Best Wildlife Holidays in Iceland – Photo Gallery

Monday, 27th January 2020

Emma Mitra

iceland west fjords latrabjarg puffin bs

We asked award-winning travel writer and advocate for responsible tourism Will Gray for his recommendations of the best wildlife encounters around the world. Here, he reveals why Iceland is the perfect destination for getting up close and personal with some breath-taking creatures.

Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans merge, Iceland provides numerous opportunities for spotting some of the world’s most beautiful animals. With a landscape of extremes, from mountains and glaciers to volcanoes and sea – the animals of Iceland are thriving, and the perfect destination for any wildlife enthusiast.  this island nation has the world’s northernmost capital city. The sparsely populated interior consists largely of a plateau covered by mountains and glaciers, with areas of intense volcanic activity, and the surrounding seas are rich in marine life.

Read on to discover some of the best wildlife experiences in Iceland in photos.


Each spring, puffins flock to sea cliffs around Iceland to nest. Find a good (and safe) vantage from which to watch them coming and going – dapper in their black-and-white plumage, wings beating frantically and if you’re lucky, multi-coloured bills stuffed with sandeels.

Where to see Puffins: Our Iceland Odyssey self-drive trip will take you full-circle around the country, linking puffin hotspots like the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, West Fjords, East Fjords and South Coast.

Learn more about these beautiful birds: All About Iceland

Humpback Whale

They’re the big show-offs of the cetacean world, and that’s why we love humpbacks. From spy-hopping to tail-slapping, they’re fascinating to watch. With luck, you’ll witness a breach – 30 tonnes of blubber leaping from the sea – or bubble-net feeding when they corral shoals of fish.

Where to see humpback whales: Around Iceland is a classic self-drive on Iceland’s Ring Road, linking key whale-watching locations like the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Husavik.

Learn more about the circus performers: All About Iceland

iceland wildlife humpback whale breaching rth

Arctic Tern

These elegant seabirds make the 80,000 km return trip from Antarctica to Iceland every summer and can be seen feeding offshore or fussing over dense breeding colonies. They’re not a fan of intruders, so keep your distance from nest sites or risk getting dive-bombed. If you’re a big fan of the feathered variety, keep your eyes peeled for fulmar, guillemot, red-throated diver and eider ducks too.

Where to see Arctic Tern: Tailor made self-drive to focus on Iceland’s top birding spots, including Lake Myvatn and Jokulsa Canyon.

Find out more about tiny birds: All about Birds

iceland birdlife arctic tern spreading wings rth

White-beaked dolphin

Often spotted on whale watching trips, seeing the playful white-beaked dolphin is always a joy. Curious and social by nature, they’ll often swim alongside the boat and do a few breaches out of the water, so you’ll get more than a passing encounter with these friendly flippers.

Take me there: Into the Blue is a 9-day trip around all the prime marine life spotting sites including Husavik, Iceland’s whale and dolphin watching capital.

iceland grundarfjordur white beaked dolphins ak

Orca Whale

The coast of West Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula is one of the best places for an orca watching experience – especially when vast shoals of herring gather there spring. Discover the World Travel Specialist Doug Kington went in search of orcas one March and wasn’t disappointed. “There were big males with huge dorsal fins which must have been over a metre and a half long, and also young orcas with a yellow-hued skin”, says Doug.

“The captain positioned the boat around the fjord for about ninety minutes without disturbing the orcas, so that we had amazing photo opportunities as well as time to appreciate the moment and what we were witnessing.”

Where to see orcas: Doug joined the 4-night Orcas and Aurora, which includes two whale watching boat trips as well as the opportunity to spot the spectacular northern lights.

Ready to go?

If that’s inspired you to plan your own wild adventure in Iceland, give our Travel Specialists a call on 01737 214 250 or send us an email. Take a look at all our Iceland wildlife holidays here.

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