The 5 Best Iceland Horseback Riding Tours [2022 Reviews]

Enjoying sightseeing by horse, we look at the top horseback riding tours in Iceland

Iceland is a place of unimaginable beauty – but perhaps not your typical “pretty” vacation spot, like a tropical island would often be considered to be.

However, its varied terrain, volcanic activity, and intense weather, makes for a surreal location that is fascinating to explore. If you want to see the best views that the country has to offer, you will need to take a smaller mode of transportation.

One of the most fun options out there, is by horse! Hop on an Icelandic horse to see areas that most people don’t get the chance to. Let’s not waste any time – without further ado, here are the top horse riding tours in Iceland available!

Best Horseback Riding Tours in Iceland

 Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle Tour from ReykjavikPrivate Horse riding tour from ReykjavíkHorse Riding Tour in Akureyri
editors choice
Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle Tour from ReykjavikPrivate Horse riding tour from ReykjavíkHorse Riding Tour in Akureyri Iceland
Departure Point:Vonarstræti 10, 101 ReykjavíkAkrar 2, 271 MosfellsbærSkjaldarvík Guest House Road 816, 601, Akureyri
Departure Time:9:30 amVariety AvailableVariety Available
Duration:9 hours2 hours1 hour
Includes:English speaking guide, National Park fees, transportation, gear for riding
Light refreshments, local guide, use of helmet and gloves, warm overalls (in winter)
Coffee, tea and cake, helmet, use of hot tub, professional guide

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Iceland Horse Riding Tours For 2022

  1. Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle Tour from Reykjavik
  2. Private Horse riding tour from Reykjavík
  3. Horse Riding Tour in Akureyri
  4. Red Lava Horse Riding Tour From Reykjavik
  5. Family Friendly Horse Riding Tour in Skagafjörður

Iceland Horse Riding Tour Reviews

1. Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle Tour from Reykjavik

Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle Tour from Reykjavik

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Departure: Vonarstræti 10, 101 Reykjavík
  • Departure Time: 9:30 am
  • Includes: Professional English speaking guide, National Park fees, transportation, necessary gear for riding

If you really want to experience the Icelandic wilderness, you can’t go wrong with this comprehensive, 9-hour tour. The Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle Tour from Reykjavik tour packs a ton of adventure in to one day. Go back in time, and see all kinds of natural beauties, as well as important pieces of man-made history.

First, you’ll be picked up from your Reykjavik hotel, which is ultra-convenient. You can pretty much roll out of bed and be ready – so long as you remember to bring some boots and clothing appropriate for ice and snow! You’ll head straight to the ranch located on the outskirts of the capital and is no more than 20 minutes away.

Once you arrive, you’ll get acquainted with your horse – an Icelandic horse. These majestic beauties are known for being gentle and able to perform 5 gaits, as opposed to most that can only perform 3 or 4.

The result is a much more comfortable ride, as you won’t be hopping around in the saddle. As you can imagine, this is a pleasant ride for all, but particularly great for beginner riders.

After you take a ride on these beauties, you’ll go on an express tour of 3 of the most popular Icelandic attractions: the Gullfoss Waterfall, the Geysir geysers, Thingvellir, and the Hveragerdi village. The Gullfoss and Geysir hot water springs are impressive, and are 2 different ways of displaying just how powerful water is!

Taking a quick stop at the UNESCO site, Thingvellir, is one of the crowd favorites and is home to the oldest functioning parliament on the planet! The national park holds one of the most special sites, too: the rift valley. Here, continental plates meet, creating a massive rift that really displays just how robust these plates are!

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


2. Private Horse riding tour from Reykjavík

Private Horse riding tour from Reykjavík

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure: Akrar 2, 271 Mosfellsbær
  • Departure Time: Variety Available
  • Includes: Light refreshments, local guide, use of helmet and gloves, warm overalls (in winter)

While the other guide is certainly a comprehensive, full-day tour, not everyone wants to commit to an entire day outdoors. If you’re looking for something shorter, to give you a taste of what the Icelandic nature has to offer, then this next tour is for you.

The Private Horse Riding Tour from Reykjavik is just 2 hours long, and will let you hop on and ride a beautiful Icelandic horse to explore rugged trails around a mountain!

The Icelandic horse has essentially been unchanged since the 9th century, and is known for being so docile. Oh, and did we mention they’re absolutely gorgeous? They feature unique coat and mane colors and combinations, with icy blue eyes and a fluffy mane that will instantly make you fall in love with them.

