Whale Watching Tour from Reykjavik
Jump aboard this whale-watching excursion to see the incredible wealth of marine wildlife just off Reykjavík’s shores. This tour is a must for nature-lovers, and fits perfectly into a busy holiday; you leave straight from the capital city’s Old Harbour and return approximately three hours later.
You will arrive at the harbour in good time for your departure, either by making your way there yourself or through a pick-up you can request during booking. If taking this trip during summer, you will have a choice between two boats, which you can select based on your sense of adventure and the nature of your group.
The first vessel is smaller and faster and promises to get you to the prime whale-watching location in just twenty minutes so that you can immerse yourself in the activity immediately. These express tours are only available during the summer months. Trips on this tour are approximately an hour shorter.
The second vessel, and the only one in winter, is the largest whale-watching boat in Iceland. It has a fantastic educational, interactive feature inside, where one can learn more about the whales, as well as a well-stocked cafe.
On the latter boat, you will spend three hours out on the ocean looking for whales (two hours on the former). As you travel out, your guide will point out the natural features surrounding the capital; in clear weather, you should be able to see both the Reykjanes Peninsula and the Snæfellsnes peninsula, as well as the ‘whale fjord’, otherwise called Hvalfjörður.
Four species can be regularly seen on these tours: harbour porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Minke Whales and Humpback Whales. It is not at all unheard of, however, to see orcas (or killer whales), pilot whales, Fin Whales, and even Basking Sharks. On top of these incredible animals, during summer you can expect to see a wealth of seabirds, most notably including the puffin. Your experienced guides can answer any questions you have as you hunt for and marvel over these majestic creatures.
Each tour yields entirely different results. The animals’ behaviour change throughout the day; you might catch them breaching, socialising, feeding or just basking near the surface. If by chance, you are not lucky enough to see a marine mammal, you will have another opportunity to take this tour for free until you do.
You will return to Reykjavík after three hours on the sea, hopefully after many exciting sightings and an up-close look at some of Iceland’s marvellous creatures. Because of the convenience and length of this tour, there will still be plenty of opportunities to make the most of the rest of your day, either on another tour or within the capital.
Do not miss your chance to see the magnificent whales, dolphins and porpoises of Iceland. Set sail into Faxaflói bay for your opportunity. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 3 hours
- Activities: Whale Watching, Boat Trip
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English, German
- Highlights: Reykjavík,
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
Despite a small population (120.000 and more than 200.000 in the Greater Reykjavik area), it is a vibrant city that draws an ever increasing number of visitors. It is the financial, cultural and governmental centre of Iceland. It also has a reputation of being one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
The city of Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland by the creek of the same name. Throughout the ages, the landscape has been shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the area is geothermal. Much of the current city area area was subglacial during the Ice Age, with the glacier reaching as far as the Álftanes peninsula, while other areas lay under the sea. After the end of the ice age the land rose as the glaciers drifted away, and it began to take on its present form.
The coastline of Reykjavik is set with peninsulas, coves, straights and islands, most notably the island of Videy, and seabirds and whales frequent the shores. The mountain ring as seen from the shore is particularly beautiful. Mount Esja is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavik and lends its distinct feature to the whole area. This majestic mountain is also highly popular for climbing. Other notable mountains that can be seen from the seaside are Akrafjall and Skardsheidi and on clear days one may even see as far to the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, at the end of the Snafellsnes peninsula.
The largest river to run through the city is Ellidaa in Ellidaardalur valley, which is also one of Iceland‘s best rivers for salmon fishing.
There are no trains or trams in Iceland, but most people travel by car. The city also operates a bus system. There are two major harbours in town, the old harbour in the centre and Sundahofn in the east. The domestic Reykjavik Airport is located at Vatnsmyrin, not far from the city centre and close to Oskjuhlid and Perlan. The international Keflavik Airport at Midnesheidi heath then lies around 50 km from the city. Cars, jeeps and bicycles can be readily rented in the city and many organized tours are also being offered.
What to See & Do in Reykjavik
The local arts scene is strong in Iceland, with both annual events and single ones, many of whom have hit the international stage. For the annual ones please check our articles Best Annual Events in Iceland and the Top Ten Festivals in Iceland. Major events taking place in Reykjavik include the Iceland Airwaves, Gay Pride, RIFF (The Reykjavik International Film Festival), The Reykjavik Literature Festival, Cultural Night, the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Food & Fun, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival and the Sónar music festival.
Among famous people from Reykjavik are artists Bjork Gudmundsdottir, Sigur Ros, writers Halldor Laxness (born in Laugavegur) and Arnaldur Indridason and mayor Jon Gnarr. For more well-known and fairly-well known Icelanders, check our article on the subject.
You might also want to check our article on some of the many things to see and do in Reykjavik, such as visiting the city‘s many museums, exhibitions and galleries, checking out live music, visiting the Harpa music hall or the theatres, visiting the lighthouse at Grotta, the main shopping street of Laugavegur, visiting the old harbour and the flea market, going on a bird- and whale watching tour or visiting Videy island. We also have a top ten list of things to do.
