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Whale-watching in Iceland

  • Iceland

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 21 March, 2024

Iceland’s pristine waters are among the best places in the world to spot wild whales. Tour boats take you out into the North Atlantic to see these gentle giants as they pass Iceland on their annual north–south migration, especially the main feeding and breeding season from May to November.

Humpback and minke are the most commonly sighted, but with luck you might also see sei, fin and, very occasionally, blue whales. Humpbacks – the most curious and playful of all the whales, so the best for whale watching – congregate in the far northern fjord of Eyjafjord.

The town of Husavik is the main base for whale watching, although it’s also possible to take tours from nearby Akureyri. Tours from Reykjavik head to wildlife-filled Faxafloi Bay, where dolphins, porpoises and puffins are also regularly sighted.

The tours guarantee sightings (or you get a free trip) and it’s common to see the whales up close. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be treated to a breach – an unforgettable display of whale acrobatics, in which the animals leap from the water before smashing back down in an explosion of spray.

Logistics

Price from: £70
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 3-4 hours

Getting there & doing it

Tours depart from Husavik, Akureyri and Reykjavik, and last between two and four hours. There is generally a choice of cheaper, but larger, boats with more tourists that cannot get as close to the whales, or more expensive, smaller RIB boats (max 12 people) that can get much closer.

Trips often get cancelled at short notice for bad weather, and if you don’t spot whales, you get a complimentary second chance – so plan this trip early in your vacation, to allow the opportunity to reschedule if needed.

When to do it

Tours generally run up to five times daily from April to October, less so in winter months, due to the longer periods of daylight.

Whales can be spotted all year round, but summer months from May to September are the time to go, when the whales congregate or migrate past, the weather is warmer and the days are longer. Winter sightings are sporadic.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Whale Watching from Downtown Akureyri

  • Akureyri

Experience the incredible humpbacks in the Eyjafjord on board our comfortable sight seeing ship. Family friendly and great value whale watching tour operated up to 4 times a day from Akureyri in North Iceland. Elding is an environmentally friendly company and recognised worldwide for its environmental efforts. The aim, mission and goal is to minimise the operational impact on the environment while offering an unforgettable experience at sea.

Price $99

Min age 0

Rating 4.54 / 5 [525 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Whale Watching Cruise on a Yacht in Reykjavik

  • Reykjavik

Join our 3-hour whale watching cruise, starting in the Old Harbour, and traveling through the spectacular Reykjavík Coast. Our whale watching tour focuses on Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, Orca Killer Whales, and other marine wildlife. Please note, the tour takes place in wild nature, sightings cannot be predicted or guaranteed. If there are no sightings on the tour, we do not offer refunds but instead, we offer our passengers a free return to join our tour depending on availability, valid for up to three years. Weather is a big factor for the tour, and we may have to cancel the tour. Additional Information We also offer private yacht rental in Reykjavík. Whether it’s a romantic cruise or an evening sailing adventure for all your friends, we’ve got you covered.

Price $89

Min age 0

Rating 4.37 / 5 [480 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavik

  • Reykjavik

Experience the best Iceland has to offer with spectacular Whale Watching opportunities. Our tours offer a unique experience and we do our best to make this a lifetime experience for you. A Whale Watching adventure departing from Old harbour in downtown Reykjavik. We sail into Faxaflói bay in search of Minke and Humpback whales, Dolphins, Harbour porpoises and Killer whales. On this tour, you will also experience the spectacular views of the mountains and islands around Reykjavik as well as the wonderful bird life. On board we have warm overalls, heated spacious indoor cabins, a nice bar and free WiFi.

Price $85

Min age 0

Rating 4.32 / 5 [460 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Whale Watching & Dolphin Yacht Cruise

  • Reykjavik

Join Harpa Yachts for a Comfortable Whale & Dolphin Watching Cruise departing from Reykjavik Old Harbor. Sail from downtown Reykjavik to Faxafloi Bay in search of whales and dolphins. Depending on the season, marvel at diverse wildlife amidst Reykjavik's picturesque scenery. Witness puffins during summer, an exclusive sight from mid-May to mid-August. Harpa Yachts, a family-owned business, ensures a lifetime experience with decades of expertise. Both Harpa and Amelia Rose are suitable for groups of all sizes, featuring cozy interiors, lounges, bars, salons, and spacious outdoor areas with a flydeck.

Price €83

Min age 0

Rating 4.45 / 5 [373 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Traditional Oak Ship Whale Watching Tour From Husavik

  • Akureyri

Experience the Original Húsavík Whale Watching tour that has built a reputation for the town of Húsavík as the capital of whale watching in Iceland.

Price €87

Min age 0

Rating 4.47 / 5 [373 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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