UK zoos parking and driving advice guide

UK zoos parking and driving advice guide
Are you looking to have a day out with the family? Then why not visit one of the UK’s many zoos, animal parks or safaris.  

Whether it is a part of the summer holidays plans, a half-term treat, or a weekend adventure – there is fun for all the family.

This guide looks at what parking charges and restrictions are in place for some of the nation’s most popular zoo attractions.

If you have are planning to visit, one of these locations, make sure you are ready for your road trip.

How many zoos are there in the UK?

Including all zoos, zoological parks, safaris, animal parks and wildlife centres, there are almost 100 destinations for you and the family to see many of the incredible species seen across the world.

Best zoos in the UK

The UK is known around the globe as having some of the best zoos for visitors of all ages.

Some of the most famous ones include London Zoo, Chester Zoo, Longleat, Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Bristol Zoo Project, and Paignton Zoo.

What is your favourite zoo? And did you have any issues travelling or parking? Leave your comments below the article.

Advice for driving to zoos and wildlife parks

Driving your own car at a zoo or safari can be an exciting and unique experience if it is an option. This will include remaining in your vehicle while you view the exhibits.

To make the most of your visit and ensure safety, here are some tips and advice to keep in mind.

First and foremost – follow the rules of the zoo. And remember, stay in your vehicle.

Every zoo or safari park will have specific guidelines and rules for driving through their exhibits. Make sure to familiarise yourself with these rules before entering the area. Follow the speed limits, stay on designated paths, and adhere to any other instructions provided by the staff.

While behind the wheel, keep a safe distance from the animals and other vehicles. Remember that these are wild animals, and sudden movements or actions can provoke them or cause unnecessary stress. If someone in your vehicle is taking pictures, then remember to turn the flash off and keep all windows rolled up. Also, be respectful if you cannot see any animals – they may be resting or hiding from view.

While driving through the park, be cautious and drive slowly, especially in areas where animals are known to cross the road. They might not pay attention to your vehicle, so it's your responsibility to avoid them. And always stay on the road or designated path.

Finally – prepare your vehicle. Some animals may climb onto your vehicle or stick their heads inside if you are in a feeding area. Ensure all passengers are aware and understand the situation. If there is a drive through monkey exhibit, they have been known to rip off parts of your vehicle. You have been warned!

Dog friendly zoos

If you are driving with your dog in the car, then make sure that your furry friend is allowed into the zoo before you leave.

Some of the zoos in the UK that allow your pets into the premises include Cotswold Wildlife Park, The Donkey Sanctuary, and Natureland.

However, please check the zoo’s official website before setting off on your journey.

London Zoo parking

Perhaps one of the world’s most famous zoos, London Zoo’s car park is based on the Outer Circle of Regent’s Park – with the postcode NW1 4SX.

For drivers both in and out of the capital, this is situated outside the congestion charge zone.

ZSL makes it clear that parking is issued on a first come, first served basis – meaning that pre-booking a parking space isn’t possible.

Zoo visitors arriving in term-time, on a weekday will be charged £16 – with that rising to £17.50 on weekends, bank holidays or during school holidays.

Gold members, Fellows of ZSL and Patrols of ZSL can park from free on term time weekdays. Gold members and Fellows of ZSL are charged £15.75 on weekends, bank holidays or during school holidays – this is free for Patrons. Non-zoo visitors or those leaving a vehicle overnight will have to pay £70.

If there are no spaces available, then you can pay and display for a maximum of four hours (Mon-Sat) at nearby Regent’s Park.

Bristol Zoo parking

Since the historic Clifton-based Bristol Zoo was closed in 2022, many of the zoos’ animals were relocated to the nearby Bristol Zoo Project.

This zoo is located just off Junction 17 on the M5.

Parking is free of charge at the zoos large on-site car park.

However, it is advised to book an entry ticket ahead of visiting – especially on weekends and during school holidays.

Chester Zoo parking

Located less than an hour away from both Manchester and Liverpool, this is a popular tourist destination in the North West.

Based on the A41 (off the M56), Chester Zoo is well-signposted across the region.

There is plenty of on-site parking that is free for visitors, and also features 26 EV charge points.

Whipsnade Zoo parking

Based just outside of Luton, Whipsnade is a part of ZSL, and there are two options for those driving to the tourist destination.

There is a free external car park where you can leave your car and walk around the zoon.

You may also drive into the zoo and park in specified areas – but this will come with a cost. You cannot pre-book parking.

If the external car park is unavailable, parking is free inside the zoo.

The cost for parking from 1 July to 29 October 2023 is £30 for silver members and non-members; £15 for gold members; and free for patrons and fellows of ZSL.

From 30 October 2023 to 9 February 2024, silver members and non-members will have to pay £15; gold members will pay £7.50; and it is again free for patrol and fellows.

From 10 February to 27 October 2024, it is £30 for silver and non-members; £15 for gold members; and free for patrons and fellows.

