A day out at the zoo
Edinburgh Zoo is a fantasic day out for people of all ages. I have been going to the zoo since I was a child, but now it was my turn to take some smaller members of my family for another visit.
The admission price is not cheap, so make sure you can spend a few hours minimum in the zoo, ideally the whole day. Children under 3 do go free and there are family tickets available. There is limited parking in the zoo car park, but it really is easy to get there by bus.
You are warmly welcomed into the zoo and given a map, but I found that everything is well signposted. Edinburgh Zoo is on a steep slope and comfy shoes are a must. If you have a buggy in tow, a full days’ walking around counts as a workout, so don’t feel guilty when you stop for an ice cream at one of the many stalls dotted around the park.
The Hilltop Safari is included in the admission price and is a great way to get orientated and also a great way to save walking to the top of the zoo ! You get a commentary on board and can start spotting some animals.
Check out the times of the daily events so that you don’t miss something you really want to see such as the penguin parade.
There is no best route around the zoo, just keep on wandering. Sometimes the animals you want to see might be hiding indoors, so you need to try again. When we visited the African plains, the zebras were hiding under the trees, so had to wait a while before they came out onto the grass again
We then arrived at the big cats section where we got up and very close with one of the tigers. Thankfully there is a huge pane of glass separating you and the animal, not that the little ones I was with were fazed whatsoever when near-kissing this beast!
Our next stop was the Budongo Trail or the ‘bongo trail’ as my nephew likes to call it. This attraction opened last year and is nothing short of fantastic. The chimps are allowed to play and climb out doors, with viewing areas for visitors, but when they are inside, thanks to the new centre, you can see them equally aswell through glass on the first floor, so you are eye level to where the chimps climb up.
Beside the outside viewing area, there is a play park, one of many dotted around the park. My tribe played on there for a while, waiting for the chimps to come back out and then we ate our lunch on one of the benches there. I was organised and took a packed lunch, but there are a couple of cafes and numerous kiosks around the park.
Next stop was the daily penguin parade where they come out of their enclosure (if they want) and say hello.
Other favourites with the kids were the rhinos and the pygmy hippos, along with the walk through Rainbow Landings (check opening times). The koalas were sleeping the 3 times we visited them but the sea lions were having a cuddle fest.
You have to leave the zoo through the gift shop, but can do it swiftly to avoid the ‘can I have …..?’ questions.
The zoo continues to be a great day out and learning experience for children. Our top tips are comfy shoes, waterproof jacket, bottles of water, small snacks (in case hunger strikes when you are at the top of the zoo) and your camera.
The kids loved the day out, but I secretly really enjoyed it to as I’m a big kid at heart! Highly recommended from Edinburgh Spotlight
Suitable for disabled? Although the zoo in on an extremely steep slope, with a bit of muscle power, it is suitable for wheelchairs. Look at the downloadable map for where is accessible and the zoo’s guide for visitors with disabilities.