Discover whale watching tours in Iceland from Reykjavik and from Dalvik in North Iceland. Arctic Adventures brings you to the best places for whale watching on the island.
Scheduled whale watching tours are available year-round from various Iceland harbors. Find the best whale watching tours, locations, seasons, and attire in our FAQ section. Browse our tour selection with options for all ages and plan your next adventure!
Whale Watching Tours Departing from Reykjavík
Arctic Adventures’ whale watching tour from Reykjavík departs from the city’s old harbour and sails out onto Faxaflói Bay.
The waters surrounding Reykjavík are home to Minke whales, Humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises which you’ll hopefully spot from the boat. Our qualified guides will provide you with all the information and insights you’ll need to know about Iceland’s maritime wildlife.
In general, the full tour lasts 2.5 to 3.5 hours, with the boat rarely traveling further than 15 km from the harbor. Each passenger on board will be provided with a special wetsuit to keep them warm and dry. If the weather is in your favor, there’s no better place to be on a sunny day in Reykjavík.
Whale Watching Tours in the North of Iceland (Dalvik)
If you’re based in the north of the country, a whale watching trip from Dalvik is the ideal option for you. Arctic Adventures’ northern whale watching tours have a 98% success rate when it comes to whale-sightings.
Humpbacks are spotted the most, while Minke whales and dolphins are also commonly sighted. If no whales are spotted, which rarely happens, customers will be given the option of partaking in a later tour, virtually guaranteeing you the opportunity to see Iceland’s mighty ocean giants!
Whale Watching Tours Departing from West Iceland
Whale Watching as Part of a Multi-Day Tour in Iceland
Keeping an eye out for Iceland’s majestic ocean giants is but one of many great adventure tours to be taken while visiting Iceland. Why not join us on a multi-day tour to experience as much of the land of fire and ice as possible?
About Whale Watching Tours in Iceland
Whale watching tours are a fun activity that can be enjoyed by travelers of all ages and group sizes. Our tours have a 98% success rate for whale sightings thanks to the favorable Icelandic waters.
Whales populate the area year-round due to the unique sea conditions. The currents that move around the island create the perfect mixture of hot and cold that blends in the Icelandic fjords. These fjords are filled with krill and fish, making the area an ideal feeding ground for whales and cetaceans alike.
On our tours, witness a variety of species glide through and breach the waves! Discover tours from Reykjavik, Dalvik, and Western Iceland and as part of our multi-day tour options. For visitors who want to add an extra adventure to their excursion, enjoy a two-part tour like our Rafting & Whale Watching tour.
For more information on what to expect and how to prepare, check out our Guide to Whale Watching information page.
Responsible Whale Watching
Whale watching tours provide an opportunity for tourists to learn about these impressive animals. Through education, tours promote the protection of whales and their habitats. Irresponsible whale watching practices, however, can lead to short and long term negative impacts on sea life. To ensure the safety of these creatures, Arctic Adventures has joined the Icelandic Whale Watching Association ( IceWhale), a nonprofit organization of Icelandic whale watching operators.
As proud members of IceWhale, we adhere to the IceWhale Code of Conduct and are committed to following the highest possible standards on all our tours. Through our efforts, we hope to create a precedent of responsible whale watching. You can find more on our safety practices on our Responsible Iceland Whale Watching page.
The Best Whale Watching Tours in Iceland
Whale watching tours in Iceland have an incredible success rate. With up to 24 different species swimming around the island and tour operators taking people out on boat tours all around the country, your options are endless. But then one might ask, “How do you choose the best Whale Watching tour?”
First you need to think, “Where will I be traveling to in Iceland?”
If the whole trip is planned with accommodation in Reykjavík, your options will probably be limited to whale watching tours heading out from the capital. Still, your options are plentiful, so there is no need to worry!
- If you are looking to get as close as possible to the whales, we recommend joining one of the Rib boat options.
