Escape to the Edinburgh Zoo for a few hours of animal-based adventures. Spread over an 82-acre (33-hectare) site, the zoo has a collection of more than 1,000 animals representing almost 200 species.
A popular first stop is the Budongo Trail, the zoo’s vast chimpanzee facility. Observe chimps climbing, stretching and exercising in their outdoor enclosures and network of indoor rooms. Explore the similarities and differences between chimps and humans with interactive digital games and mock skeletons.
Among the most famous zoo residents are the two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang. To view them in their enclosures you need to book in advance. Tickets are free, but places are limited. Groups are led through the viewing areas every 10 minutes.
Look up as exotic bird species fly overhead in the walkthrough aviary. The exhibit houses birds from all over the world. They include the critically endangered Bali starling and the Nicobar pigeon, the closest living relative of the dodo. Every afternoon there’s a talk about the zoo’s collection of birds.
Jump aboard the zebra trailer for the 30-minute Hilltop Safari. Starting at the duck pond, the tour takes about half an hour and travels past baboons, antelopes and big cats as the driver provides a running commentary.
Visit the Physics Garden where some of the medicinal plants have been planted in such a way that they resemble parts of the human body.
You can have preview glimpses or post-trip memories of your visit by viewing the live zoo-cams on the website. Year-round there are cameras focused on the pandas, penguins and squirrel monkeys. For some months of the year there is also a bird-box cam.
Located approximately 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) west of the city center, Edinburgh Zoo is easily reached. Four Lothian Bus routes stop outside the front entrance and limited paid parking is available.
Edinburgh Zoo is open daily but opening times vary throughout the year; check the zoo website for times. The zoo is situated on a hillside and visitors are advised to wear comfortable footwear.