Every animal lover needs their fix. We’ve gathered up the top zoos, aquariums and more across Belgium to make things easy. Plan out a wild day out in nature for the family or bring your partner to the zoo for a wholesome date. Or maybe just go and hug a furry friend (if allowed!).
You can also find all of these and more on our map.
Belgium is known for its stunning zoos. From the spectacle and sights of Pairi Daiza to the more homely animal sanctuary of De Zonnegloed, there’s something for every animal lover wherever you happen to be and whatever your budget. Check out our list to get your zoo and aquarium day trip planning started. But for all of you who want more than your average zoo day, Belgium has plenty of nature reserves to see too.
Top rated zoos
These zoos are the most popular for a reason. There’s tons of animals to see, beautiful enclosures, and lots of family fun. Entry fees are higher than other zoos, but you’re paying for quality here!
1. Travel the world at Pairi Daiza
A must-visit zoo for every animal lover! THE #1 zoo of Belgium. No, really. There’s 7,000+ animals right here. Perfect for pretty everyone from couples to families.
Travel through the biggest Chinese garden of Europe and wave to the giant pandas. Cross the hanging bridges and make your way over to the Kingdom of Ganesha to see little antelopes and (a fan fave!) the Asian elephants.
Want a unique sight to see? We’ve yet to find another zoo in Belgium with an authentic African Stilt village. Wander over to the Land of Origins to see it, plus adorable lemurs and big apes.
Bringing the family?
If you’re planning a zoo day out with the kids, then you’re in the right place. Try out the barefoot walking trail at the Kingdom of Ganesha to take a walk on the wild side. Or let ‘em run free at the big, sandy playground over on Cambron-by-the-Sea.
Pairi Daiza is a super popular zoo for a reason. Check out our tips & tricks to hammer out the details to make the best day out at the zoo.
2. Family fun at Planckendael Zoo
Looking for a zoo in Brussels? Planckendael Zoo is just a short drive away.
Every zoo has something for the family, but Planckendael Zoo needs to be the top of the list. Planckendael Zoo won the award for ‘Child-friendliest Zoo’ at the Diamond Theme Park Awards.
What is there to do at the zoo? Well, like Pairi Daiza, Planckendael features animals from around the world. Explore 5 continents to discover elephants, flamingos, deer and many more. Tired of urban zoos? Planckendael is for you. The enclosures are pretty big and there’s tons of nature around to brighten up your day.
Day out in Mechelen
The closest zoo to Brussels, Planckendael Zoo is in a great spot for a family day out at the zoo. Let the kids run on the playground, then take ‘em over to the nearby science museum Technopolis. There’s lots to do and no time to waste!
Where to stay in Mechelen
While you're going out and about to see the beautiful animals in Mechelen, staying in the heart of the city makes it easy for your adventures. Brasserie & Logies De Pijl makes for a quaint stay like a true local, and only 200 metres from Mechelen Trainstation. For those who want an affordable stay while traveling with your companion, Albert - Rooms has great facilities for you to enjoy. Then there's our favourite, Lunatree - which is right in the historical heart of Mechelen. The accommodation is located in an Art Nouveau House at the water channel where you can take leisurely strolls on the beautiful cobblestones.
3. Animals and architecture at Antwerp Zoo
A zoo and aquarium! 5,000 animals are hanging out in the heart of Antwerp. Drop by Antwerp on the train and you’re just a short walk away from the zoo. Perfect for an easy day out at the zoo and convenient stop when you’ve got lots planned for the day.
But what stands out the most about this zoo? Sure, there’s the animals and we can’t move on without mentioning the pretty butterfly house. Every animal lover should drop by at least once! But, it’s the charm of the place that really makes this zoo one of the symbols of Antwerp. You get animals and Victorian architecture in one.
A zoo for every season
Come by in the summer for a visit to the butterfly house. It doesn’t get much more colourful than that. But, even if you’re looking for things to do in the winter around Antwerp, the zoo should still be on your list. Come by in the Antwerp cold to see the winter lights festival.
4. Get up close and personal with the animals
Looking for something slightly different to your average zoo? Here are the best options for animal lovers. Belgium has plenty of animal shelters and sanctuaries to visit. Know you’re supporting an ethical cause AND enjoy meeting new fluffy friends while you’re at it.
