12 Best Zoos in England for a Day Out

Visiting the best zoo in England is a great idea for day out. Let us take you through England’s best zoos so you can pick your favourite.

We have some cool animals here, all carefully homed and looked after by attentive and caring staff. Zoos in England are a high quality thanks to the laws and general love of animals here. If ever you’re worried about the size of their compounds, or what they’re eating / when they’re sleeping – just ask the staff.

Colchester Zoo, Essex, UK - July 27 2018:  Giraffe's head and long neck stretching across metal railings to reach out to fresh leaves being offered at feeding time.

Whatever they’re doing will be for the best for the animal. You don’t need to worry about animal welfare in the zoos in England.

English zoos make sure to give all the animal and nature lovers the best opportunity to experience all the species in their natural habitat. They’re also a great educational opportunity for children to learn more about animals, and animal care.

It’s hard to choose the best zoo in England, but here are seven of the most highly rated according to me, my friends and the internet reviews.

12 Contenders for the Best Zoo in England

england zoos

Visit one of the best zoos in England and you can expect a good amount of primates, birds, reptiles and mammals to wow you. All the zoos in England will have some sort of play area for toddlers and kids, a cafe or bar, a picnic are to bring your own and a gift shop or two too.

Sign up to the individual zoos’ emailing lists to get notified of special offers, as you can sometimes get some good deals to bring the costs down. Especially in the off season.

1. Regents Park’s Zoo – The London Zoo, London

The London Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in England. It was established in 1828 and is the most ancient scientist zoo in the entire world.

best zoos in england

At first, the London Zoo was the main hub for scientists where they could work on scientific studies related to animals and nature. After some time, in about 1874, the London Zoo was then open for the public and tourists to visit nature’s beauty.

London Zoo has the largest collection of different species of animals. There are over 19,000 animals at London Zoo of hundreds of different species.

The Insect House is very popular here, the zoo for children is always a winner and there’s also an aquarium.

During the summer they run Zoo Lates where you can enjoy a silent disco, and see the animals with more adults around rather than children.

If you want to spend longer than a day at London Zoo, then you can also stay over. These cabins are available year round and you’ll get dinner, breakfast, and an after hours tour of the zoo too.

Book online in advance to receive 10% off standard gate ticket prices and save time on the gate.

Tickets bought online on the day of your visit will be charged at the standard rate (same price as on the gate).

2. Chester Zoo, Cheshire

Chester Zoo is commonly known as the best zoo in England. It’s ranked in the list of top zoos in the entire world and is one of the largest zoos in the UK.

21739170 - black rhino at chester zoo

Located in Cheshire, Chester Zoo covers about 125 acres of land.  There are about 400 species of animals here, and 12,000 to look at. You’ll need a whole day at Chester Zoo to get the best of it, and to see as many of the experiences here as possible.

There are boat trips on the river here so visitors can observe different animals doing their activities. Chester Zoo is so great in fact, it makes our list of the top days out in each of the counties of England.


The Best Days Out in Cheshire


It’s hard to choose between the best zoos in the UK, there are so many zoos in England, but we’ve narrowed it down thanks to our community. Everyone’s got their favourite UK zoo, I guess you’ll just have to visit them all to find yours!

3. Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Whipsnade Zoo is the biggest zoo in England and covers 600 acres of land. Whipsnade is famous for having the largest collection of wildlife of all the zoos in England.

zoos in england

Due to the size of the zoo, visitors can ride around on a bus or via train service. You can also drive around in your car, like on a safari. The African lions are incredible.

Most of the animals in Whipsnade Zoo are considered to be endangered species. At Whipsnade you can see their herd of elephants, a waddle of penguins and a tower of giraffes too. There are also cheetahs and lemurs for you to see, and don’t miss the mesmerising butterfly house there too.

Chinese water deer, Muntjac deer, wallabies and Mara roam freely, and peacock too.



Try out our BIG Wildlife Quiz here – how many can you score?

4. The Bristol Zoo, Bristol

Bristol Zoo is not as large as the other zoos, covering just 12 acres. But what a beautiful 12 acres it is.

UK, Bristol - April 2019: Rhinoserous iguana in captivity, close up

There are around 7000 animals here, from 450 individual species. There are about 50 species of incredible mammal collection, including red pandas, gorillas, and Asiatic lions. Bristol Zoo makes for a strong contender for best city zoo in England for sure!

The zoo consists of a reptile house, an insect house, an aquarium, and a large enclosure for penguins and seals on the outside of the aquarium. In fact, the Bristol aquarium is so good, we’ve decided it’s one of the best aquariums in England.

You’ll also find a range of spiders and gibbons too.

Visiting Bristol Zoo makes for a great afternoon on a day out in Bristol – enjoy!

Map of the best zoos in England

Best zoos in england

5. Marwell Zoo, Hampshire

Marwell Zoo covers around 140 acres. There are 270 endangered and exotic species here, and about 1200 animals here. Expect frilled lizards, giraffes and ring-tailed coatis, as well as African wildlife displays.

Best zoos in england

Marwell Zoo is the biggest zoo in Hampshire with 100s of animals, including tigers & penguins. There are four adventure playgrounds here, as well as a cafe and gift shop. This is the best zoo in England for me, as it’s the closest one to my house!

READ MORE: 19 Brilliant Days Out in Hampshire 

6. Colchester Zoo, Essex

Colchester Zoo is built on 60 acres of land, so we could say the zoo is a tiny zoological garden. There are around 270 species and 5000 individual animals here.

Lemurs at the zoo

“We are proudly listed as the 11th best zoo around the world and in the top 2 zoos in the UK as part of the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Attractions.

