Sheer cliffs drop into the sea on tiny Drangey Island, an uninhabited outcrop that’s home to thousands of nesting seabirds. A dramatic ascent by rope and ladder takes you to the summit for panoramic views and a chance to learn about saga-era outlaws.
Varmahlíð horse riding
Known across Iceland for its horse farms and scenic rolling hills, Varmahlíð in north Iceland is a great place to meet and learn about Icelandic horses and enjoy a ride into the countryside. The Icelandic horse is a distinct breed, linked to ponies taken to Iceland by Norse settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries. Known for its gentle temperament and compact size, sure-footedness and ability to cross rough terrain, it’s still used for traditional sheep-herding work and this one-hour ride gives you an insight into the history of the breed and the chance to experience riding an Icelandic horse yourself.
After checking in at the Hestasport offices in Varmahlíð, make your way to the stables, where you’ll meet your guide and be paired with an appropriate horse for your size and experience level.
No prior riding experience is necessary. If it’s your first time on a horse, you’ll be given simple riding instructions and will walk at a gentle pace throughout the ride. Hestasport also offer a variety of different tours suited to more experienced riders.
From the stables, head out into the countryside with your guide, exploring the surrounding valley and taking in the farmland scenery. Your guide will tell you a little bit about the history of the breed and its characteristics and traditional uses.
Icelandic horses are unusual in that they have five gaits, with two additional natural gaits as well as the standard walk, trot, and canter/gallop. You’ll have the chance to ride the tölt gait (between a walk and a trot), which is unique to Icelandic horses. This gait is not taught, but present in the horses from birth. Riding it is a novel experience whether you’re a beginner or have already tried the standard three gaits.
After around an hour, you’ll return to the stables.
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Photos of Varmahlíð horse riding
Other experiences in North Iceland
These activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences around where you're staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident's eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can suggest tours and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the local ways of life.
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This half-day, small-group tour takes in three Icelandic waterfalls, including the thundering cascade of Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, and the more peaceful Selfoss waterfall. Along the way, you’ll learn about Iceland’s geology and the myths and traditions surrounding the falls.