The 12 Best Zoos in Europe to Add to Your Bucketlist in 2024

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Looking for the best zoos in Europe? Look no further!

Europe is home to some of the world’s most stunning and renowned zoos. From the world-famous Berlin Zoo, with its vast selection of species, to the breathtaking Edinburgh Zoo, Europe provides a plethora of diverse and dynamic options.

Every time I go on a European city break, my and my daughter I end up visiting the zoo in that city on one of the days (and having an amazing time). Here are the BEST zoos in Europe.

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Best Zoos in Europe

Each zoo in Europe is unique. In this article, you will find a selection of the best European zoos worth visiting at least once, from Berlin Zoo, which has the world’s most extensive collection of animal species and Pairi Daizais – one of the best zoos with pandas in Europe!

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1. Vienna Zoo – The Best Zoo in Europe

vienna zoo, best ozos in europe
Credit: Vienna Zoo

The Vienna Zoo is located at Schönbrunn Palace. It is considered one of the oldest in Europe and the world. The history of this zoo dates to 1752 when Emperor Franz I ordered a menagerie to be organized on the territory of the residence.

The park is considered one of the most modern in terms of technical support and the best in terms of living conditions, which are as close as possible to the usual habitat of animals.

Vienna Zoo is the first zoo with a natural insemination panda birth in Europe.

Schönbrunn Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world. The big collection of more than 600 animal species also includes a fantastic rainforest house.

Also, Vienna Zoo is home to animals whose population is on the verge of extinction. Here you can see with your own eyes very rare species, an “African panorama”, the “Indonesian jungle”, and more, as well as have daily animal talks and take nighttime tours.

2. Whipsnade Zoo – The Biggest Zoo in Europe

whipsnade zoo, best zoos in europe
Courtesy of ZHL

The UK’s largest zoo, Whipsnade Zoo, is located on 243 hectares of beautiful parkland in the Chiltern Hills, north of London. You can view more of the best UK zoos here.

While visiting this popular attraction for kids near London, you can get up close and personal with a staggering array of creatures.

More than 2,500 animals live here, many of which are endangered in the wild. Also, the zoo itself is breeding endangered species. , You can see many of them, from big stars like lions, tigers, rhinos and elephants to smaller species like penguins, lemurs and red pandas.

Also, in one of the greatest European zoos, the Whipsnade Zoo, you can meet tropical insects and reptiles at the Discovery Center and Butterfly House or take a trip to see your favourite mammals on the free train Jumbo Express.

For a unique experience, you can book an overnight stay at the Lookout Lodge on the zoo grounds.

3. Chester Zoo

chester zoo, best zoos in europe
Courtesy of Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo, which is in Alton-by-Chester (Cheshire, England), is one of the best zoos in Britain. This is the sixth-largest zoo in the world and is very popular among tourists.

The founder of the zoo, George Mottershead, in the past, was a military man.

From early childhood, he dreamed of opening his own zoo, which would not be like other zoos.

He often saw the conditions in which animals are kept and wanted to show that they can be fine even in captivity. That’s how one of the best zoos in Europe was created.

Chester Zoo contains a minimum number of enclosures and cages, and special barriers and ditches have been formed to protect visitors. Its territory is as close as possible to the natural habitats of animals.

The zoo is home to about 400 species of animals, including elephants and black rhinoceros. Even the conditions of the rainforests of India are organized for them. For jaguars, the zoo made zones imitating the savannah.

4. Zoo Parc de Beauval, France

parc de beuval, zoos in europe

The Zoo parc de Beauval in the Loire Valley is one of the most beautiful zoos in the world, which is worth putting on your agenda for a family trip. Here you can admire kangaroos, koalas, okapis, tigers and white lions, Indian rhinos, sea lions and even giant pandas.

Zoo de Buval covers over 35 hectares and is home to 10,000 different animals of 600 different species. The zoo conducts active zoological research and supports more than 40 programs to preserve the planet’s biodiversity.

