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Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe

europe globe
europe globe

Brace yourselves for a wild ride as we dive into the Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe!

Prepare for heart-pounding moments and encounters with the continent’s most extraordinary creatures. As the endangered status of many European animals raises the stakes, our adventure promises an unforgettable journey. Get ready to be amazed, inspired, and embark on the wildlife escapade of a lifetime with us!

By Diego Delso

Key points

Animal EncounterLocationBest Time to GoOperators
Whales in IrelandIrelandApril to OctoberWild Atlantic Way, Wild Sea, Marinetours
Manta Rays and Dolphins in MadeiraMadeira (Portugal)All year round (except winter months)Manta Diving, Madeira Dive Point, Scuba Madeira
Lynx in RomaniaRomaniaMarchAbsolut Nature, Romania 4 Fun, Fix Travel
Parahawking in SpainSpainAll year roundParahawking Tours
Wolves in Germany or SwedenGermany/SwedenAll year roundWolf Center, Tree In (Germany), Wild Sweden, Nordic Discovery (Sweden)
Orca Safari in NorwayNorwayOctober to FebruaryOrca Norway, Sea Safaris, Big Fish Expeditions, Northern Explorers, Whale Swim
Bear Safari in Slovenia or GreeceSlovenia/GreeceMay-June and July (Slovenia), April-May/September-October (Greece)Bearwatching Slovenia, Slovenia 4 Seasons, Bears and Wildlife, Wild Slovenia (Slovenia), Natural Greece, Callisto, Arcturos Bear Sanctuary (Greece)
Whales in the AzoresAzores (Portugal)April and MayNorberto Divers, Azores Whale Watch, Futurismo, Whale Watch Azores, Dolphin Whale Connection
Polar Bear Watching in NorwayNorwayJune to SeptemberFifty Degrees North, Oceanwide Expeditions, National Geographic
Dolphin Snorkeling and Shark Diving in the AzoresAzores (Portugal)May, June, and JulyAzores Whale Watch, Norberto Divers, Futurismo, CW Azores, Whale Watch Azores, Dolphin Whale Connection

Top 10 Animal Encounter in Europe 

Are you looking for an animal adventure holiday in Europe? We collected the Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe after Corona.

Europe has a lot to offer when it comes to adventures with wild animals!

Whether you go on a bear safari in Slovenia, observe polar bears in Norway or hike in the Swiss mountains on the tracks of ibex, seeing these rare wild animals is unforgettable!

1. Whales in Ireland

Whale watching in Ireland is an extraordinary adventure that inspires people from all over the world. In fact, Ireland’s coastal regions are among the best places in Europe to watch sea creatures in their natural habitat.

By Dr. Louis M. Herman
When to go:April to October

The Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast of the island is the longest designated coastal road in the world and perfect for a great car adventure. 

The Atlantic Ocean which surrounds the coast of Ireland is a great place to see whales and dolphins at close range almost all year round! Especially in the southwest, the fascinating marine mammals often cavort in the high tide. 

Dolphins, fin whales and even giant humpback whales linger off the Irish coast and can often be seen from the land. We show you where on the Emerald Isle you have the best chances of seeing whales.


2. Manta Rays and Dolphins in Madeira

Madeira is the largest island in the Portuguese Madeira Archipelago. Just off the coast of Portugal, it is seen as one of the most adventurous destinations in Europe.

By Ken Funakoshi

In part, this is because of the many majestic and wild landscape formations on the island. For example, there are gorges where you can go and experience canyoning – surely a must for those who want an adrenaline rush!

However, Madeira is also a unique destination because of activities that can be done in the water. Because of the protection of the underwater landscape for more than 30 years, there is a real diversity of species as well as a rich marine ecosystem around the island. This means that you have the chance to swim, dive and observe many marine animals including barracudas, puffers and stingrays. 

Besides the manta rays, the coast of Madeira is also known for being a great spot to swim and observe dolphins

These beautiful, friendly creatures glide gracefully through the water, leaving its viewers stunned and amazed. Once there, we recommend experiencing both of these fascinating animal species. Encounter Manta rays and Dolphins in the wild during one trip – something most people won’t participate in in their lifetime. 

