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Where to see puffins in Iceland?

Find the best places for puffin-watching all around Iceland

|April 6, 2023
Konstancija is a writer who enjoys long walks and hikes in nature, "hunts" for second-hand goods, and is a frequent guest in public libraries where she loves to read and roam around stacks of books.

One of the activities that a person traveling around Iceland should try is puffin-watching. These beautiful and colorful birds are a true eye-treat for avid nature lovers. While you might be curious about these birds, from what a puffin looks like to when it's a suitable time to see them, one of the main questions remains: Where can you see puffins in Iceland?

This activity is entertaining and exciting as you get to see these seabirds and admire the beauty of Icelandic nature all at once. But there are specific nuances you should keep in mind before your trip. You can watch puffins from the middle of April to the middle of August. Puffins are usually spotted near cliffs along the coast where they make their nests. So remember to keep your distance to keep yourself and the birds safe. You can learn more about how to prepare yourself for this occasion by checking this complete guide to what to know about puffins.  

The good news is that you can find puffins practically everywhere around Iceland. But what are some of the best places you can plan your trip around to be sure to see these beautiful birds?

Puffin-watching from Reykjavik

Where are puffins found in Reykjavik? Thanks to the capital being situated on the shores of Iceland, it'll take you a short boat ride from the old harbor in Reykjavik to reach one of the puffin islands: Lundey, Akurey, or Engey. You should remember that you can always book a puffin-watching tour from Reykjavik. This way, you'll be guaranteed to see these beautiful birds and have a wonderful time without planning anything by yourself.

Puffin-watching in the West of Iceland

The west side of Iceland is recognized as an exceptionally geologically diverse part of the country. Here the surroundings are magnificent, filled with valleys, fjords, glaciers, and volcanoes. In this pristine nature, you'll also find puffins.

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

By choosing to see puffins at Hornstrandir, you'll also get to witness them in a highly remote area, also referred to as one of the last wilderness areas in Europe. This uninhabited place is loved for its breathtaking nature, raw paths, and interesting wildlife. The reserve is also home to puffins, who are much more at ease here because of how harmless this place is for them. If you'd like to explore the reserve but don't feel ready to roam its paths alone, you can always book a guided tour to Hornstrandir.

Látrabjarg cliffs

Puffins usually could be spotted on a cliffs by the seashore

The largest bird cliff in Europe is recognized as a place where Atlantic puffins are common inhabitants. Látrabjarg consists of four cliffs called Keflavíkurbjarg, Látrabjarg, Bæjarbjarg, and Breiðavíkurbjarg. The cliffs are perfect for bird nesting, making millions of puffins settle here. While this unbelievable view of so many birds in one place might take your breath away, don't forget to keep a safe distance from these protected birds. Getting too close to the edge of a cliff might result in you falling off or startling the nesting birds.

Breidafjordur Bay

Puffin watching boat tour in Westman Island, Iceland

Situated between the Westfjords and Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Breiðafjörður Bay is rich in dazzling nature and wildlife. It embraces several tiny islands that are perfect for various types of birds to nest. Flatey is one of these islands where puffins can also be found. Many bird species found here tend to migrate, so the highest chance to see them is from May to September.

Puffin-watching in the North of Iceland

The North of Iceland waits for its visitors, ready to show them its active volcanoes, majestic waterfalls, and other natural wonders that it keeps, as well as the oldest church in Iceland, Grafarkirkja, that it cherishes. But one of the main reasons why many go here is to watch puffins.

Tjörnes Peninsula and Eyjafjörður fjord

Tjörnes Peninsula has a 60-meter-high cliff, so it's known for being a perfect spot for puffins and bird watching. To witness these beautiful birds in all their glory, take a short hike to Voladalstorfa, the furthermost point of the peninsula. 

Among other popular places where you can spot puffins are the towns of Akureyri and Húsavík. Akureyri is "the capital" of north Iceland, situated in the Eyjafjörður fjord. The city is surrounded by mountains and administers two charming islands, Hrísey and Grímsey, that shelter the puffins.

Skjálfandi bay

On the shores of Skjálfandi bay is where the town of Húsavík is located. Famous for being one of the best places in the world to watch whales, it also awaits visitors who wish to see these little "sea parrots". Not far away from Húsavík is the island of Lundy (not to be mistaken with another island of the same name). Its name translates as the Puffin island, and what could be more promising for a bird enthusiast than this? The island got its name for a reason, as it's said to have more than 200,000 puffins nesting here over the summer.

Puffin-watching in the East of Iceland

Famous for its fishing villages and lush forests, the East of Iceland serves you with picturesque scenery and the possibility of seeing puffins.

Borgarfjörður Eystri and Hafnarhólmi island

If you're looking for a convenient place to admire these beautiful birds, you should visit Borgarfjörður Eystri. It's reported that approximately 10,000 puffins nest here every summer. What's nice about this place is that it has special wooden platforms and a shelter, making it more comfortable and safer to watch the birds. Not far away from Borgarfjörður Eystri, on its outskirts, you'll find Puffin Marina, or Hafnarhólmi Island. The marina is also recognized among the safest places to watch puffins and other birds (such as Kittiwakes or Fulmars). The location has a wooden walking path and a viewing house to prevent people from falling off a cliff or ruining bird burrows.

Papey Island

It was 1966 when the last citizens left the island of Papey, situated off the East Coast of Iceland. But it certainly wasn't the end for this land as soon the place became a haven for Atlantic Puffins and guillemots. Now it's reminiscent of a ghost town with its abandoned buildings, one of them being Papey church, built in 1807, known as one of the oldest wooden churches in Iceland. This location invites people to escape mainland noise and observe nature in peace.

Puffin-watching in the South of Iceland

The South Coast of Iceland is a popular destination because of its impressive waterfalls, glaciers, and black sand beaches. The home to the biggest glacier in Europe, it's also favored by puffins.


A true haven for bird lovers, Ingolfshofdi cape is a remote island that provides puffins and other types of birds with a comfortable and safe environment for nesting. What makes this place extraordinary is also its history. It was named after the first Icelandic settler Ingólfur Arnarson who is believed to have landed and spent his first winter on these grounds. One at Ingolfshofdi, watch its black sand beaches welcome you.


Dyrholaey is a 120-meter high promontory in South of Iceland

Many know peninsula Dyrhólaey for being the most southern part of Iceland and for having a naturally-formed arc that is a beautiful gem one has to have in their photo archives. But it's not the only reason you should have in mind. Dyrholaey is one of the closest places from Reykjavik to spot the birds. What's important to remember when traveling here is that access to Dyrholaey is limited in May and June as its bird nesting time.

Westman Islands

Vestmannaeyjar is an archipelago with a beautiful history. It's also known as the place with the biggest puffin colony in the world. Westman Islands puffins can be spotted anywhere, but the easiest way to find them is by going straight to the island of Heimaey. For those who want to experience everything this place offers, go on a day tour in Vestmannaeyjar to learn more about its volcanic past and watch its cutest inhabitants – puffins.

Puffins are named the unofficial national birds of Iceland because of how many of them reside here. Eight to ten million birds live in Iceland, making it very easy to spot them all around the country. With so many fine locations to see puffins in Iceland, which would like to visit the most?

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