Why go on a multi-day horseback ride in Iceland?

While novices will be content with a short excursion, more experienced riders with a good level of fitness will find multi-day horseback ride a great deal more rewarding. More adventurous in scope, these longer riding holidays offer a more authentic experience and open up a part of the country that just wouldn’t be accessible in a single day.

Taking you deeper into Iceland’s countryside, those opting for multi-day horseback rides will be able to explore off the beaten track destinations at an unhurried pace. Free of the need to return to base before nightfall, the country’s mountainous interior opens up, rich with possibilities. That said, some rides operate as a hub and spoke itineraries, where you’ll stay in one place but travel out in a different direction each morning. Either way, you’ll get to see far more on one of these multi-day itineraries.

Accommodation on multi-day rides can be simple, but this rustic approach enables visitors to tap into a more authentic mode of travel. For centuries, horses have been an important part of the Icelandic culture after the Vikings brought them over to these shores a thousand years ago. That’s not changed today; venture into the Icelandic countryside and even in the 21st century, horses are as vital a piece of kit on remote farms as a 4×4, used to round up livestock or to get around on the interior’s rough and relatively inaccessible terrain. Day and half-day rides are enjoyable, of course, but to truly understand the role horses play in Icelandic culture, you need to join a longer tour.

These rides also give you the opportunity to experience some of the incredible night-time phenomena that Iceland is famous for. In winter, ride after dark under clear skies to watch the Northern Lights; on horseback, aurora seekers can get far from the light pollution that frustrates city dwellers. In summer, the long days mean you’ll experience the Midnight Sun. Both are magical sights. Another seasonal treat is the opportunity to join a sheep or horse roundup, a sociable affair where everyone mucks in to get the livestock safely down from the mountain pastures before the harsh Icelandic winter sets in.

On many multi-day itineraries, you’ll find yourself riding alongside a herd of loose horses. It’s a thrill to see such a spectacle, but also entirely practical. Riders can change mounts often, ensuring the horses are well-rested and therefore eager to get going. Each horse has a different personality, and it can be fun to get to know various horses along the way. Small and powerful, you’ll no doubt be awed by their stamina and strength of character.

Most multi-day itineraries are designed for riders with advanced capabilities which means you’ll add an extra gait to your usual repertoire. Icelandic horses are well known for a running walk known as a tölt, which has a variety of different speeds. If you’re used to being in the saddle, it’s not too complicated to master this new technique and it will enable you to cover greater distances.

Whether you’re keen to explore Iceland’s geothermal areas or its national parks with their glaciers and volcanoes, ride along sandy beaches or tackle rugged highland trails, the possibilities for breathtaking trails in this fantastic country are endless. North or south, multi-day rides reward the horseback traveler with off the beaten track wonders and the privilege of accessing trails that few tourists get to see. It really is a very special way to see Iceland.