Anguilla anguilla is found in all European rivers draining to the Mediterranean, North and Baltic seas, in the Atlantic south to Canary Islands and parts of Mediterranean north Africa and Asia. It very rarely enters the White and Barents seas, but is recorded eastward to the Pechora River in northwest Russia. The species occurs in low abundance in the Black Sea where it migrates east to the Kuban drainage (occasional individuals reach the Volga drainage through canals), in northern Scandinavia and eastern Europe, but 'trap-and-transport' stocking is interfering with natural population numbers (W. Dekker pers. comm. 2007). Large parts of the population remain at sea particularly in the north western Atlantic and Mediterranean. It is also widely stocked in most inland waters of Europe.
The species is thought to breed in the Sargasso Sea in the West Central Atlantic, migrating across the Atlantic from Europe.