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Whale Watching Tours in Reykjavik

Whale watching in Iceland is one of the most popular and sought after activities in the area. Here are my favorite tours to see them.

Andressa García

Andressa García

12 min read

Whale Watching Tours in Reykjavik

Whales in Reykjavik | ©blackhawk32

Getting on a boat and going whale watching is one of those things you can't miss to see and do in Reykjavik during the summer period, which is the time when these wonderful species come to Iceland's shores to feed.

This is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have, especially during midnight in the summer. I will tell you the details about some of the most impressive experiences to see this species at its best.

1. Whale watching tour from Reykjavik's old harbor

Reykjavik Port| ©Jim Kelly
Reykjavik Port| ©Jim Kelly

During this activity aboard a large boat you will have the opportunity to depart from the coast of Reykjavik to the open sea to meet these wonderful species that come very close to Iceland. You will spend three hours enjoying the sea, the whales and the conditions of the boat inside.

One of the main objectives of this specific excursion is to have fun watching the whales but at the same time, the tour is completely friendly and respectful with the environment and the fauna that inhabits this area.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 76 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 3 hours of navigation.
  • Means of transportation: you will go by boat with all amenities to the whale watching area, which may change location depending on weather conditions. You must arrive on your own at the port from where the excursion will depart.
  • Advantages of this tour: it includes a live guide who explains in detail everything you need to know about whales and their habitat, you have access to thermal pants, raincoats and blankets. In addition, the entrance to the wildlife exhibit is included and you will have wifi on board during the whole tour.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: Gratuities are not included, nor are the various food and beverages you may want. Transfer to and from your hotel is not included.

Book your whale watching tour from Reykjavik old harbor

2. Whale watching from Faxaflói Bay

Faxaflói| ©Grace Note
Faxaflói| ©Grace Note

Faxaflói is one of the places where you can see the most whale watching in Iceland, which is why this is one of my favorite excursions. During the tour, which lasts just over three hours, you can not lose sight of the sea or leave your camera unattended to take pictures of beautiful species such as white-snouted dolphins, porpoises and of course humpback whales.

One of the biggest advantages and differences with others that this cruise has is that you have the whale watching experience practically guaranteed, since if during the day you do the tour, you can not see whales, you will receive an invitation to go again to see them. This is a perfect tour if you are visiting Reykjavik for a short time.

Details of interest

  • Price: this experience can have an approximate price of 78 euros per person.
  • Duration: about 3 and a half hours, or two and a half hours if you choose the express version.
  • Means of transport: to reach the port of Reykjavik you must do it on your own, while during the experience you will be aboard a cruise ship with all the comforts.
  • Advantages of this excursion: guaranteed sighting with an additional entrance fee and no charge in case during the trip the sighting is not achieved. You will have access to free wifi on board during the whole experience. Thermal overalls are included in the price, in case you need one, and also, if necessary, sea sickness tablets are included, if you need any. The interior area, where the seats are located, is heated, and an audio guide app is included, which is available in several languages, including Spanish. It is fully wheelchair accessible and works in all weather conditions.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: Gratuities are not included in the tour price. Meals and drinks are also not included, but you have the possibility to buy on board during the trip. Transfer from the hotel and back is not guaranteed.

3. Whale watching cruise for small groups

Whale Watching Tour| ©Gary J. Wood
Whale Watching Tour| ©Gary J. Wood

This is a private experience, where only you and your group participate. It is one of the best activities to do during your family visit to Iceland and things to do with children in Reykjavik, although children must be at least ten years old to participate in the tour.

During the cruise you will not only have the opportunity to see whales and dolphins, but also other natural species of Iceland such as the typical puffins, all this while having a fully personalized explanation of the whole species watching tour.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 121 euros per person.
  • Duration: this excursion can last approximately two hours from the time the tour starts at the port until you return to the starting point.
  • Means of transportation: to get to the port from where the experience starts, you will have to travel on your own, either by rented car or using public transportation. Once on board the cruise, the experience will continue on the open sea.
  • Advantages of this excursion: in addition to the whales, you will also have the opportunity to see dolphins, porpoises and puffins. A professional guide is included to narrate the whole experience. You are also entitled to use the overalls available to protect you from the cold. All the necessary safety equipment to go on board is included. Public transportation is nearby. In case you do not have sightings of these species during the tour, you will be offered an additional ticket to another tour.
  • Disadvantages of this excursion: transfer from the hotel and back is not included, although you have the possibility to request it for an additional charge. This experience is not recommended for people with back problems or for pregnant women. It is not an accessible experience for people in wheelchairs.

