Eurasian otter populations strongly declined and partially disappeared due to global and local causes (habitat destruction, water pollution, human persecution) in parts of their continental range. Conservation strategies, based on reintroduction projects or restoration of dispersal corridors, should rely on sound knowledge of the historical or recent consequences of population genetic structuring. Here we present the results of a survey performed on 616 samples, collected from 19 European countries, genotyped at the mtDNA control-region and 11 autosomal microsatellites. The mtDNA variability was low (nucleotide diversity = 0.0014; average number of pairwise differences = 2.25), suggesting that extant otter mtDNA lineages originated recently. A star-shaped mtDNA network did not allow outlining any phylogeographic inference. Microsatellites were only moderately variable (H (o) = 0.50; H (e) = 0.58, on average across populations), the average allele number was low (observed A (o) = 4.9, range 2.5-6.8; effective A (e) = 2.8; range 1.6-3.7), suggesting small historical effective population size. Extant otters likely originated from the expansion of a single refugial population. Bayesian clustering and landscape genetic analyses however indicate that local populations are genetically differentiated, perhaps as consequence of post-glacial demographic fluctuations and recent isolation. These results delineate a framework that should be used for implementing conservation programs in Europe, particularly if they are based on the reintroduction of wild or captive-reproduced otters.