When and where to see whales in Iceland? All the information you need to know

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If you are thinking about traveling to Iceland or you have already bought your flights whale watching is always a good option. But when and where to see them? We tell you when and where to see whales in Iceland in a unique and special way that you will never forget. Also, if it’s going to be your first time, its dimensions will surprise you, it’s a marvel!

Best places to see whales in Iceland

Depending on the place, the chances of seeing more or less cetaceans vary, as well as the number of species you can see. Therefore, it is necessary to choose well from where to go on any whale watching tour in Iceland

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

See whales in Ólafsvik

On the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, located in the west of Iceland, near Reykjavík, you can experience whale watching to the fullest, and not only that, it is the best place to observe orcas and sperm whales up close.

In Snaefellsnes, the Olafsvík whale watching is the most recommended. You travel the entire peninsula and see these cetaceans 100%. You’ll also enjoy dolphins, pilot whales, humpback whales, and minke whales.

Another plus point of seeing these giants in Ólafsvík, is that you can do the activity from April to October, you have more than half a year!

Snaefellsnes beach Iceland

Also, this peninsula is known for its rich nature and wildlife. So if you want to take your experience to the max, the Snaefellsnes day tour will offer you to enjoy the impressive west coast, passing by the waterfall and mountain of Kirkjufell. You’re sure to catch a glimpse of a puffin 😉

The best views and whales in Hólmavík

see whales in Hólmavik

Continuing with western Iceland, whale watching in Hólmavík is our highly recommended. You will be able to enjoy these giants of the ocean in a remote and spectacular place that will leave you speechless, incredible.

In short, get ready for the big show. You’ll get to see humpback whales jumping, to white-beaked dolphins and more species. These two hours will fly by!

Seeing these animals in the West Fjords is possible between June and September. These four months provide plenty of time and you’ll enjoy the most pleasant temperatures in the country during this season.

As in the Ólafsvík area, puffins live around there and you will be able to observe them first hand 🙂

Puffin Holmavik

Reikiavik and the giants of the ocean

If you’re traveling by plane, the capital of Iceland, Reikiavik, is sure to come your way.
But, it’s not the best place in the north to see whales; the chances of spotting them are minor.

That said, it is available all year round and if you travel a few days to the country you should see them in the capital or, as mentioned above, in the peninsula of Snaefellsnes, where you will see whales.

Hûsavik the north of Iceland

The harbor is lovely and cruising the waters of Skjalfandi Bay is a unique experience. The species you will see are the humpback whale, blue whale and other species such as porpoises.

The blue whale reaches about 99 ft (30 m) and is the largest animal in the world.

Hûsavik port boats

Whales around Akureyri

The adventure begins in the central harbor of Akureyri and continues into Eyjafjördur Fjord. The availability is year-round, so you can better choose the right time 🙂

The species that can be observed from here are the same as in Húsavík. That said, if you’re looking for urban sightseeing, Akureyri is a bigger city and a better option.

Akureyri city views

When to go whale watching?

Many factors should be considered before choosing when to embark on an Icelandic adventure in order to best enjoy its dreamy landscapes such as the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, go trekking on Fagradalsfjall volcano or, whale watching!

We know that finding the best time is complicated and personal, so we tell you everything you need to know for whale watching in Iceland depending on the season.

Living the adventure in summer

Without any doubt, we recommend whale watching in Iceland in summer, specifically during the months of June, July and August. It’s the best time!

As we told you in the daylight hours in Iceland according to month, during in this season you can enjoy a lot of sunlight and the midnight sun.

Midnight sun Iceland

Yes, we also recommend going between April and October because there are still many chances to see these mammals and experience special moments. All this is not an exact science and every year is changing, there are even people who have spotted whales in November.

We are talking about dolphins, orcas, different birds, and much more! You might be interested to know that the most typical whales of the place are the minke and humpback.

The best time to see them is in June and August because that is when they come closest to shore. The hourly availability of tours is complete and the weather is sure to be with you.

Enjoying the whales in winter

If your schedule is better to go in winter (if you travel between November and March), don’t worry! There are certain advantages to seeing Iceland’s whales during this season.

On the one hand, there will be fewer people, you can be the captain of the boat! And you’ll be even luckier if you get to see these mammals with the sky filled with the northern lights 🙂

Aurora borealis in Iceland

On the other hand, there are some living creatures that you can admire in winter and not in summer, such as the killer whale. In addition, you still have the opportunity to enjoy the white-beaked dolphin and the harbor porpoise.

You have the chance to experience adventure in places like Reikiavik and Hauganes, which remain openall year round. So you know, if you can only travel to Iceland in winter, there’s no excuse!

Now that you know when and where to see whales in Iceland all you need to do is grab a good coat, pack your backpack, and… off you go! Our favorite sites are the two in western Iceland, Ólafsvík and Hólmavík. And, which whale-watching site do you choose?


Lucia's life motto is "go with the flow". She lets herself go with the flow and joins any plan.

She has been lucky enough to travel to many different places, but her perfect trip is any place with sun, sand and sea. Indecisive by nature, she would not know how to choose between the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands in Spain, or between Mexican and Peruvian food. Maybe that's why she will never say no to a trip... She has to find answers!

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