The Blijdorp Zoo is one of our favourite locations in the Netherlands. It is for sure one of the biggest and most beautiful zoos in Europe. It is fun for both children and adults, in all kinds of weather and I highly recommend that you visit it even though the Netherlands are so full of other interesting sights.
The Zoo is divided into continents: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Australia, each one of these continents featuring animals and plants from these places. This makes it easy to navigate if you or your child is interested in that specific continent. The Asian and African parts are I think the most interesting: my children love the tigers, lions, elephants and giraffes. While most of the animals can be seen outside, many animals can be also seen inside. The Oceanium, for example, is a huge aquarium with exotic and local fish, a replica of Darwin’s ship and much more.
We have also visited the newly opened Amazonica with its beautiful and colourful butterflies. They were so close that our children could almost touch them. I hear that the zoo is also planning to introduce all reptilians and fish of the Amazon area when the water and air temperature and humidity is right.
Another highlight I’d like to recommend is the bird show where colourful birds are flying right above your heads and a nice employee of the zoo tells you all about these animals. You could see how much they loved the birds! It’s fun for children and adults alike and an experience to remember!
And, there is a zoo inside of the zoo: the so called kinderboerderij, or petting zoo. The child can play with the goats and sheep, and of course there is a huge playground with lots of wooden toys. There is an area where smaller children can play safely.
In other words, Blijdorp zoo is fun, entertaining and educational all at the same time!
Website (in English): http://www.blijdorp.nl/?lang=EN
The zoo is quite big on social media, they have their own Youtube Channel!
Food: you can bring your own food and drinks. Many of the continent areas have their own cafeterias, such as the Oewanja lounge in Africa, or the Lotus Serre in Asia, and there is a children’s menu for 6,75- it consists of fries, chicken nuggets, a drink and ice cream. However, there is also a variety of other food such as hamburgers, soups, breads or salads. The cafes are open between 9am and 6pm and close 15 minutes before the zoo closes. In the Panda Poffertjes you can find a Dutch specialty- poffertjes, tiny delicious little pancakes with confectioner’s sugar and butter. The cafes serve organic or fair trade food and drinks.
Prices: children older than 3 years need their own ticket. Children older than 3 years but under 12 years old pay 16,50 euro, and over 13 year olds pay 21 euro. Handicapped persons pay 12 euro. Groups over 20 people pay 1,50 per person (all prizes in Euro, you can use this converter to see the prizes in dollars.)
We have invested in an annual pass which allows us to visit the zoo for free, and also take friends or family at a reduced prize. With our pass, we can also visit the zoos in Amsterdam and Antwerp (but only twice). It is definitely a good deal since the passes pay for themselves after only 2 visits- a family annual cards costs 189 euro.
Opening times: from 1 April 2013 from 9.00am -6.00 pm and from 28 October from 9.00am -5.00pm
Parking and accessibility: The Zoo is well accessible with train, tram or car. It is situated in walking distance of the Rotterdam Central Station. There is a parking place, and it costs 8 euro per day. For tired children, there are little giraffe- or shark-shaped strollers you can rent, and a little train will take you through the whole zoo and explain all about the animals.
Additional activities: you can book the zoo for your child’s birthday party, but also for adult events such as presentations, anniversaries etc. You can also talk to one of the employees, or see how the animals are fed. The zoo also organizes photography courses, or allows you to be a zoo minder for a day. The Blijdorp by Night service also seems exciting. I especially enjoyed the behind the scenes features such as films and you can visit the animal OR, or see how little reptilians or fish are being raised.
Even if the zoo is crowded, or the weather is bad, Blijdorp will not disappoint. I enjoy going there very much and so do my children. We learn something new every time we go. A zoo is a great starting point for a conversation about animals, climates, geography and biology, but for us parents raising little global citizens, it is also a great introduction to culture!