UK Zoo Index - OutdoorToys

As springtime approaches, families across the UK will be scouring for the most affordable and fun activities for their children, and a trip to the local zoo is always a favourite. 

Looking at affordability, reviews and overall zoo popularity, we have created an index to reveal the best UK zoos for families! 

We’ve delved into the data to find out which UK zoos offer the best experience by analysing and comparing admission fees, parking costs, variety of species and Tripadvisor reviews. We have also analysed search data for these zoos to reveal which ones remain firm family favourites! If your kids are tired of playing on their climbing frames this spring, spending time outdoors by taking a zoo trip could be the next best thing as the days start to get longer and warmer.

The Best Zoos in the UK

The Cotswolds is home to the UK’s best zoo!

1 - Cotswolds Wildlife Park

Zoo Score /10: 8.05

The Cotswolds is home to a scenic wildlife park and gardens, set in 160 acres of landscaped park just two miles south of Burford in Oxfordshire! Taking first place in the ranking, the Cotswold Wildlife Park exhibits over 260 different species of animals and holds a 4.5-star rating on Tripadvisor with over 4,300 reviews. The popular park is a great spot for families on a budget, as children’s tickets are just £13.50, and parking is free! Some spectacular sights include the rhinos grazing in front of the park’s Gothic-listed Manor House and the boisterous lemurs in the Madagascar exhibit.

2 - Paignton Zoo

Zoo Score /10: 7.69

Paignton Zoo, located in Devon, placed second on our list, scoring 7.69 out of 10. The zoo was started as a private collection by avid animal collector and breeder Herbert Whitley on the grounds of his home, Primley House. The zoo has over 2,000 animals and 250 species, along with countless amazing plants situated on 80 acres of ground.

Paignton Zoo is one of the South West’s most exciting visitor attractions, with a 4.5-star rating on Tripadvisor; it's a great place to explore and get in touch with nature. Plus, it’s a registered charity supporting several projects in the UK and overseas, so you’ll be supporting a great cause! Tickets for children start at £16.85, and the onsite car park is free to use. There has been a significant increase in searches for the park over the last few years, with an almost 2,000% growth.

3 - Chester Zoo

Zoo Score /10: 7.12

Chester Zoo, a popular attraction in Upton-by-Chester, Cheshire, placed third on our list. Chester Zoo was opened in 1931 and is now one of the UK’s largest zoos at 51 hectares. Officially crowned the UK’s most visited zoo in 2019, with 2 million visitors, Chester Zoo even has its own observational documentary series, which captures the remarkable behaviour of the animals and celebrates the zoo’s dedication to conservation and preventing extinction.

With lots of free onsite parking and a 4.5-star rating on Tripadvisor, Chester Zoo is one of the most unmissable attractions in the North West! Admission fees for children are a little pricier than other zoos in our top five, but it's worth it as there are more than 500 animal species to observe. In the past year, there has been a 1,702% increase in searches for Chester Zoo.


The UK’s Best Value Zoos

As the summer and warmer climate are just around the corner, you may be looking for affordable days out to enjoy with the kids, and we have researched and found the best zoos in the UK with the most affordable children’s ticket prices!

Belfast Zoo is officially the best value-for-money option for families with kids aged up to 15, costing just £6.75 per child. Wildheart Animal Sanctuary on the Isle of Wight comes second, with an admission fee of £12, and Cotswold Wildlife Park takes third, with a child’s admission costing £13.50 for the day.

The Best Zoos with FREE Parking

We found 18 zoos across the UK where you can park for free, including top-scoring Cotswold Wildlife Park, Paignton Zoo in Devon, Chester Zoo, and Bristol Zoo. A full family day out can be costly when you factor in the food and refreshment expenses, so it's good to know that parking is taken care of.


The Most Popular Zoos in the UK

Longleat Safari Park is the top searched zoo destination in the UK, with a search increase of 2,102%


1 - Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire

Increase in Searches: 2,102%

Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire experienced the sharpest increase in searches over the last year, recording an increase of 2,102%. Longleat Safari Park was the first Safari Park to open outside of Africa in 1966 and is home to over 120 species. 


2 - Paignton Zoo, Devon

Increase in Searches: 1,984%

Paignton Zoo in Devon recorded the second-highest increase in searches over the last year, 1,984%. The zoo urges visitors to prebook in the summertime, especially on busy days, as they cannot always guarantee entry.


3 - Blackpool Zoo

Increase in Searches: 1,848%

Blackpool Zoo saw the third-highest increase in searches, with a growth of 1,848%. Blackpool Zoo is award-winning and boasts over 1000 animals from around the world, from Aardvarks to Zebras, as well as its 37 acres of spacious parkland and lakes.

The Top-Rated Zoos in the UK

Folly Farm Adventure Park is the top-rated zoo in the UK, with a five-star Tripadvisor rating

Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo in Kilgetty, Wales, recorded the best Tripadvisor rating out of 24 other zoos nationwide, boasting a five-star rating. The attraction sees around 500,000 visitors annually and has won multiple awards, including the Best Visitor Attraction in Pembrokeshire and Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for 2022.

11 zoos surpassed 4.5-star reviews on Tripadvisor, including Cotswold Wildlife Park, Paignton Zoo, Chester Zoo, Blackpool Zoo and Dublin Zoo.


The Zoos with the Most Animal Species in the UK

London Zoo has the most animal species over any other zoo in the country, with almost 700 species!

London Zoo recorded the most animal species, with almost 700 different species of animals available to observe. There are plenty of amazing animals to discover, from tiny marching leafcutter ants to a giant 193kg silverback gorilla! In 2022, London Zoo welcomed more than one million visitors.

Chester Zoo placed second with 500 different species to view, and Bristol third with 419 species.


A list of the biggest zoos in the UK was taken from A-Z Animals, Zoo Notes and Kingfisher Visitor Guides.

We used each zoo’s website to find the price for an older child’s admission ticket on a Saturday and the parking price.

Each zoo’s search volume was taken from Google Keyword Planner for the months of February 2022 to February 2023 and February 2023 to January 2024. We were able to work out the increase in searches over this period using this data.

Each zoo’s rating was taken from Tripadvisor. This data is accurate as of 13/02/2024.

The number of animal species for each zoo was taken from the zoo’s website.

Each zoo was given a normalised score out of 10 for each of the above factors before an average of these five scores was taken for the overall zoo score out of 10.