4. Puffin and whale watching cruise

Puffins Excursion| ©alh1
Puffins Excursion| ©alh1

In this experience the main idea is to get to see puffins, and this is one of the best puffin cruises in Reykjavik you will find, but additionally you will be able to see whales, both in their natural habitat, so it is a very interesting combined experience if you have little time to visit the island.

This experience is divided into two parts, the first part is a tour of about an hour along the coast of Reykjavik to see the puffins in their natural habitat. Later you embark into the open sea to enjoy whale watching. Although it depends on the departure time, the order of both experiences may change.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 100 euros per person.
  • Duration: this complete experience can last approximately 4 hours and a half.
  • Means of transportation: to get to the port from where you will depart with the whale watching experience, you will have to travel on your own. Once on board, the whole experience takes place on the cruise ship.
  • Advantages of this excursion: you will have a sighting of both whales and puffins in their natural environments. You have access to a heating suit in case you need it as an extra, you will also be able to use binoculars to appreciate the puffins during this experience. You will have access to an audio application of the experience that is available in different languages, including Spanish.
  • Disadvantages of this excursion: transfer from the hotel and back is not included, but it is possible to request this service at an additional cost.

Book your combined whale watching and puffin watching cruise

5. Whale watching tour with visit to Gullfoss and Geysir

Gullfoss| ©Nickspix
Gullfoss| ©Nickspix

During this tour you will depart from the coast of Reykjavik to go whale watching in the open sea. Once at the whale watching site your guide will explain everything you need to know about the whales and the different species you will see during the tour.

After you have finished your whale watching tour, it is time to continue to your next experience of this interesting excursion, visiting one of the best waterfalls in Iceland, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the great Geysir.

Details of interest

  • Price: this experience can be priced at approximately 165 euros per person.
  • Duration: it can last around 10 hours the whole experience, from beginning to end.
  • Means of transportation: the tour starts by bus, from your place of accommodation, to the port. From there on you will embark on a cruise. To go to the other sites of tourist interest you will go by equipped bus.
  • Advantages of this excursion: You are guaranteed a round trip transfer to and from your accommodation. All required taxes and fees are included. Also included in the trip is the accompaniment of an expert guide and you will have access to free wifi on board the bus. The vehicle that will take you to the boarding point and back is equipped and air-conditioned.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: food and beverages are not included. This tour is not wheelchair friendly. The weather must be good for the experience to take place, otherwise it may be cancelled. There is a minimum number of participants in this experience, if the minimum is not reached, then it is cancelled.

6. Sunny nights and whale watching tour

Sunny Nights| ©Hafsteinn Robertsson
Sunny Nights| ©Hafsteinn Robertsson

If you don't know what to do in Reykjavik in summer and want to have a truly unforgettable experience, I recommend you to take a midnight sun whale watching tour. One of the best things about this experience is that you will be able to see large numbers of these marine species in the dim but sufficient light of the Icelandic summer midnight.

One of the things that will surprise you the most during this tour is the tranquility of the sea at night. In addition, the sun, which never completely hides, will help you to see the different marine species that abound in the open sea. During the experience you will have access to an audiovisual that will teach you interesting details about the marine life in this area of the planet.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 75 euros per person.
  • Duration: approximately three hours from the time the boat leaves the port until you return.
  • Means of transportation: to get to the port you will have to get around on your own either by rented car or public transportation. After that, the tour is done by boat.
  • Advantages of this excursion: you will have access to the Whale Watching Center, it is possible to connect to the wifi on board during the whole excursion and you have at your disposal a professional guide. You will also be able to use a thermal coverall whenever you need it. It is fully accessible for wheelchair users.
  • Disadvantages of this excursion: meals and drinks are not included. Tips are not included in the price of the excursion. This experience may be cancelled due to bad weather.

7. Reykjavík shore excursion with whale watching

Reykjavik Coast| ©GYU
Reykjavik Coast| ©GYU

This experience is one of the most interesting because in addition to seeing the whales in the open sea, you have the chance to tour the entire south coast from Reykjavik, getting to know every landscape and tourist attraction. The first thing you will do is to go along the coast by land in a tour that will last no more than three hours.

