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Where to See Dolphins in Europe

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: April 29, 2023

Dolphins are some of the most captivating and intelligent creatures in the world, and for many travellers, dolphin watching is an essential experience. Fortunately, Europe offers some excellent destinations for observing dolphins in their natural habitats. From the stunning Azores Islands in Portugal to the rugged coastlines of Wales, here are some of the best places to see dolphins in Europe.

The Azores Islands, Portugal

The Azores Islands are a group of nine volcanic islands located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and they offer one of the best places in Europe for dolphin watching. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands are home to several species of dolphins, including bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins. The islands are considered one of the best places to see whales and dolphins, with more than 20 species regularly spotted in the waters surrounding the archipelago. Visitors can take a dolphin watching tour from one of the many tour operators in the area, with a high likelihood of seeing these magnificent creatures.

Costa Brava, Spain

The Costa Brava, located in northeastern Spain, is a popular destination for dolphin watching. The rugged coastline of the region is home to several species of dolphins, including common dolphins, striped dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Roses or L’Estartit to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. The area is also known for its stunning scenery, with hidden coves, crystal-clear waters, and rugged cliffs.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is known for its stunning coastline, charming towns, and delicious cuisine. However, this region in southern Italy is also home to several species of dolphins, making it an excellent destination for dolphin watching. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Amalfi or Positano to see common dolphins, striped dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins swimming in the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Amalfi Coast is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its beautiful cliffside towns, colourful buildings, and stunning vistas.

Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve, located in southern Portugal, is another popular destination for dolphin watching. The warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean attract several species of dolphins, including bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Albufeira or Lagos to see these creatures up close. In addition to dolphin watching, the Algarve is known for its stunning beaches, charming fishing villages, and vibrant nightlife.

Pembrokeshire, Wales

Pembrokeshire is a stunning region in southwestern Wales, with a rugged coastline that attracts several species of dolphins, including common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Cardigan or Newport to see these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat. The area is also home to several species of seabirds, and visitors can see puffins, gannets, and shearwaters. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, where the coastline is protected, is also a great place for hiking and exploring the countryside.

Kefalonia Island, Greece

Kefalonia Island is one of the Ionian Islands and is located in the Ionian Sea. It is a popular destination for dolphin watching, and the waters around the island are home to several species of dolphins, including bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and striped dolphins. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Argostoli or Lixouri to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. The island is also known for its stunning beaches, charming villages, and traditional Greek cuisine.

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is another great destination for dolphin watching in Europe. The waters surrounding the island are home to several species of dolphins, including bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Los Cristianos or Puerto Colon to see these amazing creatures up close. Additionally, Tenerife is home to a variety of dolphin conservation volunteering programs, such as those offered by GVI. These programs provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about dolphin conservation efforts, contribute to research, and work with local organisations to protect these magnificent animals.

Hvar Island, Croatia

Hvar Island is located in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Croatia, and is known for its crystal-clear waters, stunning beaches, and vibrant nightlife. The island is also a popular destination for dolphin watching, with several species of dolphins, including common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins, frequently spotted in the waters around the island. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Hvar or Stari Grad to see these creatures up close. In addition to dolphin watching, Hvar Island is also known for its historical landmarks, charming towns, and delicious cuisine.

Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Isle of Skye, located off the west coast of Scotland, is known for its rugged coastline, stunning landscapes, and rich history. It is also a popular destination for dolphin watching, with several species of dolphins, including common dolphins and Risso’s dolphins, frequently spotted in the waters around the island. Visitors can take a boat tour from towns such as Portree or Uig to see these creatures up close. In addition to dolphin watching, the Isle of Skye is also known for its hiking trails, castles, and traditional Scottish culture.

In conclusion, Europe offers some of the most incredible destinations for dolphin watching, each with its unique experiences and charm. From the crystal-clear waters of the Azores Islands to the rugged coastlines of Scotland, travellers can witness the beauty of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. And for those who want to go beyond just watching and get involved in dolphin conservation, programs like those offered by GVI in Tenerife provide a unique opportunity to contribute to the protection of these amazing animals. No matter where you go, a dolphin watching experience is one you’ll never forget.

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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