Mt. Ulfarsell sits in the countryside right outside the capital, making it remote yet close enough that it’s not inconvenient to travel from Reykjavik.

Once you arrive to the ranch, your guide will give you a safety briefing and make sure that both you and your horse are comfortable with each other. They will teach you how to mount the horse, and the basics of riding.

Not only that, but the guides offer a very interesting history lesson in the Icelandic culture and history. Check out breathtaking vistas over the mountain and the picturesque countryside while you ride, making it the perfect tour to fit into a busy day.

After you’re done riding, you’ll get to enjoy some light refreshments and get back to your hotel!

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


#3 Horse Riding Tour in Akureyri

Horse Riding Tour in Akureyri Iceland

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure: Skjaldarvík Guest House Road 816, 601, Akureyri
  • Departure Time: Variety Available
  • Includes: Coffee, tea and cake, helmet, use of hot tub, professional guide

This next one is yet again another shorter tour, at just 1 hour, with hotel pickup and drop-off offered. The Horse Riding Tour in Akureyri also takes you on the special Icelandic horse, known for their docile, smooth gait. This is one of the best ways of taking in the best vistas of Akureyri, with horses that know exactly what they’re doing.

The groups are typically very small, which is great for safety and exploring more places! Not only that, but you can feel confident asking your guides any questions you may have. They are very friendly and professional, making sure you’re well-prepared to ride. While giving a safety briefing, they’ll provide you with helmets as well.

You will be matched with a horse, depending on your comfort level and riding abilities. We felt that the staff did a great job here, and the horses seemed to have a good time, too!

As you ride around, the guide will tell you all about the history of your horse breed as well as the history of this area. The countryside is overall very easy to navigate, and is perfect if you’ve never ridden a horse before.

If you feel comfortable, you can absolutely go a bit faster when your guide says it’s okay to. Akureyri is known for its incredible beauty, with notable waterfalls and canyons, as well as important ports.

When you’re finished exploring, they invite you to enjoy some delicious coffee, tea, and dessert back at the guest house. If you’d like, you can even use the hot tub on site, which is great for relaxing the muscles after that horse ride!

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


#4 Red Lava Horse Riding Tour From Reykjavik

Red Lava Horse Riding Tour From Reykjavik

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure: Surtlugata 19
  • Departure Time: Variety Available
  • Includes: Coffee and/or tea, winter clothing, rain clothing, helmets

The Red Lava Horse Riding Tour from Reykjavik may sound like a scene from a Hollywood action film, but rest assured, this is a tour perfect for beginners and advanced riders, alike. This 2-hour tour does include hotel pickup and drop-off options, and will take you through iconic lava hills, around lakes, and more.

Once you arrive to the ranch, you will be matched up with an Icelandic horse, depending on your experience level. The guides have many beginners on these tours, so they know which horses are ideal for newbies.

The route that your group takes will depend on your experience level, as well. If you’re just starting out, you’ll take the smooth, easier route on the Redhills. If you’re more experienced, you’ll head through Rauoarvatn.

The horses are so sweet, and know exactly what to do. Even when to stop for photo ops! They ride very well through thick snow, and will even show you the tolt gait!

Both routes offer incredible views of the Icelandic country, and offer you the opportunity to better your riding skills and hang out with a friendly horse. You will all go to the Heidmork Nature Reserve, where the lava hills are located. You’ll learn all about the 5,000-year-old volcano history, as well.

At Rauoavatn, you’ll breathe in fresh air emitted from the thick forests in this area. The first processes of forestry in Iceland were taken at the start of the 20th century, which also has quite an extensive history here!

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


#5 Family Friendly Horse Riding Tour in Skagafjörður

Family Friendly Horse Riding Tour in Skagafjörður

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure: Vegamót, 560 Varmahlið
  • Departure Time: Variety Available
  • Includes: English speaking guide, riding helmet, rain jackets/trousers if required, coffee and/or tea

Are you on the hunt for a riding tour in Iceland that’s perfect for the whole family? If so, we’ve got just the one for you! The Family Friendly Horse Riding Tour in Skagafjorour is an hour-long tour – perfect for little ones who may have less patience. Not only that, but the guides manage to make it fun, even for children!

