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Edinburgh Zoo – tickets, prices, timings, what to expect and see


Edinburgh Zoo is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions, attracting more than 800,000 visitors annually.

The zoo is home to over 1,000 animals representing more than 200 different species from around the world.

It is an extraordinary wildlife experience for kids and adults alike.

Koalas, Penguin parades, Budongo Trail, etc., are some of the highlights of this century-old Zoo.

Edinburgh Zoo is a great destination for animal lovers of all ages, offering a unique opportunity to see some of the world’s most fascinating creatures up close.

This article shares everything you must know before booking your tickets for Edinburgh Zoo.

What to expect at Edinburgh Zoo

Visiting Edinburgh Zoo promises a delightful experience for animal enthusiasts, families, and anyone interested in wildlife conservation.

You can enjoy the charm of the penguin parade as these charismatic birds waddle around their enclosure and explore various penguin species.

Immerse yourself in the Budongo Trail, an exhibit designed to replicate the natural habitat of chimpanzees, observe intelligent behavior, and gain insights into primate conservation.

Engage yourself in unique animal encounters and experiences offered by the zoo and interact with certain animals under the guidance of expert zookeepers.

Learn how the Edinburgh Zoo contributes to global efforts in protecting endangered species through breeding programs and partnerships.

Stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens, enhancing the overall ambiance of the zoo, and enjoy scenic views of Edinburgh and its surroundings from different areas within the zoo.

At the end of your trip, explore the gift shops for souvenirs and memorabilia.

Whenever you feel tired or hungry, take a break at one of the zoo’s cafes or restaurants to enjoy a meal or snack.

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Where to book tickets

Tickets for Edinburgh Zoo are available online or at the box office window at the zoo.

Online ticket prices tend to be cheaper than tickets at the venue.

When you buy online, you can avoid the long queues at the attraction’s ticket counters.

Because the attraction sells a limited number of tickets, they may sell out during peak days. Booking early helps avoid last-minute disappointments.

How do online tickets work

Once you purchase Edinburgh Zoo tickets, they get delivered to your email address.

There is no need to get printouts of the ticket.

Walk up to the Edinburgh Zoo admissions area and show the e-ticket on your smartphone when you visit the attraction.

Edinburgh Zoo ticket prices

The regular Edinburgh Zoo ticket for adults between 16 and 64 is priced at £23. 

Children between three and 15 years get a discount and pay only £14.

Seniors (65+ years) and students (16+ years with valid ID cards) also pay a discounted price, and tickets cost £20.

Infants up to two years old can enter the zoo for free. 

Edinburgh Zoo tickets

This ticket gets you complete access to the Zoo, including –

  • All animals in the Zoo
  • All keeper talks planned for the day
  • All educational events and activities
  • All the restaurants

You can go to the top of Edinburgh Zoo and see Pentland Hills’s stunning views and the city’s skyline.

Book this popular ticket and spend an unforgettable day at Edinburgh Zoo, home of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and over 2,500 incredible animals worldwide.

You can immerse yourself in the dinosaur walk-through exhibition and see prehistoric beasts come to life around you against the backdrop of Scotland’s capital.

Comfortable shoes are recommended as there will be walking on some sloping surfaces.

Ticket Prices

Adult Ticket (16 to 64 years): £23
Child Ticket (3 to 15 years): £14
Student Ticket (16+ years with valid ID): £20
Senior Ticket (65+ years): £20

Kids aged two years and younger can enter for free.

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How to reach Edinburgh Zoo

The zoo is set on the south-facing slopes of Corstorphine Hill, giving extensive views of the city.

Address: 134 Corstorphine Rd, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, United Kingdom. Get Directions

You can take a car or travel by public transport. 

By Bus

If you are in the city, it is best to catch a bus to Edinburgh Zoo – Lothian’s Bus Nos 12, 26, or 31 take you straight to the Zoo entrance.

You can board any of the bus numbers mentioned here and get off at Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo (Stop 2), or Edinburgh Zoo (Stop 1).

Bus Nos. – 100 Airlink, Airport Express, Ember, X18, 12, 26, 31, N26, X38, N18

Airport to Edinburgh Zoo

If you plan to travel from Edinburgh Airport to Edinburgh Zoo, take the Airlink 100 express bus, which offers frequent departures, comfortable seating, and free WiFi.

