luckily, everyone on the lift was back on the ground within two hours of it stopping. Australian Andrew Davis was one of those rescued from the lift. He told reporters that everyone who was stuck kept calm, and no one seemed to be in too bad a shape, though the wind was battering them about.

Andrew said he did consider jumping from the lift, as he was confident he could have stuck the landing. But in the end, he decided to wait it out, and saluted the Search and Rescue team for their fast work. Two 13-year-old girls were also amongst the stranded, but Bynjar Helgi said they were “quite upbeat” when they made it back to the ground.

After the rescue, those who had been stranded were offered trauma counselling, although no one chose to take it. What everyone did want, however, was the hot chocolate that ski area staff had waiting for them. “After a short while and some hot cocoa, people were smiling and putting this down to experience,” said Brynjar Helgi.

Hlíðarfjall was closed on Saturday due to unsafe weather conditions. To check current conditions and look at the area’s web cams (in English), see the Hlíðarfjall website, here.