Where to Find Wild Horses in Iceland
Icelandic horses are one of Iceland’s most iconic & significant features: they were originally introduced to the island in 900 A.D. by none other than the Vikings. More compact yet stronger than the average horse, they’ve evolved to withstand extremely harsh conditions (that WIND!!) that living in Iceland requires. With 300,000 people in the country, & 100,000 horses ~ chances are, you’ll run across horses whether you’re looking for them or not. But here, I’ll give you a helping hand & tell you “Where to Find Wild Horses in Iceland,” outlining all the places where we experienced the most horse sightings.
I came across these beautiful horses while driving around the Keflavik Peninsula.
GWTW Tip: The ONLY times we came across groups of wild horses roaming free were while we were driving our rental car. Thus, I highly recommend renting a car in Iceland, as it allows you to stop alongside the road & take all the time you need to photograph these beautiful creatures.
Where to Stay: Icelandic Horseback-Riding Hotels
On the map below, you’ll find three hotels that offer horseback-riding directly from the hotel; the first two are in southern Iceland, closer to Reykjavik, while the third is in northern Iceland, outside of lovely Akureyri.
- Hotel Eldhestar ($68+), by Selfoss: My friend & I rode horses here, & it was the wettest ride of my life! Just a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik, Eldhestar offers simple rooms on ample grounds; you’re in the countryside here. They offer half-day, full-day, & multi-day horseback rides.
- Skalakot Manor Luxury Hotel ($279+, Southern Iceland: If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay with cozier rooms ~ book here. A two-hour drive from Reykjavik, & just 18-kilometers from one of the country’s most popular waterfalls, Skogafoss, this family-farm is an excellent place to unwind & relax.
- Hestaport Cottages ($154+), in Northern Iceland: Stay in cozy wood cottages surrounded by misty mountains & pastoral, country views ~ & hop in their open-air natural hot spring after a hard day’s ride!
Skalakot Manor Hotel
Where I Personally Found the Most Wild Horses
- On the side of the road, en route from Vik to the Jokulsarlon Lagoon: we saw multiple large packs of horses roaming freely.
- Near the lighthouse by Sandgeroi, on the Keflavik Peninsula (at sunset, which was stunning).
- At local farms & homesteads in & around Hafnir, a small town on the west coast of the Keflavik Peninsula.
- All along Highway 1 (also known as the “Ring Road) in Southern Iceland, typically right alongside the highway.
- If you want the chance to ride Icelandic horses, there are numerous horse riding centers in & around Selfoss: we took our very wet horseback ride at Eldhestar ~ but there’s also Solhestar Horse Rental, Nupshestar Tours, & closer to Reykjavik, you’ve got Islenski Hesturinn.
Where I Did Not Find Horses…
- We drove ALL around the (impossible-to-pronounce) Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is north of Reykjavik: & I don’t have one photo of any horses from this entire drive, which took several days.
- We also drove the country’s most popular circuit, known as the Golden Circle, & similarly, saw no horses along the road.
- Up in Akureyri, I rented a car solo & drove to two of the country’s most beautiful waterfalls ~ Godafoss & Detifoss, covering a distance of many hundred kilometers, & didn’t see any horses during this drive.
Wild Horses on the Keflavik Peninsula…
The Keflavik Peninsula is an underrated & often less-traveled part of Iceland. But it’s also where I had my favorite wild horse sighting, on wild lands near a gorgeous orange lighthouse by Sandgeroi. I never would have made this discovery had I not rented a car, & I highly recommend doing so, in order to have more off-the-beaten path adventures. Driving in Iceland was extremely easy, as traffic is virtually unheard of, & the roads are practically empty ~ particularly on the Keflavik Peninsula.
Fun Fact: Many of Iceland’s horses are actually half-wild, half-tame. In the summer months, many farmers drive their horses into the highlands, & let them survive on their own for months. Then in September, farmers gather together to retrieve their herds from the mountains. Most owners simply know their horses by sight.
Another Fun Fact: Icelandic horses are known for having a unique gait, & a different “speed” than other horses, which is known as the “tolt.” This is somewhere between a trot & a full-out gallop. It is known for being a smooth ride, but when we tried it at Eldhestar, I actually found it quite bumpy!
Wild Horses in Southern Iceland
While traveling along the Ring Road in Southern Iceland, you’re bound to encounter plenty of wild horses. Always remember to approach slowly & with caution, so as not to frighten them; some groups will approach you, while others will want to be left alone, & they will make that clear.
Where to Find Wild Horses in Iceland
I’ve written quite extensively on Iceland, including where to find the best budget accommodations (in a famously expensive country!), how to fix the dreaded “Blue Lagoon” hair (which was the #1 article on my site for some time), how to pack for Iceland, & finally, a moody, dreamy playlist that will perfectly accompany your Icelandic road trip.
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