A few weeks ago we got an offer from Edinburgh Zoo through the post we couldn’t resist – one third off a year’s membership. We were previously members and missed the opportunity to go for a few hours on a weekend. So we decided it was worth signing up again for a year. It will pay for itself in only a couple of visits.
Edinburgh Zoo is situated on the west side of the city, not too far from Murrayfield Stadium. It’s easy enough to find by car, particularly if you’re using a sat nav. It’s well signposted too. There’s a steep and windy road to negotiate to get up to the car park. You can also get to the zoo easily by bus and there are bus stops right outside the entrance. If you want to go by tram, the nearest stop is about a mile away and the nearest train station is Haymarket which is a couple of miles away.
Edinburgh Zoo Tickets
A day trip to Edinburgh Zoo certainly isn’t cheap. The prices are currently:
|Ticket Type||Online Price||Walk-up Price|
|Child (3-15 Years)||£9.95||£9.95|
|Child (under 3)||Free||Free|
If you’re booking tickets online, you need to do it at least three days in advance. It’s worth doing though to save a few pounds. If you’re driving there’s also a charge of £4.00 to use the car park. It’s worth getting there early because the car park gets full pretty quickly.
If you live anywhere close to Edinburgh Zoo and think you’re likely to visit a few times a year, it’s worth taking out membership. It pays for itself within a couple of visits. Annual membership will set you back:
|Ticket Type||Price||Direct Debit|
|Child (3-15 Years)||£32.00||£31.50|
Included as part of your membership, you get the following benefits:
- Unlimited free admission
- Discounted admission for family and friends
- Discounts in the gifts shop, restaurants and cafés
- Free entry to reciprocal zoos
- Exclusive zoo entry via the Member’s Gate
- Discounted car park charge
When it comes to Edinburgh Zoo most people probably think of the pandas. They’re the only ones in the UK so they’re a big draw. They have a female panda called Tian Tian and a male called Yang Guang which are on loan to the zoo for 10 years.
You used to have to book a timeslot to see the pandas but currently you don’t have to. They’re kept in separate enclosures which have an indoor and outdoor section. You’ll be unlucky if you don’t see one of them walking around the enclosures. Although quite often they like to take a nap indoors!
There’s are loads more animals to see apart from the pandas though. Edinburgh Zoo also has the UK’s only koalas. They are nearly always asleep but it’s nice for the kids to see them even if the koalas are in dreamland.
One of our particular favourites is the penguin enclosure. The main pool at Penguin Rock is Europe’s largest. You can see King Penguins, Gentoo Penguins as well as Northern Rockhopper Penguins there. As you’re walking down towards the panda enclosures, you can also watch the penguins swim underwater. They’re pretty inquisitive creatures!
The further you go into the zoo, the steeper it gets. Walking up to the top really does give you some great views across Edinburgh and over to the Pentlands. There’s not an awful lot to do up there though. Other than the lions and tigers, it feels a bit sparse up there. There’s a picnic and play area up there so it’s often better left for summer time.
You can be unlucky sometimes with the animals throughout the zoo. They can be quite elusive. We didn’t see either panda the last time we went as they kept disappearing between the indoor and outdoor enclosures. On the other hand we had a great time watching the rhino playing with a huge tractor tyre in it’s enclosure.
Eating At Edinburgh Zoo
We’ve been visiting Edinburgh Zoo for a number of years now and over time the food offering has certainly improved. There are currently three places to get a meal at the zoo:
- Jungle Food Court
- Grasslands Restaurant
- Penguins Café
The Jungle Food Court doesn’t open all year round but when it does, it has a burger bar, traditional chip shop, pizzeria and ice cream coffee bar. The Grasslands Restaurant offers freshly-made pasta, salads, stone-baked pizzas, homemade soup as well as carvery baguettes. If you’re just after a snack then the Penguins Café might be your best option. We had a coffee in their on our last visit and a cake to keep us going. The kids had hot chocolate and a cake.
Edinburgh Zoo is definitely worth a visit, particularly in the summer time. It’s quite a hilly place so it’s worth taking your time to get around it all. If you’ve got a pram or a buggy it can be challenging but if you have little ones it means they’ve got somewhere to retreat to if they get tired. We really like having the annual membership because it means we can visit for a couple of hours every few weeks. We always get to see something different every time!