Whale and orca watching in Norway
There are a lot of different whale species in Norway. Humpbacks, killer whales, porpoises, sperm whales, minke whales, blue whales and many more. You might think that it’s impossible to miss these giant marine mammals, but nothing is less true!
The sea around Norway is vast and the animals don’t always feel like showing off. You should therefore definitely take certain periods into account if you want to do some whale watching in Norway.
When is the whale watching season?
In fact, you can see whales and killer whales year round if you book an excursion in this Scandinavian country! But there’s certain times of the year where the big mammals are rather shy. Let me tell you about the best times to see whales:
Whale watching in winter
Humpback whales are almost always on their way. These giant marine mammals make a giant trek of a few thousand kilometers each year. From the warm waters around the Caribbean they head back to the ice-cold waters around Iceland and Norway… Year after year!
The warm seas are the perfect place for whales to mate and have their calves born. There are hardly any enemies and the water here is calmer. However, there is one big problem… There is almost no food here. Once the hormones have calmed down and the babies are born, the humpbacks must urgently replenish their fat reserves and the only place to do this are the much colder oceans in the north of this earth.
During the winter months there is an enormous supply of plankton and krill, which attracts fish. Lots and lots of fish! And those fishes… attract the whales back to Norway!
Therefore the winter months are the best time to see whales in Norway reappear again.
Big groups are often visible in different locations. The giants of the sea swim non-stop between the fjords looking for delicious food to get strong again, ready for their next trip to the Caribbean.
During the winter time, most whale safari’s are organized.
Best time to see the whales in winter?
From late October to mid January you’ll have an almost 100% chance of seeing whales in Norway. The animals are spread out from the Lofoten to Andøya (Tromsø region – there are also lots of other activities in Tromsø!). During these months there are a lot of whale watching safaris going on in Norway.
They take you on a RIB boat (small boat) or a big ship and navigate as close as possible to these giants without disturbing them.
Best places to see the whales?
In open sea it’s very difficult to see whales and orcas. You’ll get the best chances in between the fjords where there are a lot of fish on which the whales can hunt.
Whale safaris in Norway are mostly arranged from these places:
Whale safari in summer
Do you want to see the whales swimming around the beautiful Norwegian landscapes, but you’re not so fond of extreme winters? Then a visit to Norway during the summer might be more suited for you.
The humpbacks have already returned back south, but porpoises and killer whales (=orcas) are still present in large numbers around the fjords of the Lofoten. They are hunting year round here for food.
Best time to see them?
From the end of May to mid September, various excursions can be arranged to see whales. Once again you have the option to choose a RIB boat or a larger ship.
Best places to see them?
During the summer months there are fewer whales in Norway. If you want to book a whale watching safari, you must head down to the Lofoten:
Whale watching in Norway: what does it cost?
Whether you book a whale safari in Norway in summer or in winter; The price tag will be steep!
Norway is a very expensive country, and everything you do here will easily get very expensive.
Depending on the period in which you go, the type of boat you choose and the region where you do it you pay between $150/£111/€125 and $225/£166/€188 per person. This price usually includes transport to the location, an interesting guide, a hot drink and a small meal/soup.
Expensive, but an experience to never forget!
Booking a whale safari online
Unfortunately, the giants of the sea aren’t in Norway all year long, so you have to be quick if you wish to see them.
Because the Norwegians don’t want to deter the animals too much, they have a very ecological policy towards their whales. In order not to scare them away only a few boats daily are allowed near the orcas and whales.
As a result, many whale excursions are often fully booked for weeks in advance… If you’re sure that you’re going to Norway to watch the whales, I recommend that you already book the safaris beforehand.
Through these websites you will find several whale safaris in Norway:
Other places to watch whales
Norway is without a doubt one of the best places to see whales in the wild, but there are plenty of other places where you can see these giants of the sea.
Probably the best known place to see whales besides Norway, is Iceland.
In different locations around this beautiful country you can spot whales. Here you can see a lot more species than in Norway, but often in fewer numbers.
Whale safari’s in Iceland start at $100/£75/€85 per person.
If you prefer to see these giants on warmer conditions, you can head to Spain. Around the most visited islands of Spain, you can book quite some enjoyable whale watching tours. You’ll have the biggest possibility of seeing them from Tenerife. A whale watching tour in Tenerife starts at only $35/£25/€30 per person.
Another place where you can enjoy these giant mammals in slippers and shorts: Portugal! Thousands of miles in the sea lie the Azores. These islands are in fact located closer to Africa than to Europe. Once the whales have stuffed themselves in the cold waters of Norway and Iceland, they come here to breed and raise their calves. Closer to the main land, whales can be seen near Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve as well. Spotting whales in Portugal starts at $45/£33/€38.
Around the Dominican Republic you can also see a huge amount of whales. In some places you can even go swim with them, but this will cost you an insane amount of money. Normal whale watching tours -with plane transfers or helicopters- starts at almost $300/£220/€250.
Whales and orcas seem to love the colder oceans of this world, because in Canada too you can spot them. Most tours are organized from Vancouver, but you can also do a whale safari from Quebec or Victoria. These excursions start at $150/£110/€125.
Around Mexico you’ll find lots of wildlife. Besides the huge humpback whales, you can also find whale sharks here. You can see both sea creatures all around the country. Tours to see whales or swim with whale sharks start around $50 to $150 (£37 to £110 / €42 to €125).
If you happen to be in South Africa, you can also do a whale safari here! The best place to see these enormous creatures is from Cape Town. An organized tour costs around $80 to $150 per person. If you love marine life, you might also be interested in an encounter with a white shark. For $150 to $200 you can meet up close with these apex predators of the sea.
Whales sure do migrate far! All the way from Norway they swim up to the warm coasts of Australia. Pretty much everywhere around the east and west coast lines you can see the backs, tails and spout holes of these animals. For $50 to $70 you can spot them from a boat, but an even better experience is to swim with them! From the Gold Coast (near Brisbane) you can swim with humpback whales for only $110/£81/€92. An experience you’ll never forget, I bet!
Other tours and excursions in Norway
The whales of Norway are an incredible sight of mother nature, but there’s so much more to see in this incredible country! What did you think of hunting for the northern lights? Or a thrilling ride with huskies? Perhaps you prefer kayaking through the fjords? Norway has something for everyone!
Package deals to Norway
Are you interested in seeing this gorgeous country? There is a lot more to see besides the majestic whales!
Check out these adventurous tours:
Northern Norway Explorer
Introduction to Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen in Depth
Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.