This tour also involves Icelandic horses, with their special trot much smoother than regular horses. As they also tend to be a bit shorter, this seems to intimidate children less, who’ve never been on one. The guides do a great job at matching the rider with the horse, based on personality and skill.

Once the guide gives a safety briefing and provides everyone with their helmets, you’ll follow them to discover this area’s magnificent landscape! With small group sizes, the experience is very personalized. You’ll have enough time to ask the guide any questions you may have, and they’ll pay attention to making sure everyone feels comfortable.

There will be moments along the trails where you have the option to go faster. The horses perform well at just about any pace, and adds a bit of fun to the adventure.

There will be various moments along the trails that are great for stopping and taking some photos. With the guide’s professional knowledge about the area, you’ll see the most picturesque locations – from bubbling streams to ridges! They include all necessary gear, and a hot beverage for you, so you stay warm and comfy!

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


Iceland Tour Guide

best horseback riding tours in iceland

There are many reasons the Land of Fire and Ice has seen an explosion in tourism since 2019. Not only can you see the Northern Lights, active volcanoes, glaciers, and puffins, you can also relax in a geothermal spa and even bake bread inside a pot buried underground.

What you decide to do in this fascinating country is your choice, but you should take the time to do some research before you go. This guide is here to inform you where you can go, what you can do, and how you can get there, because we want you to have the best vacation of your life in Iceland.

Airports & Entry

Most visitors to Iceland arrive at Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Although Iceland only has a population of 359 thousand people, in 2018 this busy airport handled 9.8 million passengers. Despite the number of visitors, there is only one terminal. You will find the check-in times minimal, with an average 20-minute waiting time at the security check.

Inside the terminal, you will find everything clearly signposted in English. Charging points for cellphones and laptops are provided in the waiting area along with free Wi-Fi.

Strollers are provided for children, and there is a dedicated kids’ play area. The usual selection of food outlets and shops are found on the upper floor of the main building. Manned information stands are located throughout the airport.

It is 30 miles from the airport to Reykjavik, the capital city. The speed limit is 55 mph, but the drive usually takes 50 minutes due to traffic. Shuttle bus services link KEF to the city, which you can book in advance online or pay for at the airport.

Some hotels offer airport collection, and you should ask about that when you book your room. You can, of course, jump in a taxi at the airport, but it will be extremely expensive compared to the airport bus service. Car rental is available at the airport, but it is advisable to book in advance.

Planning Tips

With so many exciting things to do and see in Iceland, you’re guaranteed to have a great holiday. However, things do not always go to plan, so here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Tip #1: If you want to see the Aurora Borealis, go between September and March

It’s easier to view the Northern Lights when the sky is at its darkest. In Iceland, the nights are especially long between September and March, but the sky doesn’t grow dark enough to view this magical phenomenon during the summer months. However, do not plan a visit around a full moon, because its light can dampen the impact of this natural light display. The best days to go are around the time of a new moon.

Tip #2: Check out the SolarHam website

If you are especially interested in the Aurora Borealis and want to earn your Geek Badge, check out the SolarHam website. This techy site provides a 3-day geomagnetic forecast, which is useful for aurora hunters to select the best time to view the Northern Lights. The same site provides a satellite map of where the natural light show is right now, so you can look up if you’re near.

Tip #3: Take your time to enjoy all the attractions of Iceland

There’s so much to see in Iceland, it would be a crime not to explore and experience as much as you are able in the time you have. While you are there, do not miss the opportunity to see so many unforgettable natural phenomena in one place. There is nowhere else on the planet where you can see active volcanoes, glaciers, and ice caves, all in one national park.

Tip #4: Book everything in advance, especially in winter

Tourism is on the rise in Iceland, and hotel rooms, tours, and attractions get fully-booked ahead of time.  Don’t miss out on seeing the Northern Lights from the best vantage point possible because all the tours were booked-up before you arrived. Many tours like the ones detailed above offer a 24-hour-in-advance free cancellation, so you take no financial risk booking. Ask about free cancellation when buying your ticket.

Tip #5: Impress your friends with quintessentially Icelandic souvenirs

The budget chain store Bonus stocks many unique Icelandic products, such as Omnom chocolate, Icelandic specialty teas, herbal sea salt blends, and licorice mixed with chocolate. At Bonus, you can pick up great, inexpensive gifts for your friends! Vinbuoin, the state-run liquor store, sells a fine selection of renowned Icelandic spirits, including Iceland’s signature tipple, Brennivin.

