Are you wondering what kind of animals in Iceland, you can expect to see? Beleive it or not, there are only a few types of wildlife in Iceland that are native and many that were brought to the country by humans. People love to travel to Iceland for the stunning landscapes and the animals in Iceland are often an afterthought. We think this is a shame because most Icelandic animals are cute and not that dangerous.
Unlike other Arctic locations like Alaska or Canada, there are no bears in Iceland! The last polar bears in Iceland were gone by the end of the last Ice Age so if you are worried about running into bears, Iceland is the perfect place for you to visit. There aren’t really any dangerous animals such as bears or wolves in Iceland that will be an immediate threat to humans either! Wildlife in Iceland is more cute, for the most part, than scary, such as a wolf! That doesn’t mean you such mess with a fox though, as they can be dangerous when provoked.
When interacting with the animals of Iceland, be sure to always keep a safe distance, never feed them, and never approach them, especially when they have babies nearby. Animals in Iceland are often harmless if you follow these simple rules and stay a safe distance away. If you encounter one of the wild animals in Iceland, it is a good idea to stay in your car when viewing the animals, unless they are very far away. If you encounter a domesticated animal in Iceland such as the Icelandic horse, you are generally safe to get out of your car.
There are two overall types of animals in Iceland, domesticated/farm animals and wild animals in Iceland! Domesticated animals are the animals you will see in fences or driving along the roads whereas wildlife in Iceland may be a little harder to spot, depending on how long you are in Iceland and what time of year you travel to Iceland. Either way, there is a high chance you will see some of the animals of Iceland, whether they are domesticated, wild, or both!
Top 10 Animals In Iceland You May See During Your Trip
#1.You have a high chance of seeing horses in Iceland
Horses in Iceland are some of the cutest and most majestic animals you will ever see! These are one of the farm animals in Iceland that are actually friendly and really love people. If you are taking a road trip in Iceland or driving pretty much anywhere in Iceland, there is a high chance you will see one of the Icelandic horses. Horses in Iceland will come up to the fence and want to be pet and fed.
That being said, do not feed the horses in Iceland anything other than the grass on the other side of the fence that they simply cannot reach. Natural vegetation such as grass is okay for the horses in Iceland, but many tourists feed them human food. Human food is harmful to the animals in Iceland and should be kept to yourself. Do not ever walk on a property that has a do not trespass sign on it in order to get a closer look at the horses of Iceland.
Wherever you drive in Iceland, horses will most likely make an appearance. That being said, some of the most friendly and easily accessible horses in Iceland can be found along the Golden Circle drive or on your way to the south of Iceland. These animals in Iceland on the golden circle are easy to find and pet as they are located right on the side of the road. Make sure to pull into a pull-out or driveway so that you do not park right on the road if you want to pet the horses of Iceland.
#2. Sheep one of the most abundant farm animals in Iceland you may come across
Sheep are pretty much everywhere in Iceland! Another farm animal, sheep in Iceland are common in pastures almost everywhere in Iceland. Sometimes, the sheep in Iceland will escape their pastures and will wander in the road so make sure to keep an eye out for a stray sheep! These animals of Iceland are used for their meat and wool and are quite harmless but shouldn’t be fed or touched. Sheep are very skittish and are often grazing on grass and should never be fed.
Unlike the horses, sheep are one of the animals in Iceland you shouldn’t try to approach. Enjoy them from your car or from behind the fence, but don’t try to pet them.
#3. Reindeer in Iceland are common in the east
While there may not be any polar bears in Iceland, there certainly are reindeer! Reindeer in Iceland are most common in the east. During our time in Iceland, we have seen the most reindeer near the town of Hofn, located in east Iceland. Reindeer in Iceland should never be approached or fed and you shouldn’t get out of your car near these animals of Iceland. Reindeer have huge antlers and have the potential to be quite dangerous.
If reindeer in Iceland are close by, stay in your car for photographing, filming, or viewing them. If they are quite a distance away, it should be safe to get out of your car for a few moments, but be cautious and stay safe. Viewing wildlife in Iceland should be safe for both you and them!
#4. Seals are one of the most popular coastal animals in Iceland
If you are visiting any of the beaches in Iceland or Iceland’s famous glacier lagoon, you may see a seal! We have been to Iceland’s glacier lagoon twice and both times we have seen cute and curious seals swimming around and playing in the water. Seals are one of the most popular marine animals in Iceland so keep your eyes peeled!
Seals will be a little difficult to spot, so look for a little head bobbing in the water and swimming about and you may have found a seal! Seals are one of the more playful types of wildlife in Iceland and they are quite enjoyable to watch from the beach. Iceland’s glacier lagoon is a popular place to spot seals so if you visit, make sure to keep an eye out!
#5. Depending on when you visit, you may see puffins in Iceland
If you travel to Iceland during the summer, you have a high chance of spotting puffins! Puffins are common all over Iceland during the summer and the early or late shoulder seasons such as May or September. Puffins nest and fish along the coast of Iceland in the north, east, south, and west. If you are only staying in the south of Iceland or are looking for where to find puffins in Iceland close to Reykjavik, head to Dyrholaey on Iceland’s south coast. This is a popular place to spot these animals of Iceland.