Make sure to visit the public square of Austurvollur, one of the city‘s most popular gathering places, where you‘ll also find the national parliament, Althingi, the state church a statue of independence hero Jon Sigurdson, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. Austurvollur was central in the 2008 protests, along with Laekjargata, home to the House of Government. You are also not likely to miss the great church of Hallgrimskirkja that towers over the city from the hill of Skolavorduholt, wherefrom you‘ll get a great view of the city.
Try a walk by the city pond, greet the many birds that frequent the area and visit the city hall, stationed by its banks. The Hljomaskalagardur is a beautiful park that lies by the pond, it ideal for a nice walk and sometimes concerts get held there. Further off is the campus of the university of Iceland, the Nordic house and the Vatnsmyri wetland, a particularly pleasant place, but be mindful of not disturbing the wildlife there and keep to the pathways.
For a nice swim on a warm day, we particularly recommend Nautholsvik beach.
Visit the Laugardalur valley, home to one of the city‘s best swimming pools, as well as the Asmundarsafn gallery, a beautiful botanical garden and a domestic zoo. A walk by the Aegissida beach, with it‘s old fishing sheds, in the west part of Reykjavik also holds a particular charm. The aforementioned Elllidaardalur valley is also a popular resort.
Another place that offers one of the city‘s best (and free) views is Perlan, up in Oskjuhlid hill. The hill itself is a popular resort, with over 176.000 trees and great opportunities for walking and cycling.
Travel to Alftanes to see the president‘s house at Bessastadir, which is also a historical site in it‘s own right, having been the educational centre of Iceland for centuries. Nearby is a beautiful lava field, Galgahraun, well worth a visit, though there is currently an environmental struggle going on as to it‘s future state.
The city is furthermore a short drive from many of Iceland‘s major attractions, most famously the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. In close vicinity you‘ll also find the Heidmork preservation area, a favourite pastime resort of the people of Reykjavik, as well as the Blue Mountains, one of Iceland‘s most beloved skiing venues.
Check our Best of Reykjavik guide further for tips on the best cheap things to do in Reykjavik, some of the best restaurants in the city, happy hours, the top ten value places to eat and our two articles on the famous Reykjavik nightlife; Nightlife in Reykjavik and Nightlife and mating.
Finally, we‘d like to stress that these are only some suggestions of the many things you might check out in Reykjavik. Whatever you choose to do, we hope you‘ll be able to make the most of your visit and we wish you a pleasant stay in our capital.Faxaflói,
Faxafloi is a large bay in the southwest of Iceland, located between the peninsulas Snaefellsnes (to the north) peninsula and Reykjanes (to the south).
The main fjords of the bay are Borgarfjordur, Hvalfjordur, Kollafjordur and Hafnarfjordur. Some of Iceland's largest towns are located by the bay and Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, lies on its southeastern shore.
Faxafloi bay is popular for whale- and birdwatching, sea angling and has great fishing grounds. In Kollafjordur is Videy Island, featuring the Lennon/One Peacetower, Richard Scerra's 'Milestones' and other attractions, along with great birdlife. The mountain ring seen from the bay, among which Snaefellsjokull glacier may be spotted on clear days, is particularly beautiful.Reykjanes,
Reykjanes is a peninsula in Southwest Iceland, characterised by immense lava fields, volcanoes and strong geothermal activity.
Volcanic & Geothermal Activity
The peninsula runs along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates are drifting apart. Because of this geological setting, the whole peninsula is extremely volcanically active, covered with lava fields and volcanoes and small earthquakes are very common there.
During the middle ages, many eruptions occurred in Reykjanes, but no eruptions have been recorded there for the last 500 years.
The main geothermal areas of Reykjanes are Gunnuhver, Krýsuvik and Svartsengi. Various mud pools and fumaroles can be seen at Gunnuhver while Krýsuvik is characterised by hot springs and mud pots that bestow multicoloured hues upon the soil. The green crater lake Grænavatn is also an impressive sight.
Svartsengi is home to a geothermal power station that produces 76.5 MW of electricity from the 475 litres of 90° C warm water that gush from the earth per second. The mineral-rich surplus water fills up the Blue Lagoon spa.
Nature & Wildlife
Reykjanes' cliffs are teeming with birdlife. Its best-known bird colony resides in Krýsuvikurbjarg which is the nesting place of approximately 80 thousand seabirds. North of Krýsuvíkurbjarg is Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the peninsula and one of the deepest in Iceland.
Reykjanes is hammered by some of the most breathtaking breaker waves in the world. A short drive from Krýsuvík is Selvogur where one is able to witness some of the country's greatest waves. On Reykjanestá, the southwest tip of the peninsula, the waves are known to reach heights of 20-30 meters.
The peninsula's north side is dotted with fishing villages and towns, most notably Keflavík, Sandgerði, Garður and Vogar. Grindavík town is located on the south shore of the peninsula.
