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Iceland Horseback Riding Guide for Travelers


Iceland horseback riding

The stunning natural wonders of Iceland invite to embark on an unforgettable horseback ride through lush greenery. Experience the thrill of riding along dramatic landscapes such as black sand beaches. Soak in all the sights and sounds of Iceland as you travel in style across the incredible landscapes of this unique country.

Immerse yourself in the ultimate horseback riding experience in Iceland with our comprehensive guide. Discover the top guided tours and best riding spots, along with expert tips for riding horses in Iceland. Let’s go!

Riding Horses in Iceland: What You Need to Know

Horse riding is a popular activity in Iceland for both visitors and locals alike. You can take a range of guided horse riding tours across Iceland in diverse locations, from the beach to the mountains, or even next to a mighty glacier!

There are Iceland horseback riding experiences for everyone and every ability level. Easier routes will take you across even and level terrain. Whereas, more challenging routes for advanced riders can wind through mountainous and uneven ground.

An experienced guide will come along and assist you on your Iceland horseback riding tour. You can choose from either a short day trip lasting from one to several hours. Or You can choose an extended Iceland horseback riding vacation, usually lasting from a few days to a week.

Iceland horseback riding

All About the Icelandic Horse

Did you know that Iceland has its own special breed of horse? The Icelandic horse is a unique breed of small horse that was first brought to Iceland by the Vikings as far back as 900 AD.

The Icelandic horse is a result of centuries of selective breeding and strict import bans. It stands as one of the purest horse breeds globally, akin to the Icelandic sheep. Icelandic horses adapted to their chilly environment by growing thick winter coats, which they shed when the sun comes out in spring.

The Icelandic horse has a special gait called a tölt, which is a smooth, four-beat gait. This is very comfortable for riders, as you hardly move at all, while the horse’s legs move quickly.

Some may think the Icelandic horse is a pony due to its relatively small size. If you’re looking for Iceland pony rides, you can take a look at our selection of recommended Icelandic horse riding experiences below. Be aware, though, that Icelanders are actually very proud of their horses, so we advise you not to call them ponies to avoid offending the locals!

Icelandic horse breed

What’s the Best Time for Horseback Riding in Iceland?

Heading to Iceland and planning to enjoy a horse riding tour while you’re there? Let’s take a look at what you can expect from your horse riding experience in Iceland at different times of the year. We'll include the best time for horseback riding in Iceland.

Iceland Horseback Riding in Summer

Due to the warmer weather and greater accessibility, summer is the best time for horseback riding in Iceland. From around April to September, you’ll find more horseback riding Iceland tours on offer and many more locations across the country to choose from.

Some more remote areas of Iceland are only accessible during summer, such as the incredibly beautiful Central Highlands. You’ll also be able to enjoy extended daylight hours during the summertime, so you’ll have more chance to explore the beauty of Iceland atop a majestic horse!

Warm and mild weather in summer will make your horse riding experience in Iceland more enjoyable. You might even be able to ride a horse in Iceland during the famous Midnight Sun, where the sun is still shining at midnight during the peak of summer – magical!

best horseback riding in iceland

Iceland Horseback Riding in Winter

Taking a horseback ride during winter is an amazing way to experience the winter wonderland that is Iceland from around October to March. While some areas and roads may be inaccessible during winter due to severe weather, shorter horseback riding tours near Reykjavik and select areas are still available.

The best thing about Iceland horseback riding in winter is that you might even be lucky enough to experience the Northern Lights while riding a horse across the beautiful Icelandic landscapes. Witnessing the magical spectacle of this awesome light show while out and about in nature is sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget!

Peak Northern Lights viewing times are from December to February. Definitely wrap up warm if you plan to take a horseback ride during these months – you’ll need layers and a thick, padded coat.

riding horses in Iceland

Best Places for Horseback Riding in Iceland + Top Icelandic Horse Tours

In Iceland, you have an amazing selection of places to enjoy horseback riding. There are so many guided Icelandic horse tours to choose from, depending on your experience level, where you’d like to go and what’s accessible at the time. 

