- Rotterdam Blijdorp Zoo is the the best rated tourist attraction in the Netherlands.
Biodiversity of a special kind
On your visit in Rotterdam, make sure you don't miss out on the zoo there, especially not if you're travelling with the whole family. The zoo offers an extraordinary magnitude of animals on a 25ha large area. One can easily spend an entire day here. Blijdorp Zoo is a designated geo zoo, which is geographically organised, meaning that all animals are accommodated in the zoo according to their geographical origin and are not placed next to a related species. On top, the compound the animals are kept in are modelled on their natural environment. For as much as it is possible, animals sometimes share a compound in order to not only give the animals a replica of their domestic natural environment, but also enhancing it with other animals occurring in it to ensure all zoo animals live in an authentic replica of their natural habitat. Apart from the aquarium, the zoo is subdivided into the following segments: Africa, Asia, Europe as well as North and South America.
Under the sea and along the coast
Ever since the zoo was founded in 1857, it has developed to one of the most beautiful of its kind and has meanwhile become the oldest animal park in the entire town. In the Oceanium, you are taken on a breath-taking journey under sea level. You learn about the multifaceted inhabitants of the sea. Not only will one get to see animals living underneath the water surface, but also the ones that feel home along the coast, such as Atlantic puffins and emperor penguins.
Fascinating world of Africa
Following the Oceanium, you stroll around through the various continents of the world and soon reach Africa. Here you discover a gorilla island. You can watch a gorilla family and their off-springs play. And then there is a river packed with crocodiles. Living up to its name, you may watch gigantic reptiles how they gracefully move through the river. Passing the river, one may look into the eyes of giraffes as one may watch them from an elevated platform. From this safe distance you can also watch the animals of the African savannah such as hyenas, zebras or antelopes.
From Asia to fishing with the polar bears
The journey through the realm of each animal, one enters the Asian zone. You may watch pachyderms such elephants and rhinos, which comfortably move through their tropical green landscape. The ice caves of Antarctica are also worth a look. Here you can observe polar bears catching their prey. The tour is then rounded off by a visit in the botanic garden of the zoo. It might be interesting, for a change, to delve into the world of plants after having discovered the animals' habitats.
A moving history of the world of animals
The Blijdorp Zoo was founded in 1857 and has thus a lot of developments in its fauna to look back to. As Rotterdam was nearly flattened during World War II, with its city centre almost entirely destroyed, the zoo was bombed to the ground as well. The zoo was then newly founded and rebuilt further north, opening its gates to the public on Dec 7th, 1940.
Developments and Enlargements
The new zoo was designed and built by the architects Sybold and Ravesteyn, the latter is known to have built the new central station of Rotterdam as well. In 2001 the zoo doubled in size when its western part got extended. This paved the way for the new aquarium. Ever since the zoo was extended, the number of animals accommodated in the zoo has gone up to 600 species and 5,800 animals in total. Since 2008 the Blijdorp Zoo has been a listed building.
How to get there
You can easily reach Rotterdam with your car.
Coming from Amsterdam, it's best if you take the A4 towards the south in the direction of Den Haag. Here you change to the A13 and keep driving to the centre of Rotterdam.
Coming from Utrecht, first take the A12 and just after passing Gouda change to the A20, which takes you to Rotterdam as well.
Rotterdam has sufficient car parks to offer. Although there are plenty of public parking facilities across the city. Fees apply. The parking duration shouldn't last longer than 24 hours and fees vary from car park to car park. Further specification of pricing can be found on the car park ticket machines. Keep in mind that paying with cash won't work. A cheaper variant are parking garages, which can be found anywhere in the city. The prices are higher for parking the nearer one gets to the city centre. Another possibility to park cheaply is to use the many Park + Ride facilities in Rotterdam. You can leave your car in the vicinity of many metro stations, for instance, Slinge, Meijersplein, Kralingse Zoom, Hoogvliet, Capelsebrug or Alexander, and then just continue moving to the city centre by public transport. From any of the above stations there's a train operating towards Rotterdam. The Park + Ride parking garages are under surveillance, guarded and free of charge.
Travelling here by train is also dead easy. The fastest way is to use the so-called Fyra. This train connection operates daily between Amsterdam, Schiphol and Rotterdam every two hours. From Amsterdam Rotterdam is only a 41 minutes ride away. It's best if you use one of these train stations and then change to Fyra rail line to proceed to the city centre.
In addition, there is the possibility of using the Thalys. This train operates several times daily from Antwerp, Brussels and Paris to Rotterdam. It is a high speed train, therefore you'll be in town within a short time.
If you travel from outside the Netherlands and you have the option, choose Den Haag as your destination airport. From the airport it's only a 10 minutes journey to Rotterdam. Additionally, you can use the airport shuttle (bus line 33) and be in less than half an hour in the city centre.
By boat/ ferry
Travelling from England, one might want to think about the option to come to Rotterdam by boat. On a daily basis, there are ferries operating between Harwich and Hoek van Holland. From here Rotterdam's city centre is only half an hour away.
When in Hull, one may catch a ferry directly leading into the port of Rotterdam.