UP CLOSE WITH OCEAN GIANTS
If there’s one day that you’re guaranteed to have a whale of a time, it’s today. You’ll be learning more about the gentle giants that inhabit Iceland’s waters before getting out into the North Atlantic to (hopefully) see them in the flesh.
In a warehouse on the spit of land behind the Old Harbour, about a 15-minute walk from the centre, the educational WHALES OF ICELAND exhibit (daily 10am–5pm; 2900 ISK, under-15s 1500 ISK, under-7s free, family 5800 ISK) features 23 life-sized (and very lifelike) models suspended serenely from the ceiling. It’s not a huge museum, but you can easily spend an hour or so wandering among the leviathans, listening to the engaging (and very detailed) audio tour, touching the squidgy specimens and just simply appreciating their sheer size – the sperm whale and the humpback are impressive, but even they are dwarfed by the enormous blue whale, the largest animal on Earth. There’s also a small play area with a whale-skeleton climbing frame surrounded by soft-toy cetaceans.
After lunch, follow up your visit to the museum with a WHALE-WATCHING TOUR and the chance to see these beautiful creatures in the wild. A number of operators run trips from the Old Harbour, but Elding are recommended for their excellent tour guides, many of whom are marine biologists, and their strict adherence to responsible whale-watching guidelines. Tours (10,990 ISK, under-15s 5495 ISK, under-7s free) last around 3 hours but can vary depending on sightings and the season (winter tours, which tend to offer a greater chance of seeing killer whales, sometimes depart from other harbours). Minke whales are abundant in summer, along with white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises, and you may catch the extraordinary sight of a humpback breaching. The lucky few might even see a blue whale.
Back on dry land, it’s worth popping into HARPA, the dark-glass concert hall on the waterfront, for a drink in the café (open until 6pm) whilst admiring the harbour views through the honeycomb windows. It’s worth noting that a Happy Hour here runs from 4 to 6pm.
TOP TIP If you go on a whale-watching trip with Special Tours, you can buy tickets to Whales of Iceland at the time of booking for 500 ISK [under-7s free].
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read and watch before you go, foods and drinks your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From historic cottages to contemporary hotels on the edge of the Interior – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Iceland
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Iceland’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety and how to get around
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