5. Feel the glow at Zonnegloed Sanctuary
Want something different to the zoo? Maybe you’ve been to all the zoos on every list or you’re an animal welfare superstar. But, whatever the reason, we've got something for you. We’ve all been to the zoo at least once, but what about an animal sanctuary? Switch it up and give the rescued animals some love.
Looking for something different to the regular zoo date? Zonnegloed Sanctuary might be smaller, but that makes it all the more special when you get to meet the animals close up. Bring your partner along for the everyday animal feedings time for a cute show.
6. Animal shelter Le Rêve d'Aby
Though we all love seeing animals from all over the world, you can’t forget the farm animal classics. From graceful horses to adorable baby sheep, pay a visit to the animal shelter between Brussels and Namur to see these everyday animals enjoying the natural comforts of the shelter.
Known for their annual Christmas event where the shelter opens up to visitors for a special event, Le Rêve d'Aby is a family friendly shelter to visit. Go give those animals some hugs!
The animal shelter is open all year round for visits as well with guided tours on offer, including a special tour for kids. Entry to the animal shelter is totally free!
An animal park and adventure park in one! Forestia, aka the Parc animalier de La Reid, offers everything you need for a memorable animal-packed day out in Theux. Enter into the forest for a 5km walk with 300 animals to see. Deers are grazing in the meadows. Keep your eyes peeled to see the wolves and so much more.
Get up close and feed the animals. You can buy the animal feed on site for the 30+ animal species at the park.
Want more than a regular zoo visit? Forestia has 11 zip lines. Yup. Zip across the forest and feel the wind in your hair. Suitable for ages 2+. Tip: when you buy a ticket to the adventure park zip lines, you get free access to the animal park.
8. Le parc a gibier
🧭La Roche-en-Ardenne, Luxembourg
Known for its nature, the Belgian Ardennes is one travel destination you can’t miss. But what animals can you see in the Ardennes? At Le parc a gibier, see animals as close as you can to their natural habitat on a forest trail. Wolves, foxes, lynxes and more all have a home here.
Family friendly: after walking the forest trail, bring the family along for the mini farm. Great to do with the kids! Cute ponies, donkeys, ducks and more are all waiting for you right next to the play area.
Local zoo gems
We found some local hidden gems where you can see the animals up close and personal. Plus, they’re pretty affordable! Whether you’re planning a budget date or family day out, we’ve got the top options just for you. Bring the kids or date along to the petting zoo, then a hike. Or visit a budget-friendly zoo away from the tourist crowds.
9. Visit the petting zoo! The Ostrich Nest
There’s something of a spectacle about the zoo. If you want to see animals really up close and give ‘em pets, then the petting zoo is for you. **Free to visit!** Great for everyone from couples to families, this petting zoo is just outside the heart of Lier.
Get away from the big cities for a cozy petting zoo visit. Give those donkeys, sheep and alpacas some pets from us.
Move those legs!
Want more than just a zoo day? We know you animal lovers love nature too. The petting zoo is right next to a farm, so you’ve lots of space to roam. After petting the alpacas and sheep to your heart's content, check out the 3 walking trails.
10. Day trip with a stop at Animal Park Bouillon
With a 15€ entry fee for adults, Bouillon is a fraction of the price compared to the major zoos of Belgium making it a budget friendly option.
Head over to the south of Belgium for a zoo surprise and combine it with the other lovely sights in Bouillon. Super close to Bouillon Castle, there’s a surprising amount of things in the small town of Bouillon. You should keep Animal Park Bouillon in mind when planning out your day.
With 500+ animals and 75 different species, there’s plenty to see and enough to keep the children busy. Don’t miss the lions!
Planning a day out to the zoo on a budget for the family? Animal Park Bouillon has a playground right next to the entrance. Pay a visit after taking the 2km stroll around the zoo to see all the animals.
11. Pakawi Park
This family owned zoo welcomes your whole family too, including your dog! For a more local feel to your zoo experience, you can come to Pakawi Park and enjoy a day in a friendly neighbourhood zoo in the Belgian village of Olmen.
Be sure to see the African lions, white tigers, black leopards, Eurasian lynx, Servals, and cougars here as it is what the zoo is most known for. The lynx happens to be native to Belgium though they are rarely seen in the wild, so come have a look for yourself!
Trip to the Aquarium
Scale up your zoo day with a trip to an aquarium. Pick a budget option while you’re out shopping in the heart of Liege or plan out a whole day to hang out with the fish. Enjoy the watery sights from the coast of Belgium to Liege.
