Eldhestar Riding Tours
– the largest selection of riding tours in Iceland
Eldhestar offers a variety of riding tours for the inexperienced as well as the experienced rider, for individuals and groups. We have up to 350 horses at our farm in the summer and 60-100 in the winter, doing our best to find the ideal horse for everyone.
Most of our Half-Day and Day Tours are operated all year round and are suited for all levels. The Combo Tours give you the possibility to combine a half day tour with sightseeing or activities.
Our Shorter Tours (2-5 days) provide further insight into the history and landscape of the Southwest Iceland. These tours are ideal if you would like to combine horse trekking with other activities.
On our Longer Tours and Wilderness Tours (6-7 days) participants experience the diversity of the Icelandic horse and try many different horses ruing one tour, which develops riding skills. We ride with a herd of free running horses like Icelanders have traveled for centuries, an unforgettable experience!
During the Winter Season (October – May) we offer a variety of riding tours, ranging from 1 to 6 hours, and special Shorter Winter Tours. You are invited to warm up after riding and taste traditional Icelandic food in the cozy atmosphere of our comfortable, eco-certified Hotel Eldhestar.
Eldhestar provides helmets, rain gear and warm winter overalls, we recommend wearing sturdy shoes and gloves.
The riding tours are subject to weather conditions and may be changed.
Our show- and competition horses are available for experienced riders wishing to enjoy a tour with a spirited tölter, please contact us.
Our horses – our most treasured team members!
Here at Eldhestar, our horses are the stars of the show. After all, it is their contribution, their willingness and spirit that make the experience special and we have the right horse for every rider. Friendly, calm and gentle oldies carefully balance our youngest riders. Experienced riders get to enjoy our spirited, forward-thinking tölters. In short, each horse is hand-picked and matched with the rider according to the person’s riding experience. Furthermore, when buying new horses, we pay close attention to both character and gaits to make sure the horse fit our needs.
Fuzzy babies to melt everyone’s hearts
The best way to ensure we have the right type of horses is to breed them ourselves, of course. We conduct a small breeding programme on our farm Vellir and have our share of adorable foals each year. On our breeding pages, you’ll not only get to meet both the mares and their foals but also learn about our approach when it comes to raising the next generation.
Lost your heart to one of our horses?
Every now and then, one of our guests falls in love with their horse and would like to take it home. We value each and everyone one of our horses, of course, and there are some we couldn’t bear to part from. However, we are always happy to have a conversation, if somebody is interested in one of our horses. Have a look at our sales pages for horses that are currently for sale or contact us directly about a particular horse.
At Eldhestar we take special pleasure in showing visitors to Iceland the unique wilderness together with the horse. You’ll get to know an Iceland you may not have seen before – the Iceland of 100 or 1000 years ago – endless meadows, rushing glacial streams, hidden valleys, dormant volcanoes, and high mountains.
We offer itineraries that range from one or two hours to several days to suit riders of all ages and abilities. Since our founding in 1986 we have expanded our roster of tours to include most of Iceland. You are sure to find one that’s right for you. All our tours begin at our farm Vellir, just a 30-minute drive from Reykjavík.
BOOK YOUR RIDING TOUR ONLINE
We offer pick up from hotels, most guesthouses, hostels, selected apartments, BSI bus station and the city hall.
Please note that we can not pick up from private apartments and Airbnbs.
If you can not find your accommodation in the pick up list, please select a location close to your address or contact us.
If you are looking for a tailor-made tour or riding course for you and your friends we are pleased to send you an offer.
The Icelandic horse – the key to Icelandic nature, culture and history
History of the Icelandic horse
When the first settlers sailed from Norway to Iceland in the 10th century, they could only bring about two horses per ship, so they selected the best and strongest horses. The horses were of Scandinavian origin, mostly from Norway. The settlers often made a stop-over in Ireland, Scotland or the Shetland Islands, in this way different breeds could have found their way to Iceland. The horse was necessary for the colonization of Iceland, even a long time after cars were common, the highlands and other parts of Iceland did not have roads so the horse was still important.
As early as in the 10th century the Icelanders decided to stop importing horses and and since then it has been totally forbidden to import horses to Iceland. This means that the horses have been very isolated, and the different breeds blended together and formed the Icelandic horse of today. The strongest and most well-acclimated horses survived and through this “Survival of the fittest”, the Icelandic horse of today is extremely well adapted to Icelandic conditions. Still today, it is strictly forbidden to import horses. A horse that has left Iceland can never return, so horses that take part in competitions in other countries must be sold after the competition.
One of the greatest characteristics of the Icelandic horse is that it has five different gaits: In addition to normal walk, trot and canter/gallop there is also tölt and skeið (flying pace).