A real good one of the Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe after Corona.


3. Lynx in Romania

The Carpathian Mountains stretch 1,500m long through Central to Eastern Europe. Once there, it is possible to take a number of hiking trails taking you to stunning heights where you can take in views that will take your breath away.

By Musicaline – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Along the hike, the Carpathians provide a habitat for the largest European populations of brown bears, wolves and lynxes – the latter having the largest concentration in Romania. 

The combination of these interesting creatures as well as a rich fauna and flora makes the overall setting very beautiful for nature and animal lovers alike. 

Romania, apart from Russia, is the country with the largest number of bears, lynx and wolves in Europe. Right at the heart of the Carpathian Mountains, you can experience the ‘Experience Wilderness’ tour which takes place near the Calimani National Park. This tour takes about 10 days and once you arrive by the night train and minibus, you will pitch your tents in the middle of a forest surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature.

Through this experience, you will be able to observe and be close to lynxes (there are about 1500 in Romania). As well as viewing the local wildlife, you are able to connect with nature being in the middle of the forest away from the vigours of everyday life. All you have to do is book this adventure and get excited by the thrill of seeing and observing your surroundings. 


4. Parahawking in Spain

Have you heard about parahawking? Soaring amidst a breathtaking terrain while paragliding is an aspiration for many, but elevating the experience by sharing the airspace with a distinctive avian companion, such as an enigmatic Egyptian vulture, could propel it to unparalleled heights on one’s wish list.

By Barbara Piuma
When to goAll year round (expect winter months)

Originating from a visionary named Scott Mason, an individual immersed in avian tutelage from a tender age, parahawking involves the collaboration of a proficient vulture or hawk guiding a paraglider through thermals or aerial voids, enabling prolonged, avian-esque journeys in the sky.

Parahawking is paragliding and interacting with a trained bird of prey in it’s own natural environment. Also, it is important to note that only rescued birds are used, none of the birds have been taken from the wild which makes the experience even more special. 


5. Wolves in Germany or Sweden

In Europe, there live around 18,000 wolves. Although in the past the wolf was pursued as a dangerous animal and almost exterminated, the wolf managed to survive in Italy, Portugal and Spain

By User:Mas3cf

It may be also interesting to note that in countries such as Germany and Sweden, more and more wolves are being spotted, indicating that they may be making their comeback to the wild. 


Whilst there are around 1,800 wolves, there also exists wolf centres where you can see and observe them from a close distance. One that exists is the Wolfcenter in Dörverden in Lower Saxony.

Two wolf packs live here in a huge game reserve. One of the packs was raised by hand, which means that the wolves are used to humans and do not mind your presence. The second pack roams completely wild through their territory and rarely shows itself to the visitors of the center. 

During a guided tour you will not only learn some cool facts about the fascinating four-legged friends, but also have the opportunity to watch the wolves at close range!



Here, the wolf is spread over large parts of the northern hemisphere. In Sweden, it is a country of huge dense taiga, which means that animals can roam freely wherever they wish. In the winter of 2009, it was recorded, that there were about 200 wolves in Sweden and also as many in Finland.

You can find and explore the regions of Värmland and Dalarna and in the neighbouring part of Norway if you are interested in having the highest probability of seeing a wolf. 

Wolf tracking tours are passing through the heart of Sweden’s wolf territories, for example the Kloten wolf territory. You can also see Moose, Lynx or Brown Bear if you’re really lucky.

Follow this link to discover more about the Wildlife of Sweden!


6. Orca Safari in Norway

One of the best places to swim with Orcas is the wintery northern Norway, where large quantities of herring gather.

By Robert Pittman
When to goOctober – February

Hundreds or even thousands of whales gather here to hunt. A special natural spectacle – but one that can be challenging due to cold air and water temperatures, snow, ice, little daylight and swell.

The cold and crystal clear fjord water is a perfect place to observe orcas pods. A large number of mammals have been seen, sometimes in pods of 200 or more. 

