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Warm Horse Riding Destinations to Soak Up the Winter Sun

by Octavia Drughi

The go-to resource for planning your horse riding holidays. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and take your riding skills to new heights.
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As the temperatures begin to drop, some can’t wait for the first snowfall. All the while, others are already making plans to escape winter and ditch the heavy clothes.

Many people prefer warmer weather over the cold. While a white Christmas can indeed be magical, nothing spells winter getaway better than soaking in the sun while pursuing your passion.

Check out these warm destinations where you can go on spectacular horse rides in winter without having to worry about getting muffled up:

Costa Rica


Dreaming of bathing in sunshine, galloping through sandy beaches and lush forests, exploring volcanoes and waterfalls, all in the midst of winter?

Cowboys are probably not among the first things that come to mind when thinking of Costa Rica. The country rather conjures images of paradisiacal landscapes. But it does, however, have a long equestrian history and a strong connection with horses. Costa Rican sabañeros (cowboys) still use working horses to this day and you too can immerse in their authentic lifestyle on a ranch vacation.

Since it’s located quite close to the Equator, Costa Rica doesn’t have a summer or winter. The weather is toasty all year round. That said, there are two distinct seasons – the rainy season and the dry season.

The rainy season lasts between May and November. Between December and April, Costa Rica receives very little rainfall. This is when the weather is at its driest and brightest.

In fact, the best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April. During this time, you can expect average high temperatures of around 26-280°C (79-820°F).

Plus, the weather is just perfect for beach riding on the Pacific or Caribbean coasts. The water is warm, around 27-28°C (81-820°F), on both coasts.

Horse riding tours are available in most touristic areas. You can ride Costa Rican Criollo horses through lush rainforests, green pastures, past coffee plantations, waterfalls, lakes, and volcanoes, observing the spectacular wildlife along the way.

Guanacaste is perhaps the province with the strongest equestrian tradition in the country. There are numerous ranches and mountain resorts offering spectacular horse riding trips through the lush hills and tropical forests all the way to the white sand beaches.

Puntarenas Province has numerous working ranches that you can join in order to get a taste of the authentic sabañeros lifestyle. You can go on day trips or multi-day tours along the golden beaches and tropical forests, and even explore the fascinating Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve on horseback.

In the northwest of the country, the horse riding tours at the foothill of the Arenal Volcano and around Lake Arenal are among the most spectacular in Costa Rica.

On the Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is a preferred base camp for both beach and jungle riding, as well as for surfing the famous waves in this part of the country.

» READ MORE: World's Top Destinations for Horse Riding Along the Beach


Algarve, Portugal


Image credit: Melides Almargem, LDA

Being one of the oldest nations in Europe, it comes as no surprise that Portugal has a long history of horsemanship dating back to pre-Roman times. The majestic Lusitano horse is an integral part of its culture and there’s simply no better way to explore the country’s varied terrain and stunning natural parks than on horseback.

Portugal is famous for its year-round pleasant weather. That said, the north and interior of the country, as well as the area around Lisbon can get cold, overcast, and rainy during winter. The south, on the other hand, is drier and warmer. Temperatures are usually 3 to 5 degrees higher in the Algarve than in Porto, which is warm enough to enjoy being outdoors.

Blessed with 300+ days of sunshine per year, the Algarve has the best weather in Portugal during winter. Furthermore, the touristic hotspots are less crowded during this time. Prices tend to drop and you might find some serious discounts.

Between December and March, you can expect highs around 16-21°C (61-70°F). The sea temperature is cool, around 16-17°C (61-63°F). This might be too cold for a swim, but you can try surfing or beach riding along the picturesque cliffs and hidden coves.

The Algarve has numerous equestrian centers that offer a variety of programs, from trail riding to dressage, for beginners and advanced riders alike. Enjoy its great cuisine, discover the fascinating culture surrounding the Lusitano horse, and ride through lush forests and deep valleys all the way to the rugged shores dotted with sandy beaches and towering cliffs.

