The best places to spot puffins in Iceland

Are you preparing for a trip to Iceland? Iceland is one of the most unique countries in the world where you can gaze at volcanoes, relax in hot springs, and explore the amazing Icelandic culture and historical sites. But many tourists don’t consider seeing puffins in Iceland.

Puffins are cute birds native to the Atlantic Ocean. They have penguin-like coloring during the mating season; however, in the winter months their coat turns grey. About 60% of all puffins nest in Iceland and lay their eggs during the spring. They don’t stay for long and leave their nesting area at the end of summer.

Sadly, the puffin population is declining. So, if you’re taking a trip to Iceland, make it a point to catch a glimpse of these unique birds. But where do you find them?

Westman Islands

One of the best spots to see the birds is in the Westman Islands or Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic. This is an island group off of Iceland’s South Coast, consisting of 15 islands and 30 rocks or skerries. Westman Islands are host one of the largest puffin colony in the world.

Which island should you spot the most puffins? Many tourists recommend Heimaey, which is also the only populated island. The puffins enjoy nesting in the grassy areas off the cliffs near the coast.

You can choose to see puffins by land and by boat. Westman Islands offers both a boat tour and puffin viewing spots.

puffin in Iceland

Faxaflói

Faxaflói, known in English as Faxa Bay, is one of the most accessible places to see puffins. Iceland’s capital Reykjavik sits along Faxaflói’s Southern shore.

Puffins especially gather on the tiny islands near the Kollafjörður fjord. You can easily access these islands by taking a boat tour from Reykjavik.

flying puffin

Ingólfshöfði

Ingólfshöfði was once an isolated island on the South Coast of Iceland but regular floods from the river Skeiðará has connected it to land. This cape offers many historical sightings as well as a puffin sanctuary. 

Keep in mind, the cape is private property. The only way you can view the puffins is by taking the Ingólfshöfði puffin tour.

Dyrholaey

Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey, which means Door Hole Island in English, is a small peninsula on the Southernmost point of the mainland. Dyrhólaey provides walking paths that will take you to puffin nesting sites. You can easily drive to these paths.

Keep in mind, you’re forbidden to walk on the nesting sites. Dyrhólaey is a protected nature area. You’ll view the nesting sites from a distance.

Borgarfjörður Eystri

Borgarfjörður Eystri is a fishing village in eastern Iceland. A five-minute drive from Borgarfjörður Eystri takes you to the Hafnarhólmi puffin colony. You follow the walkway and can see the nesting site from a few meters away.

Are you ready to see puffins in Iceland?

Iceland attracts many tourists for various reasons. But you’ll never have another experience like seeing puffins in Iceland. Puffins are adorable penguin-like birds that nest on many areas of Iceland. Visit one of these destinations to catch a glimpse of these unique birds!

Many of these destinations are easily accessible via car. Tourists will need a rental car before they visit these puffin nesting sites. Click here to take a look at the rental vehicles we offer.

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