Basically Norway is a great destination for nature lovers all year round. 

However, if you want to watch the orcas at close range during their spectacular hunt, the best time to travel is between October and February. 

Temperatures can vary greatly, ranging from well above freezing to freezing cold. Another great location from the list of Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe.

In the Norwegian winter, the dark nights return, and so the best time to see the unique northern lights is from late September to late March.


7. Bear Safari in Slovenia or Greece


Although more and more adventure junkies are now moving to Slovenia, the small country between Austria and Croatia is often underestimated. 

By Satoshi Kinokuni
When to goMay through June and July (Slovenia)
April – May / September and October (Greece)

In the dense forests of the Notranjska region in the south of the country you will find an absolute highlight: a bear safari! 

What is so special about a bear safari? I’m so glad that you asked! Your bear safari guide has been roamining the surrounding forests for years and knows exactly 

where you have the best chances to meet the Slovenian bears. Together with him you will make your way to the so-called hides, from where you can observe and photograph the bears from a safe distance. 

Besides you will get some fascinating information about tracking and the life of the bears in the forests of Slovenia. Getting so close to a brown bear is a moment you will remember for a very long time.



Greece is mostly famous for its beach holidays and summer trips. However, it is also home to one of the last brown bears in Europe.

There are around 500 brown bears living in the north, where black pine and beech forests are also home to wolves and red deer. 

You can follow brown bear trails with a park ranger,to learn about tracking and bear conservation. You will leave Greece after having amassed an astonishing amount of knowledge regarding brown bears along with other forms of wildlife. Discover All about wildlife in Greece in this blog of us.


8. Whales in the Azores 

In the Azores, a small group of islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a good 30 percent of all whale and dolphin species found in the world can be observed. Many tourists come here precisely for this reason.

By Navin75
When to go  April and May

The Azores are actually one of the best places in the world for whale watching. The chance to see whales during the high season in the azores is over 90%. 

Some whales live permanently in these waters, others only pass the Azores on their migrations. The most frequently seen whales are sperm whales, the males are in these waters all year round, the females are here with their young mainly from May to October.

The chances of seeing blue and fin whales are also quite good in the Azores – best between mid-April and mid-May on their way north. Some species of dolphins (common dolphins, round-headed, striped and spotted dolphins), are also regularly seen here.

You may even see orcas, sea turtles or manta rays in the Azores.

Whale watching is one of the main attractions for tourists in the Azores, many even come here explicitly for the whales. Most of the tours start on the three islands Sao Miguel, Faial and Pico. High-speed zodiacs for up to twelve people are usually used. 

Best time to see whales in the Azores:

Blue WhalesMid-April until Mid-May
Fin WhalesMid-April until Mid-May
Sperm WhalesMay to October
Different kinds of DolphinsYear round


9. Polar Bear Watching in Norway

Norway is a country of many beauties. Whether your trip takes you to the untouched forests in the interior or to the fascinating fjord landscape along the coast – Norway means pure adventure! 

By AWeith
When to go June to September

However, there is one place in Norway that is guaranteed to leave you speechless: The island archipelago lies between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole and is known as the northernmost inhabited point in Europe. 

There are only about 2,500 people living on the entire island, and the best chance to observe polar bears safely and up close is from the water. Hurtigruten offers various expedition trips throughout the year that take you to the most blatant and fascinating places in Spitsbergen. 

Besides polar bears you have a great chance to see walruses, reindeer herds and arctic foxes. 


10. Dolphin Snorkeling and Shark diving in the Azores

The azores are famous for their landscape, fishing villages, green meadows and blue hydrangea hedges. They are an autonomous region of Portugal and a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and a place where you can snorkel with Dolphins! 

By National Marine Sanctuaries
When to go May, June and July

For some it is a mystical experience, for others it is a “back to the source” experience. But for all it is an unforgettable life experience.

Most trips take 3-4 hours. Sometimes the tours are even surrounded by more than one dolphin species (there are seven different dolphin species in the Azores) at the same time.

