Horse riding holiday in Iceland

“A six day summer small group riding holiday in the South of Iceland, with four riding days, staying in mountain huts and eco accommodation along the way. ”


Four days’ horse riding | Thorsmork Nature Reserve | Hut to hut horse riding | Riding on Icelandic horses | Dimon Rock | Ride along river Markarfljot | Eyjafjallajökull | Elves Church | Stakkholtsgjá Canyon

Description of Horse riding holiday in Iceland

This horse riding holiday in Iceland is a five day adventure holiday into Icelandic wilderness, and yet all within a few hours’ drive from Reykjavik. A small group, fully guided holiday, riding on Icelandic horses, most of the riding takes place in Thorsmork Nature Reserve, in the south of the country.

Thorsmork is a stunning location for riding and takes you well off the usual tourism trail into a hidden valley. Surrounded on three sides by glaciers, you will have four days of adventurous riding, fording glacial rivers, around dramatic waterfalls, traversing lava fields and exploring the volcanic landscapes in and around Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010. Although now dormant, the lava fields here are extraordinary landscapes to cover on horseback.

Fans of Norse mythology and Viking sagas will revel in this journey, Thorsmork itself being named after the Norse god of thunder. Other magical and mythical spots along our travels include the Elves Church volcanic peak, Dímon Rock and the River Markarfljót from the Saga of Njál. Far from mythical, however, are the reserve and valley itself which is green and fertile boasting ancient woodland and the freezing River Krossa, coming straight off the glacier.

The total distance covered over four riding days is 105km, with an average of 25km per day.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Check dates

2019: 27 May, 5 Jun, 24 Jun, 8 Jul, 15 Jul, 14 Aug, 24 Aug

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Horse riding holiday in Iceland


Our destination is Thorsmork, a nature reserve surrounded on three sides by glaciers situated in the interior of southern Iceland. In order to reach this we use the most environmentally sensitive form of transport – the horse which is quiet and gentle on the environment and a natural part of the habitat.

We use the Icelandic horse. Sometime around the year 900 Norsemen brought horses to Iceland from Scandinavia, and thus began the distinctive breed that we know today. Natural selection due to the harsh climate, coupled with selective breeding, has manipulated and moulded to become a resilient, multi-purpose horse. The breed society was established in 1904.

Iceland is just about free from horse diseases because imports are banned and horses that are exported can never return. In Iceland the horses are first and foremost used as working horses, herding sheep. There is also a thriving leisure industry and the all-important racing. The ranch we use has about 300 horses which include riding horses, stallions, brood mares and young stock. The ranch is conducting a breeding program of the highest standard thus ensuring the survival and improvement of the Icelandic horse by supporting it we are supporting the program.

Welfare of the horse is important to us and to the ranch. English saddles and snaffle bits are used as they are comfortable for horse and rider.

One of the lodges we use as our accommodation was the first lodging in Iceland to receive the Nordic eco label – the Nordic swan which demonstrates that the building process and the daily operations follow strict ecological guidelines. The other lodges we use are older so were built before the building could have been given a label but do endeavor to reduce carbon footprint.

At home our Office encourages recycling and we work in an eco build office. Our building has facilities to encourage the use of bicycles to work.


We are acutely aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism should have on indigenous communities and fragile environments.
The ranch we use on this trip hires local people to work. For many of the people working on the ranch riding and horses are their passion and they supplement the income generated in the riding months by having other jobs in the winter.

In addition we support the local economy by using a locally run and owned farm house and hut as well as the eco built lodge as our accommodation. We do not use the multi national hotel chains.

The horse is a vital part of traditional Viking culture which is rich in sagas that date from around this time and there are frequent references to horses. We feel we are supporting the traditional culture of Iceland on this trip where travellers will hear stories and learn lots about the role of the horse in Icelandic culture.

Before our clients travel we issue them with a Field Manual which has information in it to encourage travel in an culturally and environmentally aware manner.

1 Reviews of Horse riding holiday in Iceland

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 22 Jun 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Excellent throughout. We rode (mainly tolting and walking, but some cantering once the guide was certain of our riding ability) across varied terrain, which
was wonderful, and each tried out several different ponies, selecting our favourite for riding on the last day. Our final day's riding ended with a magnificent gallop along a deserted beach, after crossing estuarine waters.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be honest about your riding ability. Don't pretend to be more experienced than you really are, as you won't last beyond the first day of riding. Also, all new groups of riders are assessed when they first mount and ride around an arena and non-riders will soon be spotted and could be asked to join a less-experienced group. The welfare of the ponies is paramount, so tell the truth about your weight too. Icelandic ponies are sturdy, but there are limits to how much weight they should carry.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, as many local people are employed there, and recycling and environmental protection is evident everywhere.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. I'd like to go again, and, now I'm certain that I could cope with it, perhaps try one of the trail rides last several days, instead of the daily circular
routes of this holiday.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear A.M. I am pleased to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Iceland; it really is a fantastic destination, and the Icelandic horses are great characters! You and I had a good long chat before you booked and I thought this would be a destination you'd enjoy; matching rider to destination, as you say, is so important. I'm plesed that my Viking partners looked after you and your daughter well! Best wishes,

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