When is the best time to see whales in Iceland?
The whale watching season in Iceland is really on year round although trips in the winter are more likely to be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather.
So the best time for whale watching is usually from March – September simply because of the weather. That is not to say that trips outside that time frame can´t offer a great experience as well.
You can find the local weather forecast in english right here. Also make sure to seek local advice about weather conditions on specific dates when you are planning to go whale watching.
Where can I see whales in Iceland?
Whale watching in Reykjavík!
The capital Reykjavík has a few whale watching operators that offer tours year round. Tours from there will usually include a 3-4 hour trip around the Faxaflói Bay area which is home to a number of species of whales.
There are a lot of companies offering tours from Reykjavík but we recommend this whale watching tour. It is good value for a 3 hour trip which is a beautiful, scenic boat ride with a very high rate of successful whale spotting. You can check out a video we shot below to see glimpses from this particular tour.
Whale watching outside Reykjavík!
There are companies all over Iceland that offer whale watching tours but the biggest ones are in the North Eastern towns of Húsavík and Akureyri.
Here is a great article we wrote a while back on how to spend a weekend in Húsavík that includes some mesmerising photos of breeching humpback whales! If you think this type of adventure would suit you, you can book the recommended Húsavík Whale Safari tour right here. It is available from April to November only though…
If in Akureyri however, here is the tour we can recommend. The only thing that can beat a boat trip through beautiful landscape is surely one where you also spot whales! If you are not sure, check out this review we did recently on this great tour.
What if the weather is too bad for boat trips?
In case of bad weather and sea conditions our recommended tours always offer a refund.
If you still want some whale related activity you can always visit an exhibition filled with live sized replicas of whales on display year round. A very educational and fun exhibition which was runner up in our Best of Reykjavík 2019 – Best Museum category! You can read more about it here.
There is also a very interesting Whale Museum in Húsavík you can visit in any weather, all year round.
What species of whales can be spotted around Iceland?
The most numerous population of whales around Iceland is that of the Minke Whale and you are very likely to encounter them on any local whale watching tour. Humpback whales are also spotted quite frequently as are pilot whales, dolphins and orcas. Majestic fin whales and even blue whales have been seen on numerous occasions but they are very elusive so you will be lucky to see one of them. For more detailed info on the species of whales around Iceland you can follow this link.
Other things to have in mind?
Whales are very intelligent and sensitive beings. The local tour operators we recommend are bound by an agreement to disturb the whales as little as possible. They don´t “chase” whales but rather quietly observe them.
Most local whale watching companies will provide you with some gear (life vest, protective clothing etc.)but we always recommend wearing warm clothes. Even in summer the weather out on the open ocean is bitterly cold.
Who are we?
We are your travel experts at the Reykjavík Grapevine! We have been publishing travel articles and reviews since 2004. Our main goal is providing our readers with the best local recommendation available so they can enjoy Iceland as much as we enjoy it. Feel free to follow us on social media for Icelandic news and some sound local travel advice and reviews. Also, check this article on everything you need to know about northern lights in Iceland!
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