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Whale watching in Iceland

Most of the places of interest in Iceland have to do with nature, and that also includes the impressive wildlife of course!
In the waters around Iceland, hundreds or maybe even thousands of gigantic marine mammals swim! Whales and killer whales are anything but shy and the chances are pretty much 100% that you see them when you arrange a boat trip to their favorite spots. Curious about the best places to see these animals, when to go or which whales you can spot in Iceland? Read on!

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whale watching in Iceland

Whale watching in Iceland

Throughout the year, whales visit the North Atlantic. Sperm whales, pilot whales, killer whales, porpoises, humpbacks, minke whales, common fin whales, gray whales, white dolphins, … These are only to name a few that you may encounter during a whale safari in Iceland. These gigantic mammals can be seen all year round in Iceland because there is so much food to be found here. Once their stomachs are well filled, they migrate to warmer waters to give birth to their calves. Because of this continuous migration, different types of whales alternate. But where do you get the most chance to spot whales and when is the best time to see them?

whales iceland reykjavik

If you’re very lucky, you might see one of these mastodons jump out of the water!

Best time to see whales in Iceland

Depending on which whales you want to see and the amount you want to see, it’s better to plan your trip to Iceland in a particular period. Let me tell you where and when you are most likely to spot these gigantic animals.

Whale watching in Iceland during the winter

During the winter, the whales migrate to other places where more fish can be found. From October / November, orcas and whales begin to navigate to colder waters because more food can be found there, while other species continue to the south to get gigantic babies there.
Yet that doesn’t mean that you won’t get to see whales in Iceland during the winter.

Minke whales are spotted around Iceland all year round. Humpbacks are slightly less seen in the winter, but they are still present. Dolphins and killer whales can also be seen all year round, and who knows, you might even encounter some seals.

The nice thing about the winter season is that you can watch whales in Iceland together with the northern lights. Some tours offer nightly excursions where you go looking out for whales and at the same time have a great chance to see the magic aurora borealis flare up.

Best time to see them?

In late October / early November and February to March you have a great chance to see whales around Iceland. You can see them both in the south and in the north of Iceland. Most whale tours depart from Reykjavik or Husavik, but nowadays there are other places where whale watching can be arranged as well.

Best places to see them?

From Reykjavik you get a lot of opportunities in the winter months to spot humpback whales. If you’re staying close to Akuyreyri I would certainly try to arrange a whale tour from here. This is where large populations of killer whales visit every year. Since recently there are also excursions from Hólmavík, from where you also get a great chance to see humpbacks in action. Finally you can also leave from Húsavik. During the winter months there are fewer whales here, but the chances are still quite big that you see some giants of the sea swimming along.

best time to see whales in iceland

Not only the whales and orcas of Iceland are beautiful! The landscapes are also breathtakingly beautiful.

See whales in Iceland during the summer

The best time to see whales in Iceland is during spring and summer. Thousands of whales will swim around the North Atlantic around Iceland from March to September. The summer months create an even more impressive spectacle to see these giants, because then the days become very long in Iceland and you can spot whales during the red-hot midnight sun!

Besides orcas, humpbacks, minke whales and dolphins you can now also see sperm whales, blue whales and other mastodons from the sea.

Best time to see them?

From March to September you’re actually quite sure that you see whales around Iceland. The chance is greatest in June, but you can also feast with your eyes during the rest of the spring and summer.

Because of the overdose of sunlight (the sun doesn’t even go down in the summer!), there is an abundance of krill and plankton, and that’s what some of these gigantic animals are mostly feeding on. Other fish also eat these tiny creatures, and these fish on their turn attract other whales. No less than 23 whale species can be spotted in Iceland during these months. You will not believe your own eyes with the diversity of these animals. Small whales (2 meters or 6,5 ft) to giants of 30 meters (100 ft) long can be seen in the waters around Iceland.

Best places to see them?

The summer months are big business for many port towns and cities in Iceland! Both in the north and the south, many tours are offered that go looking for whales. If you’re really unlucky and don’t get to see whales, then you almost always get the reassurance of being able to join a second tour for free. So, you could in fact say that you have a 100% chance to spot whales in Iceland!

The best places to see whales in Iceland include:

whale watching tour iceland

I dare say with certainty that you’ll not complain about doing a whale tour!

Whale watching tours in Iceland: price?

Whale watching in Iceland isn’t cheap, but fortunately much less expensive than seeing whales in Norway.
You pay at least $95 / £65 / €75 per person. Depending on where you leave, that price can rise to $125 / £85 / €100. This price includes a boat trip to the locations of the whales, a guide and often also a drink and small snack. The price also varies depending on what type of boat you choose.

You can choose a large boat or a RIB boat.
A large boat usually comes a bit less close to the whales but is more comfortable and you can also take shelter when the weather is bad. A RIB boat is a very strong inflatable boat that will get you very close to the whales.

Curious about prices of whale watching tours in Iceland? Look at these possibilities:


» All whale watching tours in Iceland

Book your whale safari online

Iceland is the best place to spot whales. That of course has to do with the big amounts you can see here. Yet the Icelanders don’t want to chase away the whales, so they only let a limited number of boats go on a whale safari on a daily basis. If you don’t look out, the tours will be sold out! If you’re certain of your vacation to Iceland, I advise you to arrange your tour for some time in advance. You can plan whale safaris online via:

whale watching reykjavik

The whales around Iceland are very friendly. Sometimes they even wave to you!

Other things to do in Iceland

Of course there is much more to see in Iceland than just these mastodons from the sea.
During the winter months you get a chance to see the mythical northern lights, you can enjoy the phenomenal glaciers or black sand beaches, you can climb or even enter volcanoes, ice caves and much more. For those who like to combine their whale safari in Iceland with another excursion, you can also spot puffins or other birds, or perhaps arrange a boat trip where you also have the chance to see the northern lights.

One thing is certain: there is a lot to see in Iceland! Curious about all possibilities or what it’ll cost? Check these deals:


» Alle tours en excursies in IJsland


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  1. Stella Gough says:

    When I went to Iceland then my favorite part on this trip to Iceland is watching the whales. They are looking so beautiful and cute…Thanks for this post.

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