Short break wildlife vacations travel guide


Anyone who’s sat through an episode of Springwatch will have a feel for the wildlife that makes its home in the UK, but if you’ve had your fill of deer and hedgehogs and yearn for something a little ‘other’, the good news is, you don’t have to book a safari and fly to Africa. Europe is brimming with wildlife – exciting, exotic wildlife – and you can see it on a short break of four or five days. Board a plane to Stockholm, Budapest or Warsaw and you’re only a few hours’ drive from moose, wolves, beavers, birdlife and bison. Yes, bison! Short break wildlife vacations run all year round, too. Spot bears during the super-long days of summer in Eastern Finland or see orcas in December from a boat cruising the fjords of northern Norway. Europe’s wilder side is waiting to reveal itself – all you need is a long weekend.

Read more in our short break wildlife vacations travel guide.

Is a short break wildlife vacation for you?

Responsible Travel recommends

Go on a short break wildlife vacation if…

… you’re short of time. Four or five days are enough to see, admire and learn about Europe’s birds and beasties.

… you don’t do long haul. A quick flight to Europe will bring you to countries where a host of exciting wildlife lives. Often, it’s just a short drive from airport to wilderness, too.

… you want a winter break. Some animals are most active in the colder months – wolves, for example – making wildlife watching a great option for an alternative winter vacation.

… you love the great outdoors. Of course, short break wildlife vacations tend to involve being outside most of the time. Immersing yourself in the landscape is as much a part of the trip as spotting the critters.

… you don’t want to blow the budget. A short trip to see Europe’s wildlife tends to cost less than a long African safari, but doesn’t scrimp on exciting wildlife experiences.

Don’t go on a short break wildlife vacation if…

… you like lots of down time. Itineraries tend to be pretty packed to make the most of a short break. Wildlife watching often starts early in the morning, too, or takes place through the night, if you’re seeking bears…

… you love luxury accommodation. The focus is on the wildlife, not the bath robes and room service. Some trips spend a night in a hide, others camp in the wilderness, howling for wolves, and many involve long hours walking through wild terrain.

… you want guaranteed sightings. Wildlife won’t emerge on cue, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t see a wolf or bear. Vacation companies are realistic about the odds of seeing each individual species. They’ll also emphasise tracking skills and enjoying being outdoors, not just ticking animals off a list.

… you like to travel alone. Most short break wildlife trips are in small groups, with fixed dates. A sociable personality, as well as a love of animals, is helpful.

Best time to go on a short break wildlife vacation


Summer is the best time to see bears in eastern Finland, during the long, light days of Jul-Aug. It’s also the time to spot a smorgasbord of beasts in central Sweden, including beavers and moose. You can see birds in Hungary and bison in Poland all year round, but winter is the best time to track wolves in southern France and Poland, when they are pursuing mates and establishing packs. Expect temperatures of 5°C to -10°C. Winter’s also the time to see wildlife and the northern lights on a single trip, spotting moose in Swedish Lapland and whales off Norway.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Becker1999] [Tempchart: Marco Verch] [Helpdesk: Andy Morfew]
Written by Joanna Simmons
Poland bison safari in the Primeval Forest

Poland bison safari in the Primeval Forest

Short break wildlife adventure in the Bialowieza Forest

From PLZ 3450 4 Days ex flights
Finland wildlife short break

Finland wildlife short break

Bear, wolverine and elk widlife short break in Finland

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Sweden vacations, Wolves, Moose and Beavers

Sweden vacations, Wolves, Moose and Beavers

Wildlife vacation in Sweden with full focus on large mammals.

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Sweden wildlife holiday, ecolodge vacation

Sweden wildlife vacation, ecolodge vacation

Wildlife break at Sweden's most primitive hotel

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British wildlife tour on the Isle of Man

British wildlife tour on the Isle of Man

A short weekend wildlife adventure to the Isle of Man

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Lesvos birdwatching vacation in Greece

Lesvos birdwatching vacation in Greece

Top birding with a private bird guide on Lesvos Island

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Photo credits: [Page banner: Yellowstone National Park]