Whale watching in Iceland
Iceland is the perfect location for whale watching. The cold waters off the coast play host to a diverse marine life. During the summer months in particular, the shores become a veritable feeding ground for multiple species of large marine mammals, giving visitors a chance to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
The most prolific time for whale watching in Iceland is during the summer months, from April through September, when over 20 species of Cetacea—including the Orca, Minke, Humpback, and Blue Whale—can be seen in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans on either side of the island.
THE MOST PROLIFIC TIME FOR WHALE WATCHING IN ICELAND IS DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, FROM APRIL THROUGH SEPTEMBER, WHEN OVER 20 SPECIES OF CETACEA—INCLUDING THE ORCA, MINKE, HUMPBACK, AND BLUE WHALE—CAN BE SEEN IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC AND ARCTIC OCEANS ON EITHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND.
Whale watching excursions are available widely around the country. Daily tours depart from the Old Harbor in Reykjavík, as well as from a few small towns in the north of Iceland, especially from Húsavík, a sparsely populated fishing village about an hour north of Akureyri. Most excursions and whale watching vessels are small and personable. Tours in the Skjálfandi and Eyjafjörður bays in particular are isolated, calm and scenic.
No matter where you depart from, the tours offer a rare and stunning opportunity to observe whales in their natural environment alongside white-beaked dolphins, harbor porpoises, seals, basking sharks, and various sea birds—including puffins, Gannets, gulls, Arctic Terns and others—depending on the season.
Whale watching tours are less frequent during the day in the winter months but come with the added bonus of beautiful and stark scenery; snowcapped mountains, sunsets, and possibly even the chance to see the Northern Lights.
The Icelandic horse is a unique breed of smallish horses that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that it is descendent from an ancient breed of horses that is now extinct outside of Iceland, where it has been preserved in isolation.
When making a trip to Iceland, it is hard not to pay special attention to the country's namesake—namely, its 4,500 square miles of glacier. Ice climbing on Iceland's glaciers is practiced year-round and takes place mainly on the Sólheimajökull and Svínafellsjökull glaciers in the south of Iceland.
Iceland is known as one of the best places in the world for birdwatching. A large number of birds make their home along Iceland's coast, including some of the largest colonies in the world for certain types of sea fowl. Iceland's wetlands are also a conducive habitat for many species of birds.