Owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), this sprawling hillside zoo is home to more than 1,500 animals, from Sumatran tigers and lions to pygmy hippopotamus and giant anteaters. The star attractions, however, are the penguins—known for the daily strolls they take outside their enclosure—and the UK’s only giant pandas: Tian Tian and Yang Guang.
Visitors can pre-purchase admission tickets for the Edinburgh Zoo and take a self-guided tour of the facility; information boards provide information about the animals and the RZSS’s conservation work. There are also keeper talks, feeding sessions, and other educational events that take place daily. To delve deeper into the zoo and its fauna, pre-book keeper experiences, behind-the-scenes encounters, or workshops covering everything from photography to overcoming arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
Things to Know Before You Go
- Edinburgh Zoo is a must for animal lovers and families.
- Children 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
- Most, though not all, of the zoo is wheelchair accessible.
- Bring rainproof gear—many of the observation areas are outdoors.
How to Get There
Edinburgh Zoo is located in Corstorphine, about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) west of Edinburgh city center. To travel by public transport, take the Lothian Bus services 12, 26, or 31 right to the zoo. The 100 Airlink bus service (to and from the Edinburgh Airport from the city center) also stops outside the entrance.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the zoo is in summer when the weather in Edinburgh is typically warm and dry. The zoo is busiest on weekends; for a head start on the crowds, get there right when it opens.
The Penguin Parade
The daily penguin parade is one of zoo’s most popular events. During the parade, the gates to Penguins Rock are opened so the king, gentoo, and rockhopper penguins can take a stroll in the company of their keepers. The parade is voluntary—the penguins are not forced, or even encouraged with food, to walk. But when they do, it’s a wonderful opportunity to observe the adorable creatures in a different environment. Arrive early to grab a great view of the promenading penguins.