Here at Mudpie Fridays we love zoos and try to visit one wherever we go such as Toronto Zoo and Howletts Wild Animal Park. So while we were holidaying in Spain on the Costa Dorada we thought it would be nice to have a trip out to Barcelona Zoo, and I wanted to share our experience for all of those out there who may think of doing the same thing.
Before we start I will say that our review is tainted by the fact that it took over three hours to actually get to the zoo from where we were staying. It is only an hour and a half away max, so with a very well behaved four year old and three month old baby it was a bit of a disappointment to find having left our hotel at 8.40am we didn’t actually get to the zoo till just before midday.
We used the local bus company which very conveniently picked us up right opposite our hotel – Hotel Best Cambrils, as we were first on the coach we managed to bag the seats right at the front. The leaflet had said there were only five stops but there were quite a few more. Where possible staff waved us through if there were no other holiday makers looking to get onto the coach. However that didn’t stop them having a cigarette break 15 minutes after picking us up or stopping in a lay-by to pick up the tickets for the zoo.
The tour company also offered both a separate excursion to the Aquarium and a combined ticket with the zoo.Then when we eventually made it to Barcelona we went to the Aquarium and dropped off there first which added another 15 minutes on. I was praying that Monkey suddenly didn’t need the toilet as there was not one on the coach! Thankfully he didn’t twig when some of the other children couldn’t wait and ended up having to crouch behind the back of a lorry.
When we arrived at the zoo we were told that if we wanted to get the coach back into the city centre it would be leaving the zoo at 2.20pm. Now maybe if you had teenage children and it wasn’t 30+ degrees you may stand a chance of getting round in a little over two hours. But with a four year old and a breastfeeding baby that was never going to happen, plus at somepoint Monkey would need lunch. We spoke to the tour guide who advised where the bus would be leaving from and roughly how long it would take to walk up from the zoo. I think she thought we were a little mad. Don’t get me wrong we love Barcelona, and we will take the boys back when they are a bit older to see the other sites. But when we visited we had only really come to visit the zoo and didn’t need any free time in the city. Once we had made that decision it meant we had more stress free time to walk around the zoo.
So onto the zoo….
Things we loved:
- Its got all the big animals you can think of – elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, bears, gorillas, oranatangs, a rhino and hippos. As well as seals, dolphins and some of the more usual things like tapiars, flamingos, birds, wolves and deer. I was surprised that they had so many of the ‘show stoppers’ as such because it is a relatively small zoo.
- Its compact so it doesn’t take too long to walk round, make sure you pick up a map at the entrance as it quite free flowing.
- They had a brilliant new play area, which is right up Monkey’s street as it has lots of rope bridges and slides. Next to it is a seating area for the adults with water sprays to cool you down. Massive thumbs up from the breast feeding mother!
- There are several indoor areas which means you can escape the heat, their reptile house went on for ages and Monkey was like a kid in a toy shop running from one glass screen to another
- They have a petting zoo and pony rides – we didn’t make it to this area due to our time constraints
- There are also dolphin and sea lion shows, if you visit double check the times if you want to build them into your day. The dolphin show was running at midday and three when we visited.
Things we were not so keen on:
- Its old and so by its nature is much more of a ‘seeing’ zoo which means many of the enclosures are small, too small. Although there is work under way to renovate some of the enclosures.
- Drinks machines are expensive 3.5€ for a 500ml diet coke and ice creams are similar, so take your own. Food on the other hand is much the same as anywhere else, Monkey had a lunch box for 7.95€ which consisted of a juice drink (which came with an additional 2€ cup), chips and five chicken nuggets.
- There are plenty of picnic areas but they raised, which is great as generally they over look the animals. But when you have a big its a pain to keep lifting it up steps. Other than that it is buggy friendly.
- Oh and the Golf Karts!! I’m not sure why but every attractions seems to have golf karts to transport people around if they can’t be bothered to walk. So you are wholly dependant on the sensibility of the driver and unfortunately we noticed several that did not seem to register that its a zoo and not a race circuit.
It took us little over a hour to walk from the zoo up to the bus stop, stopping for an ice cream and a drink. So if you do, do the same trip it is possible.
In summary, I think its a good zoo for children to be able to get close to the animals, many of them Monkey had never been so close to. However we were a little put off by the size of the enclosures. Hopefully as the work continues this will improve.
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We were not compensated in anyway for this review, I just wanted to share our experiences for others considering a similar excursion while on holiday.
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