Puffins in Iceland. Worth driving around for. Just like whales, dolphins and seals. So, when visiting Iceland in the summer of 2021, we drove quite a bit of miles to spot these magnificent birds. Do you want to know where we found them? Then continue on reading this blog.
Puffins are Iceland’s most wonderful birds, well, in my eyes at least. Did you know they are an endangered species? There are currently still between 8 and 10 million birds in Iceland, the Atlantic type by the way, but their numbers are decreasing. Luckily, there are protection programs in place. In some spots, you can still admire these birds up close, especially during their breeding season between May and July.
Our favourite place to spot puffins: Borgarfjordur Eystri
We spotted puffins at several places but our favourite is definitely Hafnarholmi, in the harbour of Borgarfjordur Eystri, up in the North East corner of Iceland. This is probably the best and safest place to watch these birds closely. It’s not obvious to get there but definitely worth the visit.
How to get to the puffins?
You can combine your visit in Borgarfjordur Eystri with a stay in the peaceful, scenic Seydisfjordur the most famous fjord at the east coast or at Eglisstadir. We stayed in Seydisfjordur. The trip between both fjords roughly takes about 1.5 hours, in good weather conditions and is, in itself, already a treat. You drive a scenic route through the valley (route #94) between both fjords, partly paved and partly gravel but in summer months well accessible.
Halfway on route #94, in the middle of nowhere, you come across a small green hut with two vending machines, solar and wind powered. Stop and admire the landscape while enjoying a cola at the cosy table.
From the green hut, you continue your scenic route, over the pass – with beautiful views over the sea and the land – to the sleepy village of Bakkagerdi.
From Bakkagerdi, it is just a few more kilometres to Hafnarholmi, a small island by the harbour. And there they are, hundreds of them, about 10.000 pairs a year, perfectly admirable from the steps along the nestling area or from the viewing platform, behind the viewing window. So you don’t need binoculars here, you can simply watch the birds from a few metres distance. They truly are beautiful, with their bright orange bill, bright white breast and black feathers.
Other places where we spotted puffins?
We saw quite some puffins during our whale-watching trip in Husavik. Here binoculars were needed as the bird were floating in the water or circled the sky.
Near the end of our trip, we spotted some more on the west side of the mountain Reynisfjall near Vik/Gardar, on the black beach with the basalt column. There were hundreds of them on the edge of the basalt cliffs. You cannot see them up close here. Just be very careful at the beach here. There are so-called ‘sneaker-waves’, violent waves ‘sneaking’ up at you when you least expect them and able to easily sweep children and adults out to sea. There are multiple warning signs, stick to them for your own safety!
Interested in more Iceland adventures? Then have a look at all my blogs under the ‘Iceland’ heading. Read some more about the fantastic things to do, superb Landmannalaugar, tips and costs, summer houses and itineraries. Enjoy !