Beginners and seasoned riders alike are enraptured by the Icelandic horse, a small breed with a gentle temperament and remarkable stamina, agility, and intelligence. One of their best-known talents is tölting, a kind of running trot with one foot always touching the ground. (In a popular stunt during Icelandic horse demonstrations, the rider breaks into a tölt while holding a tray of drinks in one hand.)
In summer, many young horses are released into the wilds to adapt them to Iceland's rugged terrain. In September and October, free-roaming horses and sheep are rounded up and brought home for the winter. Visitors are often welcome to participate in these important cultural rituals.
Virtually any populated area in Iceland will have riding opportunities nearby—just ask around. Booking horse trips directly through Icelandic tour companies brings the price down in almost every case.
Eldhestar has a fabulous tour menu with tons of trips and departure dates: 6 days around Tþórsmörk is 82,500kr ($1,320/660£), while 9 days around Landmannalaugar goes for 167,500kr ($2,680/1,340£). Day tours explore neighboring lava fields and the Mt. Hengill hiking area. The farm and its eco-hotel are just 40 minutes from Reykjavík.
Hestasport, based in the Skagafjörður area, offers anything from short local rides to history tours to epic treks through the interior.
Íshestar is based in the Reykjavík metropolitan area but offers a staggering range of trips in all corners of Iceland.
Laxnes Horse Farm, located 15 minutes outside Reykjavík in Mosfellsdalur Valley, is an excellent choice for day tours from the capital. It's also something of a rock-star haunt—past visitors have included Lou Reed, Nick Cave, and Metallica.
Polar Hestar, based in Eyjafjörður Valley near Akureyri, crafts memorable itineraries through Iceland's northeastern regions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.