Yes, you most certainly can see puffins in Reykajvik!
Puffins are seabirds and spend most of their lives out in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. However, during their breeding season from May to August, they migrate to Iceland, Norway, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, the United Kingdom and Newfoundland. You can find colonies of puffins all around Iceland during the summer and scientists believe that 60% of the entire puffin population nests in Iceland every summer! But they are shy by nature and they nest in remote places so it can be hard to find them.
Just outside of Reykjavik Harbor there are two small islands called Akurey and Engey. There is a big puffin colony that nests on these islands, it’s estimated that around 10-15 thousand pairs nest on them every summer. Just when the breeding season is starting scientists go out to the islands to count how many holes are being used by the puffins. That way they can see if the population is declining or not. They went out to Akurey on the 2nd of June 2019 and discovered that there were puffins in 4 out of every 5 holes. That is 8% more than last year so the population is doing great!
If you want to see puffins from Reykjavik, you can join us on one of our Puffin Express tours! The islands are only a 15-minute boat ride from Reykjavik harbor. We go out on a small wooden boat called Skúli which is built to sail into shallow waters so we can get extra close to the islands. There you can see the puffins in their natural habitat walking around on the islands, sitting on the surface of the water around the boat or flying over. We have about half an hour to cruise around the islands and enjoy the environment.
The boat is half overbuilt so you can stay inside or outside, whatever you feel is more comfortable. We provide binoculars on board, a lot of puffin books with extra information and warm blankets for those who need them. The tour is only one hour and is suitable for all ages. It’s the perfect opportunity to experience Icelandic nature and see Reykjavík from a different viewpoint. Just make sure you are dressed according to the weather and bring a long lens camera if you want to get some crystal-clear photos of the puffins because they are small and fast! I recommend to just sit back, relax and take in the nature around you. See more information about our puffin watching tour from Reykjavik here.
Blog by our Puffin Specialist
Íris Thorlacius Hauksdóttir