» READ MORE: Portugal's Must Experience Horse Riding Destinations




Mexico has a long history of horsemanship dating back to the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Ever since, horses have been a part of Mexico’s culture and people’s lives.

Just a short flight from the USA, Mexico is a great destination for year-round horse riding. An intriguing blend of modern and traditional combined with a varied landscape and finger-licking cuisine, welcome equine enthusiasts.

Most horse riding vacations in Mexico combine culture, nature, cuisine, and ranch-style riding.

Ride mighty Azteca and Criollo horses through a patchwork of opposing features, such as deserts and snow-capped volcanoes, colonial towns and glamorous resorts, ancient ruins and industrialized cities.

Winters in Mexico are mild. While it does get cold at night, daytime temperatures remain pleasant. Plus, you’ll enjoy long hours of daylight. It’s easy to see why winter is a very popular time of year to visit Mexico.

The most pleasant weather during winter can be found in the coastal areas, both on the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, and in the low-lying areas. In these places, daytime high temperatures reach 21-23°C (70-74°F) between December and February. You should expect cooler temperatures and more rainfall in the central highland regions.

Winter is also when you can see the Monarch butterflies while trail riding. They begin to arrive around mid-November and are most active from mid-January to mid-March. This is also the best time to witness migrating whales when riding on the beach.

» READ MORE: Charreria and Tradition: The Best Places for a Ranch Vacation in Mexico




Image credit: Zouina Cheval

Characterized by three iconic landscapes – the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara Desert, and its extensive coastline – Morocco is a country of exquisite contrasts. Where else can you get from desert sand to lush vegetation, rugged shores, or snow-capped mountains in one day?

Escape the modern world and ride some of the world’s finest Barb and Arab horses through the vastness of the desert, against the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, passing by dunes, kasbahs, oases, and adobe villages.

A short flight from Europe, Morocco is a preferred getaway during winter.

There are numerous horse-riding centers that offer tours for all levels of riders throughout the year. You can opt for short trips on the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts, through palm groves, and past coastal villages, ancient walled cities, and colorful markets. Or you can embark on an epic adventure and join an overnight camping trek through the Sahara Desert in the extreme south and ride along vast stretches of the Atlantic coast.

In winter, it can get cold in the mountains. In fact, the peaks of the Atlas Mountains are covered in snow from November till July. It’s best to avoid riding in the mountains and highlands during the cold season, as the weather can become unpleasant.

The coastal areas and the edge of the Sahara Desert have the most pleasant climate. During winter, desert and beach riding are at their best.

In Marrakesh, maximum temperatures hover around 18-22°C (64-72°F) between November and March. In Agadir, temperatures can reach 20-22°C (68-72°F) in winter. The northern part of the country receives more rainfall during winter than the south.


Arizona, USA


What better place than Arizona to experience the Old West and all things cowboy in the midst of winter?

Numerous stables and ranches across the state offer guided trail rides ranging from a few hours to a few days. To get a real feel of the authentic cowboy lifestyle, you can join a working ranch or go on a multi-day tour complete with campfire cookouts and rides through sweeping landscapes.

The trails at the edge of the Grand Canyon are among the most popular in Arizona. In the Navajo Nation, you can ride through the iconic sandstone buttes of Monument Valley, across the Painted Desert, and explore the many labyrinths of sandstone canyons. In Cochise and Mohave counties, you’ll find numerous ranches for an old-fashioned western vacation.

Arizona has one of the warmest winter climates in the USA. It enjoys 300+ days of sunshine per year and is a great place to escape the cold.

Winters are mild, but there can be extreme temperature variations between day and night. Although average highs reach 21°C (70°F) during the day, they can occasionally drop below freezing during the night. This translates to perfect weather for spending the day in the great outdoors and getting cozy by the fireplace in the evening.


*Cover image credit: Melides Almargem, LDA

Can’t take a longer vacation this winter? Opt for a weekend horse riding break and do more of what you love!

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