An Airlink 100 Express leaves the airport every half hour and reaches the Edinburgh Zoo in 20 minutes. 

By Train

Two stations serve the city of Edinburgh – Waverley Station and Haymarket Station

We suggest you travel to these stations on Scotrail’s trains.

Once you get down, follow the bus recommendations above to reach the Zoo. 

By Car

If you wish to travel by car, turn on Google Maps and get started.

We don’t recommend getting to the attraction by car because the slots in Edinburgh Zoo’s car parking are limited.

Since the Zoo is in a residential area, you may find some parking nearby during the day.

There are numerous parking lots around the zoo.

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Opening hours of Edinburgh Zoo

All through the year, Edinburgh Zoo opens at 10 am, but its closing time changes according to the season. 

During the peak season of April to September, the Zoo closes at 6 pm, and in the winter months of November to February, it closes at 4 pm. 

During the shoulder months of October and March, Edinburgh Zoo closes at 5 pm. 

The Edinburgh Zoo is closed on Christmas Day. 

Some of the Edinburgh Zoo’s indoor enclosures, such as the Koala Territory, Wee Beasties, etc., can open later than the stated opening hours and may close 30 minutes before closing.

How long does Edinburgh Zoo take

The sloping parkland of Edinburgh Zoo covers an area of 33 hectares (82 acres) and is made up of many enclosures.

Instead of bars and cages, this Scottish Zoo has large, open enclosures and uses ditches and moats to separate the animals from the visitors. 

As a result, exploring this famous Zoo takes a bit more time, but visitors get back with a better sense of satisfaction. 

If you are visiting as a family with kids and plan to attend keeper talks, feeding sessions, etc., you will need 4 to 5 hours to explore the Edinburgh Zoo.

However, if you are a bunch of adults and want to wrap up soon, you can cover most animal exhibits in two hours.

You won’t have to waste your time at the zoo’s ticket counter if you purchase tickets in advance.

Best time to visit Edinburgh Zoo

The best time to visit Edinburgh Zoo is when they open at 10 am.

There are four advantages of starting early – the animals are most active early in the morning, the temperatures are still moderate, the crowd is yet to get in, and you have the whole day to explore.

We recommend weekdays for a peaceful visit because it gets crowded on weekends and school holidays.

When you start early, you can explore for a few hours, have lunch at one of the three restaurants, and then begin exploring the Zoo again. 

Important: When you buy Edinburgh Zoo tickets online, you can skip the long lines at the ticket office.

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What to see at Edinburgh Zoo

If you are out with your family and kids, we recommend you spend four to five hours exploring as much of the Zoo as possible. 

However, if you are hard-pressed for time, here is our list of the Edinburgh Zoo highlights. 

Penguins Rock

The centerpiece of Penguin Rock is the massive outdoor pool containing 1.2 Million liters of water.

In this enclosure, you will see more than 100 Penguins amongst the mock sandy beaches and rocky areas, making it seem as real as possible.

Don’t miss the famous penguin parade!

The Budongo Trail

Edinburgh Zoo’s Budongo Trail is an innovative, interactive Chimpanzee enclosure.

This exhibit is a sizeable indoor-outdoor environment that can house up to 40 chimps.

The Zoo authorities have customized this enclosure for the Chimps and the visitors.

While the Chimps get a network of rooms with different conditions, such as temperature, humidity, and lighting, the visitors get up-close viewing galleries, plasma screens, interactive displays, etc.

Brilliant Birds

Brilliant Birds is a new walkthrough aviary with exotic species from around the World.

See if you can spot the Bali Starling and Nicobar pigeon.

Kids love this must-see exhibit in Edinburgh Zoo because they get to feed the birds.

Koala Territory

Only four Koalas are in captivity in the UK and in Edinburgh Zoo’s Koala Territory.

Goonaroo, Alinga, Tanami, and Kalari are active throughout the day and provide excellent viewing.

This exhibit operates on slightly reduced opening hours, so ask for the day’s timings on arrival.

Wallaby Outback

The newly built Wallaby Outback is right next to the Koala Territory.

It houses a small herd of Swamp Wallabies.

