Scandinavia's Top Destinations for Horse Riding Holidays
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Located in the Northern part of Europe, the Scandinavian region covers three notable kingdoms: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. However, do note that the term ‘Scandanavia’ is often used to refer to the broader Scandinavian peninsula, which also covers the Nordic countries Finland and Iceland.
In this article, you’ll find information & insights on the top horse riding destinations across these five spectacular countries which you’ll find useful in planning a horse riding holiday worthy of Vikings!
A nation renowned for its high level of happiness, Denmark is definitely a country that one must visit at least once in their lifetime! Chances are though, you may find yourself wanting to return for more especially if you happen to be a horse-riding enthusiast.
Here, you can even find excellent horse-riding excursions in its bustling capital of Copenhagen. It’s certainly a different way of discovering another side of the city that will allow you to explore areas that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Suitable for riders of all skill levels, this experience also offers you the opportunity to venture the countryside and take in the beautiful Danish nature. Depending on your preference as well as the weather, this particular trail will lead you through to the Amager Fælled, Kongelund forest, Søvang or Kongelund beach.
Prefer a more off the beaten path destination? You’re in for a treat as Denmark boasts 100 km of breathtaking coastline, beaches, and headlands best explored on horseback.
If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of horse riding experiences in Denmark that caters to your skill level. For starters, trail riding in the islands of Rømø, Mandø, and Koresand comes highly recommended.
For an average of four hours a day, your guide will take you through a vast range of different routes on the islands that will allow you to develop your riding skills. As you go through the routes, you’ll also be able to tour some of the islands’ landmarks which include the Kirkeby Plantation as well as ride along the Havsand beach.
Located in the northern part of the country, a horse riding holiday in Halsthom, will typically include rides in Vigsø Bugt, an area of protected and untamed dune landscape, offering an unforgettable scenery as you and your Icelandic horse freely gallop along the beach.
Do note that most of the excursions in this area are only open for seasoned riders (intermediates and up) who are welcomed to bring and to ride their own horse.
Did you know that some of the World’s best Nothern Lights can be spotted in Finland?
Well, it’s true! Here, you can catch unforgettable sightings of the Aurora Borealis which can appear 200 nights out of the year, this is pretty much every night during the winter! So if you’re hoping to catch of one of nature’s greatest show, be sure to plan your horse riding excursion during December – March.
When it comes to natural beauty, Finland has no shortage of it. Referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Lakes”, Findland actually has far more – more than 188 thousand to be exact.
As many of them are practically untouched, the water in these lakes is some of the world’s cleanest. Additionally, Finland is home to thousands of lush forests which makes up 70% of the total area of the country.
If you adore nature & horse riding equally, Finland may just be a slice of heaven on Earth. While it’s true that there are many destinations worth discovering on an Icelandic horse, Ikaalinen, Pirkanmaa, and Saarijärvi are simply not to be missed!
Horse riding in Finland is available all year round but if you’re not a fan of the winter cold, summer (June – September) is the ideal time to go. During this time, you’ll be able to experience seemingly endless daylight which will allow you to truly make the most of your holiday. With an average of 70° Fahrenheit (21° Celsius), the temperature is also pleasant.
Though the Icelandic horse can now be commonly found across the Scandinavian Peninsula, as its name suggests, Iceland is the origin of the breed. One of the world’s oldest breeds, they were brought by early Viking settlers centuries ago. Today, note that if you plan on going on a horse riding excursion in Scandinavia, you will likely be riding an Icelandic horse.
Thanks to its name, it’s very easy to assume that horse riding in Iceland would only involve riding in the freezing cold. But this is not necessarily so. In fact, many of the roads found in the stunning land Land of Fire and Ice are actually closed during the winter. Due to the harsh weather, it would make it dangerous and very challenging to navigate.
If you have your heart set on seeing the Aurora Borealis during your Iceland getaway, winter is a great season to do so but know that you can also catch it during some months in the summer.
However, do keep in mind to not plan your trip in the middle of summer (mid June – early August) as the blazing midnight sun would make it almost impossible to see the Aurora.
