From the horse’s mouth
Snaefellsnes Beach TrailMore about this trip
Visa & Health
Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Travellers from outside the UK are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Iceland.
BREXIT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) with no deal.
After 29 March 2019:
You should have 6 months left on your passport from your date of arrival. This applies to adult and child passports.
If you renewed a 10 year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your passport’s expiry date. These extra months will not count.
The new rules will apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.
Addresses of consulates
- Consulat d'Islande
8 av. Kléber
Tél. : 01 44 17 32 85
- Ambassade à l'étranger
Tungata n°22-PO Box
1750 Reykjavik 121
Tél. : +354 551 76 21/22
Fax : +354 562 55 67
- Ambassade en France
8 avenue Kléber
Tél. : 01 44 17 32 85
Fax : 01 40 67 99 96
- Ambassade d'Islande
Rond-Point Schuman 11
Tél. : +32 (0)2 238 50 00
Fax : +32 (0)2 230 69 38
- Ambassade d'Islande
Rue du Mont-de-Sion 8
Tél. : 022/703 56 56
Fax : 022/703 56 66
The biggest hazard in Iceland is probably the weather, especially when venturing inland along the difficult roads. You need a very sturdy high clearance 4wd vehicle and all supplies like food, water and fuel. Also, watch out for sudden storms and blizzards, even in the middle of summer. Also, after rain, some slow flowing small rivers might all of sudden turn into wide and deep rivers, almost impossible to cross by car. So if you do venture inland and away from the main roads, watch all of these things very closely.
Budget and money
You don't have to bring lots of cash, because Iceland is a country where plastic money seems to have been invented and even small things can usually be bought by credit card. If you don't have one, most banking cards of your own country (Cirrus, Maestro logo) will be fine for taking money from ATM's and these can be found in almost every small town.
Tipping is not necessary in Iceland as taxes (VAT) and service are included in the price.
Telephone and jetlag
Area: 103,000 sq km (39,769 sq miles).
Population: 315,281 (2013).
Population density: 3.1 per sq km.
Language: The official language is Icelandic; English and Danish are widely spoken
Religion: 85.5% Lutheran, with a Catholic minority.
Political regime: Republic
President: Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson since 1996.
Head of government: Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson since 2013.
Until that point Icelanders enjoyed a per capita income that was amongst the highest in the world at US$38,000 (2007)/US$39,400 (2008 estimate). The country had been in a positive economic period; in 2007 economic growth was at 2.5% and unemployment at a very low 1%. The future is uncertain but the country has started to rally and with increasing numbers of tourists visiting for some of the best Northern Lights shows of recent times, as well as volcano tourism, there have been some positive signs.
Iceland is short of raw materials and so relies heavily on foreign trade; exports of goods and services account for more than one-third of GNP. The largest proportion of these derives from fishing, Iceland's most important export (40% of its export earnings). The economy is therefore particularly susceptible to fluctuating fish prices and maintains a broad fisheries exclusion zone of 320km (200 miles) to protect its earnings. The government remains opposed to EU membership, primarily because of concern about losing control over their fishing resources.
Aluminium smelters are playing an increasingly big part in Iceland's economy, and have polarized Icelanders in recent years. While some argue that the pristine nature of the interior should be preserved at all costs, others think it should be tapped to regenerate areas where traditional industries are no longer viable.
From the 14th century onwards to the late 18th century, Iceland was part of the Norwegian Crown, Norway-Denmark (Kalmar Union) and later under Danish rule. Lutheranism became the main religion and the last Catholic bishop in Iceland was beheaded in 1550, along with his two sons. Two Black Death and one smallpox epidemics killed about one third to a half of the population each time during these centuries.
In 1814, following the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark-Norway was broken up into two separate kingdoms via the Treaty of Kiel. Iceland, however, remained a Danish dependency. Throughout the 19th century, the country's climate continued to grow worse, resulting in mass emigration to the New World, particularly Manitoba in Canada. In 1874, Denmark granted Iceland a constitution and limited home rule, which was expanded in 1904. The Act of Union, an agreement with Denmark signed on 1 December 1918, recognised Iceland as a fully sovereign state under the Danish king. On 31 December 1943, the Act of Union agreement expired after 25 years. Iceland formally became an independent republic on 17 June 1944, with Sveinn Björnsson as the first president. Iceland became a NATO member in 1949.
The immediate post-war period was followed by substantial economic growth, driven by industrialisation of the fishing industry and Marshall aid. The 1970s were marked by the Cod Wars—several disputes with the United Kingdom over Iceland's extension of its fishing limits. The economy was greatly diversified and liberalised when Iceland joined the European Economic Area in 1994. During the period 2003–07, Iceland developed from a nation best known for its fishing industry into a global financial powerhouse, but was consequently hit particularly hard by the 2008 global financial crisis, which extended into 2009 and 2010.
