Austria's high mountains offer a combination of glorious scenery, picture-perfect views, delicate alpine blooms and fascinating insect life. The upper slopes are populated by chamois, ibex and wild boar, and the country whose national bird, the black eagle, features on its coat of arms is a great place for birdwatching.
This Portuguese mid-Atlantic archipelago is a haven of calm. Lush volcanic islands are surrounded by ocean that is home to an exceptional variety of whales and dolphins. No fewer than 26 species have been recorded in recent years, and almost any outing usually reveals six to eight different species.
One of Europe’s last remaining wildernesses – a mosaic of taiga forest, crystalline lakes, peat bogs, and pine heathland – stretches from Finland into Russia. This undisturbed countryside is the best in Europe for viewing brown bears and makes a perfect refuge for its 430 bird species, 100,000 moose and around 200 wolves.
With Atlantic, Mediterranean and North Sea coastlines, and great mountain ranges such as the Alps and the Pyrenees, as well as lesser ones, France exhibits a wide diversity of habitats. This, along with the largely agricultural landscape and relatively sparse population in some regions, ensures a rich flora and fauna.
Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans merge, this island nation has the world’s northernmost capital city. The sparsely populated interior consists largely of a plateau covered by mountains and glaciers, with areas of intense volcanic activity, and the surrounding seas are rich in marine life.
Stretching from the highest peaks of the Alps to the island of Sicily, with the mountains of the Apenninines along its entire length and two long coastlines, Italy presents various different habitats. Add to this the mountainous island of Sardinia and there is enough to engage any serious lover of wildlife.
Located on the Black Sea at the crossroads of southeastern Europe, Romania has a vast area of undisturbed forest. A good indicator of its integrity is the presence of fauna that includes 60% of Europe's brown bears and 40% of its wolves. The Danube Delta also demonstrates exceptional biodiversity, with over 300 species of bird.
On the east coast of the Highlands, the Moray Firth is home to one of just three UK populations of bottlenose dolphins. Further north, the seas around Shetland are one of the best places in the British Isles to see marine mammals, while huge colonies of seabirds create a unique spectacle.
With a long and rich history, the principal country of the Iberian Peninsula has a surprising wealth of wildlife in its national parks and reserves. A patchwork of protected areas harbours several endangered species that have been saved from the brink of extinction by effective conservation.
Despite being the EU’s third largest country, with only 9.5 million inhabitants – most of whom live in the southern cities – population density is low. As you head north farmland changes to forest, which covers some 65% of Sweden, and – along with the abundant rivers and lakes – is ideal for wildlife.