- If you are looking to make the most of your day, we offer several combinations of whale watching and other exciting activities.
Best Whale Watching Tours from Reykjavík in Summer
Best Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavík in Winter
Combine the magic of two popular day tours in one: Whale Watching and Northern Lights.
Whale watching season lasts all year round in Reykjavik but it’s only in winter that you can experience the bright Northern Lights!
Hop on our whale watching cruise from the Old Harbor for an afternoon adventure of whale and dolphin watching. When night falls board our mini bus to hunt for the ephemeral Aurora Borealis.
Enjoy our Whale Watching from Reykjavik Tour and Magical Auroras – Northern Lights Tour in one excursion and save on both! Your tour includes free photographs of you and the aurora so you can remember this awesome winter experience forever!
Best Whale Watching Tours for longer stays in Iceland
If you are staying in Iceland for some time and considering a multi-day tour or even a road trip around the country, your scope of options opens up even wider. There are whale watching tour operators all around the island and you can meet up for an adventure at every corner of the country.
You’ll still get closer to the whales on Rhib boats and you can make the most of your day by mixing the whale watching experience with another activity or sightseeing. The main difference will be in your numerous harbor options, and as a result, your possibility
Rhib Boat Whale Watching from Dalvík for those doing a self-drive road trip in summer or 6 Days Around Iceland Adventure for those looking to explore the whole country with a whale watching tour included.
The Best Place to go Whale Watching in Iceland
- Eyjafjörður in North Iceland
- Out from Reykjavík
There are many brilliant places around Iceland where you can observe whales in their natural habitat. Because Iceland is an island and Icelanders mainly live on the coastline, accessibility to harbors and the ocean is excellent. With the great range of tours, you can easily set off on a whale watching exhibition from the capital’s downtown area or even set sail from the tiny little fishing village in the Westfjords.
Whale Watching From Reykjavík
Whale watching tours from Reykjavík are available all year round. They take off from the charming Old Harbour near Geirsgata Street, often recognized by the nearby complex of light teal colored houses. The most common whales seen on tours from Reykjavík are playful humpback whales and curious Minke whales. During the summer months, birdlife is an added bonus with regular puffin sightings!
One of the benefits of joining a whale watching tour from Reykjavík is that you can easily do another tour the same day or break up your city exploring, as the tour is only three hours in total. The views during the tour are over the shoreline of Reykjavík, its colorful houses, the musical hall Harpa, and often to the island of Viðey.
Whale Watching in North Iceland
Our whale watching day tours from Dalvík have had such amazing success in recent years that the tour is refunded in the rare case that you don’t see spot whales during the tour. All along Eyjafjörður, you will find small villages specializing in whale watching tours. This isn’t much of a surprise given that Eyjafjörður is an ultimate favorite of many different whale species, including the rare blue whale!
In the north, the picturesque mountain Kaldbakur stretches up high over the sea, narrow springs trickle down the hills, and a colorful lighthouse rests on an isolated island in the middle of the fjord. There is something truly powerful about sailing around Eyjafjörður. With whales popping up in various spots, the biggest concern is which whale to visit first!
Other Whale Watching Locations in Iceland
Which whales can be seen in Iceland?
The Giants of the Sea, the Royalty of the Ocean, or Hvalir (as we like to call them in Icelandic) have always fascinated Icelandic locals. Whales are mammals and belong to the cetacean family of large aquatic mammals, which also includes dolphins and porpoises.
Whales are creatures of the open sea, where they live, mate, give birth, feed, and raise their young ones. Whales vary a lot in length and range from 2,6 m (8,5 ft) and 135 kg (298 lb) to 29.9 m (98 ft) 190 metric tons (210 short tons).
About 24 different species of whales/cetaceans have been spotted in the waters around Iceland.
