Skyrim Winterhold Guide: Merchants, Loot, Quests, And More

Skyrim Winterhold Guide: Merchants, Loot, Quests, And More

Winterhold is among the smallest cities in all of Skyrim. In fact, size-wise, it’s much closer to a small town, and is located in the northeastern side of the province by the Sea of Ghosts. During the Fourth Era, a tragic historical event known as The Great Collapse took place, during which most of the city was swept away by a devastating storm. The only building that remained untouched was the College of Winterhold.

The College is both hated and loved in this city. It’s simultaneously the only thing that brings people in, as well as the one thing that also keeps people away. Mages are not easily trusted in Skyrim, but if you’re building a mage character yourself, you’ll absolutely want to visit the modest town of Winterhold and get the most out of your stay.


The most important feature in Winterhold is the College, an ideal place for any mage Dragonborns. It’s also the only faction found in Winterhold. The College not only has a trainer for every school of magic, but also a merchant for every school, as well as tons of loot and reward that make joining it more than worthwhile.

To start, head to the bridge at the end of the main street of Winterhold where Faralda is guarding the entrance. Ask to join the College and she will agree, so long as you pass a small test. Faralda asks you to cast one of the following spells, which is random each time: Fireball, Firebolt, Conjure Flame Atronach, Conjure Familiar, Fury, Fear, Magelight or Healing Hands.

What makes this test daunting is the fact that early on, most of them are difficult to cast since they require at least 100 Magicka. Make sure to wear any Magicka boosting gear. She’ll also gladly sell you a spell you don’t already know but have to cast for her for cheap. There are other ways to bypass the test, such as persuading her with a high level of Speech or by telling her you’re the Dragonborn, so long as the quest Elder Knowledge is currently active.

Aside from an engaging and well-written quest involving the Eye of Magnus, joining the College also unlocks significant rewards and cool follower options. Onmund, Brelyna Maryon and J’zargo will all eventually become follower and marriage options provided their personal favor quests have been completed.

As for loot, some of the best include the Mage’s Circlet acquired from Savos Aren after completing Good Intentions, the Arch-Mage’s robes and the Arch-Mage’s personal quarters as your home once the entire questline for the College is completed. You also gain access to Master-level spell quests, which allows you to unlock a high level spell for a school of magic.


Within Winterhold itself, Birna’s Oddments is the main spot for trading. Here, you’ll find the strange claw, the Coral Dragon Claw, which can be bought for 50 gold. The claw can be used at Yngol Barrow, which is a Nordic Ruin found down the river northwest from Windhelm’s docks.

There’s also a Destruction skill book within Birna’s shop, found on a table nearby some beds. Other than that, she sells your typical generic shop items and is perfect for parting with your loot after returning from a College quest.

The other merchants worthwhile visiting are found inside the College of Winterhold, each representing their respective school of magic as seen below:

  • Colette Marence: Restoration spells
  • Tolfdir: Alteration spells
  • Phinis Gestor: Conjuration spells
  • Drevis Neloren: Illusion spells
  • Faralda: Destruction spells

There’s also Enthir, a special merchant for sells black soul gems and various other Magicka-related items. It’s also possible to buy Daedra Hearts from him as well.

Trainers And Mercenaries

There are no mercenaries to hire in Winterhold, primarily due to the abundance of followers available for the members of the College. Similarly, any of the local trainers will also be found at the College and only specialize in schools of magic, as seen below:

  • Colette Marence: Restoration training – Expert level
  • Tolfdir: Alteration training – Master level
  • Phinis Gestor: Conjuration training – Expert level
  • Drevis Neloren: Illusion training – Master level
  • Faralda: Destruction training – Master level

Marriage Partners

There’s only two marriage partners available, both of which are also followers and members of the College of Winterhold. In order to get access to them, you need to be part of the College and to gain them as followers or as partners you must finish their personal quests.

