Julie Iceland 16 Comments

Puffins nest in Iceland from late-April through mid-August. They can be found along the coast throughout Iceland, but there are a few places where you can easily see enormous colonies of these birds.

Some of the most popular places to see puffins in Iceland are Heimaey Island, Hornstrandir Nature Reserve and the Latraberg Cliffs on the Westfjords, and Dyrholaey Arch in south Iceland.

Borgarfjörður eystri is one of the safest places in Iceland to see puffins. Boardwalks and viewing platforms have been erected so that you can get up close to the puffins without damaging their burrows. It is estimated that 10,000 pairs of puffins nest here from mid-April through mid-August.

If you are road tripping around the Ring Road, getting to Borgarfjörður eystri may feel a bit out of the way. And it is. But this experience is really more than just seeing a colony of puffins. It’s also a fun detour through a beautiful part of Iceland.

Iceland Road Trip

A view of Njardhvik on the drive to Borgarfjörður eystri.

So, if you like the idea of getting up close with puffins and going on cool little road trip, put Borgarfjörður eystri on your list.


Interesting Facts about Puffins

There are several species of puffins. The Atlantic Puffin is the species you will see in Iceland. In fact, Iceland is home to more Atlantic Puffins than any other country, with a large percentage of these puffins nesting in the Westmann Islands.

The colorful reddish-orange bill only appears during mating season (late April through August) and then fades as winter approaches. This brightly-colored beak has earned puffins the nicknames “sea parrot” and “clown of the sea.”

Iceland Puffins

Puffins spend most of their time out at sea. During this time, they live a solitary existence, away from the crowded, busy colonies that we see on land. It’s only during breeding season that they nest together on coastal cliffs.

A male and female pair will construct an underground burrow. The female will lay one egg and for roughly 40 days, both parents take turns incubating the egg. Once the egg hatches, the puffling (the puffin chick) and the adults return to sea.

How to Get to Borgarfjörður eystri

Borgarfjörður eystri is located in east Iceland. The nearest large town is Egilsstaðir. From Egilsstaðir, it takes an hour and fifteen minutes to drive to Borgarfjörður eystri.

Where to See Puffins Iceland

Directions to Borgarfjörður Eystri

Most of the drive is flat and unexciting. The road alternates between being paved and unpaved.

However, once you get to the mountain pass, this drive becomes a lot more interesting.

Route 94 weaves its way up and over a large mountain near Borgarfjörður eystri. When we made this drive in 2019, the road was unpaved, as you will see in our photos below. In 2023, we got an update that this road is now paved the entire way. Thank you Kathy! 

And if the weather is clear, what a view!!

On our drive out to Borgarfjörður eystri, these mountain peaks were covered in low-lying clouds. We had zero visibility so we had no idea on what we were missing. These clouds turned this into a bit of a white-knuckle drive, since we could only see a few meters in front of our car.

Fortunately, the clouds cleared while we visited the puffins. Here are photos of the drive, taken on our drive back to Egilsstaðir.

Driving in Iceland

This is the view looking east, back towards Egilsstaðir.


Road to Borgarfjörður Eystri

This gives you an idea of what the road is like. Near the top, you have large hairpin turns with no guardrails.

 How to get to Borgarfjörður Eystri

Views of the mountains as you descend down the other side of the pass.


Iceland Road

Another view of the road.


Drive to Borgarfjörður Eystri


Once you are over the mountain pass, route 94 winds its way along the coast. During our visit in 2019, road construction was in the works. It appears that the road is being widened and it is paved now.

Coast Road

This is what the road along the coast looked like during our visit in 2019.


Iceland Coast

This is the view from the coast.

 Borgarfjörður Eystri

View of Borgarfjörður eystri from route 94.

To get to the puffin nesting site, you will drive past Borgarfjörður eystri, to where route 94 ends at Hafnarhólmi marina. There is a small parking lot here and it is a very short walk to the nesting site.

How to Get to Puffin Marina

Road to Puffin Marina

The thin peninsula is the puffin nesting site.


Puffin Marina Iceland

The marina with the puffin nesting site behind it.

Iceland Travel Guide

Seeing the Puffins at Borgarfjörður eystri

A series of boardwalks and viewing platforms have been constructed at this nesting site. You can literally get right up to the puffins, without damaging their burrows.

This is free to visit although donations are gladly accepted.

What a great experience, to stand here and see these cuties. They are a bit clumsy on land, sometimes falling into burrows, sometimes nearly crashing into each other as they come in for a landing. But apparently, out at sea, they are quite nimble.

And puffins make the funniest sound…a low growl that sounds a lot like a chainsaw. Listen to it here. 

