Birdwatching (and others) in Iceland

I’ll visit Iceland later this month, from the 23rd July to early August.
We’ll be based in Reykjavik initially, but have the possibility to move around the country later.

Any particularly good spots for wildlife, and birdwatching in particular? Any common or iconic species to look for at this time of the year?
Whale-watching may be an option as well, depending on the time we have, so if you have any recommendations I’m all ears !

Thanks a lot !


Lake Myvatn is amazing for waterfowl. It’s also great for the volcanic landscape, and you’ll be going past Akureyri to get there, which is a good spot for whalewatching tours.

I saw a white-tailed eagle near Staður, just soaring along like it was no big deal, and dwarfing the great black-backed gulls that were mobbing it.

We didn’t get out to the Látrabjarg cliffs, but I’ve heard they are a highlight.

Here’s a good article:


This is a really good guide:

I second the Northeast in general!

Húsavík is second to none for whalewatching (mainly humpbacks, minke and the occasional blue whale). Especially on NorthSailing´s old boats. There are trips around Lundey ( a puffin colony ) and you can see skua, guillemots, gannets, razorbills, etc in the bay whilst out on the boats. Long-tailed ducks are regulars in the harbour at the right time of year, but I think maybe not around in July. Golden plovers, turnstones, oystercatchers, and other waders visible on the shore. Just don´t go too close to the terns or they will start divebombing you.

Lake Mývatn is certainly rich in waterfowl as @caththalictroides mentions, with harlequin ducks being a highlight for me …and beyond that, yes, truly one of the highlights of the country geologically, given the range of landscapes/features within such proximity. If you go to Lake Myvatn mid-summer you might want to buy a headnet to stop midges though, they form dense clouds and can really ruin a visit…or even better …just time it to go when more windy ( if I remember rightly, then not such a problem ).
I think I´ve seen red-necked phalaropes around Myvatn too, certainly further NE at least I´ve found them - toward Raufurhöfn.

Eyjafjörður ( Akureyri ) also a stunning fjord to spend time in. Hrísey island is advertised as a birding spot ( though I´ve only been there in winter)… and its a short ferry trip from near Dalvik in Eyjafjördur. Might not look like much in photos, but the views from the island across to the mountains on either side are something else on a good day. Whales can be seen in the fjord sometimes, from the island.

The canyon to the east of Myvatn - Dettifoss to Ásbyrgi is also another string of geological jewels - and I´ve seen gyrfalcon in Ásbyrgi once or twice.

I´d recommend limiting time in Reykjavik as much as possible tbh, but there is a great little seal colony to visit if you´re there.


Thank you for your suggestions and the links to guides!

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