And if you like to sort through other folks’ debris for the hidden treasures, a special weekend market is held at Kolaportio in downtown Reykjavik where Icelanders come to sell off their unwanted goods when moving to a new house. You could find anything!

Restaurants & Eating Out

Because of Iceland’s geographical position and climate, vegetables and grains are rare in traditional foods, and many famous dishes focus on preserved seafood or meat. Also, food was scarce in yesteryears, so every part of an animal or fish was eaten. You’ll find many traditional meals involve fish or meat that is salted, smoked, dried, or fermented. Watch out for such culinary delights as baked sheep’s head and fermented shark.

Seafood restaurants are common throughout Iceland, and all serve “fish of the day”, which is usually salmon, monkfish, haddock, or cod. However, if you wish, you can seek out some of the more exotic options. Humar is a kind of lobster caught off the south coast of Iceland, renowned for its tender and tasty flesh.

It is served fried, baked or grilled, though it can also be found as a pizza topping! Plokkfishkur is a fish stew, made to the chef’s specific recipe but usually combining white fish with onions, potatoes, milk, and flour. Harofiskur is a snack you can buy in any grocery store. It is dried stockfish, eaten with butter or straight out of a bag.

Because it is difficult to grow wheat in Iceland, there are many traditional varieties of rye bread, like flatkaka, baked in thin disks on hot stones. One variety of rye bread you should try is rugbrauo, a sweet-tasting, dark bread.

The reason rugbrauo is so interesting for visitors to Iceland is that a common baking technique is to bury a dough-filled pot near one of the many hot springs, such as Fontana Hot Springs, and use geothermal heat to bake the bread. Rugbrauo baked that way is also called hyerabrauo (hot-spring bread).

Icelanders don’t only eat fish and rye bread. Sheep are the most common livestock in Iceland, so lamb is often on the menu. Sheep wander freely around the countryside, eating seaweed, grass, and berries, which tends to make lamb tender with a mild flavor.

Smoked lamb is called hangikjöt and is often served boiled during the winter holidays. Also watch out for varieties of meat you won’t see in most other countries, like puffin, horse, and whale. Despite international concern over puffins and whales, they are still commonly consumed in Iceland.

A meal on vacation isn’t complete without dessert. Popular local sweets include rugbrauosis (rye bread ice cream), pönnukökur (Icelandic pancakes), and snuour (cinnamon bread covered in caramel or chocolate). A dairy product unique to Iceland is skyr.

It is a kind of sour milk cheese eaten like yogurt and often sweetened and flavored with fruit or vanilla.

Nightlife & Entertainment

With long, cold nights throughout the winter, it’s no surprise Icelanders love their nightlife, and much of it is centered where most of the people live—Reykjavik. Because the capital is so small, most of the clubs and bars are within walking distance of one another. In fact, many are along one street, Laugavegur, the commercial artery of downtown.

Most social venues are informal and entrance fees rare. When Icelanders go out for the night, they tend to begin late, and many clubs and bars don’t get busy until after midnight. This is in part because alcohol in bars is expensive, so locals drink at home before setting out.

Many clubs and bars stay open as late as 5 am. Cocktail bars are a recent addition to Iceland’s nightlife, but with the booming tourist trade, they are rapidly expanding.

And don’t worry too much about safety at night. In 2019, the Institute for Economics and Peace in Sydney ranked Iceland the most peaceful nation on Earth for the 12th year running. Crime rates in Reykjavik are probably lower than anywhere you have ever lived.

Getting Around

Iceland is a small country covering an area slightly smaller than Kentucky. If you wanted to drive from Reykjavik on the west coast to Faskruosfjorour on the east coast, the 425 miles route would take only 8½ hours.

However, because of its small population outside of the capital, you cannot rely on public transport to go sightseeing around the country or reach the best place to view the northern lights. This leaves you with two options: hiring a car or booking a coach tour, like the 3-day Golden Circle tour detailed above.

Within the capital and its immediate area, you do have more options: bus, taxi, bicycle, or walk. The public bus service is inexpensive and efficient, and you can ask for help to find the right bus from your hotel reception. Given that Reykjavik is so small a city, taxis are affordable.

If you want a little exercise, bicycle rentals are available in many hotels, and the city is crisscrossed by dedicated bicycle paths. If you decide to walk, make sure you wrap up well. The weather can deteriorate rapidly in Iceland.

