Wildlife Watching Tours of Iceland

Whale Watching, Iceland on private day tour from reykjavik.

Welcome to our ultimate guide on wildlife watching in Iceland, a land of unparalleled natural beauty home to some of the most captivating and unique species on Earth! 

Iceland provides an idyllic backdrop for observing its thriving wildlife in its natural habitat, from its dramatic coastlines to enchanting fjords and rugged interior. In this blog, we’ll explore the best ways to experience the enchanting world of puffins, whales, seals, Arctic foxes, and reindeer during your unforgettable Icelandic adventure.

Whale Watching in Iceland: Top Locations and Tours

Whales, the gentle giants of the ocean, grace Iceland’s waters with their awe-inspiring presence. With over 20 different species to be found around the island, there’s no better place to embark on a responsible whale-watching tour and marvel at these majestic creatures up close.

In this section, we’ll explore the top locations and tours for an unforgettable whale-watching experience in Iceland.

Whale flipping tail out of the water on whale Watching boat tour in Iceland

Top Iceland Whale-Watching Locations

Reykjavik: Iceland’s vibrant capital offers easy access to prime whale-watching spots in Faxaflói Bay. During summer, minke whales, humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises are frequently sighted.

Akureyri: Situated in North Iceland, Akureyri is the gateway to the rich feeding grounds of Eyjafjörður, where humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoises are commonly seen. Occasionally, even the mighty blue whale makes an appearance.

Húsavík: Often referred to as the “Whale Watching Capital of Iceland,” Húsavík’s Skjálfandi Bay is renowned for its diverse marine life. Here, you’ll have a high chance of spotting humpback whales, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and the elusive blue whale and sperm whale.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula: Located in West Iceland, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula offers excellent opportunities to spot orcas, or killer whales, particularly during the winter and early spring months when they follow herring shoals into the area.

Westfjords: This remote region in Northwest Iceland is home to thriving populations of humpback whales, minke whales, and white-beaked dolphins. The pristine waters of the Westfjords provide a serene setting for an unforgettable whale-watching adventure.

The Arctic Fox: Iceland’s Elusive and Adorable Native Mammal

3 Icelandic foxes in their natural habitat.

As Iceland’s only native land mammal, the Arctic fox holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. 

Arctic foxes are well-equipped to survive in Iceland’s harsh climate, with their thick, warm fur that changes color with the seasons. In winter, their coats turn a brilliant white, providing excellent camouflage against the snow, while in summer, they adopt a more muted brown or grey shade to blend seamlessly with the landscape.

Despite their elusive nature, with patience and a little luck, you may be fortunate enough to spot one of these charming animals during your Icelandic adventure.

Best Tour Destinations to See Arctic Foxes:

While sightings of Arctic foxes can never be guaranteed, there are several tours and locations that offer a higher likelihood of encountering these elusive animals in their natural habitat. Here are some of the top options to consider:

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve: Located in the remote Westfjords, the uninhabited Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is a haven for Arctic foxes, where they have no natural predators and limited human interference.

Súðavík Arctic Fox Center: For a more educational experience, the Arctic Fox Center in Súðavík is dedicated to the research and conservation of Iceland’s native foxes. While it is not a tour, the center offers visitors the chance to learn about these remarkable animals, their habitat, and ongoing conservation efforts. You may also meet some of the resident foxes that have been rescued and cannot be released back into the Wild.

Custom Wildlife Tours: To see an Arctic Fox in the Wild, contact our private tour specialists. We can arrange a personalized experience with a local wildlife specialist where you can travel to even remote locales to get the best opportunity to see one of these elusive beauties.

Remember, when observing Arctic foxes in the Wild, it’s essential to maintain a respectful distance and avoid disturbing their natural behavior. However, by choosing a responsible tour operator and adhering to ethical wildlife viewing practices, you can help ensure the continued well-being of Iceland’s enchanting Arctic fox population.

Reindeer Encounters: Witnessing the Majestic Herds of East Iceland

Icelandic Reindeer.

Reindeer, with their impressive antlers and regal bearing, are not native to Iceland but have become a captivating sight in the country’s eastern landscapes. 

Introduced from Norway in the late 18th century, reindeer have since adapted to their new environment, and East Iceland now provides the perfect setting for observing these magnificent creatures.

Best Times and Locations for Reindeer Encounters

The reindeer population in Iceland is concentrated in the eastern regions, with the highest likelihood of sightings in and around the Vatnajökull National Park and the East Fjords. 

