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Best Places in Europe for Whale Watching

by Barbara Rogers

Sep 14, 2023

Humpback whale, Tromso, Norway © Lillian Tveit | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

While Americans may think of whale watching in the waters off New England, California and the Northwest, family travelers in Europe can find some world-class whale watching there, too.



Between May and September, look for orca, minke, and sperm whales in the waters of Northern Norway. Whale-watching tours are easy to book in Tromsø, or from the beautiful Lofoten Islands.


Tarifa, Spain

Between June and September, magnificent orca whales frequent the Straits of Gibraltar in search of food. The best place to find a tour is in the Spanish town of Tarifa.


Gran Canaria, Spain

Spain’s Canary Islands sit in the Atlantic, closer to North Africa than to the Spanish mainland. Although best known for its beaches, the south coast of Gran Canaria is prime for spotting finback, pilot and sperm whales at any time of year. While you’re there, take a glass-bottom boat tour from the beach at Maspalomas to see colorful fish and sea life.


Liguria, Italy

The waters off the Mediterranean coast near Genoa have been named a marine and whale sanctuary. Extending as far as the French coast and bounded by the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, the biodiverse waters are home to various whales and dolphins, as well as other large species.


Madeira, Portugal

The island of Madeira, located in the Atlantic 600 miles from mainland Portugal, is a prime spot for whale watching, with blue, fin, minke and pilot whales. Tours with marine biologists leave right from downtown Funchal, the capital city.


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