Iceland is open for travel. Check volcano updates here.

What to Wear for Whale Watching

Tips on How to Be Comfortable on a Whale-Watching Trip

|June 2, 2023
Konstancija is a writer who enjoys long walks and hikes in nature, "hunts" for second-hand goods, and is a frequent guest in public libraries where she loves to read and roam around stacks of books.

Planning your trip to see the whales of Iceland? One of the main questions is: What should you wear to go on a whale-watching tour to stay warm and comfortable? Here are some useful tips and a short list of the most important things to have.

We've all heard that the weather in Iceland is unpredictable, so whenever you decide to visit this magical country, be ready to experience all seasons at once. Because of this, packing for a trip to Iceland should be done with serious care, especially if you plan on going on a whale-watching tour. 

So what to wear on a whale watch? 

What to Wear for Comfort Whale Watching

Jumping Whale in Iceland

Tips on How to Be Comfortable on a Whale-Watching Trip

What to know before heading out on a whale-watching tour?

If you're curious about the best time to see whales, you'll be happy to hear that they can be seen all year round. Of course, if you're interested in seeing a particular species of whales (humpback whales, orcas, fin whales, blue whales, etc.), then it might be a good idea to check when and where they're most often spotted. To ensure you will get a spectacular view, check out some of the whale-watching tours in Iceland.

Whale Watching Clothes

Whale Watching From The Boat

Planning a fun-filled and memorable vacation takes some time and effort. But how many of us, during this process, think about responsible and sustainable practices that would prevent damage to nature and animals? While some might question the ethical point of view of whale-watching, it's revealed that this practice generates more funds and creates additional job spots. But most importantly, while on these tours, visitors learn more about the whales and their importance. It inspires them to be more curious about the matter and encourages others about responsible whale watching in Iceland

Even though you can spot whales all year, the best time for this activity is from April to early October. Their peak season is during summer, but it's still important to dress properly for whale watching. So where do we start?

What to wear for a whale-watching tour?

Besides the fact that the only predictable thing in Iceland is its unpredictable weather, you should also keep in mind that it feels much colder when you're in the water. While you’re set to see some unforgettable scenery, it’s highly important to keep yourself comfortable, warm, and safe, and a lot of this has to do with how to dress for whale watching.

Thermal wear

Boat Tour Outfit in Iceland

Boat Ride and Whale

If you're thinking about what should be the first important thing when preparing for a whale-watching tour, it's making sure that you're dressed in layers. It's perfect if you have some thermal wear that you can wear underneath your sweater and pants. A thermal layer will protect you from all kinds of weather and make you feel more comfortable outside during harsh weather conditions.

Now there's a wide selection of thermal wear, so how do you know which one is the most suitable? The usual and most comfortable choice is the one from Merino wool or Merino wool blend as this type of material is breathable and lightweight. So once you're with the base layer, you can put on other suitable clothing, including a sweatshirt or a pullover. 

Water and windproof jacket

Dressing Appropriately for Whale Watching in Iceland

Clothing on a Boat Tour

Continuing with layering, the following essential item is a water and windproof jacket. While you're on a boat tour, there's a high chance you'll get wet by the splashing water or sudden rain, so to keep yourself warm and dry, put on a weather and windproof jacket with a hood. 

Long pants

As much as you might want to dress up and look nice on the whale-watching trip with a colorful dress, skirt, or nice-looking shorts, unfortunately, the most comfortable piece of clothing, in this case, is a pair of long (and preferably windproof) pants.

 Observing Whales from Icelandic Boat Tours

Boat Tour for Whale Watching

(Warm) clothing accessories

Other essentials you'll need on your trip are (warm) headwear, gloves, and a scarf. In case you plan to watch whales during colder months, it's especially important to wear a cotton or wool hat and gloves to protect certain body parts from sometimes brutal and extreme weather conditions. During warmer months, cover your head from sunshine with a cap; it's good if it has a brim to stop sun rays from blinding you.

Whale Watching Clothes in Iceland

Outdoor apparel for whale watching


Comfortable footwear is an important factor during any trip. Because how can you admire the beauty you see if your feet are hurting or wet? Proper footwear can also prevent you from getting injured. For whale watching, wearing flat shoes with rubber bottoms is best, so you won't slip on the deck. This could be sneakers or lightweight hiking shoes that are sturdy and closed-toed.

What to take on whale watching trips?

Other essentials

Besides knowing what to wear on a whale-watching tour, having a backpack filled with essentials is crucial. What are these?

Boat Excursions for Whale Watching in Iceland

Capture Whale Moments

  • Sunscreen – Even on a cloudy day, you should always wear sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays or getting sunburn. Apply the sunscreen before heading to the waters, and don't forget to reapply it occasionally. 

  • Sunglasses – Your eyes should also be protected from UV rays; all you have to do for this is throw in your favorite shades. The sunglasses also help to see these magnificent mammals better once you're in the water and the sun starts to hit. 

  • Water bottle – It's extremely important to stay hydrated all day, every day. And having in mind that you'll be in the water for at least a few hours, it's best to have at least one bottle of water with you.  

  • Blanket – If you're heading to the tour during colder seasons, then prepare yourself for harsher and windier weather with a warm blanket. 

  • Extra pair of socks – It's better to be prepared than sorry, so to ensure your feet stay dry and warm, pack an additional pair of socks in case they get wet.

  • Snacks – Not all whale-watching tours provide travelers with food, so it's smart to check this information beforehand or throw in some of your favorite snacks into your bag.

  • Medicine for seasickness – If you haven't been on the water for quite some time, it's best to be prepared and bring some medication in case you feel nauseated. Those who know they have sea sickness should take the pill before stepping on a boat.

  • Camera – To make sure that your memories stay with you forever, bring a camera to capture these beautiful and precious moments. 

  • Binoculars – While sometimes you get the chance to see whales from up close, there are times when you can only spot them in the distance. For such cases, it's best to have binoculars that allow you to admire them from afar.  

  • Extra batteries or/and a charger – A whale-watching tour takes some time, and your phone or camera battery might die during this time. So have some extra batteries or a power bank for your phone to be able to capture your adventures without interruptions. 

  • Waterproof bag – No one wants their belongings (especially your electronics) to be ruined during the trip. One of the ways you can protect your possessions is by putting them into a waterproof bag. 


Every new adventure requires some preparation. While whale watching is among one of Iceland's most fun and memorable activities, many want to know what to wear for a whale-watching tour and how to prepare for it best. And if you have already packed your bag, continue the read with everything you need to know about whales in Iceland

With so much to see and do, time is precious when visiting Iceland. If whale-watching is one of the many activities you'd like to experience, why not consider a 6 day adventure tour around Iceland?


Recommended tours

Related blog posts