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How to See Puffins in Iceland: Vik and the South Coast

Looking for more Iceland info? I’ve got you! Check out my 5 day Reykjavik and South Coast itinerary or tips for a queer vacation in Iceland.

One of the main things we wanted to do in Iceland was see puffins, and we managed to find them two nights in a row! They are the cutest bird I’ve ever seen! I freaked out when I spotted them flying around awkwardly, but the look on Kyla’s face when she first saw them made my trip: PURE JOY!

Here are some tips for seeing puffins in South Iceland, so that you can feel pure joy too! The two locations I talk about are near the small town of Vik (about 2.5 hours from Reykjavik).

When? In general, May to late August is when puffins arrive back on land from their ocean adventures. Dyrhólaey is CLOSED during nesting season, which includes parts of May and June (I imagine that this sensitive time isn’t the best to seek them out elsewhere, either, but you can probably still see them on cliffs near Reynisfjara). July or early August would be the best time to spot them, and they can most reliably be seen between 7-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m. If it’s rainy, you’re in luck: there’s a possibility of seeing them during the day! We saw lots on rainy evenings! If it’s sunny, they may not be back until after 9 p.m. Here’s some info from a Vík tourist map:

Where? Reynisfjara: You should visit this beach whether or not you’re looking for puffins! It has black sand, lava stack formations, and mystical basalt columns. Right as you pass the first set of basalt columns (from the parking lot), face the cliffs, and you should see puffins! From a distance, my first clue was a flying football-shaped thing!

Where? Dyrholaey: This promontory offers great views of Reynisfjara and Vík to the east, and black sand beach for days to the west. We drove all the way up to the top. It says 4 wheel drive only; it was fine for our little rental, but it’s quite a steep gravel road. You can also park below and walk up. Up top, there’s a lighthouse, and the cliffs nearby were where we spotted the puffins! If you look down (again, look for the awkward flying footballs and head towards them), you should see some, not too far from the path!

How? Don’t forget your binoculars and camera with zoom! Be respectful of the birds’ habitats and be safe: don’t go beyond any ropes or signage. Happy birdwatching!

5 Day Stopover in Iceland: A Summer Itinerary for Reykjavik and the South Coast

Looking for LGBTQ+ travel tips? Check out my post about queer travel in Iceland.

Is there a perfect amount of time to spend in Iceland? I doubt it! If you’re taking a trip just to Iceland, you’ll probably want to spend over a week driving around the whole Ring Road, or plan for a few days of hiking in Landmannalaugar. If you just want a tiny taste of the country on your way to or from Europe, a couple of days should suffice. In the winter, the limited hours of daylight may dictate how much time you need.

Five days in Iceland was perfect for us – it was a stop on the way to some other destinations, but also a dream trip on it’s own. It’s just enough time to leave you wanting more! I’ve made up a 5 day itinerary, including information about popular sites, getting around, food, and – most importantly – how and where to spot PUFFINS!*

Keep an eye out for a separate post with a packing list and detailed cost breakdown. Check out our 5 day itinerary below:

Continue reading “5 Day Stopover in Iceland: A Summer Itinerary for Reykjavik and the South Coast”

Queer Iceland: Tips for LGBTQ+ Travellers

Looking for more info about Iceland? Check out my 5 day Iceland itinerary for detailed information about Reykjavik and the South Coast.

This past summer, my girlfriend and I spent 5 days in the magical land of fire and ice! As far as we could tell, Iceland is a great place to be gay. We felt totally comfortable being couple-y there. That said, it’s always good to know what to expect as a queer traveller before arriving in a new country. Savvy lesbian travellers Lez See The World wrote a comprehensive post which details local laws and the social climate for lesbian travellers to Iceland; it’s definitely worth a read before you go!

Whether or not you visit a bar or attend an event aimed specifically at LGBTQ+ folks, you should generally have a safe and comfortable experience as a queer traveller in Iceland. This of course is from my perspective as a cis-gender woman and, as Kyla describes us, we could pass as “frumpy straight girls or femmey lesbians”.

Here are some businesses and events to keep on your gaydar for Reykjavik/Iceland:

  • Pink Iceland: Ok so I’m kind of obsessed with Pink Iceland! I’ve followed them for years now on Instagram; they plan the most beautiful (straight and not-straight) weddings, host some amazing tours, and are very involved in the Reykjavik queer community. It didn’t work into our schedule for us to do a tour with them, but we still stopped by their office, checked out their little store, met their cute doggo member, and chatted with the very friendly employees who told us about some events and invited us to join them for drinks later (sadly, too jetlagged)! It felt so welcoming; they are clearly an amazing company, and I encourage you to do a tour with them if you can! They also have some tips for LGBT travellers on their website.
  • Pride: You know you’re in a fabulous place when they have TWO Pride festivals! Pink Iceland hosts Winter Pride – Rainbow Reykjavik – in February. Last year they hosted Detox of Drag Race fame, and you can even find a mural in her honour in town! Reykjavik Pride is in August, and this year’s events included a community event painting a rainbow on the street, a queer literature walk and Stonewall museum exhibit, a drag competition, parties, of course a parade, and much more!
  • Kiki Queer Bar: the only gay bar/club in Reykjavik, free entry, Happy Hour till late, chill areas with tables and booths, semi-regular events, the outside is PAINTED RAINBOW, what more can you ask for?! Bravo bar, next door to Kiki, seems to be an unofficial queer hangout spot – it has a cozy and inviting atmosphere and an uber long happy hour (11 a.m. – 10 p.m.), which includes flights of craft beer!
  • Sometimes you can catch drag and burlesque shows in town; Gaukurinn bar seems to be the main event host, and Drag-Sugur would be a good page to watch for events.
  • Iceland has recently passed a progressive new law regarding the rights of trans, non-binary, and intersex folks. There’s a Facebook group called Trans Island; although the associated website and events are mostly in Icelandic, they might be worth connecting with if you’re looking for resources specifically relevant to trans folks. Andrymi appears to host an English-speaking support group “for trans and questioning people” on the 3rd Thursday of every month. A lot of their events sound very queer or queer-friendly!

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list! Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments. Lez hope you have a gay old time in Iceland!

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