Near Keflavík is the Miðnesheiði heath, where the international airport, Leifsstöð (also known as Keflavíkurflugvöllur or ‘Keflavík Airport’) is located.
The World-Famous Spa
On the southern tip of the peninsula is the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, an ideal place for relaxing and bathing.Hvalfjörður,
Hvalfjordur is a fjord in Southwest Iceland. The fjord is approximately 30 km long and 5 km wide.
Nature & Landscape
The landscape of Hvalfjordur is varied and beautiful, wide areas of flat land along with majestic mountains, green vegetation in summer and beaches cut with by creeks and rich in birdlife. The area has further been well planted with forests. Among natural attractions is Iceland's highest waterfall, Glymur in Botnsdalur, in the river Botnsa. There are plenty of interesting hiking trails in the area, such as Sildarmannagotur, leading north, and Leggjabrjotur, leading east towards the area of Thingvellir National Park.
Culturewise Hvalfjordur had one of the main whaling stations in Iceland and one of the most important naval stations in the North Atlantic during World War Two. The old whaling station and a war museum are found in the fjord. Iceland's main psalm poet, Hallgrimur Petursson, writer of the Passiusalmar ('Passia Hymns') lived in Saurbaer in Hvalfjordur. Hvalfjordur was also the home of the late Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson, rhymes poet and performer and head of the Icelandic pagan association.
Most inhabitants of the fjord live in rural areas, and there is some farming in the area. Until the 1990s those travelling between Borgarnes and Reykjavik had to take a long detour through the fjord, but this was solved with a tunnel under the fjord in, 1998, the Hvalfjardargong. Grundartangi spit in Hvalfjordur has one of the largest harbours in the country and two industrial plants. One is a ferrosilicon plant, operated since 1979, the other an aluminium smelter, operated since 1998.Keflavík
Keflavík (meaning “Driftwood Bay”) is a town in southwest Iceland, positioned along the Reykjanes coast, 47km from Reykjavík. In 1995, Keflavík merged with Njarðvík and Hafnir to form the municipality of Reykjanesbær, which has a collective population of 15,500. The town is referred to as both Keflavík and Reykjanesbær.
Founded in the 16th century by Scottish entrepreneurs, Keflavík developed on account of its fishing and fish processing facilities. Today, it is the fifth most populated town in Iceland but is often unjustly skipped by visitors, who pass the town only whilst travelling from the airport to Reykjavik.
In 1940, during World War II, US forces stationed in Iceland built what would later become Keflavík International Airport. At the time, the airstrip served as an important Allied military base, denying Germany a strategic hold on Iceland and serving as a crucial stopover for refuelling and logistical support. This base would become known as Naval Air Station Keflavík.
Throughout the Cold War, the base was used by NATO forces as a monitoring station for marine and submarine traffic in the Atlantic Ocean. This operation was later expanded by the US Air Force, who added radar capabilities, in-flight refuelling and marine rescue. Soon, Naval Air Station Keflavik was, by all accounts, a 5000 strong settlement. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US began to peel back its operations until finally closing the base in 2006. The former barracks are now used as student accommodation.
Some have argued that the United States’ involvement in Keflavík had consequences of a more artistic nature. In the seventies, Keflavík was renowned for being home to Iceland’s best musicians, having been introduced to the Americana rock n’ roll scene by US military personnel. This led to the nicknames “the Beatle town” and “the Liverpool of the North”, firmly making the town Iceland’s “Capital of Rock n’ Roll”.
The Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll goes into the history of Icelandic music as a whole, incorporating punk, pop and folk exhibitions, as well as information boards about native musicians like Björk, Sigurrós and Of Monsters and Men. The museum has its own cinema dedicated to the country’s music scene and shows documentaries such as ‘Screaming Masterpiece’ by Ari Alexander, which explores why Iceland—a country whose artistic reputation was predominantly built on its literature—became known the world over for its enchanting musical ability.
One cannot mention museums in Keflavik without also discussing “Viking World.” Five exhibitions teach visitors about the history, traditions and customs of the Vikings, delving into their exploratory heritage, the Norse religions and their intrinsic connection to Iceland. A real-life Viking ship is available to walk around and observe from every angle. There is also a settlement zoo which displays the animal breeds Vikings would have reared, as well as a traditional Icelandic turf house.
Pickup time : 08:00, 09:00, 12:00, 13:00, 16:00, 20:00
Guided Boat Tour
WCs On Board
Free ticket to try again if there are no sightings!
What to bring:
Clothes subject to weather
Good to know:
Tours on the larger whale watching boats run at 13:00 throughough the year, with departures at 09:00 from 1 March - 31 October and at 17:00 from 15 May - 15 September due to the changing daylight hours.
Tours on the smaller whale watching boats run at 10:00 and 14:00 from 1 May to 30 September, with an additional departure at 21:00 from 15 June - 31 July.
German speaking guides are only used on the larger whale watching vessels during the summer months (May 1 - Sept 30). Please note that listed pick up times are for pick up by bus, not boat departure. If you are not using pick up, please be at the harbour 30 minutes before departure.