Iceland is best renowned for its stunning scenery and jaw-dropping landscapes, though there is much more to this wonderful land that first meets the eye.
Iceland is best renowned for its stunning scenery and jaw-dropping landscapes, though there is much more to this wonderful land that first meets the eye. There are a number of incredible animals that call Iceland home, and winter may possibly be the very best time to explore for yourself. Despite many of the marvellous land mammals found here from sheep, wild horses and arctic foxes, Iceland is also home to many different species of whales and other various marine life which must not be forgotten. In fact, there are upwards of 12 whale species living off the shores of Iceland. There’s one for the pub quiz.
Right, we know it can be cold but winter really is one of the best times to explore some of Iceland’s most beloved wildlife. In fact, to help convince you here’s how you can prepare for all weather when visiting Iceland.
As pointed out earlier, there are a number of different species of whale that can be seen swimming off the coasts of Iceland, from Orcas, Humpback to even blue whales. Luckily for you, there is a great opportunity to get out to sea and visit these majestic creatures in their natural setting with a number of great whale watching tours at your dispense. Wherever you might be heading to in the country, there is a good chance there will be someone offering a whale watching tour, course Húsavík is the most renowned destination for tours.
Where: Húsavík, Akureyri, Reykjavík, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Westfjords
If you intend to visit Iceland in the winter, yes it will be cold, but you will also have the opportunity to see the arctic foxes donning their fluffy white coat and playing in the snow. It makes standing out in the cold worth it, trust us. Something you will almost definitely not be able to see if you visit in the summer. As in the warmer months their fur begins to darken to black and brown in order to blend in with their natural surroundings. Sneaky!
As the country’s single native mammal, the arctic fox is a species that holds so much history to its name, and one we would strong suggest seeing in winter if given then chance.
Where: Westfjords, Hornstrandir
If ever there was an animal choses to represent winter, then surely in would be the reindeer? The reindeer was originally brought to Iceland from Norway for some agricultural purposes, such as farming (not for flying any sleighs, sorry!) in the late 18th century.
They can now only be found in East Iceland and can be found looking for lower grasslands and closer to the coast during the winter months meaning there is more chance of unexpectedly crossing paths with them in the colder months.
Where: Vesturöræfi, Brúaröræfi
The wild horse in a species most recognised in Iceland for having a better head of hair than most. You will most likely find these wonderful animals enjoying the most of the 100,000 square kilometres available to them by galloping across large open plains with their luscious locks blowing in the winter breeze.
The Icelandic breed of horse first found its way onto Icelandic shores with the Vikings back in 900 AD and since then have gone on to become an integral and much loved animal in Iceland. They can be tricky to come across, given the amount of open space they have available to run in, but if possible seeing a herd of wild horses run free is a sight to behold.
Where: Snæfellsnes Peninsula Skagafjörður, North Iceland
One of the most chilled out looking animals you can find. Iceland is home to 2 species of seal: the harbour seal and the grey seal. They have been here for many, many years - long before humans, in fact, with the cold, rocky shores providing a perfect spot for seal colonies to evolve over the years.
Walruses can also be found occasionally in and around the waters of Westfjords, too and were once a big part of Iceland’s wildlife before being hunted to extinction back in the 17th century.
Where: Westfjords, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Vatnsnes Peninsular
Despite the extremely harsh climates of Iceland there is an vast amount of incredible wildlife currently thriving all year around.
We know it can be cold, damp and unpredictable, but please do not be put off by winter, Iceland wildlife really does make up for it. Trust us. However, if it is a little off putting, perhaps this guide to Icelandic weather in the winter might be of help.
Roads in Iceland can be treacherous so if you’re planning on visiting during the colder months we’d strongly suggest reading this Road safety guide on the roads and taking the correct precautions before buckling up.