Puffins in Iceland

Puffin Boardwalks Iceland

Puffin Marina Borgarfjörður Eystri

Puffin Burrow

Puffins at Borgarfjörður Eystri

How to See Puffins in Iceland

Iceland Puffins

Puffin Peninsula

Most visits here last 15 to 30 minutes. Puffins nest at Borgarfjörður eystri from mid-April through mid-August. I read that they typically return to the ocean on August 15.

How Long Does This Take?

If you are doing this as a road trip from Egilsstaðir, this entire visit takes 3 hours: 2.5 hours driving time (round-trip) plus 30 minutes to see the puffins. If you stop in Borgarfjörður eystri, this will add on more time.

What Else to do in the Area

Borgarfjörður eystri. Borgarfjörður eystri is an Icelandic fishing village. See the grass covered houses at Linderbakki or grab a bite to eat at one of several cafes in town. There is a grocery store (Budin) and gas station here, as well as several hotels if you want to spend the night.

Go Hiking. Numerous hiking trails can be found in this area. With the mountains and the coastal views, this looks like a beautiful area to go hiking. Learn more here. 

What We Did: We visited Borgarfjörður eystri on our road trip from Mývatn in the north to Höfn in the south. Our morning was spent visiting Dettifoss and Selfoss, and then in the afternoon, we drove to Höfn. It was already a huge driving day, so we went back and forth as to if we really wanted to add this three-hour detour onto the day. I’m so glad we did! Seeing the puffins made it worth it, but the gorgeous drive over the mountain pass was a huge bonus. It was a long day, but a very memorable day.

By the way, this wasn’t even in our original plans. One of our Facebook followers recommended this to us and I’m so glad she did. Thank you Beth!

If you have any questions about visiting the puffins at Borgarfjörður eystri, or if you want to share your experience, comment below!

More Information for Your Trip to Iceland

RING ROAD ITINERARY: In 7 to 10 days, you can drive the entire Ring Road and experience the highlights of Iceland. With two weeks in Iceland, drive the full loop and add on Landmannalaugar and a few hidden gems.

SOUTH COAST OF ICELAND: The south coast is filled with some of the top sights in Iceland. Go glacier hiking, visit Skogafoss and walk the amazing Waterfall Way trail, and visit Bruarfoss. For the full list, check out our Guide to the South Coast of Iceland.

DAY TRIPS FROM REYKJAVÍK: If you are planning a short visit to Iceland with Reykjavík as your home base, here are 10 great day trips to take from Reykjavík.

BEST OF ICELAND: For a list of top experiences in Iceland, don’t miss our Iceland Bucket List. If you are a hiker, we also have a hiking guide with 10 epic day hikes to do in Iceland.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide.

Read all of our articles about Iceland in our Iceland Travel Guide.


Iceland Puffins at Borgarfjörður Eystri


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Comments 16

  1. Avatar for Alan
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  2. Avatar for Kathy Andersen
    Kathy Andersen


    I don’t know if anyone else has reported this, the road (94) to Borgafjordur Eystri is no paved the whole way and very smooth.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  3. Avatar for Deborah
  4. Avatar for Nuriel Ater
    Nuriel Ater

    Any specific reason for not including the western fiords in your trip? I was told this pristine region is even nicer that the rest of the island.
    Thanks for your most interesting site. We intend to revisit July 2022. Last time was 15 years ago.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      With our limited time in Iceland, we did not have enough time to add on this region. We chose to go into central Iceland (Kerlingarfjoll and Landmannalaugar) instead and loved it. I have also heard wonderful things about the western fjords and we are hoping to get there soon. To add them onto your itinerary, you would need 2 to 5 days, depending on what you plan to do. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Lynn
  6. Avatar for William B
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  7. Avatar for Márton

    What time of day did you see the puffins? It’s said everywhere that puffins can mostly be seen in the evening but these seem to be daytime photos.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, this was early afternoon. It’s their nesting site and it appeared to me like they just hang out here all day and occasionally leave the nesting site to get food. Cheers, Julie

  8. Avatar for Lynda Gniewyk
    Lynda Gniewyk

    Spot on! We visited earlyJune, 2019. Drive in and out was white knuckle as it was foggy and in some areas a slight rain. However serving the puffins so close was worth it all. Stayed the night in the small village. Expensive accommodations but adequate. We did 21 day road trip of Iceland. Seniors (not hikers) however in spite of our age each day offered great views and adventures.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      That’s so nice you stayed in town. What a beautiful area of Iceland! I would love to go back and spend more time here. Thanks for sharing your experience! Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for Kathy Younkin
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

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