The horses that were brought to Iceland by the settlers had all these gaits. On old greek vases can be found pictures of tölting horses, for example. The tölt and the pace disappeared when people started to breed horses for example for the army. The army needed horses which the not very experienced soldiers could learn to ride very fast, horses which all the moved the same way (same gait, same speed). For this reason a three gaited horse better. Also, with the extended use of horse pulled carriages for travelling, the need for a soft and comfortable riding gait decreased.
The tölt is a four-beat gait, very soft and comfortable for the rider. A horse can tölt in different speed from walking tempo to galopp tempo. We still can find other horse breeds with gaits similar to the tölt in America and Mongolia. But these horses do not have the high speed of tölt as the icelandic horse has.
When riding tölt, the rider needs to encourage the horse to go forward but keep the energy in him with the seat (keep a positive tension in the body, not stiff) and with the rein. If the rider gets too relaxed and has too loose reins the horse will go to trot but if he gets too stiff and pulls the reins too much the horse will go to piggy pace (a slow two-beated gait which is not wished).
The pace is a two-gaited gait (in slow-motion you can see a slight change to fourbeat) with a flying moment in every second step. It is very fast and very comfortable. This gait is unique for the icelandic horse and is only use it for short , straight distances on even ground.
The other gaits walk, trot and canter are the same as for other horses but they get influenced by the horse´s individual gait distribution.
The Icelandic horse has a very individual character. It is patient, adaptable, uncomplicated and sometimes very spirited, it has a friendly personality and a special affinity for people. Bred as a riding and working horse for the Icelandic farmer makes it an excellent family horse. With no natural predators in its home country, the horse has shed much of its natural “fight or flight” instinct. The easy going, friendly disposition of many icelandic horses make them ideal family horses. At the same time, the diversity within the breed is enormous. You can both find the safest children’s horses, and the hottest pace race horses within this breed, so take care not to think all Icelandic horses are alike.
The icelandic horses height ranges between 128 cm and 148 cm stick. It is thought an insult on Iceland to call it a pony, and all over the world they are called Icelandic horses. Many riders returned from their first ride on an Icelandic “pony” saying “This is truly a Horse”, such is the feeling of power and personality glows from the horse.
There are about as many Icelandic horses in other countries as in Iceland. The Icelandic horse is especially popular in Germany, Sweden and Denmark, but the popularity is increasing all over the world.
What to bring for half day and day tours
- Sturdy shoes, good sneakers or hiking boots that are not very broad are fine.
- Comfortable pants (riding pants are not necessary).
- We recommend gloves and a thin hat under the helmet (“buff” is well suited).
- If you would like to bring small items such as a camera you should bring a small waist bag, back packs can not be taken on horseback.
What to bring for multi-day tours
- Warm clothes in layers (long underwear, woolen socks, scarf, gloves, woolen sweater or fleece, wind- and waterproof jacket). Eldhestar provides good rain gear. Please have in mind that you might experience “T-shirt weather” as well as temperatures close to 0°C, especially on Wilderness tours!
- Thin hat to wear under the helmet, “buff” is well suited. You can buy a “buff” at Eldhestar.
- Sleeping bag. We recommend a small pillow and a bed sheet if you use your sleeping bag as a blanket. A sleeping bag is not needed for tours with all nights at Hotel or Guesthouse Eldhestar.
- A small waist bag (not a backpack!) for using when riding. (Backpacks are bumpy when you are riding and may hurt you if you fall off).
- Swimwear and towel.
- Riding pants (If you don’t have riding pants, any seamless tight garment will do), for long tours you should bring two pants suitable for riding.
- Riding or hiking boots which should be comfortable with a thick sole for walking over rocks. Hiking boots are fine if they are not too broad for the stirrups. High riding boots might get uncomfortable, rubber boots are not necessary.
- Sun lotion
- Sun glasses (also for long tours to protect eyes from dust).
- Fly net (can be purchased at Eldhestar).
- Band-aids and second skin plasters for chaffing.
- Some comfortable clothes and shoes (slippers) for using in the evening, after the riding. Normal street clothes are not necessary except for your stay in Reykjavik the last night.
- Your travel insurance card/information.
Please note: Please do not use large and bulky suitcases as we have limited space in the trailer. If you need more luggage for travelling in Iceland before / after the tour you are welcome to store it at Hotel Eldhestar during the tour.
Important – Cleaning / disinfection of riding gear
Used boots, riding wear, saddlebags etc. must be disinfected before arrival in Iceland. This is because infectious diseases can easily be brought into the country, which pose a great danger for the horses. Riding wear is normally washed, and shoes, helmets and security wests are cleaned with iodine or some other fluid disinfectant.
Used riding gloves and all used leather articles (e.g. chaps) are prohibited.
