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Edinburgh Zoo – tickets, prices, discounts, Giant Pandas, Penguin parade

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Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan


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

It is home to more than 1,000 animals and is an extraordinary wildlife experience for both kids and adults alike.

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

In this article, we explain everything you must know before you book your Edinburgh Zoo tickets.

How to get to Edinburgh Zoo

Address: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, 134 Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, UK. 

For directions to Edinburgh Zoo, it is best to rely on Google Map or the city’s public transport. 

Buses to Edinburgh Zoo

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 these buses from either HaymarketWaverly Station, or the Edinburgh City Center (Princess Street, Stop PX). 

Bus routes & timetable

Bus No. 12: Seafield > Leith > Princes Street > Haymarket > Zoo > Gyle Centre (Timetable)

Bus No. 26: Seton Sands/Tranent > Portobello > City Centre > Zoo > Clerwood (Timetable)

Bus No. 31: Bonnyrigg > City Centre > Zoo > East Craigs (Timetable)

Bus ticket prices

One-way bus ticket for an adult (16+ years) is 1.80 Pounds, and for a child it is 90p. 

The Bus driver won’t give back the change when you buy tickets, so carry the exact change. 

You can also purchase tickets from the Lothian Buses app

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. 

The Airlink buses operate from 4.30 am to 11.55 pm. 

One-way ticket costs 4.50 Pounds, and return tickets cost 7.50 Pounds. 

It is better to book your Edinburgh Airport to Edinburgh Castle bus ticket in advance. Book Now

Edinburgh Zoo 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 given above to reach the Zoo. 

Driving to the Zoo

If you use Satnav, use the postcode EH12 6TS.

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

The car parking fee is 4 Pounds per visit, and only cash is accepted.

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

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Edinburgh Zoo opening times

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 the Zoo’s stated closing time.

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Best time to visit Edinburgh Zoo

The best time to visit Edinburgh Zoo is as soon as 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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How long does Edinburgh Zoo take

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

Instead of the 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 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.

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

Edinburgh Zoo is on Corstorphine Hill, and some of the paths involve steep slopes. Please wear comfortable shoes. 

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Edinburgh Zoo ticket discount

The regular Edinburgh Zoo ticket for an adult costs 17.95 Pounds. 

The most significant discount on this ticket price is reserved for kids two years and below – they enter for free.

Children between 3 to 15 years get the second-best ticket discount – they get a waiver of 7.75 Pounds on the full adult ticket price and pay only 10.20 Pounds.

Seniors (65+ years) and students (with valid ID cards) get a 1.65 Pound reduction in the ticket price. 

Online ticket discount

When you buy Edinburgh Zoo tickets online, you pay 10% less than the venue’s ticket price.

This is known as the ‘online discount.’

This is because when you buy Edinburgh Zoo tickets at the venue, you also pay what is known as a ‘ticketing window surcharge’ – the cost of maintaining a ticketing window.

Saving with Edinburgh City Pass

Another way to claim a discount on your Zoo visit is by opting for the Edinburgh City Pass. 

It is a great way to save money – you pay once for the City Pass and then access 20 of the top city attractions for free! Find Out More

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Edinburgh Zoo tickets

This is the cheapest Edinburgh Zoo ticket because of the 10% discount on online purchases. 

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

This is a smartphone ticket, which means you don’t need printouts – you can show your email ticket on your phone and walk into the Zoo. 

You can cancel this ticket 24 hours before the date of the visit for a full refund.

Edinburgh Zoo prices

Adult ticket (16 to 64 years): 17.95 Pounds
Senior ticket (65+ years): 16.30 Pounds
Child ticket (3 to 15 years): 10.20 Pounds
Student ticket (with ID): 16.30 Pounds

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Edinburgh Zoo family ticket

Many visitors wonder if there is a family ticket on offer at Edinburgh Zoo before booking their tickets.

Unfortunately, the Zoo doesn’t offer a ‘two adults + two kids’ or ‘two adults + one kid’ combination just yet.

However, if you book your Edinburgh Zoo tickets online, you can still save 10% of the ticket cost. 

For instance, for a family of two adults and two kids (between 3 to 15 years), the Zoo tickets will cost 56.3 Pounds. 

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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 and explore as much of the Zoo as possible. 

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

Giant Panda Exhibit

The Giant Panda exhibit in RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is home to two Pandas – Tian Tian and Yang Guang.

Their section of the Zoo has tree trunks, sizeable wooden climbing frames, treehouses, caves, ponds, etc.

Visitors don’t need to book time slots for seeing the Pandas.

The Giant Pandas’ activity patterns vary each day, and there is no guarantee that you will find them active during your visit.

No flash photography is allowed in the Giant Panda exhibit.

Penguins Rock

The centerpiece of Penguin Rock is the massive outdoor Penguin 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 can be.

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 both 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

There are only four Koalas in captivity in the whole of the UK, and they are in Edinburgh Zoo’s Koala Territory.

Goonaroo, Alinga, Tanami, and Kalari are active all through the day and make for 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 even 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 check out unusual species from around the world and get closer to reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

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

Edinburgh Zoo Gardens

Much 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 Panda

RZSS Edinburgh Zoo houses the only Giant Pandas in UK. 

Edinburgh Zoo Panda
Image: Bbc.com

The female Giant Panda is Tian Tian (Sweetie), and the male is Yang Guang (Sunshine).

Since Pandas are solitary animals, they stay in separate enclosures. 

Baby Panda

Many visitors wonder if Tian Tian and Yang Guang have a baby Panda.

Unfortunately, despite many years of trying, they don’t have a kid yet.

However, Edinburgh Zoo does have a baby Panda called Ruaridh, which means ‘red-haired king.’

In Sep 2019, the cute endangered Red Panda was born to his mother Ginger, who had arrived in 2017 from the Netherlands. 

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 the 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 plays host to three kinds of Penguins – King Penguins, Rockhopper Penguins, and Gentoo Penguins. 

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

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

Fun Fact: King Penguins were one of the very first species to be kept at Edinburgh Zoo and bred, way back in 1919. It was the first captive breeding of the animal anywhere in the World, and that is why 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.

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

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

However, at the time of writing this, we couldn’t find any evidence of gay Penguins in Edinburgh Zoo. 

Edinburgh Zoo Elephants

Edinburgh Zoo used to have elephants back in the days, as you can see in the video below.

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

However, as of 2020, 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 decided to start 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 for them to roam and high-level walkways so that visitors can come face to face with the animals.

Edinburgh Zoo Dinosaurs

The Edinburgh Zoo does have its share of Dinosaurs. 

Just that they are part of a ‘Lost Worlds’ Chinese lantern festival in which you get to see 600 plus illuminated dinosaurs lanterns spread all over the Zoo. 

This Edinburgh Zoo dinosaurs special usually runs from mid-November to January end, 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 also 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 three cafés (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. 

Jungle Food Court

This restaurant serves classic fast food such as fish and chips, burgers, hot dogs, etc., and is ideal for families with kids. 

You can sit in, sit out, or just take your food and go.

Location: Next to the main lawn

Grasslands Restaurant

Grasslands Restaurant is the main catering outlet at Edinburgh Zoo. 

Some of the 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.

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

Location: Mansion House, in the middle of the Zoo

Penguins Cafe

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 picnic inside any 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 to go to in the UK as it has a range of animals. For example, Pandas, Koalas, Tigers, Lions, etc. 

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

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

2. Day at the Zoo

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

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

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