Traveling to Iceland during the summer months means one thing: Puffin season! After already getting a glimpse of these adorable orange-beaked birds along the cliffs at Dyrhólaey, I was even more thrilled about making the side trip to Borgarfjörður eystri to get a closer look (without the risk of tumbling over a cliffs edge!)
Borgarfjörður eystri is a short, wide fjord known for its large colonies of Atlantic puffins, extensive hiking trails and natural beauty. Home to about 130 people the small, picturesque seaside village of Bakkagerði is one of the most unique and beautiful villages in East Iceland.
LIKE THIS POST? PIN IT FOR LATER!
Where is Borgarfjörður Eystri Located in Iceland
The small fishing village of Borgarfjörður eystri is the most northernly fjord in the Eastern Fjord region of Iceland.
Borgarfjörður eystri is beautifully surrounded by an imposing 10-15 million year old mountain range known to be some of the oldest in Iceland and form the second largest area of the rock rhyolite in the country.
Due to the topography and geographical location the area can be quite windy. We experienced this ourselves while we were walking around town and viewing the puffins.
How to Get to Borgarfjörður Eystri
From Egilsstaðir, the closest major town near the Borgarfjörður eystri region, you will need to turn off of the Ring Road (Route 1) and take Route 94. Continue driving for around 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) until you reach the village of Borgarfjörður eystri. The journey should take around 1 hour depending on the conditions of the road.
Along Route 94 you will encounter lots of twists and turns, as well as gravel and unpaved roads. While the conditions of the road aren’t necessarily bad it is beneficial to have a 4WD vehicle but not required.
Driving there is completely safe but we aware that due to the location on east Iceland, the weather conditions can become very windy on the way to Borgarfjörður eystri.
When you first enter the small village you will pass by the old harbour and a few cafes and shops. Borgarfjörður eystri is just as small and quaint as you would expect an authentic Icelandic fishing village to be. There are many colorful fishing boats lining the harbour and a few that were also docked ashore.
Where to See Puffins at Borgarfjörður eystri
From the main town of Borgarfjörður eystri you will need to continue another 5km ( 3 miles) to reach the new harbour on Hafnarhólmi island. The harbor is located at the end of Route 94 and can be located by typing ‘Puffin Marina’ into Google Maps or you can click on the map below.
On the small peninsula you will see a free parking area and a series of wooden platforms and stairs. After exiting your car you will get your first glimpse at the adorable puffins nesting amongst the grassy cliffs.
To view the puffins you will need to stay on the designated platforms as this protects the sea birds and their nesting grounds. During the season you can see thousands of puffins dotted along the massive cliffs.
They are such funny birds to watch as they fly around flapping their wings and diving in and out of their burrows. From the safety of the viewing decks you can get as close to 2 meters (6.5 feet) from these orange-beaked birds and observe them in their natural habitat.
There are around 60 steps to reach the top of the main viewing platform. However, if you have any kind of mobility issue you will still be able to see the puffins without having to go all the way to the top.
There are additional smaller viewing platforms where you can stay if the top platform is too crowded. Luckily if you are there during the puffin season then you are guaranteed to see puffins no matter where you are as long as you are around the cliff.
When to See Puffins at Borgarfjörður Eystri
Borgarfjörður eystri is known for being home to large puffin colonies during late spring into early fall. Your best chances of seeing the puffins is between mid-April and mid-August. In early April they will begin coming to the cliffs to create their nesting burrows for breeding.
Around late May and early June the baby puffins will hatch and you will be able to see many more small puffins on the viewing decks. Later in the summer and into early fall is when the puffins will start to spend more time out at sea again before completely disappearing around mid-August.
During the winter months, the puffins usually stay farther out at sea and are only seen in a few select places in the world, likely off the coasts of Newfoundland and Greenland.
Tip: If you want to see if the puffins are currently at the Hafnarhólmi island marina then you can go to the official website www.borgarfjordureystri.is and watch a live viewing of the harbor!
Borgarfjörður Eystri Hiking
Borgarfjörður eystri isn’t just home to a large puffin colony but is also famous for having some of the best organised hiking paths in Iceland. There is a network of well marked hiking trails that are accessible for all types of hikers, whether experienced or beginner.
Some 27 day hiking routes can be accessed from within the village and even have well established facilities for outdoor enthusiasts to rest along the way.
Other Things to Do in Borgarfjörður eystri
Although the main attractions in this small Icelandic fishing village are puffin viewing and hiking there are still other things to do and see here.
Be sure to head into town and visit one of the delicious cafes where they sell freshly baked sweets and traditional Icelandic meals. There are 3 restaurants in town and we stopped into Álfacafe during our time in Borgarfjörður eystri to savor one of their freshly made fish soup.
On your way out of town be sure to stop by the small local shop called Búðin for a small souvenir to take home with you.
Visiting Borgarfjörður eystri was truly a highlight of our trip to Iceland as we never encountered another place in the country that we could get so close to the puffins in the wild. If you are looking for more puffin encounters than be sure to check out my travel guide to seeing puffins in Mykines in the Faroe Islands!
LIKE THIS POST? SAVE TO PINTEREST TO READ LATER
WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
- Camera with gimbal: DJI Osmo Pocket & Underwater Housing
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro
- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
- External Hard Drive: LaCie 1 TB rugged mini external hard drive