Iceland in Winter

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 MattJakob 04 Dec 2023


Looking for some information from anyone who has experience of mountaineering in Iceland in winter. I am looking into the possibility of going there in March next year with a friend. 

Plan is pretty open just now. We are either looking at completing a multi-day trek somewhere, possibly taking in a trekking peak or two, tent and pulk based. Or perhaps basing ourselves somewhere with access to some straightforward peaks.

I've made a couple of trips to Iceland in summer - walking in the Kerlingerfjoll and cycle touring across the interior - but Iceland in winter is a different thing altogether, so I'm struggling to know where to start. I'm not sure what areas might be accessible, where we can get with public transport in March, and what areas might be best at this time of year. 

I'd be interested to know about good regions to visit, relatively budget accommodation recommendations (Norwegian Hytte style would be great) and any other relevant tips. 

Experience wise, I've done some winter mountaineering in Canada and Norway (as well as Scotland!) so the cold is not new to me, but I'd be interested in personal experience people may have. 



 Rharrison 07 Dec 2023
In reply to MattJakob:

Hi Matt,

Will you be skiing or walking? Comfortable in glaciated terrain? 

Either way, you could find suitable areas in the south east, east, north or northwest. 
The area from Skaftafell to Höfn has a lot of beautiful peaks (Skaftafellsfjöll, Hrútfjallstindar, Þverártindsegg and Grasgiljatindur for example)
and possibilities for multi day glaciated tours.

I don’t think you’d realistically be able to do much without a car, other than a multi day route where the start/end is accessible with public transport. Public transport is quite bad/non-existent outside of the captial region. 

Feel free to send an email if you have any other questions.


OP MattJakob 16 Dec 2023
In reply to MattJakob:

Hi Rory,

Thanks for your reply. We'd be using snowshoes. 

It's not looking feasible outside a guided tour. As you say, public transport is pretty poor. Unfortunately, car hire in iceland is eye-wateringly expensive,  or that could have been an option. Also, I'm not finding much in the way of accommodation in the (relatively) low cost end of the market that's open at that time of year. 

Probably needs a rethink!

Thanks again,


 Babika 17 Dec 2023
In reply to MattJakob:

You have hit the nail on the head with "eye wateringly expensive". We went twice in summer 2020 and 2021 and the 2nd time opted for a older smaller car to try to keep prices down, its a very captive market.  

 felt 17 Dec 2023
In reply to Babika:

> and the 2nd time opted for a older smaller car to try to keep prices down,

We hired a tiny Suzuki Swift for a fortnight to go on the N1 all around the island in 2008, and that was about £750 if I recall. Bit dodgy on some gravel sectors. We had to sign a document saying that we understood we'd be hit with a massive fine or six months in jail if we took it on an F road (Fjall, i.e. mountain road in the interior).

Top economising tip: only shop in Bonus.

 Mark Bull 17 Dec 2023
In reply to MattJakob:

A trip to the Akureyri area might work for you - I have been there ski-touring in April/May, and hiking in the summer, but we had self-catering accommodation and a hire car. You can get a bus there from Reykjavik (winter roads permitting). The Trollaskagi mountains are a fairly compact area and pretty accessible. You can walk from the town up the Glerardalur valley, which has access to a number of interesting non-technical peaks, and there is a local bus service to Dalvik and Siglufjordur which would give you several other access points to the mountains. There are some huts in the area, including Lambi in Glerardalur, but I don't know of any of them are open in winter, and you would need to book - see  Note that the weather can get pretty nasty (think full Scottish winter conditions at sea-level!). 

Post edited at 17:07
 Dutch Maori 18 Dec 2023
In reply to MattJakob:

Hi Matt

I've done Iceland once in winter, with full blown winter condition in a hire car and got stuck due to the fact that the roads were closed. When the roads were declared open, I still had a nightmare drive on one of the main roads to get out. Icelanders have a quite different outlook on drivable roads, compared to Brits

Go for an organised trip, with a base in Reykjavik,  would be my suggestion. Expensive yes but more likely to actually being able to doing something.

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