Colchester Zoo is easily one of the top days out in Essex for all the family. They’ve got Jungle Tumble soft play here, and you can expect to see lots of baby animals at the right time of year too!

During your visit to Colchester Zoo, you will see many species from around the world and can learn more about them at our fantastic daily encounters, giving you the chance to see our animals being fed, watch a training session or perhaps just quiz their keepers!”

7. Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, Wiltshire

Longleat Safari and Adventure Park is one of the oldest zoos in England. It stands out as one of the best zoos in England as you can go on safari among the animals and really get up close.

You can feed the animals yourself too.

England zoo

Longleat is a great activity for a rainy day, as you get to just stay in the car and cruise around. Longleat is known as the UK’s number one safari park. Last time I tried to go here our car broke down just outside the monkey enclosure. God it was awful. We made it out, a few hours later, with a breakdown recovery vehicle. But that won’t happen to you – I hope.

Lions, tigers and monkeys from the comfort of your car seat? This is the England zoo for you!

Also, new for 2020, Longleat Live – a day festival within the grounds. Visit the website for more details.

CLICK HERE: 10 Simple Ways to Go Greener on Your Days Out

8. Port Lympne Reserve, Hythe, Kent

I love Port Lympne Reserve. It’s more of a safari experience than a zoo, which makes it feel all the better as a visitor to see the animals in more of a free and natural habitat.

Port Lympne Reserve replicates the African safari experience as much as possible with safari jeeps to take you through enclosures. The staff are super knowledgable and caring, and will tell you all about how the Reserve has linked up with wildlife projects in Africa to mutually support each other.

The Port Lympne Reserve has an incredible hotel you can stay at, and a super fancy restaurant too. There are 13 different room types to stay in here, or you can just visit for the day. Port Lympne Reserve is one of the best days out in Kent.

“Get ready to see over 900 rare and endangered animals, go on safari, see Kent’s only giraffe, spectacled bears the UK’s largest dinosaur collection and MUCH MUCH more…

Home to the UK’s original and authentic safari experiences, Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve offers a unique family adventure like no other zoo!  Set in over 600 acres, you will be transported to the plains of Africa and Asia to see animals roaming freely, then explore on foot to see big cats, small cats, primates, gorillas and many more animals before discovering life sized prehistoric creatures in Dinosaur Forest – all included in the price of your entry ticket!”

9. Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire

Twycross Zoo is where I spent my childhood – this was the nearest zoo to my home in Staffordshire growing up. Twycross is a much smaller zoo than some of the ones above, but I couldn’t write a list of the best zoos in England without mentioning it.

On the plus side though, this also means it’s a lot cheaper.

At Twycross Zoo you can expect to see flamingos, snow leopards, meerkats and bonobo monkeys too. There are daily talks, a soft play area and an outdoor playing area to enjoy as well. Lots to do here!

The zoo is an award-winning conservation charity with over 500 animals from 125 different species. Go and check it out to support it!

10. Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford

The Cotswold Wildlife Park in the Cotswolds is definitely one of my favourite zoos in England. With the stars of the Park Life TV programme in the zoo grounds, you can spend all day wandering around and saying hello to over 260 species of animal. Wow, that figure blows my mind.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

I loved the bats here so make sure you don’t miss them out, and the of course, the giraffes are awesome. The best of all the animals. You can enjoy walking through the walkway to get up close to them.

There’s a huge manor house here, and you can enjoy the rhinos grazing in the grounds. It’s pretty special!

11. Shaldon Wildlife Trust, Devon

Shaldown Wildlife Trust is a cute zoo in Devon, very popular with holidaygoers. It’s too small to be considered the BEST zoo in England, but it’s definitely popular among visitors and locals.

12. Howletts Wildlife Park, Kent

Do you LOVE elephants?

Howletts Wildlife Park in Kent has loads of them, and you’ll probably end up deciding this is the best zoo in England if you visit.

Visit and you’ll be helping a dedicated animal conservation charity. Your visit will directly help them to protect wildlife in the UK which, in turn, enables them to send animals back to the wild, in conjunction with The Aspinall Foundation. Another reason why it’s one of the top zoos in England.

You’ll find an Amur tiger here, and Kent’s only anteaters too. Join animal talks, walk with lemurs, and join the treetop adventures. There’s LOADS to enjoy on a day out at Howletts Wildlife Park – there’s 100 acres to explore!

“Our beautiful 100-acre site is home to 390 animals across 52 species including: the only herd of African elephants in Kent, western lowland gorillas, honey badgers, tigers, lions, leopards and so much more.”

Want more incredible animal experiences in England?
Click here!

Best zoos in England

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 23, 2016: Nature of the Regent's Park, one of the Royal Parks of London.

These are the best zoos in England. If you’re looking for a fun activity for the day, zoos are always a popular option. Also, if it’s raining in England, then the zoos are well set up for rainy day activities too.

Don’t miss a chance to visit these beautiful English zoos, and get connected with nature. Which do you think is the best zoo in England?

READ MORE: 15 Amazing Animals in England, and Where to Find Them


  1. Regents Park’s Zoo – The London Zoo, London
  2. Chester Zoo, Cheshire
  3. Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire
  4. The Bristol Zoo, Bristol
  5. Marwell Zoo, Hampshire
  6. Colchester Zoo, Essex
  7. Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, Wiltshire
  8. Port Lympne Reserve, Hythe, Kent
  9. Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire
  10. Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford
  11. Shaldon Wildlife Trust, Devon
  12. Howletts Wildlife Park, Kent


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