One of the most commonly spotted whales is the humpback whale. They’re also considered among the most photogenic. Humpbacks aren’t shy at all and often approach tour boats, gliding right beneath them or swimming only an arm’s length away. They are vigorously acrobatic and like to flap their fins, jump up in the air, and whip their tail, causing quite the scene and the perfect moment to snap a picture! For information on other whale species in Iceland, read up on our Guide to Whale Watching information page.
When is Whale Watching Season in Iceland?
If you’d asked this question just a few years ago, our answer would have been only spring and summer. But with climate change, whales are now visiting Iceland all year round. Winter or fall (September-March) visits to Iceland mean fewer tourists and therefore small groups on tours and more one-on-one time with the guides, allowing you to ask all the questions you might have about these ocean giants.
Spring and summer (April-August) are still the seasons when you are most likely to see the whales with their offspring. It’s also the only time to see puffins during tours.
- Warmer Weather
- Vibrant Maritime Life Including Possible Puffin Sightings
- Fewer Tourists
- Beautiful Scenery
What to Wear Whale Watching
What do you wear whale watching?
To keep yourself warm and protected during your boat tour, we recommend warm layers, hats and gloves, and a waterproof jacket with a hood. During our tours we provide warm overalls to all our whale watchers! If you plan to go on an excursion in summer, pack sunglasses and a hat to shade you from the Midnight Sun. For more information on what to bring, check out our equipment list page!
FAQ About Whale Watching Tours
Is whale watching in Iceland worth it?
Absolutely! Iceland offers the best whale watching in the world. The unique blend of cold waters, warm currents, and fjords provides a rich feeding ground for whales of all kinds. Witness these mammoths of the sea up close as they jump and play right in front of your eyes. Our tours have a success rate of 98% no matter what season, guaranteeing that our adventure participants have an amazing experience every time!
Is whale watching safe in Iceland?
Yes. Whale watching is a very safe activity and tours are offered for all ages. Our whale watching boats follow strict safety regulations and are outfitted with safety equipment such as life jackets. Our licensed captains and crew follow protocol to keep not only our passengers safe, but our whale friends as well.
Can you go whale watching in Iceland in December?
Yes! While the spring and summer are the high seasons for whale watching due to the weather and migration patterns, we have tours available all-year-round. Winter tours are less crowded and are the perfect excursion for visitors to Reykjavik.
December tours present the rare opportunity to search for the Northern Lights out at sea! Book our Whale Watching Northern Lights tour for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Where can you see whales in Iceland?
Our tours operate all around Iceland. We have a wide range of whale watching trip options for tourists staying in different regions of the island. Popular tours leave from Reykjavik and farther up North from Dalvik. Travelers visiting West Iceland can enjoy our West Iceland Whale Watching tour, where they can see Icelandic orcas!
What are the chances of seeing whales in Iceland?
They’re amazing! The waters of Iceland are a favorite migration area for multiple whale species, with some species even living there year-round. During the summer you have a 95–99% chance of spotting whales on our boat tours. This doesn’t change much in the winter, but you might see more of certain whale types and less of others. We have whale watching tours offered throughout the year, like our tour from Reykjavik.
Best time to see humpback whales in Iceland?
Humpback whales migrate to Iceland during the summer months, traveling close to 8300 km in one direction! These sea giants are playful and known for their acrobatic tricks. Naturally, these ocean performers are a whale watching favorite. Due to migration and mating patterns, winter is the low season for humpback whale watching, but it’s still possible. Orcas tend to be more present during these colder months, and they also love to entertain visiting boats. Learn more about all the whales in Iceland on our blog.
Can you see Puffins on Whale Watching Tours?
Puffins flock to Iceland during the spring and summer, which is peak whale watching season. During this time the country hosts more than 60% of the World’s entire Atlantic Puffin population, with 8 to 10 million puffins inhabiting the island.
These bright birds can be spotted on mainland Iceland during their nesting season, as well as out at sea during whale watching excursions! Book our Whales & Puffins tour from Reykjavik, which includes a trip to “Puffin Island”!