Activities

Horse Shows & Exhibitions

Horse farms in the area often host hour-long shows that showcase the five gaits of the Icelandic horse, and detail the breed’s history. Shows are usually scheduled for groups, and individuals can then attend. Ask at the tourist information centre or contact the farms directly.

The summertime weekly 'Horses & Heritage' evening program (2000kr) at Lýtingsstaðir encompasses facts and stories in a beautifully crafted turf house known as the Old Stable. Or just check out its Old Stable exhibition (adult/child 1000kr/free, open daily).

Sleeping

There are plenty of rural places to crash in the area; ask at the information centre. If you're doing rafting or riding tours with Bakkaflöt or Lýtingsstaðir, note that they both have good sleeping options. These are open to all; see their websites for details.

Eating

There's a busy grill-bar in the petrol station that marks the hub of town; the supermarket (with long opening hours) is also here. The restaurant at Hótel Varmahlíð has a decent reputation, but the best place for a bite is Áskaffi at Glaumbær museum (you can visit the cafe without paying the museum entrance fee).

Guided Tours

Rafting

The area around Varmahlíð is home to northern Iceland's best white-water rafting. Trips run from about May to September.

Both Bakkaflöt and Viking Rafting raft on the high-octane Austari-Jökulsá (East Glacial River; Class 4+ rapids) and the more placid, family friendly Vestari-Jökulsá (West Glacial River; Class 2+ rapids).

Drysuits are provided. Check websites for up-to-date schedules and prices.

Horse Riding

There are half a dozen companies in and around Varmahlíð, including Hestasport and Lýtingsstaðir offering shorter rides (one to two hours) for beginners, plus longer day outings. A few plan week-long expeditions into the highlands, or offer the chance to participate in the annual sheep roundup (réttir) in September. See websites for programs and prices.