Best Places for Wildlife Watching on a Self-Catering Holiday

Owl in a tree

Do you love to spot wildlife and want to enjoy wildlife watching on a self-catering holiday in the UK?  Whether you love looking out for birds, seeing small mammals like foxes or badgers or larger mammals such as deer or foxes in their natural habitat or taking to the sea and seeing seals, whales or plankton feeders such as basking sharks on holiday, the UK is home to an exciting range of wonderful creatures and fauna.

For guaranteed sightings, wildlife parks of course are a good choice, but for many, the excitement of wildlife watching on holiday lies in seeing birds and animals in their natural habitat, and the suspense and adventure of spotting wildlife out in the great outdoors is all part of the appeal.



Want to Discover Some of the UK’s Best Places for Wildlife Watching on Holiday?

For tourists who love to wildlife watch on holiday, you will want to find out which are the best destinations for wildlife watching on a break in the UK.  Unsurprisingly, wildlife is most often found in quieter more sparsely populated areas in Britain.  Although certain areas that are not completely off the beaten path are also good for wildlife watching.  Often it can depend, just what type of wildlife you want to spot and also what type of self-catering holiday you are searching for. 


What Type of Wildlife Watching do you want to enjoy on Holiday?

Do you want to spot deer, foxes or other small mammals?  Or do you want to spot otters?  Birds such as incredible sea eagles or red kites?  Or do you want to catch a glimpse of a whale or orca perhaps?  Different places in the UK are good for spotting different types of creatures, although if you have a general interest in wildlife and just hope to spot maybe some squirrels, birds or foxes, then booking a remote or rural retreat cottage is a good bet.


Best Destinations for Spotting Certain Types of Animals and Birds


Some of the Best Types of Places to Wildlife Watch in the UK include:


Best Places to Bird-Watch on Holiday

PuffinsDo you love to bird-watch on holiday?  Whether you’re an avid twitcher, a keen photographer or someone who takes joy from watching your furry friends, the UK is a great place to bird-watch. 

Read our guide on the Best Places to Bird-Watch on holiday in Britain.


Head in to the countryside, in to the National Parks and in to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and to the coast where you can find a variety of sea birds.  Quieter and more remote locations are ideal for bird watching.  Other great places to enjoy seeing a variety of birdlife, include nature reserves and RSPB reserves.

Deer spotting

The UK is home to both Atlantic grey and common seals and some people love to watch seals in pupping season where you may be able to see the ever so cute pups with their white coats.   There are various places in East Anglia to go seal watching, including Norfolk and Essex, as well as places like Northumberland in the North of England and parts of Wales.

•    Read our guide to some of the UK's top spots for seal watching on holiday.

Whale watching

For one of the very best places for whale watching opportunities in the UK, head for the more remote parts of Scotland such as the Scottish Islands like Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and the Isle of Skye.  Sightings are never guaranteed and can be weather dependent, but boat trips are exciting nevertheless and even if you don't spot whales, you may catch sight of a basking shark or a seal.

For more information, read our guide on the best UK destinations for whale watching.


Britain's Nature Reserves 

Nature ReserveBritain’s nature reserves are often well preserved and protected areas, and as such can be great areas to spot wildlife.  There are a wide variety of nature reserves dotted throughout the UK, including Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves, National Nature Reserves, local reserves and RSPB Reserves. 

These reserves are protected areas where local species and habitats are protected for wildlife and visitors to enjoy.



Britain’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Glenveagh National ParkProtected and unspoilt, Britain’s National Parks with their large areas of unspoilt countryside are a great place to enjoy exploring the great outdoors, along with a spot of wildlife watching along the way.   The UK’s areas of outstanding natural beauty are also pristine areas, where you may be lucky enough to spot wildlife in their natural environment.

Find a cottage in a National Park and enjoy staying in one of Britain's breathing spaces.



Remote and Rural Destinations for Wondrous Wildlife Watching

Some of the best places for wildlife watching in Britain are found in the most remote and rural parts of the British Isles.  Where human activity is lower and there is less human habitation, animals and wildlife thrive and flourish.

Spots like the Scottish Highlands and Islands can be wonderful for bird watching for sea eagles, eagles and other birds.  Parts of Wales, such as Skomer Island, can be wonderful for seeing unusual birds like puffins and other sea birds.

When it comes to spotting mammals, seals and in season, seal pups can be found in various parts of the UK, including parts of Norfolk, Essex and Wales.  Dolphin watching can be enjoyed in the Moray Firth, the Black Isle in Scotland and in Cardigan Bay and elsewhere in Wales.  Deer watching opportunities are plentiful in various parts of South East England such as Hertfordshire and Essex, and also in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.  If wild ponies are more your thing, these can be seen in the New Forest National Park, and also in Bodmin Moor in the South West of England, just don’t try to hitch a ride as these wild horses roam free! Golden Eagle





Safari Parks

For guaranteed animal sightings, Safari Parks are hard to beat.  Although the UK does not have the climate experienced in countries like South Africa, you can still see a fascinating array of animals on a visit to one of the UK’s Safari Parks, although for some, this experience is too zoo-like and can’t come close to the thrill of seeing animals in their natural environment.

For more ideas and inspiration read our blog post on some of the UK's best wildlife watching holiday destinations in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.


The Scottish Islands

Away from the towns and cities, many parts of Scotland are sparsely populated, so it’s possible to see golden eagles soaring elegantly in the skies in the Scottish Highlands. 

For the very best wildlife watching opportunities head for the more remote parts of Scotland such as the Northern Highlands, the Isle of Skye where you may spot sea eagles, do a spot of whale watching and see deer roaming free. 

The Isle of Mull is home to the UK’s largest population of eagles and as well as being a soulful place is a great place to whale watch too.  Largely uninhabited, the Isle of Rum is another great place to wildlife watch where you may see eagles, various sea birds, red deer roaming free and Rum ponies.

Islands in Wales

Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast, is one of the very best places in Wales to wildlife watch.  Protected and managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, this mostly uninhabited island is a haven for a diverse range of wildlife including puffins and various sea birds.  It’s also a great place to see beautiful wild flowers in season, along with dolphins, porpoises and seals.

Boat trips can be booked for day visits in season.

Another great place for wildlife watching is Ramsey Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast.  Boat trips run in season which give travellers a chance to see the population of Atlantic grey seals that call this part of Britain home.



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