Sweden’s wildlife

While its neighbour Norway has jagged peaks and wild coastline, Sweden is quiet, flat and safe. This is a country that invites you to immerse yourself in its wild places and meet its wildlife, without fear, but with a healthy dose of anticipation and wonder. Yes, Sweden is home to some truly impressive big beasts – moose, lynx and wolves – but all of them are passive or shy, and don’t pose a threat to humans. This means that spotting wildlife in Sweden is not only safe, it’s a fully back-to-nature experience.

On an African safari you’re typically restricted to using a vehicle for game drives, for safety. In Sweden, however, you can track wildlife on foot or by kayak, sharing the landscape on the same level as its wild creatures and seeing them in a thoroughly natural, unobtrusive way. Wildlife vacations are the best way to meet Sweden’s unique animals and birdlife, from humble deer to howling wolves, elusive lynx to enormous moose.

Moose

You might imagine that Canada or the USA has the densest population of moose in the world but no, it’s Sweden! In the summer, before the autumn hunting season, there are between 300,000 and 400,000 moose here, also known as elk. These enormous deer can stand 210cm tall at their shoulder but, though huge, they can be hard to find and, unlike most other deer, are solitary animals. They hang out mostly in thick forests and pine plantations, but when they stray out onto fields and meadows they are, obviously, a lot easier to spot. An experienced guide will lead tracking sessions to find them, looking out for hoof prints, fresh droppings, nibbled trees and incisor scrape marks on tree bark. Happily, one of the best places to spot moose is the Bergslagen region, just two hours from Stockholm, so you don’t have to venture far from urban life to get up close and personal with these impressive creatures. In winter, travel north to Lapland to see moose as well as reindeer.

Grey wolf

Between 400 and 500 wolves live in Sweden, in the center of the country, having migrated here from Finland and Russia in the 1980s. They are not easy to spot, since they travel long distances each day and live mostly in dense forests, where they effortlessly blend in. More likely – and just as thrilling – is hearing them howl at night. Wildlife vacations immerse you in the peaceful landscape, where you can simply sit quietly and listen for that distinctive lupine call.

Beaver

The rivers and lakes of central Sweden are home to around 150,000 beavers. These animals are descendants of the 80 beavers reintroduced here in the early 20th century from Norway, after Swedish beavers were hunted to extinction by the end of the 19th century. Beavers have no natural predators in the water so the best way to see them is by boat or kayak. Wildlife tours use small boats with eco-friendly and fairly quiet electric engines. You’ll need to be quiet and patient to see them, spending time close to their lodge or dam and waiting for one to appear in the water. They are most active at dawn and dusk.

Our top Sweden wildlife Vacation

Sweden wildlife holiday, Ecolodge short break

Sweden wildlife vacation, Ecolodge short break

Wildlife break at Sweden's most primitive hotel.

From £578 4 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2020: 1 Jun, 8 Jun, 15 Jun, 22 Jun, 29 Jun, 6 Jul, 13 Jul, 20 Jul, 27 Jul, 3 Aug, 10 Aug, 17 Aug, 24 Aug, 31 Aug, 7 Sep
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Sweden wildlife or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Lynx

Europe’s largest feline lives all over Sweden, with the Sörmland and Bergslagen areas near to Stockholm home to dense populations of them. Sadly, this doesn’t mean you’ll see one; lynx are elusive and really hard to spot. Early mornings, around sunrise, are the best time to see them, and simply driving around, peering out into misty meadows and across fields is one of the best ways to spot one. If you’re hiking in the woods, though, a lynx will be aware of you way before you ever see it and will climb a tree and hide until you’ve passed. Specialist lynx spotting vacations will transport you to secret areas known to be home to these beautiful cats, but kept off any tourist trail, to preserve the environment and protect the animals.

Wild boar

Sweden has long had wild boar living within its borders, but they were absent for around 200 years after being hunted to extinction. In recent decades, though, the wild boar has made a comeback and an estimated 300,000 live here, mainly in the south of the country. This current population was not reintroduced to the wild though; it is instead related to escape-artist wild boar who bust out of captivity and ran off to live in the woods, uncaged. Wild boar are sociable and live in matriarchal groups, often of around 20 sows and piglets – quite a sight if you come across them all rootling and tootling in the forest. The oldest sow leads the group, deciding where to hike to each day in search of food, and protecting offspring. Male boars that are older than two years live as loners, except during mating season.
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Dušan Smetana] [Intro: pxhere] [Grey wolf: Malene Thyssen] [Lynx: Magnus Johansson]
Convert currencies