When you think about Iceland you think open spaces and possibly a glacier or two. You picture waterfalls, dark lava fields and bubbling hot springs. What follows might be colorful mountains, spouting geysers and deep fjords but do you ever think about Icelandic agriculture?
Iceland has been known for a lot of things but for some reason, its farming and the country’s unbelievably unique animals are just recently catching the spotlight. The Icelandic horse, the hens, the cows, goats and sheep have been isolated on this ruthless island for over 1000 years and changed their ways accordingly. Their adaptive behavior and development have made them truly one of the kind and many say stronger than most and friendlier than usual.
Icelandic farm animals undoubtfully are worth of your attention. They are the perfect combination of wild and tamed. Never losing their spirit sculptured by being raised in vast open lands but still maintaining their kindness towards those who take care of them.
Weather you want to taste the local cuisine, visit a farm and pet the animals or simply stay at one of those authentic Icelandic farms. This article is for you!
Top 10 Best Farms to Visit in Iceland
10. Sveitagardurinn – Farm Zoo in South Iceland
Sveitagardurinn first opened in the summer of 2018 but was a big hit from the get-go. Located near Selfoss only about an hour away from the capital it is a fantastic stop to make on a road trip out from the city or when exploring the South Coast. Their farm animals include all the most popular ones; Icelandic horses, calves, sheep, goats, hens and pigs but also a variety other animals such as ducks, doves, rabbits and even a few Arctic foxes!
They offer daily horseback rides between 2 pm and 3 pm where children can ride around on Icelandic horses carefully tamed by the farmers. There is also a great playground and a small café where you can enjoy coffee, sodas, candy or ice cream – Very welcomed when the weather gets warm. Then, just when you think this place has already ticked all the boxes you learn that they have local wool products. Like wool sweaters and other typical Icelandic products for sale at a good price!
They are open from the 1st of June until the end of August.
9. Daladyrd – Farm Zoo in North Iceland
Daladyrd is located in between Illugastadir and Vaglaskogur, an area known for having calmer weather and complete serenity. The farm is run by a family of four who take care of the animals and will show you around when you visit. They are very interested in what they do and it really shows in the way they introduce you to the playful flock. Daladyrd is still quite new to the scene but with their wide variety of Icelandic horses, sheep, dogs, goats, pigs, hens, roosters, bunnies and doves have already gotten them popular.
They have a small café where you can grab a coffee with a slice of homemade pie in a cozy family-friendly setting. Daladyrd is open all year round and is the perfect day trip to take out from Akureyri. You can follow the Daladyrd Facebook page for information or just your daily dose of cuteness!
8. Hradarstadir – Horse Riding and Farm in South-East Iceland
Hradarstadir is a Southeastern farm where families, and children especially, can visit to get to know the real farm life in Iceland. They have lambs, kittens, bunnies, calves, a famously friendly pig, horses, chickens and a colorful rooster. The farmers offer courses where children can come to stay for a few hours a day for a whole week and take care of the animals and learn about them. Included in the experience is even a horseback riding tour.
For those who are simply looking to stop by for a short time, you can still join a horse riding tour on lovely Icelandic Horses or simply just pet the animls. Hradarstadir also offers an accommodation set up in a hostel style.
7. Erpsstadir – Dairy Farm and Creamery in West Iceland
The Creamery at Erpsstadir in Budardalur Valley opened up in 2009. At first, it was all about ice cream, a common theme in Icelandic dairy production and people loved it instantly. During that first summer, over 5000 guests visited to try which if put in perspective is 1/70 of all Icelanders!
When winter came the farmers thought about new recipes to try and ended up with their own line of Skyr, cheese, skyr chocolates and of course even more ice cream! This is the real deal, an authentic Icelandic dairy farm experience.
They are mainly open in the summer but do check out Erpsstadir Facebook to see about additional openings.
6. Haafell – Goat Farm in West Iceland
Located in the geothermal area of Reykholt, Haafell is the only goat farm in Iceland where the farmers depend solely on their goas. They are open for visitors from the 1st of June until the 31st of August every year and are definitely worth the visit.
Haafell is known locally as the farm that saved the Icelandic goat and they sell products from the milk and meat which go towards continued breedings. Jóhanna has dedicated over a decade of her life to the cause and a visit will help her and the goats tremendously.
