Where to find Puffins in Iceland
Many travellers how come to Iceland during the Summer are excited to catch a glimpse of the clowns of the sea, the puffin. Summertime in Iceland brings back flocks of puffins and other sea birds to nest on the cliffs around the country, providing the perfect place to raise their young for the season away from predators and with bountiful fish in the sea. These cute little birds have are very popular with tourists and locals alike, and it‘s easy to see why; their colourful beaks and cute little waddles make them a lovable addition to any Icelandic trip.
Below you can find some information about the best and easiest places to see puffins on your trip in Iceland. The map below also highlights some lesser known locations of puffin colonies, as well as the more popular ones.
Dyrholaey – South Iceland
Probably the most well known and visited location to see puffins, Dyrholaey peninsula is easily recognised in photos thanks to its iconic sea arch. Puffins flock here in the summer time, so keep an eye on the cliffs and the oceans to see hundreds of puffins flying between the two, navigating strong gusts of wind as if they‘re nothing.
Vestmannaeyjar – South Iceland
The island of Heimaey is part of the Westman Islands, a volcanic archipelago just off the south coast. It‘s here where you can find the world‘s largest colony of puffins – around 1.1 million return to the island each year to find their lifelong mating partners on the cliffs. The locals are so used to the puffins being a part of their summers that a tradition has been born for the children of the town. At the end of each summer, the kids will take to the streets to search and find baby puffins who have gotten confused by the street lights and flown into town instead of out to sea. These babies are kept overnight in the houses of the locals, fed, and then released out to the ocean the next day.
Borgarfjörður Eystri – East Iceland
70km east of Egilsstaðir in East Iceland is Borgarfjörður Eystri, a little-visited but beautiful area of the country. The village has a population of around 100, and the entire area is a haven for hiking – you’ll find well-marked trails, as well as huts for overnight stays. Nearby to the village is a viewing platform for the puffins, who nest on the cliffs nearby along with numerous other kinds of sea birds. There is also a small house there, built for when the weather outside isn’t cooperating and you need somewhere warm and dry to watch the puffins go about their business.
Látrabjarg – Westfjords
Widely considered one of the best bird-watching locations in all of Europe, the Látrabjarg cliffs in the Westfjords are swarming with puffins from June to August. This is perhaps the best spot to go if you’re looking to get up close and personal with the puffins, who are quite used to humans observing them in close quarters. Crawling up to the edge of the cliffs with your body flat on the ground will allow you to see the puffins doing their thing on the cliff face just below, but it’s important to go slowly and spread your weight evenly to avoid caving in any puffin burrows that have been made directly below the surface. It’s important to tread carefully in this area, as there are no fences along the cliffs edge – stick to the trails so that you leave the isolated and beautiful location exactly as it was before you got there.
Tours from Reykjavik
There are two islands in Faxaflói Bay, where Reykjavik sits, that are inhabited by puffins in the summer time. Dedicated puffin tours to Akurey and Lundey run during the summer from the docks in town, and if you decide to go on a whale tour, you’ll likely spot the quirky birds as well when passing the islands.
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