Once the land experience is over, you will board a boat to continue the trip to the whale watching area and other marine species. The tour takes place around Faxaflói Bay, where there is approximately a 90% chance of seeing the species more easily.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 74 euros per person.
  • Duration: this trip lasts approximately four hours.
  • Means of transport: during your ride along the coast you will board a bus equipped with all comforts. Once the tour is over, you will board a boat where you will go out to sea to see the different marine species.
  • Advantages of this excursion: in case the sighting of marine species is not possible, you have an additional courtesy ticket to come back again. You also have access to wifi on board during the whole experience. You have access to thermal coveralls, both for you and your children.
  • Disadvantages of this excursion: drinks and meals are not included, nor tips to the tour guides. This experience is only available in good weather, so it may be cancelled due to unfavorable weather conditions.

8. Whale watching tour and trip to the Golden Circle

Iceland's Golden Circle| ©wandereringJ
Iceland's Golden Circle| ©wandereringJ

This combined experience is one of my favorites because it takes you to see some of Iceland's most beautiful scenery found in the Golden Circle and the volcanic crater of Kerid in Reykjavik, but also takes you on an excursion to see marine species native to this island.

The approximately ten-hour activity will start with whale watching and after this will take you directly to the most interesting places of the Golden Circle such as Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfalls or the thermal area of Geysir.

Details of interest

  • Price: about 148 euros per person.
  • Duration: this experience can last approximately 10 hours.
  • Means of transportation: initially you will board a boat to go whale watching, and then you will board a fully equipped bus in which you will visit the sights of the Golden Circle.
  • Advantages of this tour: you are guaranteed to get to and from the hotel. Live commentary is also included and you have access to thermal pants during the boat tour. You can use the free wifi on board.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: it is not wheelchair accessible. The weather must be good for the experience to take place, if the weather conditions are unfavorable, the excursion is cancelled.

Book your whale watching tour and visit to the Golden Circle

9. Whale watching and Northern Lights cruise

Aurora borealis from Reykjavik| ©Alexandro Lacadena
Aurora borealis from Reykjavik| ©Alexandro Lacadena

Although whale watching is considerably more likely during the summer months than during the winter; in the latter season it is still a valid option as an activity to do in Reykjavik in winter. In this case the combined excursion is to see whales and also aurora borealis.

This experience is done in two parts. During the first part, you will depart from Reykjavik harbor to the open sea looking for the Northern Lights, clearly one of the best ways to see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik. In the second part, you will go whale watching on the high seas.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 140 euros per person.
  • Duration: this experience lasts approximately 5 hours and a half.
  • Means of transportation: you must go on your own to the port, either by rented car or public transportation.
  • Advantages of this excursion: you do two excursions in one. You have wifi on board, plus access to thermal coverall if you need it and you are offered an additional ticket in case the whale watching is not successful. You have access to a tablet to kill sea sickness if you need it. You will be given access to a tour app that will be in Spanish, or other languages.
  • Disadvantages of this tour: Transfers to and from the hotel are not included, although you can pay extra for this to be included. Drinks and meals are not included in the price, nor are tips.

Book your whale watching and aurora borealis saving tour

What will I see on this type of tour?

Watching the Whale| ©Kim & Bing's Travel Photos
Watching the Whale| ©Kim & Bing's Travel Photos

During this whale watching experience, no matter what activities you combine this expedition with, you will always have the opportunity to see the most popular marine species in Reykjavik and all of Iceland.

Among the species you will see during this tour are humpback whales, white-snouted dolphins, porpoises and even, if you are lucky in some of these experiences you will see puffins typical of the Icelandic fauna.

Tips for a whale watching excursion

Whale and sun| ©Friðþjófur M.
Whale and sun| ©Friðþjófur M.
  • Take very warm and waterproof clothes so that you can go sightseeing in the open sea without feeling cold.
  • Also pack closed shoes, preferably boots that cover your feet well and do not allow the cold to circulate.
  • In case you go with children, do not forget to ask what is the minimum age to attend the tour, since in some experiences it is necessary to be at least 10 years old.

Frequently asked questions

  • When is the best time to see whales in Iceland?

    The best time to see whales in Iceland is between April and October, with June, July and August being the high season. That said, whale watching in Reykjavik is possible all year round. Although you will see the greatest number of species in summer, you will see whales and dolphins at some point regardless of the season.

  • What whales can I see in Iceland?

    Iceland is the most important whale watching spot in Europe for a reason, with a large number of different species coming to its waters, among them the mythical blue whale. You can also see orcas, minke, humpback whales, porpoises and white-beaked dolphins.

  • Where is the best place to see whales in Iceland?

    The north side of Iceland is more popular for whale watching due to the abundance of herring during the winter, attracting killer whales and sometimes humpback whales. The chances of seeing white whales are highest in winter on the north side. The south side, in comparison, offers more wildlife during the summer usually, and you are more likely to see sperm whales and minke, humpback and bottlenose whales.