Reindeer are most active and visible during the winter months when they descend from the highlands to search for food in lower-lying areas. However, it’s still possible to spot them during the summer months, albeit with a bit more effort, as they tend to stay in the higher-altitude grazing areas.

Some prime locations for reindeer sightings in East Iceland include:

  • The area surrounding Egilsstaðir, a town located along the banks of the Lagarfljót River.
  • The scenic coastal road between the villages of Djúpivogur and Breiðdalsvík in the East Fjords.
  • The vast expanses of Vatnajökull National Park, where reindeer often graze in the summer months.

Seal Spotting: Exploring Iceland’s Coastal Habitats and Best Viewing Spots


Iceland’s diverse coastal habitats are home to a variety of seals, whose playful antics and lounging habits make them a popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts. 

Harbor seals and grey seals are the two most common species found around the island, each with their own unique characteristics and behaviors.

Best Seal Viewing Spots in Iceland:

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: Located in Southeast Iceland, this stunning glacial lagoon is not only famous for its icebergs but also as a popular resting spot for seals. Both harbor and grey seals can often be seen basking on the ice floes or swimming in the icy waters.

Vatnsnes Peninsula: In Northwest Iceland, the Vatnsnes Peninsula is home to a large colony of harbor seals. Hvítserkur, a unique rock formation along the coast, and the nearby Svalbarð seal watching spot are excellent locations to observe these charming creatures.

Ytri Tunga Beach: Situated on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland, Ytri Tunga is a sandy beach known for its resident seal colony. During the summer months, harbor seals can often be seen resting on the rocky shoreline or frolicking in the shallow waters.

Þingeyri: In the Westfjords, the small village of Þingeyri offers an opportunity to spot seals in the Dýrafjörður fjord. A short hike from the village will take you to the beach, where harbor seals are frequently sighted.

Discovering the Diverse Birdlife of Iceland’s Cliffs and Wetlands

Iceland’s diverse landscapes, from its towering cliffs to its lush wetlands, provide a haven for an incredible variety of bird species, making it a true paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts. 

Among these captivating avian species is the iconic puffin, known for its brightly colored beak and endearing waddle. Puffins are incredibly popular in Iceland, not only for their distinctive appearance but also for their fascinating behaviors, such as their skillful fishing techniques and affectionate interactions with their mates. In this section, we’ll explore the best locations and tips for observing Iceland’s diverse birdlife, with a particular focus on puffins.

Best Locations for Birdwatching in Iceland

Látrabjarg Cliffs: Situated in the Westfjords, Látrabjarg is the westernmost point of Iceland and home to millions of nesting seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes. The towering cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop for observing these birds at close range.

Ingólfshöfði Nature Reserve: This isolated promontory on Iceland’s south coast is accessible by guided tours during the summer months. The reserve hosts thousands of nesting puffins and is also home to the great skua, a large and powerful seabird.

Mývatn: Located in North Iceland, Mývatn is a birdwatcher’s paradise, renowned for its abundant birdlife and diverse habitats. Here, you can spot a variety of duck species, as well as the striking red-necked phalarope and the elusive gyrfalcon.

Flatey Island: Situated in Breiðafjörður Bay, Flatey Island is a haven for numerous bird species, including puffins, Arctic terns, and black guillemots. The island’s tranquility and lack of predators create an ideal breeding environment for these birds.

Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar: The largest island in the Westman Islands archipelago, Heimaey is home to one of the world’s largest Atlantic puffin colonies. The island’s puffin population peaks during summer when the birds return to breed and raise their young.

Contact Us About A Wildlife Watching Tour in Iceland

The incredible diversity of species and the island’s breathtaking landscapes make Iceland a true paradise for nature enthusiasts. From the majestic whales that grace the deep blue waters to the adorable puffins nesting on rugged cliffs, every encounter leaves a lasting impression on the hearts of those who witness it.

To make the most out of your Icelandic adventure, we invite you to contact our team of local experts, who will be delighted to curate a bespoke wildlife-watching itinerary tailored to your interests and preferences. So let us help you embark on the wildlife journey of a lifetime, where every moment is a cherished memory waiting to be made.

SideBar Tour Request

Our Contact Form

Contact our team of expert tour planners by filling out the form below with your travel dates!

Tour Request
Sandra Iceland Travel Planner

Meet Sandra! An Icelandic local with years of itinerary planning experience, Sandra is the perfect person to plan your dream trip to Iceland. Get in touch with her today for your free itinerary!

Email us

Let us know your questions!

Call our team

US: +1 (619) 333-5619

Other Destinations

Tour other countries around the world!