Whales of Iceland

Did you know there are 23 species of whales (cetaceans) in Icelandic waters? Some of the most common are Humpback, Minke, Orca, white beaked dolphins and harbour porpoise. Sei, fin and blue whale sightings are much rarer. They are attracted to Icelands abundance of fish and krill munch on in the shallow fjords. Find out why whales are so important here.

photo of whale underwater
Photo by Elianne Dipp on Pexels.com

We have always thought of our grumpy whale to be a humpback characterised by the long flippers. We think though the legend that inspired him was possibly a blue whale due to how big he is depicted in legend. Did you know blue whales are the largest living thing on the planet?

You can read all about the folklore behind our grumpy whale here.


If you want to find out more about whales we have written a brief summary of places to head:

1. Visit a museum:

  • Whales of Iceland who have life size models are loads of interactive information about each whale based in
  • Húsavík Whale Museum a non profit who aim to ‘convey information about whales, marine ecology and the interaction of whales and humans through history in an entertaining and interesting way’

2. Visit the whales in the wild:

Whale watching tours take you out on boats to get you a close encounter with the whales. Summer, generally, is the best season to see whales.

– Húsavík, Akureyri & the North

Whale encunters are more frequent in the north of the country as there are a greater abundance of animals in the area.

Húsavík is Iceland’s whale watching capital with a high chance of seeing minke and humpback whale as well as puffins in the summer and other bird life. It is so good there is even a song about it!

(The oldest whale watching company in Húsavík is North Sailing who even offer a carbon neutral silent tour!)

Akureyri offers only a slightly smaller chance of sightings, but the larger town provides more opportunities for adventure around your whale watching time.

– Reykjavík

Tours from the capital are extremely convenient as departures from the old harbour a within walking distance of the city center and offer a great opprtunity to see minke and harbour porpoise with devestatingly beautiful views of Faxaflói bay.

– Snaefellsnes and the West Fjords

This area is your best chance of seeing pilot, orca and sperm whales. We love this area as it is usually slightly quieter and there is so much to explore on land too. With beautiful mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, beaches and other wildlife (like seals!).


3. Visit the Belugas in their bay:

Head to the Beluga Sanctuary in the Westman Islands to the south of the mainland to visit Beluga whales living a more natural life after being held in captivity for entertainment in Shanghai Aquarium.