If you’ve always wanted to go on a whale watching safari, consider planning a trip to Scandinavia. The waters just off the coast of Iceland and Norway are home to a variety of whale species, making them a prime destination for those hoping to spot these majestic sea mammals in the wild. Let’s take a look at the best places to go whale watching in Scandinavia—and what to expect while you’re on your trip:
Eleven whale species are frequently seen in Icelandic waters—blue whales, fin whales, harbor porpoises, humpback whales, long finned pilot whales, minke whales, northern bottlenose whales, orcas, sei whales, white-beaked dolphins, and sperm whales. While whale watching is done all over the country, the city of Husavik on the northern coast of the country is known as the “whale watching capital of Europe.” Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, is also a popular hub for whale watching tours.
When to Go
Whale watching season in Husavik runs from April through October, though you’ll have a higher chance of spotting whales in the summer months. While you’re there, stop in at the Husavik Whale Museum to learn more about these extraordinary mammals and what is being done to prevent commercial whaling. In Reykjavik, whale watching safaris depart year-round, giving it a slight edge over other whale watching destinations in Iceland.
The coasts of northern Norway provide some great opportunities for whale watching. There, the most commonly spotted whales are Orcas, minke whales, and sperm whales. The Lofoten islands, an archipelago above the Arctic Circle, are the country’s most famous whale watching destination, but safaris depart from Stø, Senja, and Kattfjord as well.
When to Go
In the Lofoten Islands, the best time to book a whale watching safari is in the summer months. The season runs a little longer in Stø (Vesterålen Islands), lasting from June through September. Those who can’t make it to Norway during the summer months are in luck, as the best season for whale watching in Senja and Kattfjord is winter.
Be aware that weather conditions on land may be drastically different from conditions on the sea, so tours may be canceled at the discretion of your captain. In case of a cancelation, make sure your tour operator will provide a full refund or reschedule your tour for a different date. Some tour operators also offer a refund or a complimentary tour is there are no whale sightings during your own tour; check to see what your operator’s policy is before you book to make the most of your trip.
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