Dierentuinen: 10 best zoos in the Netherlands

Looking for a fun day trip this summer? The best zoos, animal parks, aquariums, and monkey parks in the Netherlands — here we come. 

There’s something enticing about zoos. Perhaps it’s all the cute fluffy animals that take our blues away.

Whatever your furry friend preference is, we’ve put together a list of the most popular zoos in the Netherlands. 🐒

1. ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo

This is actually the oldest and most popular zoo in the Netherlands. Despite it being around for so long, it’s still very modern and well-kept.

READ MORE | 33 best things to do in Amsterdam in 2023 [UPDATED]

ARTIS Zoo provides its visitors with a whole day of fun, with a variety of different things to see.

They have a daily schedule, so if you’re dying to see the lions or penguins being fed, then make sure to check the timings and head to the enclosure at the specified time.

ARTIS is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. Source: Dejonkheer/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

They offer guided tours and even hotel experiences. The zoo also has an aquarium and a planetarium — so there’s certainly plenty to explore!

2. Blijdorp Zoo Rotterdam

Rotterdam Zoo is a personal favourite of mine because I live reasonably close to it and I have been a few times.

I may be biased here, but I believe it’s one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe. Others probably agree with me since it has been nominated for numerous awards!

Blijdorp Zoo is one of the most popular ones in the Netherlands. Image: Gert-Jan de Jong/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

It’s got amazing scenery and an incredible play park for children (if seeing all the animals haven’t worn them all out yet).

READ MORE | 24 best and free things to do in Rotterdam in 2023

It has a large aquarium section, a butterfly garden and animals from all over the world. The zoo is so big that you might actually struggle to see it all within its opening hours.

3. Safaripark Beekse Bergen Tilburg

Beekse Bergen safari park is really a wild experience. If you don’t have enough time or money to go on a real safari, this is definitely a good second-best option.

READ MORE | 19 outstanding things to do in Tilburg in 2023

The park is so large that it might take you all day to explore the entire thing.

Enjoy a Dutch safari close to Tilburg. Image: SQCK/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

You have two options: the walking tour, where you can see the safari animals on foot, or the driving tour, where you can admire them from the comfort of your own car or safari bus. There’s also an option to take a boat trip around the park.

Alternatively, you can stay at the park in your own safari lodge and watch the animals from your balcony.

It’s a beautiful park but beware — it does get immensely busy in the peak season!

READ MORE | Wildlife in the Netherlands: a Dutch safari

4. Burgers’ Zoo Arnhem

Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem is a great zoo outside of Holland. It has a wide range of different species varying from desert to ocean habitats. There’s even a mangrove forest!

The zoo has a variety of great things on-site, including five different restaurants.

Ocean at the Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem. Image: Manfred Morgner/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

What makes it different from other zoos is that the animals here live in their respective natural habitats.

In this sense, you get to see them freely roam around, as opposed to being stuck in cages or small enclosures.

It’s definitely more ethical, and a special experience to witness.

5. Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen

If you’re after more than just a regular zoo, then this is your place. Wildlands Adventure Zoo is basically what its name says — a zoo, but a very adventurous kind.

Wildlands Zoo promises a day full of adventure. Image: Richard Broekhuijzen/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Think roller coasters and treetop walks, restaurants and jungles. This makes it perfect for the whole family. 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦

READ MORE | The guide to 10 thrilling theme parks in the Netherlands

There are river rapids, temple ruins, boat trips, and safari buses, which makes the whole experience seem like a Jumanji movie!

6. Ecomare Texel

If you’ve ever been to the island of Texel, then you’ll know that it’s beautiful and filled with lots of local birds and sea life.

The Ecomare is a centre that cares for seals and birds that are ill or injured. Once they’re nursed back to good health, they are released back into the wild.

Ecomare takes care of rescued seals and birds. Image: WeeJeeVee/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

As a visitor, you’ll be able to witness this fascinating process of rescuing animals and rehabilitating them into their natural environments.

7. AquaZoo Friesland

AquaZoo in Leeuwarden is dedicated to marine animals such as polar bears, penguins, and crocodiles.

Admire polar bears at AquaZoo Friesland. Image: Unsplash

Here you will learn all about the different animals and how members of the zoo take care of them all and you can also check out some animal shows!

There’s also a “Seal Safari”, where you can take a boat to the middle of the lake to see the seals swim around.

It’s a great place to go with a group of friends or the whole family.

8. Apenheul Apeldoorn

Apenheul is not only a unique animal park in the Netherlands, but also a research centre that specializes in apes and monkeys.

Monkeys just roam free in Apenheul. Image: Apenheul/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

The monkeys are left to just roam free, so there’s no predicting what they’ll do (one may even sit on your shoulder!). 🙈

There are signs with information scattered across the whole zoo, where you can learn all about these wonderful creatures and you walk around and watch them.

9. Pieterburen Seal Sanctuary

Here’s another seal sanctuary for you to visit. 🦭

The Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre in Pieterburen is the perfect place to go if you want to see what great things the Dutch animal research facilities are doing.

Rescued seals in Pieterburen Seal Sanctuary. Image: GerardM/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Here you can learn all about seals and how this sanctuary rescues them. The place is basically one giant seal hospital, so it’s really an interesting experience.

The seals in this centre were rescued and were otherwise in poor health. Once they are back to normal, they’re released back into the ocean.

10. Sea Life Scheveningen

This one may not exactly be a zoo, but it is still worth a visit! Sealife centres are basically giant aquariums with plenty of sea creatures to admire for hours.

This one is located at the beautiful Scheveningen beach (so you can kill two birds with one stone here) and has over 150 different types of fish. 🐠

Admire sharks up close. Source: Roel van Deursen/Flickr/CC2.0

There are also feeding demonstrations and activities for children. The centre has a large underwater tunnel, so you can walk through the tank looking up a variety of fish and sharks (it’s creepy, yet cool).

On Valentine’s Day, they even turn the place into a mini restaurant, so you can dine with your other half in the tunnel, literally under the sharks. It’s pretty damn cool.

If Dutch zoos are not your thing, the Netherlands has gorgeous national parks as well as numerous exciting theme parks to keep you occupied during the summer.

What are your favourite zoos in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2018, and was fully updated in May 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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