Flatey island

Westfjords  >  Iceland

Flatey is the only inhabited island of the 3,000 small islets dotting the Breidafjordur Bay. It is the best place in Iceland to spot the Red Phalarope.

Added by Jens De Bruycker


Flatey is a very small island, only a 1,5 km or so long, with one dusty road leading from the ferry dock through the so called old village. No cars are allowed on the island. The island is a paradise for bird watching with over 30 different species during the breeding season. On the road from the ferry to the village look for Common Eider , Black Guillemot and White-tailed Eagle at sea. In every pond you see many Red-necked Phalarope

Flatey is the best place in the world to see Red-necked Phalarope up close. In the villlage you see plenty of Snow Bunting on the rooftops. On the island look out for the hyper aggressive Arctic Tern colony (especially in summer when defending their chicks) as they dive for your head when you get to close. Keep one arm (or stick) in the air to keep them at a distance. Past the village the road leads to sea cliffs with Atlantic Puffin and Northern Fulmar . The part of the island where the Red Phalarope breeds is closed to visitors, with very clearly placed STOP – DO NOT ENTER signs giving people no excuse to trespass. However, they can be frequently seen in the village, feeding in the grass at the feet of delighted birders. The best tactic for seeing Red Phalarope on Flatey is to go up to the church (check out the cool Jesus-with-Islandic-sweater murial inside) and walk along the fence which runs down to the sea. Set up your scope by the stop sign and wait, because sooner or later one is likely to feed in the bay below - this tactic does not work at low tide, the birds like to feed on the surface of the water, not on mudflats, so if the tide is low, you are better off looking elsewhere. Fingers crossed!



A ferrystop on the way between the Snaefellsnes peninsula and the Westfjords. The Seatours ferry to Flatey leaves from Stykkishólmur at 9 a.m. and arrives at 10:30 a.m. You can head back to Stykkishólmur at 13:15. 

Terrain and Habitat

City/village, Sea, Lake



Circular trail


Is a telescope useful?

Can be useful

Good birding season

All year round

Best time to visit

Summer, Spring


Unpaved road, Wide path

Difficulty walking trail


Accessible by


Birdwatching hide / platform


View birdingplaces in the area that are published on Birdingplaces.eu


Top 5 birds

Other birds you can see here


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