Change language

Top 5 zoo alternatives

Not up for the zoo? There’s an abundance of alternatives where you can get up close to the world’s most fascinating wildlife, often while making a valuable contribution to wildlife conservation.

Here are Booking.com’s recommendations for where to come face-to-face with your favourite animals, both in their natural habitat and in the care of humans.

Witness the beauty of wild dolphins at destinations around the world

Witness the beauty of wild dolphins at destinations around the world

Dolphin Watching

Is there anything more beautiful than seeing dolphins in the wild? Whether you book a trip with a reputable guide or set sail on a private boat, dolphin watching is an experience to remember. With over 40 distinct species of dolphins making their home in every corner of the world, there’s no shortage of destinations to visit where you can observe these intelligent creatures.

Get up close and personal with these gentle giants while whale watching

Get up close and personal with these gentle giants while whale watching

Whale Watching

Observing these gentle giants in their natural environment is genuinely breathtaking. Of course you have to keep your distance but a boat trip will be able to take you close enough for it to move most nature-lovers to tears. Lots of reputable companies in whale-watching areas offer guided boat tours. But if your sea-legs are a little shaky you can also enjoy some spectacular sightings from the shore with a pair of binoculars.

Arrange a visit to a wildlife centre and observe animals being rehabiliated before being released to the wild

Arrange a visit to a wildlife centre and observe animals being rehabiliated before being released to the wild

Wildlife

Because they open their doors to sick, injured or orphaned animals that need specialized care before they can be released successfully back into the wild, contact with humans is limited at these centres. Plus you’ll need to do a bit of planning to arrange a visit but there are often days where they are open to the public. And as such a rewarding experience and worthy cause, it merits a little extra logistical effort.

Take a trip to your local bird observatory to learn more about species in your area

Take a trip to your local bird observatory to learn more about species in your area

Bird Watching

A relaxing way to lap up the great outdoors, bird watching is an easy way to appreciate nature given that you can do it almost anywhere. Obviously a nature reserve is going to offer far more special sightings but that’s not necessarily what it’s all about. If you’re interested in learning more as you go, you can visit your local bird observatory. Here, staff will be able to give you more information on the birds you’ve spotted and maybe give you a hands-on experience with some of the species they are monitoring.

Live alongside your favourite wildlife at an eco safari

Live alongside your favourite wildlife at an eco safari

Safari

If the idea of living alongside wildlife as well as seeing them in their natural habitat sounds appealing, then an eco-vacation is what you’re after. From eco safaris and trekking the rainforest to trips to the North Pole, there’s a whole world of sustainable travel to explore.