Borgarfjordur Eystri – Best Puffin Viewing Site in Iceland

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Basic Information

  • Many people (travelers & locals) think this is the most beautiful place in Iceland. 
  • Borgarfjörður Eystir has a population of 100 inhabitants. 
  • Best place in Iceland to see the puffins
  • Some of the best hiking routes in Iceland are in the area. 

A hidden treasure in the East of Iceland, Borgarfjörður Eystri is a part of the municipality of Borgarfjarðarhreppur. With a meager population of 100 inhabitants, this town has many things to offer for travelers. It includes the most populated elfin settlements in Iceland and an incredible variety of hiking routes. This wee hamlet is located at a stunning location, surrounded by a backdrop of rugged rhyolite peaks on one side and the Dyrfjöll Mountains on the other. Hiking in Dyrfjöll Mountain is very popular and a once in a lifetime experience. Less commonly known as Bakkagerði, this village allows you to witness driftwood sculptures, hidden elves, and crying seabirds that exude a magical charm. It is one of Iceland’s most accessible places for viewing nesting puffins. Just at a distance of 5 kilometers from the Wee Church, there is a photogenic small-boat harbor. The islet of Hafnarhólmi, home to a large puffin colony is also located there. You will find staircase and viewing platforms that allow a close view of these clumsy creatures as well as other seabirds.

The puffins arrive at Hafnarhólmi by mid-April and leave this place by mid-August. During summers, you can enjoy midnight sun viewings from the islet. Borgarfjörður Eystri is known to be the safest place in Iceland to see puffins. Few boardwalks and viewing platforms have been erected at this place so that people can get close to the puffins without damaging their burrows. Iceland’s best summer concert festival named ‘Bræðslan’ is organized in Borgarfjörður Eystri. It has got a reputation for great music and an intimate atmosphere. Many renowned personalities including Emiliana Torrini and Damien Rice have also visited this famous summer festival.

Borgarfjörður Eystri in East Iceland

What to Expect around Borgarfjörður Eystri?

There is a nature reserve present around Borgarfjörður Eystri that is known as Álfaborg, meaning Elf Rock. The small mound and nature reserve is the ‘borg’ that lead to the name of this village. This majestic rock looks like a natural fortress. It is located in the middle of the mouth of  Borgarfjörður-Eystri. On the rock, there is gravel plain, grass, and an easy hike to the top. The rock is called Álfaborg or the City of the Elves as it was a common belief that the rock was the manor of the highest-ranking amongst the elves, such as chieftains and the King and Queen of the elves in East-Iceland. In this area, it is believed to be a myriad of elves. Many local people believe that the queen of Icelandic elves lives here. From the top of Álfaborg rock, you will get a beautiful view of surrounding fields.

On the doorstep to Álfaborg cliff, situated at the outskirts of the village, there is a popular Bakkagerðiskirkja Church. Formerly, the church stood at the parsonage Desjarmýri, the present structure was consecrated in 1901. This white church boasts an exceedingly notable altarpiece, painted by the famous artist Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval in 1914. Christ is portrayed giving the Sermon on the Mount, standing on top of the cliff with the Mountains as a background. This masterpiece is one of the most famous works of Kjarval’s that attracts tourists visiting Borgarfjörður. While visiting this area, you will find the beautiful, photogenic turf house Lindarbakki. A little red-painted turf house in Bakkagerði village draws the attention of travelers. Being the architectural heritage of Iceland, the turf houses are no longer in practice these days. Lindarbakki is a privately owned turf house that is inhabited in the summertime, the only turf house in Iceland with an inhabitant. 

Borgarfjörður Eystri in East Iceland

How to Reach Borgarfjörður Eystri ?

Borgarfjörður Eystri is located at a distance of 675 kilometers North-East from Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland. You can travel in the summer season and see puffins, or in the autumn or winter, and witness the Northern Lights. It is recommended that you go to Borgarfjörður Eystri by renting a car and self driving around the country. If you are starting from Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, move on to Ring Road 1 towards North Iceland.  Drive on this ring road for about 7 hours and 30 mins. It is highly recommended that you make this a multi day trip. We recommend at least 7 days. And you should definitely stop on some of the beautiful attractions that will be on your way. 

Borgarfjörður Eystri in East Iceland

Borgarfjörður Eystri on a map

Interesting locations in the area

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