Blackpool Zoo parking

Located less than two miles from Blackpool’s iconic Golden Mile, the zoo is located between Stanley Park, Marton Mere and Victoria Hospital – and only 10 minutes from the M55.

The car park costs £3 a day, and there are spaces for up to 400 cars.

Depending on the time of year, the car park will close at either 5pm or 6pm.

Dudley Zoo parking

The zoo is based on the edge of the A461 (Castle Hill), just three miles from M5 Junction 2.

If you are arriving by car, head down Tipton Road towards the Black Country Living Museum from Castlegate Island – then turn left at the traffic lights.

The car park is barrier operated and costs £3.50 per vehicle.

Newquay Zoo parking

If you are heading to this zoo, they advise that you set your Sat Nav for TR7 2LZ.

It is located at Trenance Gardens, just off the A3058, and only a mile from Newquay town centre. The zoo is signposted from anywhere near the city and is based near Waterworld Leisure Centre and Better Extreme Trampoline and Play Park.

There is a nearby council-owned car park next door with 820 spaces that is open from 9am to 6pm every day.

Parking for the whole day costs £5.80.

Edinburgh Zoo parking

Set your sat nav for EH12 6TS and get ready for Scotland’s leading zoo.

However, parking in the city centre based zoo is limited and only available on first come, first serve basis.

Visitors must pay for parking on arrival at the barriers at a cost of £10. However, visitors can get a discounted price of £3 by validating their ticket and paying for parking at admissions when they arrive.

Parking is free for zoo members.

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You could save up to 6p/litre*every time you fill up! Use the myRAC app to find the cheapest local fuel.

*6p saving based on difference between average and lowest diesel and petrol prices at selected locations.
As of 01/09/23.

Twycross Zoo parking

The Atherstone-based zoo is popular in the east midlands, and can be located near the A444 – just off junction aa of the M42, and along the A5. Attraction signs are easily spotted once off the motorway.

For those using sat navs, use CV9 3PX as your location.

Parking is free for all visitors.

Marwell Zoo parking

Based in Winchester in Hampshire, Marwell Wildlife, it is advised to book your tickets ahead of your visit, rather than paying on arrival.

Parking is free at the venue, and a large car park is available all day.

However, you will not be allowed to park if you have taken a pet with you.

Colchester Zoo parking

Located in the south of the city, visitors are encouraged to take the A1124 and exit on Junction 26, and then follow the brown elephant signs using the Stanway Western Bypass.

Those using sat navs, use CO3 0SL.

Parking at the zoo is free of charge.

Paignton Zoo parking

The zoo advises that visitors should travel to the location by public transport if possible.

Set your sat nav for TQ4 7EU if you do decide to travel by vehicle, and the zoo is located just a mile from the town centre. Just follow the A380 to the zoo, which is well signposted.

The zoo has free parking for up to 1,110 cars – as well as some extra spaces at a nearby overflow car park. This is normally opened during busy periods and will be clearly signposted if open.

Yorkshire wildlife park parking

One of the nation’s most popular zoo attractions can be found through your sat nav by entering DN9 3QY, near Doncaster. Like all of the zoos in this list, it is signposted by the brown tourist signs.

If you are using an older sat nav, this may take you to the wrong location, so check with Google Maps before leaving.

Parking is free at the zoo.

Longleat parking

The nation’s most famous drive-through safari park, also has a zoo on site.

Parking in front of the zoo’s iconic house is free of charge, however, entry to the safari drive-though will be priced according to when you visit. Contact the zoo for the latest pricing.

Only hard top vehicles on four wheels will be allowed to go on the safari – which takes 2-3 hours.

Please adhere to the signposted rules and never exit the vehicle.

Dartmoor Zoological park parking

If you are traveling to the zoo which was the setting for the movie ‘We Built A Zoo’ enter PL7 5DG into your sat nav, and keep an eye out for the signs along the A38.

Once you get to Sparkwell Village, the zoo can be found in the centre.

Parking is free and can be found at the bottom of the hill that the zoo is based on.

Exmoor Zoo parking

Exmoor Zoological Park is based in Barnstable in north Devon and has both a large car park based next to the main entrance, and a second overflow car park during busy periods in the summer and half term holidays.

Both are available for free to visitors.

Enter EX31 4SG into your sat nav if you are looking to visit this zoo.

Noah’s Ark Zoo farm parking

Based on the outskirts of Bristol, in a town called Wraxall, it is only a short trip off Junction 19 on the M5 motorway.

Parking is available for free to all visitors.


If you are heading off to one of the UK’s many amazing zoos, have an amazing time.

Are there any zoos not on this list that you’ve had trouble travelling to and parking at? Or had any good/bad experiences at the ones listed above? Please comment below.

Save £££s on fuel

You could save up to 6p/litre*every time you fill up! Use the myRAC app to find the cheapest local fuel.

*6p saving based on difference between average and lowest diesel and petrol prices at selected locations.
As of 01/09/23.