If you are lucky, you can spot a Joey popping its head out of its mother’s pouch.

Wee Beasties

Opened in 2017, Wee Beasties is the Zoo’s latest indoor attraction.

It is an opportunity to discover unusual species worldwide and get closer to reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

This exhibit is behind Penguin Rock and is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm.

Edinburgh Zoo Gardens

Before this place became a Zoo in 1913, the site was a Nursery.

The tradition continues even today with a specialized team in place to manage the Zoo’s Gardens.

With 120 plus species, Edinburgh Zoo is one of the most diverse tree collections in the Lothians.

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Edinburgh Zoo animals

Edinburgh Zoo is home to more than a thousand animals from all around the World.

During your visit to the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, you can see them in their animal enclosures and attend their keeper talks.

Edinburgh Zoo Koala

Edinburgh Zoo is home to the UK’s only Queensland Koalas. 

The Zoo’s adult male Koala is the 16-year-old Goonaroo, and the female Koala is named Alinga (which means Sun). 

The other two Koalas in the enclosure are the four-year-old male Tanami and the two-year-old female Koala called Kalari. 

Kalari is Alinga’s daughter. 

You can meet them all at the Koala Territory. 

Edinburgh Zoo Tiger

The Tiger Tracks at Edinburgh Zoo is home to Dharma, a three-year-old Sumatran Tigress who came from Fota Wildlife Park.

The Zoo recently upgraded the Tiger Tracks to three times its previous size.

It now has a spectacular ground-level viewing tunnel and a high-level viewing area for visitors.

The new Tiger Tracks has climbing structures, a feeding post, heated rocks for the Tigeress to relax on, ponds to cool down in, and a new house.

Edinburgh Zoo Penguins

The Edinburgh Zoo hosts three kinds of penguins: king, rockhopper, and gentoo penguins. 

Visitors can find them at Penguin Rock, Europe’s largest outdoor penguin pool, 65 meters long and 3.5 meters deep (213 feet long and 11.5 feet deep).

Rockhopper Penguins are the smallest species of the 100-plus penguins at Edinburgh Zoo but have ‘huge’ attitudes. 

Fun Fact: King Penguins were one of the first species to be kept at Edinburgh Zoo and bred in 1919. It was the first captive breeding of the animal anywhere in the World, so Edinburgh Zoo’s logo features a King Penguin. 

Penguin parade

The famed Penguin March is Edinburgh Zoo’s top attraction, and visitors are known to time their visit around the Penguin Parade.

This parade isn’t something the Zoo planned.

Back in the 1950s, one of the gates was accidentally left open, and a Gentoo Penguin walked out.

The other Penguins followed the leader as the ZooKeeper waited to see what would happen next.

The tradition continues, just that now the gate is opened intentionally.

Gay Penguins

Many wonder if Edinburgh Zoo has gay penguins.

Even though rare, same-sex penguin partners do exist.

Some of the most popular Gay Penguins the World has seen so far are – 

In 2016, comedian Daniel Sloss spoke about the gay Penguins he had encountered in Edinburgh Zoo (watch video).

He followed up with an update on what happened when one of the gay Penguins died.

However, when writing this, we couldn’t find evidence of gay Penguins in Edinburgh Zoo. 

Edinburgh Zoo Elephants

Edinburgh Zoo used to have elephants in the days, as shown in the video below.

Sally was one of the most popular elephants at Edinburgh Zoo. Sally’s photograph taken in 1965

However, as of today they don’t have any elephants in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Zoo Giraffes

Visitors to Edinburgh Zoo had last seen Giraffes in 2004. 

After going without a Giraffe for almost 15 years, the Zoo started a campaign on World Giraffe Day 2019 called ‘Stick Your Neck Out for Giraffes.’

The Zoo authorities plan to collect £100,000 to create a unique Giraffe house with open spaces to roam and high-level walkways so visitors can come face to face with the animals.

Edinburgh Zoo Dinosaurs

The Edinburgh Zoo does have its share of Dinosaurs. 

They are part of a ‘Lost Worlds’ Chinese lantern festival in which 600-plus illuminated dinosaur lanterns are spread all over the Zoo.

This Edinburgh Zoo dinosaurs special usually runs from mid-November to January end of every year. 