Eldhestar provides the following:
- Safety helmets
- During the wintertime we also provide winter overalls
- Rubber boots (limited number)
Our tours start from Reykjavik. For transportation from the airport to Reykjavík (BSI main bus station, hotels or guesthouses) please take the Flybus (operated by Reykjavik Excursions). This service is NOT included in the tour price.
Arrival transfer for day tours
Transport to and from Reykjavík is included in all tours except for tour 1a.
We pick up from BSI main bus station, hotels and guesthouses between 7:45 and 8:30 as well as between 13:00 and 13:20. Please note that we can not pick up from private apartments and Airbnbs.
Arrival transfer for multi-day tours
The tour departure dates indicate the arrival day at Eldhestar. Participants will be picked up at BSI main bus station in Reykjavík at 17:30-18:00.
For guests arriving earlier we offer pick-up from guesthouses or hotels in Reykjavik. On the first evening we have a welcome dinner. The riding tours start the following day.
Accommodation at Eldhestar´s farm Vellir
Accommodation Shorter Tours 10-12, Longer Tours 13-15, Wilderness Tours 16-20
The first night is always booked in made-up beds at Guesthous Eldhestar (2- to 4-bed rooms, shared facilities). An upgrade to Hotel Eldhestar is possible for a supplement (if rooms available). The last night is always booked at a Guesthouse in Reykjavik (bed & breakfast). Accommodation during the tour is at farms, guesthouses, community centers and simple mountain huts in sleeping bag (partly dormitory style, bring your own sleeping bag). Some mountain huts in the highlands only have cold water and no showers.
Half day tours, day tours and combo tours are available every day and should be booked at least one day before arrival. During the summer season we recommend to book earlier. Available spots on Shorter Tours, Longer Tours and Wilderness Tours can be seen on the Aivailability List. For other tours, please contact us.
Half day tours, day tours and combo tours can be booked online, either on the tour pages ore here. Please use the shopping cart for booking several tours. If you wish to book multi- day tours, please contact us.
Eldhestar operates riding tours every day, all year round, except for the following days: January 1, December 24 afternoon, December 25, December 26, December 31 afternoon.
Eldhestar provides safety helmets and rain gear, during the winter also warm overalls and rubber boots. Please see information about what to bring here.
In general, our riding tours are guided in English. Our guides are English-, Swedish-, or German-speaking. During the summer season more languages might be spoken.
Riding tours, accommodation and meals as described in the itineraries and transfer from Reykjavik and back. Helmets and rain gear, warm overalls. Not included: Flights and transportation from the airport to Reykjavik and back. All our tours (except for tour 1a) start and end in Reykjavík.
The official language is Icelandic. English is widely spoken and understood. All our guides speak English, some German, Swedish and Danish. Other languages might be spoken.
Eldhestar ehf. reserves the right to alter the itineraries tor change timetables without prior notice to guests if weather conditions or other events outside the control of Eldhestar prevent going on the original tour. The riding routes are therefore subject to weather conditions and can be changed without refunds. Eldhestar does not take any liability for costs incurred because of changes to our timetable or itineraries. Please also note that riding is at your own risk.
On multi-day-tours luggage is taken by car between the overnight stops. Bring robust suitcases or backpacks but please not large and bulky. Please pack light and do not bring more than one piece of luggage, as we have limited space in the trailer. If you need more luggage for travelling in Iceland before or after the tour you are welcome to store it at Hotel Eldhestar. You find information about what to bring here.
All multi-day tours include full board starting with dinner on arrival day and ending with lunch on the last riding day. Tours 10-20 and tour 9G also include breakfast on the last day in Reykjavik. Dinner on multi-day tours is traditional Icelandic. In summer, lunch is either packed in saddle bags or the cook meets the group. From Sept. 15 – May 15 we offer light lunch at Hotel Eldhestar (soup, bread, cheese, ham etc). Vegetarian and gluten-free meals are available on request – please book in advance.
Please note that dinner on the last evening is not included.
Most half day tours: Children aged 7 years and older accompanied by an adult.
Tour 1a/b: Minimum age 5 years (we can lead children next to a guide on request).
We offer paddock rides for younger children (15 min, children are led).
Day Tours 5a, 5b and 5d: Minimum age 8 years.
Day Tour 6a: 10 years, children 14 years and younger must have riding experience.
Combo Tours 4e and 4c: 10 years.
Tour 3b and 6b (for experienced rider): 12 years, or on request.
Multi day tours: Please contact us regarding booking of children under 15 years.
Eldhestar is a member of VAKINN, Iceland tourism’s official quality label. For further information please click here.
Half day tours, day tours and combo tours: Most of these tours are suited for experienced riders and beginners. We select horses according to riding skills and participants on our tours always get to try “tölt”, the special, smooth gait of the Icelandic horse.
Tour 3b and 6b: For experienced riders only (riding regularly, capable to control the horses in all gaits in different terrain).
