Iceland offers comfortable horseback riding vacations across magical landscapes. As the least densely populated country in Europe, the land is pure and unpolluted. The summers are surprisingly warm, lush and green. And it’s only a 5-hour plane ride from New York. Steaming geysers, drifting icebergs, crystal waterfalls, black lava beaches, and erupting volcanoes are all found on the Island. Be sure to try the favorite dish, Skyr, a mix of yogurt and cottage For a great souvenir, bring back a lopapeysa, handmade Icelandic wool sweater.
Your mount is a sturdy Icelandic horse. This pony-size sure footed breed has an ability to evoke the Icelandic moodiness with its shaggy hair covering its eyes. The horse’s natural gait is the “tölt” which is like the American Saddlebred comfortable rack. Riders can enjoy the day’s end in a hot spring bath. The best riding is found in the west and southern regions.
The west is diverse with sleeping volcanoes, steep fjords and majestic waterfalls. Many breathtaking trails are accessible only by horseback. This area is known as the “real Iceland” because it is the site for many sagas. In Borgarfjordur, riders can enjoy challenging highland trails as they ride along loose herds of horses. Also available is a relaxing horseback riding vacation with non-riding visits to popular tourist sites like Surtshellir lava-tube caves, Hraunfossar waterfalls, and the Deildartunga hot spring. The mystical Snæfellsjökull Volcano has inspired artists and poets through the centuries. One of seven greatest energy centers on earth, it was the setting for Jules Verne’s Journey to the center of the Earth.
South Iceland has been a popular destination for centuries. The south is rich in Viking history and culture. The region brims with wonders at every turn. Riders can see the lava landscape of the Hekla Volcano, the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and black-sand beaches. The Golden Circle route connects Þingvellir with the Gullfoss Geysir. The rugged mystical Rift Valley has provided inspiration for both the Lord of the Rings and the Game of Thrones.
Since Iceland is located below the Arctic Circle, the summer nights are bright with 24-hour daylight from mid-May to late July. The summer solstice, June 20th – 22nd, marks the time when the sun sets just after midnight and rises again just before 3 A.M. The best months for a horseback vacation are July and August. February, March, September and October are typically the best time to see the Northern Lights. Since wind and rain can occur at anytime, remember to bring your windbreaker and rain gear.