The Zoo du Buval was built thanks to the dream of Francoise Delors, whose passion was to save animals. The history of the Zoo de Buval began in 1980 with a small ornithological park. Over time, the zoo expanded, its collections grew, and tropical greenhouses appeared.

At the same time, the number of education courses and research programs increased. The results of these programs are presented not only in the form of scientific reports but also in the form of educational and entertainment shows and thematic lectures.

5. Prague Zoo

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Prague zoological garden is one of the best zoos not only in Europe but in the whole world. The Prague Zoo is located in a picturesque part of the city, on the territory of the Troja Park. It is next to the Botanical Garden and Troj Castle.

The zoo first opened in 1931. It contains 113 mammals, 159 species of birds, 34 species of reptiles, and about 300 species of plants. The zoo even has galápagos tortoises and a polar bear!

Prague Zoo specializes in the restoration of endangered species. When entering Prague Zoo, you can see the prints of the most famous inhabitants of the menagerie throughout its history.

The total area is 60 hectares, 50 of which are occupied by the area for animals. The zoo is also unusual in its structure: it is located on two levels, connected by a funicular

. The living conditions of animals are as close as possible to natural ones, there are practically no cages here (except for predators), and the enclosures are mainly equipped with glass panels.

Thanks to this, there is free contact with the zoo’s inhabitants, which makes visiting the zoo even more exciting. A kids’ petting zoo is the favourite among kids.

6. Pairi Daiza Zoo, Belgium

Pairi Daiza Zoo is one of the best zoos worldwide. It is a private zoo and a picturesque botanical garden in Belgium, the commune of Brugelet.

The zoo contains more than 4,000 animals and participates in the European environmental program, contributing to the conservation of rare species.

The area of the park territory is 65 hectares. This beautiful zoo is one of the most interesting places for a family visit.

The Pairi Daiza Zoo was created as a bird park in 1993. Since 2000 it has become a home for other animals – otters, meerkats, alligators, and polar bears.

Since then, the owners of Pairi Daiza began to replenish the collection of animals actively and opened an aquarium in 2001.

After 8 years, in 2009, an amazing Buddhist-themed garden opened on 4 hectares of the park’s territory. Also, the zoo has the largest aviary and kids’ educational farm.

7. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, England

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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has one of the best zoos in England and one of the largest in Europe.

It was founded in 1923 by millionaire Herbert Whitley. Since 2001, the park has been reconstructed, and now the entire infrastructure of the zoo meets European standards.

Today, the animal world of Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is diverse and unique.

Since its opening, Paignton Park has set high goals: protecting the environment, flora and fauna.

The park’s pride is a huge collection of plants from around the globe. Some of the species are bred in the park itself.

8. Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland

The Edinburgh Zoo is one of the best in Europe, covering an area of 33 hectares on the southern slope of the picturesque Corstorphine Hill. The main purpose of its creation in 1913 was to preserve endangered species.

About 600 thousand tourists visit this fantastic zoo every year. Previously it used to be called the Scottish National Zoological Park.

All animals here live in an environment as close to nature as possible. In total, there are approximately 1080 individuals in the zoo, from exotic animals to domestic animals.

The Edinburgh Zoo has several chimpanzees, penguins, and giant pandas in this territory. The first pair of giant pandas arrived at the zoo in 2011.

The zoo administration planted 25 varieties of bamboo so that the animals feel comfortable and start breeding here.

Much earlier, in 1919, penguins first appeared at the Edinburgh Zoo. Tourists can admire the penguins through the glass walls of the huge pool, where they love to swim.

9. Berlin Zoological Garden

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Image by Volt2011

Berlin zoological garden is the oldest and largest (both in terms of area and number of animals) zoo in Germany; it opened on the site of the former royal pheasant yard in 1844 in the Berlin district of Tiergarten.

It occupies an area of 35 hectares, is home to 1,500 species of animals (about 17,000 individuals) and is the best zoo in Germany.

The spacious and beautiful park, immersed in greenery in the warm season, is one of the most popular places for recreation for city residents and tourists.

