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Whale Watching Tours in Iceland

Best selection of whale sightseeing tours

Whale watching in Iceland. We offer scheduled whale watching tours from Reykjavik and in North Iceland. During summer you might also see puffins...
If you have a rental car we recommend driving to Dalvik village in North Iceland for a whale watching tour, they have the highest success rate.

From Reykjavik

Our selection of tours departing daily from Reykjavik harbor.

Combo Tours from Reykjavik

Combine your whale watching tour with another exciting tour from Reykjavik - double adventure!

From North Iceland

Whale watching tours departing from North Iceland

From West Iceland

Whale Watching Tours departing from the West of Iceland, including the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Multi-Day tours with Whale Watching

These multi-day tours include whale watching as an activity

Why Iceland Is One of the Best Places in the World to See the Whales

Some of their unique characteristics make the Icelandic waters especially rich feeding grounds and easy for the whales to survive in. Most of the whale species feed on zooplankton, krill and small fish which flourish in cold water in the polar regions.

The warm and cold currents; the tectonic fissures which allow heat to escape from deep in the ocean floor; the long summer daylight in which zooplankton flourish attracts whales of many kinds.

Iceland Is One of the Best Places in the World to See the Whales

Iceland Is One of the Best Places in the World to See the Whales

About Whales in General

All whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to group, called Cetacea. Despite sharing many common features, whales are not fish but mammals.

There are more than 80 Cetacea species which are classified into two suborders: the baleen whales, who have baleen - a row of plates - inside their mouths that a filters plankton, krill, and small fish. Blue and humpback whale belong to this order for instance.

The other order is the toothed whales, which include the dolphins, porpoises, orcas and the sperm whales. The toothed whales use their teeth to capture their food. They feed on fish and squid.

Whales are warm-blooded animals, they breathe air through their lungs, and they give birth to live young which they then nurse, often for years.

Whales are warm-blooded animals, they breathe air through their lungs

Whales are warm-blooded animals, they breathe air through their lungs

What Whale Species Can Be Found in Icelandic Waters?

Around 23 cetacean species frequent the waters off Iceland, 8 of which are seen quite often on whale watching tours. You are most likely to see:

  • Humpback whales
  • Blue whales
  • Minke whales
  • White-beaked dolphins
  • Harbor porpoises

The Humpback Whale

Humpback whales are seen very frequently on whale watching tours in Iceland.  They are also known as the liveliest creatures of the large sea mammals. They roll over, leap, slap and splash with their fins and flukes on the surface. Sometimes they stick their heads up out of the water, showing curiosity towards the boats.

Where and When to See Humpback Whales in Iceland: These energetic and tourist-friendly behaviors bring pure joy to everyone. There is a pretty good chance that you will see a humpback whale on any whale watching tour in Iceland, especially in North and West Iceland.

The Blue Whale

The blue whale is the largest animal on earth. The longest blue whale on record measured over about 200 tons two times heavier than the largest of the dinosaurs. Blue whales are most commonly seen on whale watching tours from North Iceland in summer.

The Minke Whale

Minke whales are the other most common type of whale spotted around Iceland. They are also known for their curiosity and for approaching the boats closely. Sometimes they dive under the boats and then stick their heads up out of the sea. This behavior is called spy-hopping. They are most commonly seen in the summer months around north and west Iceland. They prefer shallow waters and the coastal areas.

Porpoises and Dolphins

The harbor porpoise is one of the smallest cetaceans. They are abundant all-around Iceland and sightings are quite common on whale watching tours in the summer.

White-beaked dolphins are very playful and sociable. They travel in groups of 5 - 50 individuals and are often curious about motor boats. They sometimes follow them, jumping and doing all sorts of tricks. They are commonly seen on whale watching tours all year round.

Minke whales are one of the the most common types of whale spotted around Iceland

Minke whales are one of the the most common types of whale spotted around Iceland

The Best Time to See Whales in Iceland and Success Rates

The best time for spotting whales around Iceland is the summer: June, July, and August. Whale watching tours are often combined with sea angling and puffin watching.

The high season for whale watching starts in April and lasts until mid-October. However, many whales stay in the Icelandic waters throughout the year. The success rate of the summer tours is over 95%, in the north, this is even higher at 98%.

Herring and other small fish are abundant in the waters in the winter. Many toothed species, for example, dolphins and orcas stay around Iceland throughout the year, but sightings of humpbacks and minke whales are certainly not uncommon either. The success rates in winter are still quite high, around 90%.

Orcas stay around Iceland throughout the year

Orcas stay around Iceland throughout the year

What Happens If You Don’t See Any Whale on the Tour?

If your tour is cancelled due to unfavorable circumstances, you can book another departure or get a full refund. If you went on the tour and there were no sightings at all, you will be offered a free ticket so that you can go on another tour.

What are The Best Places to go Whale Watching in Iceland?

 

  • Dalvík
  • Reykjavík

Whale Watching from Dalvík

Dalvík sits on the shores of a beautiful fjord called Eyjafjörður in magnificent fjord scenery.  Dalvík is a small fishing village with a population approximately 1400 inhabitants. The ferry to Iceland’s northernmost island departures from here. Tiny Grímsey is still an inhabited island and is quite famous because the Arctic Circle crosses it.

Humpbacks, white-beaked dolphins, minke whales and harbor porpoises are most commonly spotted from Dalvík. Sometimes even the majestic blue whale visits the bay. Just like in Húsavík, the success rate on Eyjafjörður is around 98%.

Whale watching from Dalvík

Whale watching from Dalvík

Whale Watching from Reykjavík

Whale watch tours from Reykjavík are available all year round. There are departures on a daily basis from the Old Harbor, which is located within a short walking distance the downtown area.

The whale watching boats sail out towards the Faxaflói bay, where mostly white-beaked dolphins, harbor porpoises, and minke whales are frequently seen year-round and with a great number of humpbacks showing up in the summer.

Whale Watching from Reykjavík

Whale Watching from Reykjavík

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