Let’s take a look through some of the best places for horseback riding in Iceland and top Iceland horseback riding vacations to give you an idea!

Reykjavik Horseback Riding

Close to Reykjavik, you’ll find lots of amazing natural landscapes to explore on your horseback riding tour. The capital is the perfect base from which to enjoy a horseback riding tour, before heading back to the city for the evening. Here are some of our favorite Reykjavik horseback riding experiences:

  • Icelandic Horseback Riding Tour from Reykajvik – This 2 hour tour takes you past lava fields, mountains and lakes. You’ll receive guidance to match your ability level and even a hot beverage at the end of your tour. Choose from either a morning or afternoon Reykajvik horseback riding experience.
  • Viking Horses Reykjavik Horseback Riding Tours – Check out the family-run Viking Horses company offering amazing Reykjavik horseback riding tours. You can even combine your horseback riding experience with a trip to the incredible Sky Lagoon spa, or an incredibly realistic flying simulation at FlyOver Iceland.

reykjavik horseback riding

Horseback Riding on a Black Sand Beach in Iceland (Vik)

If you’d love to traverse a black sand beach by horse, then we recommend horseback riding in Vik, Iceland. The incredible and otherworldly Reynsfjara black sand beach is located here next to the picturesque village of Vik on the southern coast of the country. It is one of the most popular places in Iceland for horseback riding.

  • Vik Horse Adventure Black Beach Riding Tour – Only got an hour? No problem! This quick 1 hour horseback riding tour can fit into even the busiest of Iceland itineraries. You’ll get an experienced guide to take you along the stunning black sand beach atop a majestic Icelandic horse.

horseback riding black sand beach Iceland

Horseback Riding in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The incredible Snæfellsnes Peninsula is one of the most picturesque locations for horseback riding in Iceland. Less than 2 hours away from Reykjavik by car, a trip to admire the untouched natural scenery of this stunning peninsula is definitely one for your Iceland bucket list!

  • Stori-Kambur Horseback Riding in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula – Fancy a midnight glacier horse riding experience, or a ride along a beautiful Icelandic beach? Stori-Kambur offers several different day tours in the Snæfellsness Peninsula among the surrounding countryside, along the coast and in the midst of the majestic Snæfellsjokull Glacier – wow!
  • Snæfellsness 8 Day Horseback Riding Experience – Explore the Snæfellsness Peninsula in all its beauty as you enjoy this extended horseback riding trip in this incredible area of Iceland. You’ll ride along Haffjardara River, the lovely beach at Longufjorur and the scenic Snæfellsness National Park, as well as near hot springs and geothermal pools.

Horse getting into the water

Horseback Riding on the Golden Circle, Iceland

Iceland’s famous Golden Circle is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with many natural wonders located along this easy-to-drive route. You can combine your Iceland horse riding experience with a trip to the Golden Circle to tick two must-do activities off your itinerary in one go!

  • Golden Circle and Horse Riding – This combined day trip lasts around 9 hours and 30 minutes, beginning with a horse riding experience at Eldhestar riding center near the village of Hveragerdi, before having a light farm lunch and taking a tour around the Golden Circle. This tour takes you to the mighty Gullfoss Waterfall, the stunning Geysir geothermal area and the magnificent Thingvellir National Park.
  • Private Golden Circle and Horse Riding Tour From Reykjavik – This private 10 hour trip takes you on both a horse riding tour in Iceland and a trip around the Golden Circle. Beginner horse riders will follow an easier path along the stunning Ingolfsfjall Mountain, whereas the more challenging route along the gorgeous River Gljufula is reserved for more advanced riders.

horseback riding golden circle Iceland

Horseback Riding Iceland in Akureyri (North Iceland)

Iceland’s fifth-largest city, Akureyri, is a fantastic location for horseback riding in Northern Iceland. With stunning fjords, lush countryside and towering mountains, the area around Akureyri is breathtaking to explore atop an Icelandic horse.

horseback riding iceland Akureyri

Horseback Riding in Husavik (North Iceland)

While you’re up in North Iceland, we recommend taking a trip to the fishing town of Husavik for a spectacular horseback riding experience.

