Iceland Whales: Where is the Best Whale Watching?

husavik whale trip

Iceland is well-known as a premier destination for whale watching. The fact is, if you are traveling to Iceland you need to check out Iceland whales! 

This article will discuss Iceland whales, the best whale watching tour Iceland style, more specifically whale watching Reykjavik tours, and the best time to see humpback whales in Iceland. Whales are fascinating creatures. With that in mind, we’ll go over some facts you should know to make the most out of your Iceland whales tour.

icelandic whales

The Different Types of Iceland Whales 

There are nine types of Iceland whales you should know about. 

  1. Humpback Whale

    The Humpback Whale is a stunning black-and-white creature with long flippers reaching up to ⅓ of its body length. Their fluke has a particularly distinctive black and white pattern, and this particular feature helps people distinguish it from other types of Iceland whales. These guys stay underwater anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes before making a surface appearance.  Humpback Whales like to live in small groups, and during mating season, the males can produce some fantastic sounds, known as whale songs, to get the female’s attention. There are approximately 

    70k and 100k humpbacks worldwide. The best time to spot Humpback Whales and other types of whales is June, July, and August. 

  2. Killer (Orca) Whale

    Killer Whales (also known as Orcas) also have the beautiful black-and-white combination with a grey patch behind their dorsal fin. They have large and rounded flippers. Killer Whales are fast swimmers, and they tend to spend a lot of time on the surface of the ocean. They are incredibly social animals and carry strong family ties. You can experience orcas Iceland style by checking out activities like swim with orcas Iceland tours.

  3. Minke Whale

    Minke Whales are smaller in size. In addition, they have a sleek body shape, are black and white or dark grey in color, and have a white belly. Minkes’ flippers have a narrow profile and pointed tips. These guys can stay underneath the water anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes and reach depths of up to 100 meters. Minke Whales are naturally curious and approach boats when they get a chance. As a result, if you plan to experience a whale watching tour in Reykjavik, you might spot Minke Whales!

  4. Sperm Whale

    Sperm Whales are the largest in the toothed whale family. Its appearance is wrinkly, and its coloring is an evenly distributed grey hue with a few patches on the belly. Sperm Whales can dive as deep as 3000 meters. They also tend to favor more extended underwater stays, sometimes up to two hours without resurfacing. It is estimated that there are approximately 1 million sperm whales around the world.

  5. Blue Whale

    Blue Whales are the largest animals on earth and are known as the ‘King of the Sea.’ They are by far one of the most stunning sights you can spot when whale watching. Whale watching Europe lists places in Husavik, Iceland, as the number one spot to see a Blue Whale. Remember how we mentioned that they are the largest animals on earth? We forgot to say that dinosaurs are included in that statement! 

  6. Fin Whale

    Since we just mentioned how Blue Whales are the biggest animal on earth, we should let you know that the Fin Whale is the second biggest. They are quite sleek-looking, and they can dive as deep as 250 meters. They like to hang out with Blue Whales, and there is some cross-breeding between them. Currently, they are in danger and have been protected since 1966. 

  7. Sei Whales

    Also sleek looking, Sei Whales claim the trophy as the fastest swimmers in the whale family. They can stay under the water for up to 20 minutes, but they do not generally dive too deep. Similar to Fin Whales, they have been protected since the mid-70s. 

  8. Bottlenose Whale

    These guys have a unique shape to their beak that is reminiscent of a dolphin. Bottlenose Whales have a plump and long body shape with small rounded flippers. Something interesting about these guys is that only the males get teeth, and only in adulthood. Similarly to Sperm Whales, they can dive up to 1000 meters deep. 

  9. Pilot Whale

    Pilot Whales have a very distinct dorsal fin that is set ahead of the mid-body. These guys, unlike Bottlenose Whales, have anywhere between 38 and 46 teeth. They can stay underwater up to 10 minutes and reach depths of 600 meters. Pilot Whales are very social and move around in large schools.

    whales in iceland

When is the Best Time to See Iceland Whales?

The peak seasons to experience the best whale watching in Iceland are June, July, and August. Beginning from the end of March to the end of November, there are many tours from Husavik. Reykjavik operates tours all year long. The good news is that 98% of the tours that go whale watching manage to spot whales! 

Points of Departure for Whale Watching

Depending on where you will be staying in Iceland, there are many departure points and options for the best whale watching tours. 

Whale Watching Iceland Reykjavik

Typically, tours from Reykjavik have a 99% chance of spotting a whale. Tours from Reykjavik are available throughout the year, and some of the most common whales you should expect to see are Minke Whales and Humpback Whales.

Whale Watching Iceland Husavik

Similarly to Reykjavik, tours departing from Husavik report a 99% chance of spotting whales. However, tours from Husavik are only available from April to November. The most common whales you can see from Husavik include Blue Whales, Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and White-Beaked Dolphins. 

Whale Watching Iceland Akureyri

The chances of spotting a whale from Akureyri are slightly diminished, but still very good at 95%. Tours from here are available throughout the year, and the most common species you can spot are Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and Harbour Porpoise Whales.

Whale Watching Iceland Hauganes

When departing from Hauganes, there is a 99% chance that you will spot a whale. Tours from here are available from April through December, and the most common whales you will spot include the Humpback Whale, Minkes Whales, and Harbor Porpoise.

whale trip

Experience an Iceland Whale Watching Tour Today

There are a few other spots for whale watching if you are on a mission to see Iceland whales. As a general rule, people are reporting more enjoyment and successful sightings during the summer months. We hope we managed to give you some useful information and starting points for your whale watching adventures in Iceland. 

Talk to us at to learn how to begin planning your Iceland adventures.  With us, you can rent a camper van in Iceland to enjoy this island at your own leisure.

reykjavik whale

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