When you’re enjoying a city break in Lisbon with the family, be sure not to miss a day at the Lisbon Zoo: Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa.
This is definitely one of the most beautiful zoos we have ever seen. It’s a very big place but it doesn’t feel like it. Filled with beautiful and often large animal houses, this city zoo is also very green with lots of trees, plants and flowers. Sometimes it’s like walking in an actual jungle!
Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa is only 15 minutes away by public transport from Rossio square – which makes a visit to this beautiful zoo very easy to fit in to your planning. But beware: you can easily spend a whole day is this big zoo.
When you enter the gates of the park there is an entertainment area called Animax.
n addition to the many different eateries here, from McDonald’s to typical Portuguese restaurants, there are also some nice attractions for children such as the bouncy castle ( 2 euros for 10 minutes and only for 3+ years) and a carousel. This part of the park is still outside the paid area, so you can visit here anytime.
In 2018, the children’s television channel celebrated its 13th birthday in Portugal. They decided to celebrate this fact together with Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa.
Just in front of the ticket office there’s a large inflated cushion with the name of the TV channel on it. And once you’re in the zoo itself there are loads of fun activities for children.
When you visit the show in Dolphin Bay, a number of characters from the Nickelodeon series Paw Patrol and Ninja Turtles welcome you and of course it’s no problem to have your picture taken with them!
n front of the tiger residence you’ll find an inflatable pineapple (bonus points if you know what show that is from). Get your Nickelodeon passport here and go on a hunt for the places where – after having answered a question – you get a stamp in your passport in a number of animal enclosures (hints are found in the passport). If you’re a loyal nickelodeon viewer then the questions won’t be that difficult.
Once you get all stamps are in your passport, go to the inflatable pineapple again and show the passport to the staff. As a reward you’ll get a surprise. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the stamps, we only had 3 in our passport and still walked away with a nice surprise.
We think it’s a clever move from Nickelodeon to celebrate their birthday at the zoo. Since our visit to Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa Paw Patrol has been on tv regularly again at our house!
Three times a day (at 11AM, 3PM and 5PM) you can enjoy the dolphin show in the area called Dolphin Bay. If you want to start your day cheerful, make sure you are ready at 11AM at the large pool. The audience is prepared for the dolphin show with cheerful music and characters from Paw Patrol and the Ninja Turtles.
With 2 dolphins and 2 supervisors they put on a great and entertaining 60 minute show. With two small kids (0 and 3 years at the time), for us the show lasted just a little too long so we left after about 40 minutes.
If you take a stroller to the zoo, the dolphin show is the only time you have to store it in a (guarded) space.
The Lisbon Zoo is one of the oldest Zoos in Europe, it opened its doors in 1884. The mild climate in Portugal is great for most animals. It boasts almost 2000 animals of no less than 300 different species.
The atmosphere in the zoo is very relaxed: even though more than 800,000 people visit this park each year, you will not notice the crowds at all.We were there on a Saturday, together with many scouting clubs, whole families and lots of couples and we never ever felt it was too much.
What makes it so easy going is the fact that there are the many benches and seats at the beautiful animal houses.
Besides a relaxing visit to the zoo, it also offers an educational program. You will always find many children doing a tour of the Zoo.
What we noticed during our visit is that many visitors feed the animals, even though there are signs everywhere that the animals are not to be fed. With the knowledge that a baby giraffe died (at the end of May in 2018 (because a visitor was feeding the giraffe and the giraffe fell into the safety ditch and died) you would think that people would be extra cautious and / or more supervisors would be walking around. Unfortunately, neither is the case.
Just like in many zoos around the globe, the majority of animal stays are sponsored here in Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa. The way it’s done is slightly more clever than just having a placard with a company name, as it is done in most other places.
There is always a natural match between an animal stay and the company sponsoring them. For example, the elephants are sponsored by the supermarket chain Jumbo (in Portugal the Jumbo supermarket has a red elephant in their logo).
Lidl has been awarded for having the best fruit and vegetable selection in Portugal for a number of years in a row now, so they’re sponsoring a petting zoo where you can find a vegetable garden and an explanation about growing fruit and vegetables.
Food and drinks
It is allowed to bring your own food and drinks at the zoo. At Bosque Encanto (the Enchanted Forest) there are many picnic tables that you can use.
And while the whole zoo is super child friendly, in this part of the zoo there is special attention to children, so there are children’s toilets and picnic tables here for the little ones.
Activities at the zoo
Besides the dolphin show and walking around the zoo, there are also many other activities to do. For example there’s a neat bird show, you can enjoy the feeding of the pelicans, catch a train that runs through the park (for a fee) and best of all, there’s a cable car driving through the place. What a great way to admire the zoo from above. You can find more information on the website of the zoo.
Going by car
If you stay outside Lisbon and you want to come to the zoo by car, it is best to park in the parking garage in front of the entrance in Parking garage EMpark Sete Rios. The parking garage looks nice with tiles that refer to the zoo.
Tip from us: take contact money in coins to pay the parking garage. The machines are not equipped with a pin option and the service counter can not exchange tickets for the parking meter. If you want to change, they advise you to go back to the zoo (Animax). Super awkward of course if you have exhausted children in the back seat.
Where to find Jardim Zoológico de Lisboa
Address: Praça Marechal Humberto Delgado, Sete Rios
Opening hours: summer (21 March to 20 September) 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
winter 21 September – 20 March 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.