The most significant of its seismic features is found at Þingvellir National Park along the Almannagja fault. This rift in the rock shows the direct point on the earth where the Mid-Atlantic Rift runs through the island, where the North American and European tectonic plates are moving apart at an average of 2cm per year. The dramatic valley is clear on the land here, and is also visible in nearby Þingvellir Lake where divers visit the Silfra rift to see the crack between the tectonic plates in more detail.
Equally, volcano tourism is big business, with walking routes near the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, helitours over it and scenic trips to nearby Hekla, its hitherto most famous volcano, all popular.
Five-sixths of Iceland is uninhabited, the population being concentrated on the coast, in the valleys and in the plains of the southwest and southeast of the country. More than half the population lives in or around Reykjavík, the capital. Akureyri in the north is the country’s second city.
The whole of the central highland plateau of the island is a beautiful but barren and uninhabitable moonscape - so much so that the first American astronauts were sent there for pre-mission training.
Eleven percent of the island is covered by three large glaciers. Iceland's highest and most extensive glacier is Vatnajökull; at 8,500 sq km (3,280 sq miles), it is the largest in Europe, although it is now reported to be melting. Vatnajökull National Park, established in 2008, is Europe’s largest national park, encompassing its namesake glacier as well as volcanoes, waterfalls and wetlands.
There are several smaller glaciers in the country, including Snaefellsjokull, visible from Reykjavík, which sits atop an ancient cone volcano and was the setting for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Only 1% of the land in Iceland is cultivated, with 20% used for grazing sheep, Icelandic horses and cattle.
People, culture and traditions
Choosing the right riding holiday
Choosing the right riding holiday
There are many options for a horse riding holiday in Iceland - short breaks, week-long trail rides or even longer. All abilities can be catered for as well - there are easy trails for novice riders and challenging routes for experienced riders. It is possible to return to Iceland many times and always ride across different landscapes...
The classic Iceland trail is the Kjolur, which traverses the island from north to south or vice versa.
Also in the Highlands and through spectacular scenery are the Landmannalaugar tours in the area around Mount Hekla and the Power of Creation tour which traverses through Fjallabak from east to west, or vice versa.
The spectacular beach rides along the Snaefellsnes peninsula on the west coast also include dramatic volcanic scenery and glaciers for experienced riders, whilst the incredibly wild beauty of East Iceland can be discovered on the Egilsstadir Trail. To the far north, the stunning Northern Exposure trail takes in Lake Myvatn and Dettifoss - Europe's largest waterfall.
If you are short of time, then there are some long weekend or short breaks on offer: the stunning Northern Lights trail in the Autumn, or Geysir Gulfoss Special through the summer.
At the end of the season there are also a number of Sheep round-ups and Horse round-ups for those who want a hands-on and participatory riding holiday.
For riders who have some skills and are generally fit, but don't have the necessary experience to ride with a herd of loose horses, then the Golden Circle trail is ideal and brings in the three key attractions of Geysir, Gulfoss and Thingvellir.
Extend your trip
Puffin watching tour
Budget: £59The Atlantic Puffin is a captivating and beautiful bird. Between May and August, it settles along the Icelandic coast to nest during the warmer months. Iceland boasts the largest colony in the world and provides some amazing opportunities for bird-watching!
Animal lovers will love this excursion. On a boat, you get as close to the birds as can be - if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of other species such as grey headed ducks or cormorans.
Three departures a day from Mid-May to Mid-August.
Children discounts (7-15 yo).
Blue Lagoon hot springs
Budget: £155Set in a stunning black-lava field, the Blue Lagoon is probably one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. It is also very conveniently located between the airport and the city centre, making it an ideal first stop!
Take the time to relax in these natural hot springs, enjoy your first day in Iceland. The heated water (38°C) is rich mineral salts and silica mud, which are a real treat to the skin.
You can decide to visit the Lagoon from the BSI in Reykjavik or from the airport - shuttles run throughout the day.
Whale watching excursion
Budget: £121This half-day excursion is a unique opportunity to watch Minke whales, Humpback whales, Dolphins and Porpoises in their natural element.
This is a fantastic day out, ideal for all from individuals to couples or families! Children can even enjoy a discount - pleace contact us. Obviously, we can never guarantee anything with wild animals, but viewing chances are good, and especially in the summer.
One or two departures a day depending on the season, pick up at your hotel.