Guide to Spotting Puffins in Iceland

They are a symbol of Iceland, you can find them in every souvenir shop on mugs, T-shirts and socks. Puffins are the pride of Icelanders, who wait every year for the return of these colorful birds to the island.

So if you want to see one during your trip, it's good to know where the best place in Iceland is to spot puffins.

About puffins in Iceland:

There are actually 3 different species of puffins, but by far the most famous is the Atlantic puffin. As the name suggests, this type of puffin is found throughout the North Atlantic, including the British Isles, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Norway and, of course, Iceland.

Iceland is home to 60% of the world's Atlantic puffin population - over six million individuals.

Puffins spend most of the year at sea, returning to land only in the summer months for the breeding season. Iceland has ideal breeding grounds for puffins, as they prefer to nest on rocky cliffs along the ocean, and Iceland has plenty of that.

Not only do puffins return to the same breeding grounds year after year, but they are also monogamous animals that have partners for life. And it's quite an equal partnership, with both parents caring for the egg, which hatches into adorable chicks after about 36-45 days. The parent puffins then spend another 45 days feeding their chicks before it is time for them all to return to the sea.


Where to observe puffins:

Every year, travelers go to Iceland in hopes of seeing puffins up close. With their playful personality and distinctive black and white colors with a bright orange beak, it's easy to see why so many tourists head to Iceland in hopes of catching a glimpse of an Atlantic puffin.

Reykjavík area:

For visitors staying in Reykjavik Lundey island in the Faxafloi Bay area is your best bet. The islands are close to the capital and accessible by a short boat ride from the city:

  1. Akurey
  2. Lundey

Puffins in South Iceland ⬇

Puffins in East Iceland ➡


Puffins in North Iceland ⬆

Puffins in West and Westfjords of Iceland ⬆


Tips for spotting puffins:

Tip 1. To increase your chances of seeing the most activity on the puffin breeding grounds, we recommend visiting between May and mid-August as this is the main puffin season in Iceland.

Tip 2. Puffins can most often be found on their breeding grounds in the early morning or evening, because this is when they most often rest in their burrows. At other times of the day you may find that many puffins have gone out to sea so the breeding area will not be as busy.

Tip 3. When walking around an area where puffins are found, pay attention to the signs and marked paths that you may see in various breeding areas. Remember to stay calm and quiet - don't scare these beautiful birds.

Tip 4. Hopefully this goes without saying, but remember to just look and not touch or feed the puffins. They are friendly and curious animals, but they are still wild animals.

Tip 5. When approaching a puffin on a cliff , don't get too close to the edge, as you may destroy the puffin nest close to the cliff edge. This can put both you and the puffin in danger if a piece of the ground beneath your feet collapses.

Especially for you, we have created a map with all the places where you can admire puffins - click here!

When you go on trips around Iceland with us, we will also try to stop in places where it will be easy for you to observe them. Check out our trips: RING ROAD

Have fun and take beautiful photos of these magical birds!