Accommodations

Over the past few years, Iceland has seen a huge expansion in tourism. With a 378% increase since 2010, hotel rooms fill up quickly. Through Christmas and summer, hotels are usually fully booked. Since 228 of Iceland’s 359 thousand citizens live within the capital and its immediate hinterland, settlements throughout the rest of Iceland are small and rooms for visitors limited. Most hotels are in the capital.

You will probably find it most convenient to stay in Reykjavik. You will find a broad range of hotels there, it is near the airport, and many of the attractions along with most of the nightlife are found there or nearby. Many organized tours to other parts of Iceland and major tourist attractions set out from Reykjavik, such as most of the Northern Lights tours detailed above.

Within the downtown and central area of Reykjavik you will find a choice of luxury hotels, like the Hotel Borg downtown and The Icelandair Hotel Marina, overlooking the harbor. If you head a little more out of the center, you’ll find more affordable hostels, such as The Capital Inn and Bus Hostel Reykjavik.

There are some popular hotels outside of the capital near to tourist attractions, such as Hotel Skaftafell in the Vatnajökull National Park, which offers spectacular views of Iceland’s largest mountain, or Skyrhusid Guesthouse near Lake Jökulsarion in the south. Wherever you decide to stay, the important thing is to book in advance. If you don’t, you will miss out on the best rooms.

Weather

Iceland is not the place to go if you want year-round sunshine and dry weather. In fact, on 22nd December there are only 4 hours of daylight, because that is the shortest day. That’s great if you want to see the Aurora Borealis, since it can only be seen during dark nights, but not so good for other sightseeing. In contrast, the longest day boasts 21 hours of daylight, 21st June.

The “warm” summer period covers June, July, and August, with an average daily high of 550F and a low of 460F. Yes, 550F is their summer high! Summers are short and cloudy. The winter period covers November through March, two months longer than summer, and is cold, wet, windy, and overcast, with frequent snow. The average daily high drops to 350F in January with a low of 270F.

If your main interest is the Northern Lights, you should go anytime September through March, because the sky is dark enough to view those fantastic electromagnetic displays. If the Aurora Borealis does not interest you, you’ll get the warmest weather and longer days from the end of June to mid-August.

Attractions

The Northern Lights are not the only unique and fascinating attraction in Iceland. The Land of Fire and Ice is the best place in the world to see and experience the majesty and power of two extremes in Nature: glaciers and volcanoes.

12 miles from KEF is the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Here you can laze in pools of hot, milky blue water heated by a lava flow. Nearby stands the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant, which uses superheated water from the lava flow to generate electricity and also provide heat for a municipal water heating system.

There are geothermal spas like the Blu Lagoon throughout Iceland, so wherever you choose to stay, you can find one near you and experience the power of molten rock.

If you are there in the winter, be sure to see the migrating whales. To have the best chance of see them, that a whale watching tour. The boat captains know the best places to go to see them.

If ice and Arctic landscapes interest you, head 140 miles east from Reykjavik to Vatnajökull National Park, which is centered on Vatnajökull glacier and the surrounding beautiful landscape. This park covers 14% of Iceland and is filled with glacial rivers and active volcanoes. To fully see it, take a tour of the glaciers!

Vatnajökull glacier empties into the glacial lake of Jökulsarion in the south, where you can see 100-feet-tall icebergs freshly broken away from the glacier. Jökulsarion served as a setting in several major Hollywood movies. On your drive back to Reykjavik, you can see two beautiful waterfalls around Skogar. The first, Skogafoss, is an impressive waterfall and a popular destination for Icelandic day-trippers.

18 miles west of Skogafoss is picturesque Seljalandsfoss waterfall. A path allows sightseers to pass behind the curtain of water as it falls into the crystal-clear plunge pool.

If it’s man-made cultural and historical attractions you seek, you’ll find plenty to do and see around Reykjavik. The capital’s earliest history stretches back to 874, but it only became a true city in 1785.

Around Reykjavik, you’ll find an interesting assortment of museums and tourist attractions, like the National Museum of Iceland and the Reykjavik Maritime Museum.

A famous landmark visitors flock to see is the Hallgrimskirkja Church, which is the largest church in Iceland. This unique structure was designed by a local architect to resemble the glaciers and mountains of Iceland.

 

The Viking Horse Riding and Golden Circle Tour from Reykjavik is our Editor's Choice for the best horse back riding tour in Iceland

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Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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