Best whale watching destinations in the world including Iceland and Scotland

Whales are pretty incredible creatures – and there are plenty of breathtaking destinations which offer a chance to catch a glimpse of the fascinating mammals.

Destinations such as Alaska, Canada and Iceland are renowned for their whale watching hotspots from both land and sea, not to mention that they make for bucket list-worthy holidays in their own right.

For Brits who don't fancy going abroad, then Scotland is worth having on your radar as it offers up plenty of opportunity to go whale watching.

As for the peak time to go? It depends on your chosen destination.

To give you a helping hand, we've taken a look at some of the best destinations for whale watching, including where to go for the best views, and what time of the year you should aim to visit.

Check out our guide below…

1. Iceland

The small town of Húsavík on the edge of Skjalfandi Bay is often hailed as Iceland's best whale-watching destination.

The best time to visit is between April and October, as this is when you can expect to see the likes of minke whales and blue whales, as well as white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises.

If it's orca whales or sperm whales that you're hoping to see, then head to the picturesque Snæfellsnes Peninsula between April and June.

These spots can of course be quite remote, so if you're after a budget-friendly short break, then Reykjavik can be a good spot as there are direct flights from the UK, and you can embark on whale watching tours (April and June are particularly good times to go).

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2. Scotland

Scotland is filled with heaps of brilliant whale-watching spots including the Scottish Highlands , the Isle of Skye , the Inner Hebrides , Southern Hebrides and the Isle of Lewis to name a few.

In fact, there's a new dedicated whale and dolphin watching trail you can follow which highlights some of the best spots from land where you can see the fascinating creatures, from orcas to minke whales.

There are whales appearing throughout the year, but to give your best chances head to visit between May and September.

Looking for more? We've rounded up the UK's best places for seeing wildlife including seals, basking sharks and puffins.

3. Canada

Canada plays host to an impressive variety of whales including humpbacks, orcas, minke whales, blue whales, fin whales and, in some instances, beluga whales.

Hotspots including Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Tadoussac where you'll find plenty of boat and land tours, not to mention that these areas are popular with visitors so there's often cheap accommodation and a vibrant atmosphere to be found.

For something extra special, head to Tofino in March, when the region is host to a migration of gray whales – in fact, the town marks the occasion with its annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival .

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4. Tenerife

Tenerife is known for its beautiful beaches and cheap all-inclusive hotels , but the Canary Island also offers up some brilliant whale-watching opportunities thanks to the humpbacks, fin whales and even blue whales which pass through.

Costa Adeje is where you'll find the bulk of boat tours and excursions, but if you can travel outside peak holiday season it's worth it just to avoid the crowds.

There are whales appearing year-round, but November through to February can be a particularly good time.

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5. Alaska

Alaska needs to be on any whale-watcher's bucket list. Here you can expect to see the likes of humpback whales, gray whales, orcas and beluga whales, as well as heaps of dolphins and more fascinating marine life.

Resurrection Bay is a popular spot thanks to its food-rich waters that attract marine life – and sometimes you can even spot whales from the local beach.

Meanwhile, Prince William Sound and the Inside Passage in Juneau can be great spots for seeing humpback whales – and it's not uncommon to see cow-and-calf pairs.

The official Alaska tourism website includes a wider guide to specific spots to visit depending on the type of whales you're looking to see.

Plan a trip between April and June to put the odds in your favour.

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6. South Africa

Humpback whales and Southern Right whales are some of the species which can be seen on a trip to South Africa.

Hermanus is a particularly popular spot as it offers both some great boat tours but also plenty of land-based spots from where you can watch the whales.

If you're planning a road trip, the Garden Route has plenty of spots where you can watch the whales or take boat excursions.

Meanwhile, False Bay near Cape Town and Eastern Cape have also proven popular with those looking to catch a glimpse of the iconic creatures.

For the best chances of seeing whales, plan a trip between June and November (peak calf season falls in July and August).

Head to Santa Caterina where you'll find a stretch of water over 100km long that's protected for migrating whales – and therefore offers up the chance to see these incredible creatures.

In fact, you can see the whales simply by hanging out on the local beaches, or taking a stroll along the coast – no need to take a boat trip.

Meanwhile Garopaba is a popular visitor hotspot where you can find plenty of whale-watching excursions both on land and on sea.

Brazil hosts a wide array of whale species including short-finned pilot whales and humpback whales.

Peak whale watching season tends to fall between June and October, but it can slightly vary depending on the type of whales you're looking to see.

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