In addition to interestingly designed and easy-to-view enclosures, visitors are offered a lot of numbers and scientific information on stands next to the animals.

Berlin Zoo has a special children’s zone where they can feed goats and sheep, participate in special events, and visit a pavilion with monkeys, nocturnal animals, and an aquarium.

Here you will find all the popular animals – penguins, elephants, red deer, including less-known species of rare deer.

10. Innsbruck Alpine Zoo, Tyrol

innsbuck zoo, best zoo europe
Image by Vanessa

The Alpine Zoo in Innsbruck, Western Austria, is located on the Nordkette mountain, just a 15-20 minute walk from the city centre.

It is one of the best European zoos. Over 2000 animals of 150 species live in the natural environment on an area of almost 5 hectares.

The founder of the Alpine Zoo was the famous Austrian zoologist Professor Hans Psenner.

While still a young scientist, he proposed the idea of creating a zoological garden in Austria, which would mainly contain animals in the Alps. In 1962 Alpine Zoo opened its doors to visitors.

During the first three months of operation, the zoo received 30000 people; by the beginning of the 21st century, it reached 300 thousand people.

In 2000, with the support of the municipality of Innsbruck, the zoo underwent a significant renovation: the area where the wild animals were kept was expanded, and large-scale facilities for birds of prey were built.

11. London Zoo

London Zoo is the best zoo in the UK and also the oldest zoo in Europe. It was founded in 1828 by the London Zoological Society. At first, it was available only for scientific research, and in 1847, it opened its doors to the general public.

Today so many animals live here! About 755 species numbering more than 16,000 individuals, including lemurs, giraffes, brown bears, and many more. The London Zoo has been a pioneer in many ways.

The first aquarium, serpentarium and “children’s zoo” appeared here, where children can get to know and communicate with pets and attend exciting activities.

London Zoo is a very nice place for walking and getting to know its inhabitants.

A minimum of cages and nets, spacious enclosures and pavilions that allow you to get as close as possible and see non-dangerous animals, exciting educational programs and performances – all this is the famous London Zoo!

12. ARTIS Zoo Amsterdam

The Artis Zoo in Amsterdam is one of the best zoos in Europe. It was founded in 1838 by the independent association Natura Artis Magistra (Latin for “Nature is the teacher of the art”). For the first 100 years after that, only members of this association could visit it.

Its area is approximately 15 hectares, on which there are cages and aviaries with more than 900 species of animals and birds. Children will be especially impressed by a visit to the zoo in Amsterdam.

There are a lot of open enclosures with beautiful animals, separated from visitors only by a deep moat, and a petting zoo with small farm animals.

The zoo can be proud of the world’s second-largest aquarium in terms of the number of fish and marine life and an extensive collection of exotic birds and insects – more than 200 species.

13. Budapest Zoo

Situated uniquely in the heart of Budapest’s City Park, the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and dedication to wildlife conservation.

Dating back to 1866, this zoo holds the prestigious title of being the oldest in Hungary and ranks amongst the world’s most ancient zoological parks.

With its gates opening to over a million visitors annually, it’s no wonder that the Budapest Zoo has remained a beloved attraction for both locals and tourists alike.

Its central location, a rarity for most world-renowned zoos, offers a juxtaposition of urban life against the vibrant backdrop of nature and biodiversity.

The park proudly houses 1,072 animal species, including rare and endangered ones.

Notably, visitors are welcomed by the majestic Persian Leopard, the playful Golden Lion Tamarin, and the imposing White Rhino, each telling a unique tale of the world’s diverse habitats and the challenges they face.

Beyond its fauna, the Budapest Zoo also takes pride in its botanical gardens.

As visitors traverse the walkways, they are treated to a lush display of flora that complements the animal exhibits, making every step an education in both plant and animal life.

Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden has some amazing conservation projects, working tirelessly for 150 years in the preservation of species and education of its visitors.

As part of a global network, the zoo’s commitment to safeguarding endangered species and their habitats remains unwavering.

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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.