Ps. their goat milk soaps are exquisite!
5. Vallanes, Modir Jord – Organic Farm in East Iceland
Exploring the East and want to get in touch with the local vegetable side of things? Make a stop at Vallanes Modir Jord and see all the wonderful organic products that they produce and grow at this natural green wonderland. They even have a restaurant where you can sit down, relax and enjoy their green goods.
For those who are looking to stay a bit longer, there is also the accommodation option but Vallarnes offers huts and sleeping bag areas so there is something for everyone.
4. Kaffi Kú – Dairy Farm and Café in North Iceland
Kaffi Kú would basically translate to Café Cow. It is located on the second floor overlooking the cowshed at a farm in Eyjafjordur near Dalvik and Akureyri. It is an amazing stop to make for lunch or a quick bite as they offer traditional Icelandic waffles and cakes with whipped cream straight from the farm and the best hot chocolate you’ll ever have!
As you enjoy your meal at the café you see into the cow stables with only a thin glass separating the two. This truly adds a lot to the experience but you can also book a tour to go down into the stables. This way you can get even closer to the majestic and surprisingly friendly Icelandic cows.
3. Efstidalur II – Dairy Farm in South Iceland
This place has it all. Firstly, it is a real farm, secondly an excellent farm stay hotel thirdly a horse rental and the list goes one. They have a restaurant and also their own home-made gelato parlor! You could literally spend days here. Efstidalur is located on the Golden Circle route on South Iceland and is therefore close to many of Iceland’s most sought after attractions. For any ice cream lover a visit to the area isn’t complete without a stop at Efstidalur.
Efstidalur is all about keeping it local and fresh so their farm products are the key players at both the restaurant and the ice cream barn. The farm is run by four siblings and their families who recently took over from their parents. The farm has been in the same family for 7 generations.
2. Slakki – Petting Zoo in South Iceland
Slakki is the closest thing to a zoo you will find in Iceland. It might not have giraffes and elephants but Slakki makes up for it with an abundance of cute little farm animals and a lovely ambiance. The animals include rabbits, puppies, kittens, turkeys, foxes, geese, ducks, and chickens. A surprise which many don’t know about until after they arrive is the mini golf course and restaurant. Which together combined make this place even more enjoyable.
It truly is the perfect spot to visit around Fludir and the Golden Circle especially if you are traveling with young kids.
1. Fridheimar – Tomato and Horse Farm in South Iceland
The best-known farm to visit in Iceland is Fridheimar and the attention is well deserved. It is somewhat of a mix between tomatoes and Icelandic horses. Even though that might sound a bit odd the pairing works in the best way possible.
The tomatoes are the main theme of Fridheimar’s cuisine and you can find everything from tomato soup to tomato beer at their restaurant. The tomatoes come in many different forms, colors and flavors but they are all grown in the greenhouses around. The restaurant is then located inside one of these greenhouses. So, you are literally surrounded with tomatoes in any meaning of the word. The restaurant is open from 12 to 4 pm, all year round.
Fridheimar also puts great emphasis on their horse breeding. They even have shows where you can simply sit back and relax while they introduce you to the gates and personalities of their beloved horses.
Best Farm Stays in Iceland
10. Daeli Guesthouse | North Iceland
9. Blabjorg Guesthouse | East Iceland
8. Laugarfell | East Iceland
7. Ensku Husin | West Iceland
6. Hotel Geirland | South Iceland
5. Gauksmyri | North Iceland
4. Lambalaekur | West Iceland
3. Bjarteyjarsandur | West Iceland
2. Wilderness Center | East Iceland
1. Deplar Farm | North Iceland
General About Farming in Iceland
The main industry in Iceland has for centuries been fisheries but second to that is been the agriculture. In the 19th century, somewhere between 70-80% of Icelanders lived on farming alone but the numbers have plummeted over the years. Today the numbers stand at about 5% and only about 1% of land area is being used for arable cultivation.
By far the most popular livestock are sheep and cattle but poultry and pigs follow. Iceland is completely self-sufficient with dairy, meat and eggs.
Icelandic horses are mainly kept for hobby purposes although their meat is eaten and the blood of mares used for pharmaceuticals research.