To get the most out of this experience, we recommend that you use fins, goggles and snorkel on your Dolphin snorkel trip. 

On top of snorkeling with Dolphins, you can also dive with blue sharks, mako sharks, and if you are lucky hammerhead sharks.


Impact of COVID19 on the Animal Tourism in Europe 

Since the Corona Virus or Covid-19 infections numbers rose all over Europe in early March 2020, many industries have been hit. One industry, which has been hit the hardest is the animal tourism industry. 

Lockdowns all over Europe and restrictions on global travel minimized the numbers of tourists traveling between countries and in the domestic markets.

Most animal adventure providers, zoos, wildlife parks or aquariums in Europe had to completely close their ventures for the foreseeable future which led to dramatic outcomes including zoos struggling to survive and having problems to provide food for the animals

Some operators and institutions tried to keep alive by concentrating on other income sources and leveraged social media as well as donations.  

Decreasing numbers in animal tourism in Europe does also threaten many wildlife conservation efforts where conservationists are dependent on tourists. 

Many operators look forward to opening borders in the summer months in many European countries where they will get back in business with scores of tourists coming from all over Europe for their summer vacations. 

Therefore, we collected the Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe after Corona.

Impact of Covid-19 on the European Wildlife 

We all saw the videos of clear water, swans returning to the canals in Venice, Wild Boars running through empty Cities or Dolphins exploring western european ports. The problem is that most of these were simply fake.  

Nevertheless, there may have been real improvements to wildlife in Europe by the lack of people commuting, traveling and spending less time polluting the air with traditional means of transport. 

If the current Covid-19 pandemic showed us one thing, it’s that climate change still can be fought, by drastically regulating the emission of pollutants. The question is still, how long will the improvement last after the Covid-19 or Corona regulations are lifted in Europe. 

That’s why we created the Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe after Corona

What Governments do for the Wildlife Tourism 

Wildlife tourism has been hit hard, or even harder by the coronavirus regulations. Some countries in Europe, such as Germany, have initiated emergency aid to small and medium sized companies to help them fight the pandemic.

However, many operators and firms indicated that this will not be enough and rather put their hopes into a reopening of the European borders and increasing numbers in animal adventure tourism. 

Summary on the Top 10 Animal Encounters in Europe

Why travel to Canada or other foreign countries when you can see Brown Bears in many countries in Europe? Want to go snorkeling with Dolphins? Hawaii is nice, but also several European countries offer the same experience!

As you can see from the amazing adventures that we have listed in this article, in many instances, you do not need to travel for too long to see amazing animals in their natural environment.

We hope this guide can help you find the next animal adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Europe’s wildlife?

Europe boasts a diverse array of wildlife, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and various marine species. From majestic deer and elusive lynx to vibrant bird species and fascinating marine life, Europe’s wildlife offers a rich tapestry of biodiversity.

What animals are found only in Europe?

Europe is home to several unique animal species found nowhere else in the world. Some examples include the Iberian Lynx in Spain and Portugal, the European Bison in Poland, the Pyrenean Desman in the Pyrenees, and the Sardinian Pika in Italy.

What are the top 5 animals in Europe?

While the list of remarkable animals in Europe is extensive, the top 5 iconic species include the Brown Bear, the European Wolf, the European Roe Deer, the European Red Fox, and the Eurasian Lynx.

What is the largest wildlife in Europe?

The largest land mammal in Europe is the European Bison (Bison bonasus), also known as the Wisent. These magnificent creatures can weigh up to 1,000 kilograms and are found in protected areas across several European countries.

Why does Europe have so little wildlife?

Historically, Europe has seen significant human development, urbanization, and agriculture, which has impacted natural habitats and reduced wildlife populations. However, conservation efforts, protected areas, and increased awareness have contributed to preserving and restoring wildlife habitats in recent times.

Which country in Europe has the most wildlife?

Several European countries boast abundant and diverse wildlife. Countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, and Romania are known for their vast wilderness areas, which provide suitable habitats for various species. Each country’s unique geography and ecosystems contribute to its rich wildlife presence.

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