  • Lava Horses Tour in Husavik – Take either a short tour (for 1 or 2 hours) or a full day tour of 5-7 hours across the lava fields. You can also find accommodation offered with this family-run business and even organise a private guided tour. Short riding lessons are part of the horseback riding tours for beginners, whereas intermediate and advanced riders can enjoy river crossings and a more challenging pathway through the volcanic landscape.

Iceland Horseback Riding Vacations 

If you’re looking for a more extended horsebacking riding experience, check out these fantastic Iceland horseback riding vacations:

  • Iceland Horse Riding Tour Vacation – This 3 to 4 day Icelandic horse riding holiday involves staying at an eco-friendly hotel on the farm next to the stables and heading out each day to ride the horses across amazing landscapes. You’ll experience rides across black sand beaches, flowering meadows, lava fields and past flowing glacial rivers. You’ll be picked up and dropped off at Reykjavik. The farm is close to the village of Hveragerdi, which is around 45 minutes by car from the capital.
  • Equitours Iceland Horseback Riding Vacations – Equitours offers a range of Iceland horseback riding vacations from 3 to 8 nights, depending on your preference. You can explore some of Iceland’s most evocative landscapes, including the volcanic area of Hekla and the wild geothermal area of Landmannalaugar, deep in the Icelandic Highlands.

Iceland horseback riding winter

Top Tips For Horseback Riding in Iceland

Get set for your Iceland horseback riding vacation with our top tips to make the most of your experience!

  • Wear a waterproof jacket – No matter the time of year, a waterproof jacket is always a must in Iceland, as you never know when a rain shower may choose to start! The famously changeable weather makes waterproof outer layers the best choice for any outdoor activity in Iceland, including horseback riding.
  • Book your horseback riding Iceland experience in advance – Iceland is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, meaning many experiences and tours tend to book up quickly. This is especially true in the peak season during the summer months. Most horseback riding tours have a small number of places, so we recommend reserving your spot as early as you can.
  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions – When booking your tour and before heading out on the day, we recommend checking the local weather forecast to make sure you can expect a clear day. Especially in winter, it’s advisable to take a look at the Iceland road conditions on the day to make sure your route is open.
  • Arrive around 15 minutes early – It’s always best to be a little early to get prepared and make sure you’re all ready for your Iceland horse riding experience. This is especially important on a group guided horse riding tour because they may not be able to wait for you if you’re late. We recommend planning to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.
  • Plan your horse riding Iceland tour for early in your vacation – That way, if the tour gets postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions, you can go on a rescheduled tour later in your vacation. Otherwise, you’ll just receive a refund, but it would be great to have the chance to go horse riding in Iceland if you can!
  • Used horse riding equipment is not allowed into the country – This is to protect the Icelandic horse from infection, as they have not been mixed with other breeds for centuries, so regular horse viruses could prove fatal to our Icelandic horses. Banned horse riding equipment includes chaps, boots, helmets and body protectors. You can bring used horse riding clothes, including riding socks and jodhpurs, but they need to be disinfected first at a veterinary surgeon and you’ll need a certificate to prove this has been done. Be aware that any horse riding equipment or clothes made of leather will not be allowed into the country, as this material is too difficult to disinfect.

Tips for horseriding in Iceland

Ready, Set, Go… Your Iceland Horse Riding Adventure Awaits!

Excited to enjoy your very own Iceland horseback riding adventure? Get started making your dream Iceland horse riding vacation a reality by planning your itinerary, finding accommodation and reserving your rental vehicle.

Enjoy the ultimate freedom to travel to the very best Iceland horseback riding locations by reserving a car in Iceland ready for your trip. Why not pick up an affordable car rental in Reykjavik at the very start of your visit? That way, you’ll be able to explore Iceland to your heart’s content. Our beautiful Icelandic horses are waiting for you!