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Edinburgh Zoo map

With more than 1000 animals to see, it is wiser to have a copy of the Edinburgh Zoo map to navigate the various exhibits.

Besides the animal enclosures, a map helps you identify visitor services such as restaurants, restrooms, souvenir shops, etc.

Carrying the Edinburgh Zoo’s layout is highly recommended if you are traveling with kids because you won’t waste time finding the various exhibits and, in the process, get exhausted.

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Restaurants at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo has two restaurants, one café (and some kiosks) offering a wide range of food and drinks to help visitors recharge themselves.

All these food outlets serve both adult and child portions. 

The Gannet

The Gannet is the latest edition to Edinburgh Zoo boasting a menu packed full of fresh, locally sourced ingredients for the whole family to enjoy.

The Gannet fish bar is open seven days a week, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Location: Next to the main lawn

Grasslands Restaurant

Grasslands Restaurant is the main catering outlet at Edinburgh Zoo. 

Some items on the menu are freshly made pasta, salads, stone-baked pizza, and some seasonal dishes.

The food gets served at the table, and the setting is perfect for families, couples, or solo visitors.

Grasslands Restaurant is open from 11.30 am to 3.30 pm during the peak season. And during the lean season, it closes half an hour early. 

Location: Mansion House, in the middle of the Zoo

Penguins Café

The Café serves a selection of breakfast rolls, ciabattas, salads, and soup.

If you are visiting with kids, check out the ‘Penguins Lunch Bags’ on offer.

Families also stop by the Penguins Cafe for their cakes and Walls and Mackie’s ice creams.

This outlet is open from 10 am until half an hour before the Zoo closes.

Location: Penguins Cafe overlooks the Penguins Rock

Picnic at Edinburgh Zoo

The Zoo authorities don’t allow visitors to set up their picnics inside restaurants or cafes. 

However, there are plenty of benches and picnic areas provided. 

We recommend the picnic area on the hilltop and the one in front of the Mansion House (main lawn).

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Edinburgh Zoo reviews

Edinburgh Zoo is a highly-rated tourist attraction.

Check out two Edinburgh Zoo reviews we picked from Tripadvisor, which will give you an idea of what to expect.

1. Amazing Day Out

Edinburgh Zoo is one of my favorite zoos in the UK as it has a wide range of animals—for example, Pandas, Koalas, Tigers, Lions, etc. 

One of my favorite things about the Edinburgh Zoo is its Penguin parade. The public lined outside a certain area and opened the door of the Penguin cage, allowing the Penguins to come out for a walk if they wished. This was such a unique opportunity. 

We spent around 5 hours there and at a very reasonable price. We will be back! – TravelWithChar, Southampton, UK

2. Day at the Zoo

A lovely day at the Zoo. It was such a great setting, with lots of nice areas to sit (even though it was cold). Seeing so many baby animals was amazing – three Lion cubs, a baby Chimp, and a baby Koala.

Seeing the Pandas was amazing. The zookeepers were all very informative. There are lots of interactive things to see and do as well. – Kelly T, Bristol, UK

FAQs about Edinburgh Zoo

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Edinburgh Zoo:

How do I book tickets for Edinburgh Zoo?

To avoid disappointment on the day of your visit, we recommend visitors book in advance. Tickets are limited and may sell out during school holidays and weekends – please remember to book your ticket online. The last entry is one hour before closing, and we advise giving yourself at least two hours to get around the park.

Can I use the car park available at the Edinburgh Zoo?

It is a city zoo, so parking spaces are limited and only available on a first-come, first-served basis. The car park is popular and fills up early in the day (sometimes before 11 am during school holidays and sunny weekends).
All car park users will need to take a ticket from the barriers on arrival and have this validated to exit the car park without paying full price (£10) at the machine. Parking for zoo visitors is £3.

Are any mobility vehicles or other accessibility services available at the Edinburgh Zoo?

Free mobility vehicles are available for those needing extra help navigating the zoo hills. Upon arrival, please ask the admission team for more information.
Wheelchairs are also available for hire on a first-come, first-served basis. Steep slopes and steps are signposted with alternative routes, and an updated mobility map is available for visitors.

# Visitscotland.com
# Wikipedia.org
# Tripadvisor.com

The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.

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Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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