The Snowcapped Mountain and Lake in Akureyri City during Winter

Cross-country skiing in Iceland

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Traveller ratings
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Trip code: 
CTJ
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cross-country skiing
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–16

Ski through Iceland's magnificent surroundings on crowd-free trails

Iceland is known throughout the world for many things, from erupting volcanoes to rushing waterfalls to the Northern Lights.The Icelanders themselves make great use of their very own adventure playground and are keen mountaineers, trekkers and downhill skiers. Cross-country skiing is now waking up to the unique opportunities here. On this trip we spend a day and a half skiing near Reykjavik before heading to Akureyri, known as the 'capital of the north'. Traditionally a fishing port, today it is an easy-going town that sits at the head of Iceland's longest fjord. It is the perfect springboard for skiing in magnificent surroundings on crowd-free trails. This far north of course there is also the chance of catching an Aurora display with far less light pollution to contend with than the capital. In so many ways, a cross-country skiing trip here is like no other.

Highlights

  • Ski the beautiful north around Akureyri
  • Landscapes of mountains and fjords
  • Uncrowded tracks
  • See Reykjavik and ski Blafjoll

Key information

  • 7 nights en suite hotel
  • 5 and a half days guided cross-country skiing,
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Cross-country skiing grade 3, Intermediates
  • Cross-country skis boots and poles included
  • Chance to see the northern lights

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 2 lunches
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Cross-country skis boots and poles

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas and vaccinations

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Reykjavik
to
Reykjavik
  • Day 1

    Start Reykjavik

    On arrival group members transfer to the start hotel using the Flybus service. We will have a first briefing at 1830 at the hotel, before heading out to dinner.

  • Day 2

    Transfer to Blajfoll for first day skiing.

    Reykjavik has a number of ski areas in the nearby 'Blue Mountains' and our first day's skiing is spent here. About a 35 minute drive from Reykjavik, this is a great introduction to skiing in Iceland, in a backdrop of sharp mountains and a vast lava plateau. The varied loops of differing lengths will allow us to get our ski legs back and enjoy the unique landscape.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Morning ski in Skalafell; transfer to Akureyri.

    This morning we head out to Skalafell, again not far outside of Reykjavik, close to where we will have skied the day before. After a morning's skiing we start the journey north to Akureyri. In total this journey can be up to 6 hours, including a break for lunch. As with every journey in Iceland, there will be plenty to see as the landscape unfolds. We should arrive in the early evening in time to check in and have our first dinner in Akureyri. Known as the 'capital of the north', Akureyri is a vibrant town sitting on the country's longest fjord, Eyajfordur, surrounded by snow capped peaks.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Days 4-6

    Skiing in Akureyri

    We spend 3 and a half days in total skiing in the north of Iceland, choosing exact routes and areas each day depending on the conditions. The Eyafjordur area around Akureyri is an excellent place to base ourselves and we will aim to showcase the best of northern Iceland.

    The best known ski area here is on Mt Hlidarfjall, which has traditionally been the destination of choice for downhill skiers in Iceland. However the ski centres in the area are making big strides in their provision of cross-country tracks. These are though still pretty empty heading away from the pistes and so allow us to enjoy the unrivalled views back over the fjord and the town.

    We will also aim to spend time skiing in Olafsjordur, about 50km from Akureyri, as well as Dalvik a popular area just a 35 minute drive from Akureyri. We will also on one day head over to Lake Myvatn, an area of oustanding natural beauty. Myvatn is protected as a nature reserve with abundant birdlife and pseudo craters. The lake itself freezes over in winter, and though the length and variety of cut tracks here is limited the terrain means we could venture off track a little. The opportunity to ski in this area is simply too good to pass up. There is also a fantastic outdoor hot pool complex in the Myvatn area - the Myvatn Nature Baths - that is well worth a visit at the end of the day. It offers a far more authentic experience than the more commercial Blue Lagoon, as it is regularly used by locals unwinding and socialising (see extra expenses for entry fee).

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Morning ski, return to Reykjavik

    Our final morning in the north will most likely be spent skiing in the Saudarkrokur area, conditions permitting. Should this not be possible we will have a final ski in the wooded area closer to Akureyri before beginning our drive back to Reykjavik, stopping for lunch en route.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    End Reykjavik

    The trip ends this morning in Reykjavik. Should you wish to extend your stay in the fascinating capital please ask about adding post tour nights to your trip. Time spent visiting the Hallsgrimmkirkja, the Harpa Concert hall or just enjoying the café culture and the atmosphere of Laugavegur (the main strip) is time well spent.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

Iceland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Iceland

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

Breakfasts are buffet style, whilst the lunches we include are taken on the travel days. There are of course many restaurants in Reykjavik, whilst Akureyri also has a good range of establishments serving a mixture of Icelandic and international cuisine. Traditional Icelandic dishes consist of salmon, cod, lamb and puffin.

