Top 10 wildlife vacations in Europe

Top 10 wildlife vacations in Europe


big beasts & wild thrills

Africa might hog the limelight when it comes to safaris, but in fact, to see exotic and exciting wildlife, you only need head to Europe. Bison, wolves, bears and whales are just some of the big beasts you can spot, track and learn about here, many living just a few hours outside major cities. It means a wildlife vacation in Europe is about short flights and big thrills Ė and you can leave the anti-malarials at home...

1. Dolphins in the Azores


Rather than just spotting dolphins, swim with them! In the Azores, you can snorkel with seven species of dolphin, looking out for sperm whales, too. Expert guides will teach you Ďin-water proceduresí, so you encounter the dolphins on their terms, floating above a pod or, if youíre lucky, watching them frolicking around you.

When to go: May to end of October
Our top selling trip: Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores
See all our trips: Dolphin watching vacations
Read more: Swimming with whales & wild dolphins travel guide

2. Polar bears in Svalbard, Norway


The arrival of summer in the Svalbard archipelago is the perfect time to see polar bears. Cruises allow you to spot polar bears traveling across the pack ice or on ice floes. Experienced guides will help you point your binocs at seals, Arctic foxes, walruses and stunning birdlife, from puffins to purple sandpipers, when you visit land via a Zodiac.

When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Polar bear watching cruise in Svalbard, Norway
See all our trips: Bear watching vacations
Read more: Bear watching travel guide

3. Whales in the Azores


This is one of the best places in the world to see whales, with sightings on 99 percent of whale watching tours. Blue, sei, fin and humpback whales cruise past on their way to summer feeding grounds in the north Atlantic, and you can see orcas, dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles, too.

When to go: April to September
Our top selling trip: Whale watching in the Azores
See all our trips: Whale watching vacations
Read more: Whale watching travel guide

4. Wolves & moose in Sweden


Most of Sweden is dense taiga forest where wild animals roam free. Join a skilled wildlife tracker to spot moose, beavers and deer, and track wolves in wilderness just two hoursí drive from Stockholm. Enjoying the pristine forests, magical sunsets, starlit skies and lakeside saunas is all part of the fun.

When to go: July and August
Our top selling trip: Sweden vacations, wolves, moose and beavers
See all our trips: Wildlife vacations in Sweden
Read more: Sweden travel guide and Short break wildlife travel guide

5. Otters, birds & whales in Scotland


Western Scotland is home to wildlife that makes Englandís badgers and foxes look a bit tame. Sea safaris bring you close to minke whales, dolphins and porpoises, and you can spot golden eagles, hen harriers and sea otters from dry land. On an organised wildlife vacation, a naturalist guide will help you seek it all out.

When to go: Late April to late September
Our top selling trip: Wildlife vacation in the Isle of Mull, Scotland
See all our trips: Wildlife vacations in Scotland
Read more: Scotland travel guide

6. Bison in Poland


Some 500 European bison roam Polandís Białowieża Forest and safaris led by experienced guides almost always end in sightings. Moose, beavers and otters live here, too, alongside hard-to-spot lynx. In winter, track wolves, in the summer, explore the forest by bike, too.

When to go: Year round, except May and November
Our top selling trip: Poland bison safari in the primeval forest
See all our trips: Wildlife vacations in Poland
Read more: Short break wildlife travel guide and Poland travel guide

7. Bears in Greece


Greeceís bears arenít as famous as its beaches, but there are around 500 brown bears living in the north, where black pine and beech forests are also home to red deer and wolves. Follow brown bear trails with a park ranger, learning about tracking and bear conservation work as you hike.

When to go: April and May, September and October
Our top selling trip: Brown bear tracking in Northern Greece
See all our trips: Bear watching vacations
Read more: Bear watching travel guide

8. Dolphins in Italy


The Ligurian Sea, between Italy and Corsica, is a haven for whales and dolphins, but they are threatened by human activity. Join a citizen science trip, researching the regionís cetaceans and helping to preserve the unique marine ecology while having a cracking, hands-on vacation, too!

When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Whale & dolphin research in Lingurian Sea, Italy
See all our trips: Whale watching vacations and Dolphin watching vacations
Read more: Whale watching travel guide and Dolphin watching travel guide

9. Lynx in Romania


Lynx live in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, but youíll need an expert guide to track and watch them in their natural habitat. March and April is mating season when lynx are more active, so itís the best time for sightings, although nothingís guaranteed as they are notoriously elusive. Keep your eyes peeled for bears and wolves, too.

When to go: March and April
Our top selling trip: Transylvania wildlife vacation, Lynx watching and tracking
See all our trips: Wildlife vacations in Romania
Read more: Carpathian Mountains travel guide

10. Wolves in France


Just an hourís drive from Nice, Mercantour National Park is home to a tiny population of wolves. Hiking through the mountains with a specialist guide, tracking these elusive creatures, is a wild adventure, while a visit to the regionís wolf sanctuary guarantees a sighting and provides a fascinating education into wolf behaviour.

When to go: Year round
Our top selling trip: Wolf spotting in France
See all our trips: Wolf tracking vacations
Read more: Wolf tracking guide
Photo credits: [Intro: Francesco Carrani] [Whales: Luca Nebuloni] [Otters: Anne-Lise Heinrichs] [Lynx: Mat Wall]

Written by: Joanna Simmons
Wolf spotting in France

Wolf spotting in France

Wolf vacation - Mercantour National Park - South of France

From £450 5 Days ex flights
Iceland cruise, Circumnavigation

Iceland cruise, Circumnavigation

An unforgettable journey around the island of fire and ice

From £2165 10 Days ex flights
Whale watching in the Azores

Whale watching in the Azores

Sustainable whale watching in the beautiful Azorean archipelago

From £580 7 Days ex flights
Sweden vacations, Wolves, Moose and Beavers

Sweden vacations, Wolves, Moose and Beavers

Wildlife vacation in Sweden with full focus on large mammals.

From Ä1395 5 Days ex flights
Whale & dolphin research in Ligurian Sea, Italy

Whale & dolphin research in Ligurian Sea, Italy

Whale and dolphin conservation trip

From Ä780 6 Days ex flights
Wolverine photography tour in Finland

Wolverine photography tour in Finland

Photograph & watch wild wolverines, a very elusive species

From £1495 5 Days ex flights
Blue Whale tour in the Azores

Blue Whale tour in the Azores

Blue whale & Sperm whale watching - Horta, Azores

From £1140 7 Days ex flights
Norway wildlife vacation, walking safari

Norway wildlife vacation, walking safari

Camping wildlife vacation in the Norwegian wilderness

From £400 7 Days ex flights
Brown bear tracking in Northern Greece

Brown bear tracking in Northern Greece

Track wild bears & explore the wilderness with park rangers

From Ä599 5 Days ex flights
Arctic diving & Polar Bear Watching Expedition

Arctic diving & Polar Bear Watching Expedition

Awe-inspiring for divers & non-divers

From Ä3090 8 Days ex flights
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