If you are driving the whole Ring Road, you can head to Grímsey island in North Iceland or Borgarfjörður Eystri in east Iceland for the best puffing spotting in Iceland. Puffins in Iceland congregate along the coast and fish and preen along the rocks so you will have to visit one of the many beaches in Iceland or some cliffs in order to see these popular summer animals in Iceland.
#6. Arctic Foxes in Iceland are hit or miss to spot
Lots of people, especially photographers, hope to see the adorable Arctic Foxes in Iceland. These foxes are very cute but more difficult to spot than farm animals in Iceland like the horses or sheep or wild birds. In the winter, these foxes have snowy white coats to help them blend into the Arctic wilderness. In the summer, foxes in Iceland turn a brown-black color. If you plan to visit the Icelandic highlands, you have a higher chance of spotting Arctic Foxes in Iceland as there is less traffic and the area is more remote.
That being said, don’t be surprised if you run across one of these animals in Iceland randomly. On our last trip to Iceland, we almost ran over an Arctic Fox who ran in front of our car while we were driving in the pitch black! Thankfully, we did not, but it is a good lesson to keep your eyes out at all times for animals in Iceland.
#7. Whales in Iceland can be seen if you take a whale watching tour
Whales are one of the animals in Iceland that you actually have to go in search of if you hope to see them. It is relatively unlikely that you will be hanging out along the Icelandic coast and you will spot a whale. This can and does happen, but if you really want to see whales in Iceland, you need to book a whale watching tour. There are tons of whale watching tours in Iceland and they really aren’t that expensive.
These tours take you to find huge whales and know the best spots and times of year to see these marine animals of Iceland. Tours to see whales in Iceland will not go out if the weather is particularly bad and the guides and tour operators know what is best.
#8. If you are lucky, you may come across an Icelandic Sheepdog
Icelandic sheepdogs are made for just that, herding sheep! While we have never seen an Icelandic sheepdog, they are quite common on the farms of Iceland so if you are driving by or staying on a farm, you may see one of these cute and furry domesticated animals in Iceland. While they aren’t wild, you may certainly see them running in a field herding sheep or hanging out near a barn with their owners.
#9. Goats are one of the animals of Iceland common in farmyards around the country
While there aren’t any wild goats in Iceland, you may see them hanging out with the popular and common Icelandic sheep. Especially if you are visiting or staying on a farm, these common animals of Iceland are used for their meat. Goats are one of the animals of Iceland that will literally try and eat anything so don’t feed them and don’t hold anything such as a hat or bag too near them or they may try and take a bite out of it. Although not the most interesting animals in Iceland, goats are common and will be seen around the island.
#10. Seagulls are one of the ever-present animals in Iceland
Seagulls are one of those crazy animals that seem to pop up everywhere around the world. We have seen them in Florida, we have seen them in Peru, and we have seen them in Iceland. Seagulls are one of the most popular and common birds in Iceland and they are more robust and perfectly white and yellow than the ones you may see in warmer waters. Although they aren’t that interesting to look at, this is a list featuring the most common animals in Iceland that you will see so the seagull will make the list. Chances are you have seen these birds before and you will certainly see these animals in Iceland!
Quick Tips Seeing Wildlife In Iceland:
- Do not ever feed animals in Iceland. With the exception of the horses in Iceland, do not feed any animals in Iceland, unless you are working on a farm and are instructed to feed goats and sheep by the farmer. Never feed horses “people food” and never try and feed dogs or foxes.
- Do not approach wild animals in Iceland. This should go without saying but you shouldn’t ever approach the wild animals in Iceland. Although they may seem harmless, a selfie with a reindeer may end badly for you and the reindeer. If you spot wild animals in Iceland, stay in your car or keep a safe distance away if you are hiking.
- Leave no trace and always take your garbage. When hiking or driving in Iceland, never leave any garbage behind. A piece of stray plastic may look like a fish to a seal or a used cup or food container may seem appetizing to an Arctic Fox or seagull. The aim is to keep the animals of Iceland wild and leaving garbage behind harms them and the environment. Pack your leftovers into a plastic bag and throw them away when you get the chance. If you are camping in Iceland, do the wildlife a favor and keep everything safely in your car where they can’t reach it. The animals will thank you!
- Check up on the best time of year to visit Iceland if you want to see certain animals. If you are looking to see specific animals such as puffins in Iceland, make sure to search the internet to make sure they will be around when you visit. Puffins are not in Iceland during the winter, so if you are traveling to Iceland in winter, don’t expect to see these birds. Other domestic animals in Iceland like the popular Icelandic horses are present all year round!
There are a variety of animals in Iceland to see on your trip to the Arctic! From cute foxes to majestic whales, keep your eye out and you may come face to face with wildlife in Iceland.
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