Cologne’s zoo is in Riehl, north of the city center along the Rhine River. It was founded in 1860 and is Germany’s third-oldest zoo. It’s home to more than 500 species of animals from every ocean and continent, including predators and big cats.
The zoo features displays as diverse as a 19th-century menagerie to a dense rainforest habitat. View the big cats in their glass-fronted enclosure. Visit the zoo’s elephant park, which was opened in 2004 and remains one of the largest in northern Europe. Here you can meet Maha Kumari, the baby elephant, and her brothers and sisters Marlar and Ming Jung.
Apes roam the jungle house exhibit, where you’ll also find exotic birds and reptiles. Bird lovers will also enjoy the Eulenkloster enclosure, where owls nest. Some bird species such as peacocks roam the grounds freely.
The zoo covers 20 hectares (50 acres). It’s easy to navigate, thanks to well-signed paths and a simple layout. Many of the enclosures are indoors, so the zoo is worth a visit in any kind of weather.
An aquarium sits beside the zoo and is included in the ticket price. It introduces visitors to a diverse underwater world with a variety of marine animals, including tropical fish, star fish and seahorses. You’ll also find a terrarium – a glassed-in garden – and an insectarium, for spotting insects.
A trip to Cologne Zoo and the aquarium is a full-day activity. The zoo is open 365 days a year. Check the official website for seasonal opening hours and ticket prices, as well as feeding times and special events.
To get there, take the U-Bahn line 18 from the central station. In the warmer months you can also catch the Zoo Express mini-train. It leaves every 30 minutes from Cologne Cathedral on the banks of the Rhine, opposite the tourist information office.