Scandinavia's wildlife is more diverse than you might expect
Africa; the Galápagos Islands; the Amazon Rainforest; all are recognised as some of the best destinations in the world for wildlife watching. Yet Scandinavia also deserves a place on your travel hotlist if you're seeking incredible wildlife encounters on your next trip. In fact, Finland was voted World's Best Destination for Wildlife Travel on the True Luxury Travel's Global Wildlife Travel Index back in 2019. So whether it's bears, whales, or the majestic moose, we've put together a guide to the amazing animals you could see on your next trip to Scandinavia.
Bear Watching, Wild Nordic Bear Hide: Sara Wennerqvist
Seeing a brown bear in the wild is not your average experience. These mighty creatures are mostly solitary animals, living among forests and mountains and rarely congregating in groups. Brown bears hibernate through winter, so the best time to spot them is during the warmer months. In May and June – mating season – the bears are particularly active as they search for a partner during the long daylight hours of Scandi summer. In rural Sweden, a stay in a private timber cabin hide is an opportunity to see brown bears alongside badgers, red squirrels, woodpeckers and golden eagles. Meanwhile in Finnish Lapland, just two kilometres from the Russian border, custom-built bear hides are ideal for photography and offer one of the world’s best chances to spot the bears.
Whale breaching in Húsavík, Iceland
Whales continue to fascinate travellers all over the world, their vastness almost inconceivable until you see them up close. The Scandinavian seas are home to Orcas, humpback whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, blue whales and even the elusive northern bottlenose whales. In Iceland, whales are seen off the coast year round – in Húsavík, Europe’s whale-watching capital, you can take a traditional oak fishing boat tour to spot these magnificent creatures in the wild and the same getaway also offers the chance to go Puffin spotting in the Westman Islands. In Norway, between November and January, see humpback and springer whales alongside sea eagles and grey seals on an intimate whale watching cruise.
Moose & Reindeer
Moose in Sweden
Although many people associate the moose with North America, Sweden has more moose per square kilometre than any other country in the world. These majestic creatures are the kings of the forest, wandering solo through verdant meadows and dense woodland – except when they come together during mating season in September and October. On a unique Moose Safari experience from Treehotel in Swedish Lapland, you'll see bulls, cows and their calves as well as other forest dwellers such as fox and reindeer. Of course, if you would prefer an authentic reindeer farm experience, look no further than Hotel Muotka in Finland. You'll meet the herders and learn their skills, including how to throw a lasso and ride a sleigh, as well as venturing further across the snowy wilds of Finnish Lapland on a husky-sledding tour. Or, visit a charming Reindeer Ranch in remote Kilpisjarvi, combining a stay in a glass igloo with a 12th generation Sami reindeer farm – and lots of reindeer encounters while you're there.
Polar Bears in Svalbard
Svalbard, a remote wilderness archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, is a place of otherworldly landscapes and barely populated towns. Though perhaps not high on many people's radar for wildlife watching, it is home to some of the hardiest species on Earth, including Arctic Foxes, Svalbard Reindeer, rare birds, and of course the elusive polar bear. If you're hoping for a chance to see the polar bear in the wild, keep a few things in mind; the bears tend to avoid the settlement areas, summer is the best time of year to see them, and most importantly the polar bear is a protected species – so you won't be able to actively search for them. Seeing these magnificent creatures in person is simply a matter of luck and timing.
Sea Eagles & Seals
Sea Eagle in the Lofoten Islands
There are many fascinating bird and marine species across Scandinavia, including rare owls, cranes, otters and terns. In Norway's Lofoten Islands, where arctic fjords edge rugged peaks and unexpected white-sand beaches, the majestic white-tailed sea eagle can be seen soaring through the sky. Cruise or kayak paddle through the surrounding waters for the chance to see seals, porpoises and even whales frolicking offshore, while puffins, otters and even moose can be spotted across the island if you take the time to look.
If you'd like to see Scandinavia's wildlife up close, our travel experts are here to help you design your perfect holiday. Order a brochure or call to speak to us today. Your tailor-made adventure awaits!