Visiting Marwell Zoo - Top Tips for the perfect day out

We visit Marwell once a year or so, we love it but it's a fair drive from our house and until recently we had dogs that couldn't be left for too long so trips took a fair bit of planning. Since becoming 'dogless' we could plan a longer day and we had an excellent time yesterday on a perfect summers day.

It's a zoo primarily but does have other attractions for children, with some playgrounds scattered about, a mini train (£2 extra on top of the entry fee) and a 'Road Train' (tractor pulling trailers with seats) , which is free.

The zoo is huge, great for the animals and for making it feel spacious and not too crowded but not such fun for tiny legs. You can take picnics and there are designated picnic areas (including one undercover in case of rain) tea and coffee is not too expensive. There are cafes serving meals but they can have long queues at 'people feeding time'. You can leave picnic things in the car and go back to get them but it's a fair walk! Might be better to pack the buggy or wheeled trolley and take it all first time.

So, top tips

  • Buy your tickets online before you go. You will avoid the queues.
  • If you plan to visit more than a few times a year buy a season ticket.
  • If you have small children consider planning only visiting a few 'favourite' animals and going directly to them.
  • The 'start' of the zoo can be busy, we went around the zoo in reverse, starting with the pygmy hippos, we avoided any crush and the end of the zoo is shadier so we were still cool at halfway around! The kiosks and toilets at that end of the zoo were quieter in the morning too.
  • There are playgrounds and children will want to play. Let them! Try to plan it into the trip - maybe while you have a cup of tea! But trying to argue you came to see animals will spoil the day and cause upset in lots of kids (speaking from what we saw!) 15 minutes on the climbing frame won't.
  • Take your time. If you (or the children) are getting tired have a trip on the road train. It's free but can get busy so you may have to wait. It's a great way to see the whole zoo, either to plan your day or to catch things you missed before you leave. Also use it to get to the far end of the zoo and walk back.
  • The cafes get busy at lunch time and can be expensive, consider taking a picnic. You can leave the zoo to collect things from the car so you don't have to carry your picnic around all day.
  • Take a sheet of things to do to keep the kids interested in the animals. Quizzes about animal facts for the older children, simple spotter sheets for the younger ones. (I've made one here) Why not get them to look at the website, see what is there and draw their own spotter sheet! Marwell has free downloads here.
We had a great day. I hope you do too! Have you been? Let me know what you thought!

white rhino at marwell zoo
White Rhinos

gecko at marwell zoo
Sticky Gecko type thingy (!)

leaf cutter ants at marwell zoo
Leaf Cutter ants hard at work

fossa at marwell zoo
Fossa - Best Animal in the zoo!

green snake at marwell zoo
Green Snake

snake skeleton marwell zoo
Snake skeleton

marwell zoo
DD demonstrates her wingspan

hornbill at marwell zoo
Hornbill in the walk through aviary

somali wild ass and foal marwell zoo
Somali Wild Ass and foal - most endangered animal that the zoo keeps

serval at marwell zoo

marwell zoo
Crows lurking by the cafe

giraffe marwell zoo

meerkat marwell zoo
Meerkat on patrol

toy meerkat marwell zoo
Meerkat ...

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