Practical info
12 September 2017

When and where can I see puffins in Iceland?

Puffins are so cute, just look at their funny little faces! Luckily for us Icelanders, we have millions of them. Our theory is that once, a penguin and a parrot got intimate, and much to their surprise, their offspring was a puffin. This theory has not been taken seriously by biologists or the scientific community thus far. 

Puffins have a lot of things going for them, besides being adorable. They can dive down around 60 meters (that’s 200 feet, give or take), and fly as fast as the speed limit on Icelandic highways, almost 90 kilometers per hour. Pretty impressive for oversized penguin-parrots.

When can I see puffins in Iceland?

Puffins come to Iceland during summer during their nesting season. The first ones usually arrive in May, but sometimes as early as the end of April. Normally, they leave at the end of August. The very best time to see them is probably June, since that’s their main nesting time and they´ll be somewhat stationary, laying in their nests.

Where can I see puffins in Iceland?

Puffins build their nests in cliffs, but not just any cliffs. The most popular ones are:

  • The Westman Islands – A lovely place to visit in South Iceland, with plenty of cliffs where you can spot puffins. We recommend going on a guided boat ride around the islands. They’re not only great for seeing puffins, but to learn about the island’s interesting history and geology.
  • Hornstrandir / Hornbjarg – Hornbjarg is a cliff in the Hornstrandir nature reserve. It’s not easily accessible and a trip there must be well planned.
  • Látrabjarg – The westernmost point of Europe. It’s in the West Fjords and worth the drive. Not just to see puffins.
  • Lundey island – The literal translation for Lundey island is “Puffin island”. It’s about a 5-minute boat ride from Reykjavík and as the name suggest, is an island full of puffins.
  • Going on a boat ride from Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula gives you a great chance of seeing puffins that are spread out on many of the islands in Breiðafjörður Bay.