The Diergaarde Blijdorp is the zoo in Rotterdam, and little did we know just how huge the area is!
The Diergaarde – the animal garden – Blijdorp is a park covering 25 hectare with around 5800 animals. The park is divided into six areas – europe, asia, africa, north- and southamerica and the oceanium.
The zoo participates in breeding programs and as the homepage states “Rotterdam Zoo supports a number of conservation projects in the wild. Blijdorp also actively participates in many breeding programmes for endangered species and is one of the international top ten of zoos in this field. ” ( found on the Diergaarde homepage )
You can either grab a map at the entrance or download it from the homepage – as you can see here the park is divided into two parts. On this map the area doesn’t look that big, and we also were totally fooled by that. But we stayed in the Diergaarde from 9am until 7pm and we were not able to see everything. Truth be told, we did not rush through the various areas, but instead took our time to truly experience as much as we could.
The zoo is open daily from 9am to 6pm. (Only on these dates the opening times differ: 5, 24 & 31 December: 9 am-16 pm and Jan. 1st: 10 am-17 pm )
Children up to 3 go for free, up until 12 they have to pay 17,50€. Adults have to pay 22€ at the entrance.
As we were mostly tempted to see the Oceanium, we chose the Oceanium- Zijde entrance which you find on the left side of the map. You can easily reach the park via car, but as we didn’t have any with us, we chose public transport. With the ticket mentioned in my Rotterdam entry we were able to use any bus we wanted, throughout the day. To reach the too, you can use the bus service 40 or 44 to entrance Riviera Hall or bus service 40 or 33 to entrance Oceanium. Metrostation Blijdorp.
The trip doesn’t take long, and once you left the bus, you simply cross the street and you already see the entrance.
As you can see on these first pictures the weather wasn’t the best, but this did not keep us from buying a ticket and entering the zoo. As our first stop was the Oceanium anyway, it could rain all it wanted and we would not see any of it.
Truth be told – pictures of the Oceanium were the reason we decided to visit the zoo that day in the first place.I have never before seen such an area, and so I was quite excited. But what exactly is the Oceanium? Simply put it’s an area with a lot of water bassins, water tunnels and another area filled with information about the sea and endangered species in general. Informative, but also creatively decorated. The light in this room changed colour with some information only visible in red. Interesting concept, raising awareness of what our oceans go trough.
When you leave the Oceanium without going back, the path leads you to an area modelled after the HMS Beagle, the ship on which Charles Darwin travelled for a couple of years. The entire area is designed as if you actually were in a ship, with Darwin’s notes on the side with foreign species of animals on the other.
This decorative aspect is present throughout the entire park – not simply showcasing the animals, but trying to give the illusion of really walking through their realm.
There are a couple of restaurants, price-wise I was surprised that they are not that expensive. You can also buy merchandise and plush toys at various places, but their design didn’t really appeal to us unfortunately.
It’s up to you which path you choose next – simply turn right or left and head to whatever area interests you the most. There are two spots, however, I want to mention still: they offer a bird show, which we unfortunately always missed (so be sure to check the timetable if you’re interested ) and next to it a big tent-like structure with butterflies in it. It’s terribly warm in there, but if you take some time and sit down, you can watch a lot of these colourful creatures up close.
The second spot is the asian garden – which is once again a perfect example for the lovely decorative aspect of the park itself. You can sit down, look around, and imagine yourself to be in Japan before you head on to other spots of the garden.
The price is not exactly cheap but that should not stop you. This Zoo is a wonderful place you easily can spend the entire day in. What I also really liked about this zoo were the cages – they tried to give the animals as much room as possible, without bars, instead glass and more open space. The birds were in aviaries and could fly – at least a bit. I know that animals in a zoo can never live as they do in the wild, but compared to other zoos I have visited, I really like this one the best. The animals didn’t just run in circles over and over again, the seemed more lively and calm..