Iceland is home to some of the world’s most iconic and interesting animals. The land of fire and ice has both mammals and marine species. Due to the topography of the land and its geographical features, there are more marine species. Iceland also boasts unique bird species, some of which serve as a sight for tourists. There are about 370 notable species of birds and they enjoy spending time on the island. If you have always wanted to see the Atlantic puffins, the Arctic fox or Icelandic horses, visiting Iceland should be your priority. 

Here is a list of some animals in Iceland. 

  • Whales

Whale watching is one of the amazing activities to add to your Iceland tour itinerary. There are several species of whales in the Icelandic water. Although whales are keen on migrating yearly, this does not stop them from giving the Iceland locals and tourists a show all year round. Blue whales, Harbor Porpoises, Long-Finned Pilot Whale, Minke and Humpback whales, Sperm whales and Fin whales are some of the whale species found in Iceland. During the summer, whales are frequently spotted in Iceland. This is because Iceland is a feeding ground for different whale species. Reykjavik is one of the top places in the country to spot these gentle giants of the sea. 

Whales during Unforgettable Whale Watching

  • Puffins

Iceland is home to one of the largest Puffin colonies in the world. Puffins are birds that look like penguins. They belong to a family of birds called Alcidae. Puffins are sea birds. When they are not enjoying a swim, they rest on the waves of the Icelandic water. The Latrabjarf cliffs is one of the most popular places to see puffins in Iceland. The sea birds are mostly active in the early summer between April and May. The Latrabjarf cliffs are remote and a perfect ground for the puffins to nest their eggs. Although you can follow the bird trail to see the bird colony, it is best to join a tour group. 

Where to Find Puffins in Iceland - World largest puffin colony

  • Icelandic Sheep 

The Icelandic sheep have been in existence since the 9th and 10th centuries. This makes them one of the oldest breeds of sheep in the world. They are a domestic breed of sheep, providing milk and its wool offers shelter to the country’s natives. The wool of the sheep is mostly double-coated. The wool which is fiber inside and out keeps the sheep warm when the weather is cold. The Icelandic sheep come in white, brown, gray and black. The meat from the Icelandic sheep serves as a part of the country’s traditional cuisine. You can spot the Icelandic sheep on popular routes such as the Golden Circle, Iceland’s South Coast and Ring Road. 

  • Polar Bear 

Are there any polar bears in Iceland? This is one of the top questions asked, thanks to the icy nature of the country. The answer is no, but this does not mean the marine mammals do not make their way through Iceland. Sightings of polar bears in Iceland have been recorded over the years. The icy nature of Iceland has made it a hunting ground for polar bears. There have been polar bear sightings in the northern part of Iceland. They travel through the country mostly in April. They move from Greenland and pass through Iceland. There are regulations set by the people of Iceland and also safety tips to protect anyone who comes across a polar bear. Polar bears are considered as vagrants in Iceland as they never settle in the land. 


  • Arctic Fox 

Also known as the polar fox or snow fox, this native land mammal can be found all over Iceland. It is believed that the Arctic fox has been in Iceland since the Ice Age and even before human settlement. The fox’s body and appearance have adapted to the unpredictable weather conditions of the country. You can mostly find the Arctic Fox of Iceland in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. The Arctic fox is the only mammal native to the country. There are over 8000 of these animals in the country and this population varies from region to region. While in Iceland, you might get lucky to spot an Arctic Fox, especially on the high sea cliff. If it’s one thing the Icelandic fox is famous for, it is its camouflage that makes it difficult for the human eyes to spot. 

  • Reindeer

The Eastern region of Iceland is one of the places to spot the reindeer. During the summer, the herds can be found in the north of Vatnajokull which is between the Snaefell and Karahnjukar region. There are about 6000 reindeers in Iceland and the best time of the year to see them is during the winter. These animals were first imported in the 18th century for solely experimental purposes. They have become a part of Icelandic agriculture. The reindeer are mostly found in the higher grounds of Iceland and only make their way to the low grounds in search of food. There are organized tours that allow you to get the full reindeer experience while in East Iceland or other parts of the country. 

  • Icelandic Horse

Have you ever imagined what a breed of horse developed in Iceland looks like? The Icelandic Horses are a unique breed and one of the purest horse breeds in Iceland. They are often small-sized and can be mistaken for ponies. While in Iceland, you can enjoy a leisure ride on the horses. Other horses around the world possess three or four gaits but the Icelandic horse has five. They also come in over 40 colours and have various unique patterns. Most of the Icelandic Horses are red or brown. Most of them change colors multiple times a year. One fun fact about the Icelandic Horse is the color of its eyes. The Icelandic Horse has light blue eyes and is said to be glass-eyed. The 1st of May is the International Day of the Icelandic Horse, an annual holiday which is dedicated to celebrating the horses in Iceland. 


  • Birds in Iceland

If you are in Iceland, you need to include bird watching to your bucket list. Iceland has a thriving birdlife as it is home to several species of birds. Some of the cliffs in the country are reserved for the purpose of bird watching. Lake Myvatn is considered the bird watching paradise in Iceland. You will find several species of birds there and if you are part of an organized tour, you get to learn about them too. The most common birds are the ravens, puffins, ducks, snow bunting and the gulls. Bird-watching is a unique Icelandic experience for both the locals and tourists. 

  • Orcas

The best place to see Orcas in Iceland is the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. They can be spotted all year round but mostly during the winter and early spring. There are about 5000 Orcas in the Icelandic waters. These animals prefer to stay in groups and it is safer to watch them from a distance. You can book a boat tour to enjoy this experience while in Iceland. 

Most of the animals in Iceland are native to the land and can be seen all year round. Exploring and experiencing the Icelandic animals and wildlife is an essential addition to your vacation package. What animal in Iceland are you eager to see? 

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