Weather

The country has a notoriously fickle climate, and on any day of the winter you may experience periods of sunshine alternating with short or long showers of snow, sleet or even rain. Away from the coast, in most winters, there is good snow cover for much of the season. Average daytime temperatures in Reykjavik are between 0º and -5º Celsius, and a few degrees colder on average in the north. In the interior it can be several degrees colder, and in windy weather, which is common, the wind-chill factor can be significant.

Is this trip for you?

Exodus offers cross-country skiing holidays to suit a wide range of technical and physical levels. Our cross-country skiing grades reflect both the level of physical fitness required and the level of skiing experience required. They are comparable to the activity levels we use on our snowshoeing, cycling, activity and trekking holidays, however we believe a slightly different system is required, due to the tuition we provide on our holidays. This sets our cross-country skiing holidays apart, as we tend not to need to teach people how to ride a bike or walk.
The aim remains to create groups of similar ability and fitness. Our descriptions are below, however feel free to call and speak to an expert if you are unsure which grade or type of holiday will suit you best.

Grade 3 - Intermediates
To make the most of a trip here, we have set the skiing grade at 3, as we will be deciding exactly where to ski based on prevailing conditions. A grade 3 week is ideal for those looking to push on, tackle some slightly steeper terrain and cover more ground each day. Typical groups will have a few weeks skiing behind them, be very comfortable with the basics and happy on longer day tours. There will still be tuition on these weeks, at the required level.

Iceland is well known for being a good spot to see the Northern Lights. We will not head out every night, instead we monitor the latest information on solar activity and local weather to select a location and time to catch a display. As this is a natural phenomenon it is of course not guaranteed.

Accommodation

Hotels

We spend a total of 3 nights in Reykjavik, usually at the 3-star hotel Klettur, a good standard hotel about 15 mins walk from the city centre. In Akureyri we usually stay at the Hotel Nordurland a comfortable 3-star hotel a short walk from the waterfront and the centre of the town. Both hotels offer comfortable rooms with en suite facilities and Wi-Fi.

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  • Reviewed April 2017
    Christopher Johnson

    Cross-Country Skiing in Iceland

    First time this trip has been arranged. Tremendous efforts were made to make us welcome, including some resorts cutting ski tracks especially for our group. The ski kit was new and worked well in the potentially difficult snow conditions around freezing point. I love to visit Iceland - this was my ninth visit - but I found much that was new and interesting. The Troll peninsula in superb weather was a fabulous place to visit and ski. I enjoyed wandering around Akureyri, a beautiful town with lots of interesting historic buildings, while the scenery and swimming pool at Myvatn were outstanding.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Much was outstanding. Swimming in a gale at the hot thermal baths at Myvatn with their extraordinary (Game of Thrones) views was great, but my best day by far was at Akureyri. After a morning ski, I spent the afternoon walking around the town and dropped in to the museum where to my amazement I found an exhibition of mediaeval maps that I had been reading about three weeks before. Never thought I would actually see the 16th century originals (nerdish in the extreme, but I am fascinated by the history of the North Atlantic settlements). Then, after dinner, went for a floodlit ski on the slopes where we were treated to an outstanding auroral display. 170 photos later.......

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kristjan was outstanding. Knowledgeable (and keen to share the information) about all aspects of Iceland, he managed the group effectively and diplomatically. I learnt a lot from him about Iceland. He obviously has many contacts around the island and huge stamina - as the minibus trips between Reykjavik and the north were a long drive - but never seemed worryingly so, as he paced the journey beautifully.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make the best of any spare time. We had free afternoons in both Reykjavik and Akureyri that I used to see as much of the towns as possible. If you enjoy photography, take as good a camera as you can; you never know what you may see along the journey, and whether the aurora will appear.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Two years ago you could get over 200ISK to the UK pound, the rate (March 17) is now closer to 130ISK. There is no such thing as a cheap meal out in Iceland, although the quality of the food is usually excellent. It is not an easy place to visit on a tight budget.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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