However, by mid to late August, you can enjoy up to four hours of pitch black during the evening where the Aurora will surely mesmerize. Prime Aurora-viewing condition can be enjoyed starting late September where nights can last more than 12 hours.
Summer is the ideal time to go horse riding in Iceland and should you seek to experience the longest day of the year, be sure to go around the summer solstice, where you can also partake in the local Scandinavian festivities.
Blessed with an abundance of natural attractions such as its Fjords and gorgeous mountains, you can also experience the Nothern Lights in Norway. Visible throughout the long Arctic winter, this mind-blowing green and white polar lights have to be seen to be believed!
When it comes to horse riding, however, Norwegian summer (June – September) is an ideal time to explore this beautiful country. As the sun is visible all day, it’s recommended to add a couple of fun activities such as whale watching and fishing to your horse riding excursion.
One of only two landlocked countries in Norway, Oppland is a great destination to explore on horseback. Unlike most of the countries in the Scandinavian region where you can find plenty of Icelandic horses, here, you will likely be riding on a local breed of horses called the Norwegian Dole horses (Dølahest).
Similar to their Icelandic cousins, the Dole horse is smaller in stature but is strong built, docile, and has versatile features. They are good trotters and often ridden in draft work and harness racing.
In Oppland, beginners and advanced riders will spend at least spend 4 hours each day riding along Dørjuvet gorge while enjoying the scenic river views as well as explore the surrounding areas of Venabygdsfjellet, Rondane, and Gudbrandsdalen.
If you are seeking to ride along mountains, Troms is where you ought to be. Bordering Finnmark country to the northeast and Nordland county in the southwest, horse riding excursions in this neck of the woods will truly make you feel as if you’ve been transported back to the Viking age.
In this region, you will have the opportunity to ride other local breeds of horses such as the Nordland/Lyngen horses and Fjord horses in addition to the Norwegian Dole.
The trails in Troms are especially ideal for those who are looking for a variation of easy to difficult terrains. While exploring the area, it’s like that you’ll also encounter some of Norway endemic wildlife which includes moose, reindeer, hare, and eagles. If you’re looking for an unforgettable horse riding vacation, this may just be it!
For those who have yet to have the opportunity to visit this gorgeous Scandinavian country, IKEA may be the first thing that came to mind when they think of Sweden. But of course, there are so much more to Sweden than its globally known brand.
Bordering Norway, to the west, Finland to the northeast, and Denmark in the southwest, like its neighbors, the Kingdom of Sweden is also blessed with jaw-dropping and unspoiled nature. And when it comes to horse riding, one is simply spoiled with options!
Thanks to its vastness (it’s twice the size of the UK), you can find plenty of horse riding excursions along the forest trails and mountains, over meadows, or down by the beach. No matter your riding levels, there are riding opportunities here to suit everyone.
In Sweden, in addition to Icelandic horses, you are likely to also have the opportunity to ride the local Swedish Cold Blood horses.
If you’re looking to find the most varied landscapes for horse riding, your best bet is northern Sweden. Västerbotten, a county located in the north of Sweden, is a popular destination for trail riding for locals & foreigners alike. Be one with nature as you ride across the wide-open plains, along pristine lakes, up the majestic mountainside, and through the stunning valleys.
Need some time off the saddle? You’ll be happy to hear that you also can combine fishing and/or birdwatching with your excursion. During your trek, you may also be able to ‘meet’ various local wildlife species that include bears and the lynx.
Located on the western coast of Sweden, Halland county is also a wonderful destination if you’re looking to enjoy Swedish nature on horseback. Within it, you can find several municipalities like the Falkenberg municipality and Laholm that are home to some of Sweden’s top ranches. So if you’ve been dreaming of going on a ranch vacation, you don’t necessarily have to go to the US or Mexico!
Halland county is especially ideal for those who are seeking to go on a horse riding holiday with the family as in addition to guest ranches, you can also find resort ranches – ranches that offer full amenities and facilities as you would find in a luxury resort!
Looking for other great horse riding destinations in Europe? Be sure to check out our vast selection of horse riding holidays in Europe!