Most people who visit Iceland want to see puffins, for a good reason – they are the cutest birds ever! Add Puffin watching to your bucket list if you’re planning a summer trip to Iceland.
Iceland is home to more than 60% of the Earth’s puffin population, that’s an estimated 8-10 million puffins around the country!
The Icelandic word for puffins is “Lundi” and you will see these adorable creatures in the wild, you will be able to find a souvenir around the shops of Reykjavik – postcards, keychains, sweatshirts, and more.
Read on for more information and where to find puffins in Iceland.
What kind of puffin is in Iceland
Also known as the common puffin, the Atlantic puffin is the species of puffin found around Iceland and also nests in Norway, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Newfoundland, and parts of the UK and Ireland.
Puffins are also referred to as “clowns of the sea” or “sea parrots” due to their adorable coloring and features.
For most of the year puffins live at sea, coming to land to breed and raise their young. They return to the same burrow every year to make a nest along the cliffside and lay their eggs. Fun fact: puffins are monogamous and usually mate for life!
While waiting for their baby puffling to hatch, the puffin parents take turns sitting on the egg and fishing for food. Puffins are able to dive about 195 feet (60 meters) to get their food.
The best time to see puffins in Iceland
Summer is the best time to see puffins – they arrive to Iceland around mid-April and leave in mid-August. They spend most of their day out at sea fishing and bringing the catch back to their babies, so try to look for them early in the morning or evening when they are around their nest.
Where to see puffins in Iceland
Vestmannaeyjar (The Westman Islands)
The Westman Islands are a group of islands located off the south coast of Iceland. Heimaey island is home to the largest puffin colony in the world with over 1 million puffins nesting each year in the southern part of the island. Here visitors can view the puffins from land or take a boat tour to see the birds up close.
Located on the south coast of Iceland, Dyrhólaey is a large rock arch that sticks out into the ocean and is home to a large puffin colony. It is possible to walk along the cliffs to get a closer look at the birds, but note that the area could be closed off during nesting season to protect the puffin mating process.
Ingólfshöfði is a Nature Reserve in southeastern Iceland and home to a diverse range of bird species, including puffins. This area is only accessible by guided tours which require a specially equipped vehicle that drives across water and sand, followed by a short hike to the top of the hill. Book a Ingólfshöfði Puffin Tour. From there the views over the coast are incredible and you will be greeted by thousands of puffins.
Borgarfjordur Eystri is a fjord in Northeast Iceland. The harbor of Hafnarholmi is home to a large puffin colony and is known for being one of the best puffin watching areas in the world! Here you will find thousands of puffins on a very accessible cliff. This place is the perfect detour off the Ring Road and a must add to your Iceland itinerary.
This large cliff in the Westfjords is the westernmost point of Europe and is home to one of the largest puffin colonies in the world. Visitors can walk along the cliffs to see the birds but do use caution as there are no barriers and it’s a steep drop to the ocean.
Puffin Tours in Iceland
Some places are easily accessible by driving yourself to the destination, and some puffin colonies can only be seen by a guided tour. Find Iceland puffin tours here!