Iceland is renowned for its extreme sport opportunities. With the abundance of open space and extreme environments, there are not many activities you can't do here. Every winter, temperatures plummet and large amounts of snow hit the country. This allows locals and tourists alike to partake in skiing, snowboarding, and ice fishing among others. However, because of where it is situated, the country has special features that allow you to snowmobile in Iceland year-round. Read on to find out more.
Where Can you Snowmobile in Iceland?
The most popular place to snowmobile is on the glaciers of Iceland. 11% of Iceland’s surface is covered with glaciers, giving you large areas to explore from the back of a snowmobile. The main glaciers used for Iceland Skidoo trips are Langjökull, Vatnajökull, and Mýrdalsjökull. Let’s take a look at each of them:
Langjökull (Long Glacier)
At 55km (31 miles) long and 20km (12 miles) wide at its thickest, Langjökull is Iceland’s second-largest glacier. With an area of 953 km² (368 mi²), this giant is bigger than New York City. It’s conveniently located close to Reykjavík, hence why it’s a great place to go for your glacier-related activities. Tours related specifically to this glacier leave from Húsafell, which is 132km (82 miles) from the capital.
Vatnajökull (Water Glacier)
Iceland’s largest ice cap (and Europe’s largest by volume) covers 8,100km2 (3127mi2). It is over 1000 meters (over 3000 feet) at its thickest and contains the tallest peak in Iceland underneath it. As of 2008, it became part of Iceland’s largest national park, aptly named Vatnajökull National Park. This particular glacier lines much of the south coast.
Mýrdalsjökull (Mire Valley Glacier)
Iceland’s fourth largest glacier sits on the south coast, in between Reykjavík and Vatnajökull. It covers 600km2 (232mi2) and is well known for sitting on top of an active volcano, known as Katla. Do not fear; Katla is monitored heavily so we will all be ready for when it next erupts.
So, why are glaciers used for snowmobiling in Iceland?
For one thing, they’re always available, so you can enjoy a typical winter activity any time of the year. Additionally, they provide huge stretches of flat, snow-covered surfaces which are beautiful to behold. But there are other places to enjoy a snowmobile excursion in Iceland that only the winter can offer.
This is Iceland’s second-largest urban area and is found in the north of the island, next to Eyjafjörður. Close to Akureyri is Súlumýrar Winter Park, a flat area that is great for snowmobiling through. The town is a beautiful place to visit and has one of the best ski areas in Iceland nearby, Hlíðarfjall. On a side note, see if you can spot the town’s heart-shaped red traffic lights.
Tröllaskagi (Troll Peninsula)
North of Akureyri is the Troll Peninsula, an area famous for its beauty and challenging terrain. The peninsula is full of mountains, valleys, and a few small permanent ice caps. Experienced snowmobilers can expect even more exhilaration from a tour through here. You’re going to be close to the Arctic Circle here so warm clothing is of extra importance.
Snowmobile Tours in Iceland
A snowmobile excursion in Iceland will generally last for 1-2 hours and protective clothing and equipment will be provided. You will be fully briefed on how to operate the machine and keep in mind that they are very powerful. You must have a driver’s license to drive a snowmobile here, and those who don’t can ride as a passenger.
The minimum age varies for passengers, but some companies insist that passengers are at least 10 years old. Bring a pair of sunglasses with you and wear good hiking boots and warm clothes. Note that if the weather is unsuitable, tours may be canceled and rescheduled at short notice. No previous snowmobiling experience is necessary for most tours.
How do snowmobiles work?
They are fitted with curved skis at the front and tracks underneath which the engine rotates. Modern high-powered snowmobiles can travel as fast as 150 mph (240 kph). Of course, your group tour will be kept to a safe speed that everyone is comfortable with. If you want to go faster, many companies offer private or advanced tours for an increased fee.
If you are coming to Iceland in the winter and traveling north, Extreme Icelandic Adventures offer fantastic snowmobile tours. Prices start at ISK 25,000 per person for a two-hour double ride (two people sharing one vehicle). Single rides are more expensive, and the tours begin in Akureyri.
If you are passing Vatnajökull, Extreme Iceland has you covered for snowmobiling, with all the inclusions mentioned above. They operate tours throughout the year and take you on top of the glacier to get personal with this icy wonder. Extreme Iceland also offers tours to Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The great thing about these tours is they teach you about glaciers, and how we can better protect them.
Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Akureyri, and all of Iceland’s exterior is connected via a convenient ring road, known as Route 1.
Iceland Snowmobile Tours from Reykjavik
Can you snowmobile from Reykjavík, you ask? Well, the snowmobile ride won’t exactly begin from there, but your adventure can begin in the capital. The company Viator runs snowmobile tours in Iceland, and their adventure days commence in the capital. In Iceland, snowmobile tours are not cheap, and if you’re limited for time it can be great to combine experiences. Viator connects snowmobiling with other activities, so you can ride over Langjökull and travel the Golden Circle in one day.
The Golden Circle is Iceland’s most popular tourist route and includes three natural wonders. These are Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir Geothermal Area. Or, you can ride over Langjökull and tour an ice cave in one day. The ice cave is located deep inside the glacier itself and is only accessible via snowmobile. Coach transport to and from the capital is included with free on-board wi-fi. The duration of these tours is approximately 10 hours, and food and drink are not included, so turn up prepared.
So, now you know you can snowmobile in Iceland, what are you waiting for? If you’re taking an Iceland tour, bring your rental car over to Vatnajökull or Akureyri and jump on a snowmobile. Or, if you’re operating out of the capital, get yourself on a Viator snowmobile adventure. Also, since I referenced the first, second, and fourth-largest glaciers, you’re probably wondering about the third. It’s Hofsjökull (Temple Glacier). It covers 925km2 (357mi2) and contains one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland.
Samuel Hogarth, Cars Iceland.