Brelyna Maryon is a Dunmer mage student. You’ll meet her instantly upon first joining the College and attending Tolfdir’s lesson. Brelyna’s personal quest, Brelyna’s Practice, is available after you’ve completed the College main quest Under Saarthal. Speak to Brelyna, who is usually found in the living quarters.

The quest is simple and only involves Brelyna testing out a few of her spells on you, with some rather amusing effects. She’ll reward you with a random enchanted necklace, after which you can ask her to marry you, provided you have the Amulet of Mara equipped.

Onmund is the second candidate. He’s a Nord mage student, also first met when you start your journey as a student within the College. His personal quest will also only unlock after you’ve visited Saarthal with the rest of the new students and Tolfdir.

Onmund’s Request is a quest that will send you to fetch a lost amulet which he regrets selling to Enthir. Speaking with Enthir will yield little progress, since he refuses to give it back and instead asks you to get him the Grand Staff of Charming in return for the amulet. The staff’s location is random every time, but will usually pit you against necromancers or other spellcaster enemies. After getting the amulet back, Onmund can be married with the Amulet of Mara equipped.

Becoming Thane And Benefits

Winterhold is a pretty small town compared to the rest of the major cities and towns in Skyrim. That being said, it’s still possible to gain the Jarl’s favor and become the Thane of Winterhold. However, with now home available for purchase, the only benefit of this is the achievement itself and the Blade of Winterhold, a randomly generated sword received a s reward for the title.

To start off, help the Jarl by offering to fetch the Helm of Winterhold. The helm will always be in a random location. After you return, the Jarl will ask you to help three citizens of Winterhold. Members of the College will be able to do this easily be finishing quests and favors for College NPCs, but there’s a way to complete this without ever joining the College.

If you don’t wish to join the College, you have to complete these following tasks:

  • Give alcohol to Ranmir at The Frozen Hearth inn.
  • Steal the Staff of Arcane Authority from Nelacar’s room after speaking with the Jarl’s steward.
  • Convince Ranmir to pay his tab at The Frozen Hearth inn after speaking with Haran, the innkeeper.

Notable Quests

The main interest in Winterhold is definitely the College, and so the College’s main quest is the most notable one you’ll complete in the city. To start off, you need to join the College itself by speaking with Faralda, as mentioned above.

Joining the College is technically part of the main quest of the game as well, since the quest Elder Knowledge will inevitably guide you here. However, you can actually bypass this part of the quest by simply heading straight to Septimus Signus’ outpost.

There’s also a major Daedric quest nearby Winterhold involving Azura’s Star. A shrine of Azura overlooks the town on the southwestern mountain, and by investigating it, you’ll be led back to Winterhold to speak with Nelacar. He’ll reveal to you where to find Azura’s Star: in Ilinalta’s Deep, a sunken fort located down the river, east of Riverwood, on a lake.

You can choose whether to bring the star to Nelacar or to the priestess of Azura, Aranea. If Nelacar is chosen, the star will turn into a Black Soul Gem you can use endlessly and Nelacar himself will become a merchant for Magicka-related items. If Aranea is chosen, she will clear the star and become an available follower for the Dragonborn.

Notable Loot

Most of the notable loot becomes available only after joining the College. This includes any items from your starting room, which has several alchemy ingredients and soul gems, as well as free sets of mage robes. The end of the questline rewards you with the Arch-Mage’s quarters, which is absolutely stacked with gold, soul gems, alchemy ingredients and potions, and even has a Stone of Barenziah.

There’s also a few books found here and there in the town itself worth hunting down:

  • A Restoration skill book in the cellar of the Frozen Hearth inn.
  • An Alteration skill book hidden on the shelf and tucked inside a basket in Kraldar’s house.
  • An Enchanting skill book is in the Jarl’s Longhouse within the room on the right. There’s also an enchanted staff on top of a wardrobe titled Grand Staff of Repulsion in the same room.

NEXT: Skyrim: 10 Best Perks, Ranked

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Tea lover and video game obsessed writing enthusiast with her very own Overwatch team, Anastasia writes about games that leave an impression on her and make her come back time and time again.

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