Day tours 5a-6 and shorter multi-day tours (except for 8f): These tours are for everyone, but require very good physical condition as we cover 20-25 km per day and ride a lot of tölt (about trot speed). Participants must be able to mount a horse with little assistance.
Longer tours require basic riding skills with a secure, balanced seat and a good physical condition. We ride up to 45 km per day mostly in the gait tölt and take a herd of free running horses with us part of the tour, which requires a certain speed.
Wilderness Tours are for experienced riders only (several years of riding regularly in all kind of terrain). A large herd of free running horses follows every day.
It is the rider’s responsibility to assess their own level of riding proficiency. If uncertain, please contact Eldhestar before booking your tour.
Riding wear – Caution: Disinfect!
Used boots, riding wear, helmets, saddlebags etc. must be disinfected before arrival in Iceland. Chaps, bridles and other used leather gear must not be brought to Iceland. That is because infectious, contagious diseases can easily be brought into the country, which poses a great threat for the horses as they are not vaccinated.
Riding wear is normally washed and shoes and are washed and cleaned with VirkonS, Iodine or some other fluid disinfectant.
For further information please click here.
The riding style in Iceland is similar to English riding. We use simple snaffle bits, bridles with detachable nose-bands and clips on the end of the reins so they can be easily removed when grazing. Our saddles are comfortable with soft, rather flat seat, it is not necessary to bring saddle seat pads. Saddles have rings on the front and back to attach saddle bags and rain gear.
Safety and security
Eldhestar maintains a high security standard. Backpacks, large cameras, selfie sticks and other bulky items cannot be taken on horseback. Small waist bags are allowed. Riding is at your own risk.
We will not allow people under the influence of intoxication substances, such as alcohol and/or drugs, to participate in our riding tours.
Backpacks, selfie sticks and large cameras can not be taken on horseback. Small waist bags are allowed.
Terms of Booking and Cancellation Policy for Half Day Tours, Combo Tours and Day Tours
Please see our terms of bookings for half day tours, combo tours and day tours here.
Terms of Booking and Cancellation Policy for Multi Day Tours
Please see our terms of bookings for multi day tours here.
Remember to take out travel insurance before your journey. Please note that all riding is at your own risk. Residents of the EU/EEA countries should bring their European Health Insurance Card (E-111 form) in case of illness and need for medical care.
Weather, climate and daylight hours
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, temperatures are usually moderate all year round. Average temperatures in Reykjavík are about 12°C in July and 1°C in January. Icelandic weather is known to be unpredictable and changing several times a day. A beautiful day can suddenly turn windy and rainy (and vice versa). Travelers to Iceland should be prepared for anything and dress in layers. You find detailed about weather and climate in Iceland here and here.
Icelandic horses are capable of carrying adults without difficulty. The maximum weight depends on riding experience, physical condition, height and the type of tour you wish to book. Participants on tours longer than 2 hours must be able to mount a horse with little assistance. Please contact us for more information.
Our farm Vellir is situated in the heart of Iceland‘s south-western countryside close to the town Hveragerði, one of Iceland’s most picturesque village nestled in a green valley between volcanic mountains with steaming hot springs. Hveragerði derives its name from the Icelandic word for hot spring, “hver” and gardens “gerði”. The warm river “Varmá” runs through the village which is well known for its beautiful scenery, many hot springs, flower festivals and a geothermal park. You can find further information about Hveragerði here.
The volcanic hills and valleys and the volcano Hengill north of Vellir are an outdoor paradise for hikers and riders with marked trails in fascinating landscape and the possibility to bathe in a warm river.
South of Vellir are large meadows with grazing horses, wetlands rich in bird life and the broad delta of the mighty glacial river Ölfusá. The grasslands surrounding the river delta and the black beach of the nearby North Atlantic are ideal for exploring on horseback.
East of the farm, excellent riding trails take us through farmland with many well known horse farms, all the way to the town Selfoss.
This unique location enables us to operate riding tours in all directions, with constantly changing scenery.
Eldhestar is ideally situated for sightseeing and activities in South Iceland. While riders spend their day on horseback, non-riders can choose amongst several tours to some of the most popular natural attractions or book an activity of their choice.
It takes about 40 minutes to drive from Reykjavik City Center to Eldhestar (ca. 45 km).
Take the main road Miklabraut out of the city until you see the sign “Vík/Hveragerði”. Turn right on road number 1, direction South. Continue on road Nr. 1 for about 35 minutes. You cross the mountain pass Hellisheiði and drive down to the village Hveragerði.
Eldhestar is located just outside Hveragerði next to road no. 1, about 1.4 km after you have passed the roundabout. You see the sign and the riding hall on the right side of the road.
Please also have a look a the map.
Vellir, 816 Ölfus
Tel: +354 480-4800
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