Seeing Iceland’s varied landscapes from the back of an Icelandic horse is one of the most memorable and intimate ways to experience the country.

Whether you’re in search of the Northern Lights or basking in the midnight sun, exploring the wilds of Iceland with a horseback riding tour is a fun and rewarding way to get in touch with nature. In rain or shine, snow or wind, these hearty beasts are as gentle as they are willing.

The Icelandic breed is known for its patience and calm nature, making them ideal for children’s horseback tours, but with an experienced rider they can really come alive and zip along.

Icelandic horses in winter wear special shoes to protect their feet from collecting snow in their hooves and also from slipping. The breed as a whole tend to be compact and sturdy, which is ideal for Iceland’s rough and varied terrain.

The Icelandic Horse’s Fifth Gait

One thing that is special about Icelandic horses is that they have an extra natural gait. Where most other horses have four gaits — walking, trotting, cantering and galloping — the Icelandic horse has a fifth gait called the “tölt”.

Tölting looks like a fast-paced walk except the horse drops its center of gravity, giving the rider a particularly smooth ride. Although it’s a taxing gait for the horse, and cannot be used for extended period of time, the tölt is ideal for very rocky or uneven terrain.

Check out the video below for a more detailed explanation of the Icelandic horse riding so special.

Where to Find Horse Rentals

On the outskirts of Hafnarfjörður, about a 15-minute drive from Reykjavík, you can find the Íshestar Horse Center. The day trips offered accommodate riders of all skill levels. And the locations allows you to see what the area has to offer. There’s also a café on site, which is perfect for fueling up before or after your ride.

For those of you who are traveling near Akureyri and wanting an authentic Iceland adventure, check out the local sightseeing tours by horseback. Hestaleigan Kátur is only a 10-minute drive from the center of Akureyri. These tours tend to be shorter than those offered around Reykjavik, which allows you more time for all the activities that the city has to offer.

Memories of a Lifetime

Wherever you choose to do your Iceland sightseeing, you won’t regret taking the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures and enjoy them in their natural habitat. We do recommend that you wrap up warmly for these tours as the weather conditions, as ever in Iceland, can vary each day.