12. Aquarium-Museum Liege
Want a trip to the aquarium? Head over to Liege to visit a local and tourist favourite. Info panels in English, Dutch and more tell you all about the fish. From mini sharks to eels to goldish, Liege’s aquarium has plenty of fishy friends to meet. But the fish aren’t the only interesting things to see. The tanks are filled with coral and decor and lit quite prettily. Liege’s aquarium offers the classic aquarium experience.
Part of Liege’s university, the aquarium also has a museum on the second floor. In the museum part, you’ll find a taxidermic collection. Here, see animals of the world frozen in time. Bones, butterflies and more are on display. While on the first floor, you get the classic aquarium visit the second floor is perfect for those looking for something a little different.
Where to stay in Liege
Liege is a great city to explore beyond the aquarium too - but then you'll definitely will want to make a stay out of it too! If you're looking for a budget-friendly accommodation, you can't go wrong with the Liège Youth Hostel, which is place filled with friendly atmosphere. A classic place to stay in town will always be ibis Styles Liege Guillemins, where modern rooms gives you great comfort. For those looking for a romantic stay, and something a bit more personably - check out B&B Villa Thibault.
At the aquarium on the first floor, you and the kids will see Finding Nemo themed tanks. Aquarium-Museum Liege is perfect to introduce the kids to ocean wildlife, show ‘em something pretty and teach ‘em something new.
13. Sea Life Blankenberge
🧭Blankenberge, West Flanders
Sometimes we want to venture out into the ocean. Let the animals of the sea be the stars of the show! Explore the glass tunnels of the aquarium for an up close look at sharks, sea turtles, and (of course!) tons of fish.
But you’ll be doing more than just walking around. Relax and pull up a seat to enjoy the show. Everyday, Sea Life Blankenberge puts on a show at the animal feeding times. Watch the sea lions, penguins and otters.
Tip: on busy days in the summer, you could end up waiting in line as the aquarium is popular. Arrive early!
Family friendly: Sea Life Blankenberge has tons of options for kids, Games and interactive exhibits are all around the aquarium. There’s a bit of an educational aspect to the aquarium to teach ‘em something new about the sea’s animal life.
Explore wildlife in the great outdoors
We know that some of you want more than animals in enclosures at the zoo. You want to go out in your hiking boots with your camera at your side, and find the animals for yourself. Belgium has plenty of nature reserves to explore, but what are the best ones to find animals? We’ve got the best nature filled alternatives to zoos for you outdoorsy types!
14. Zwin Nature Park
Next to Belgium’s coast and the Belgian-Netherlands border, Zwin is a must for every nature explorer. Tired of your everyday zoo? Then, it’s time to take flight! Zwin is known for its birds. Animal lovers will go wild seeing all of the birds flying across the nature reserve.
Hike around the nature park or bring your bike for an outdoorsy, animal packed day. This park can get busy during peak tourist season so make sure you plan ahead and go early or later in the day and if possible book ahead for a tour.
Family friendly: bring along the kids to the nature reserve and let ‘em explore the bird exhibits. Learn all about how the animals work and where they’re from.
Why stick to zoo enclosures when you can find the animals in the nature park yourself? We love a good bit of DIY!
If you want to avoid the tourist crowds you always get at the major zoos, nature reserves are your best option. Sure, you could enjoy a stroll through the reserve and take your time capturing as many birds as you can on camera.
Or you could bring your bike for a cycling trip. Say goodbye to the closed in zoos and find nature on a 2km cycling route around the reserve.
15. Stroll around Park Furfooz
Home to ancient caves and beautiful views, Park Furfooz is one wildlife area no nature explorer wants to miss. If you want something different to your average zoo with all the beauty of nature, Park Furfooz is for you. Located in the heart of the Ardennes, Park Furfooz is the place to go to see the best of Belgium’s nature.
Wave goodbye to animal enclosures and a world of fences. At the wildlife park, you’re free to explore to your heart’s content. The 4km walking trail is family friendly too!
At 5€ with tons of views and hiking trails to explore, it’s a good option for those on a budget.
What animals will you see here? There’s local wildlife from squirrels to fluffy sheep. Bats have made their homes in the caves and if you’re lucky you might just catch a glimpse.
16. Domein Kiewit
Escape into a green oasis in Hasselt. Avoid the regular tourist crowds at the zoos by going out into nature yourself to discover a petting zoo and bat caves. Say hi the wild boar, give the goats some pets, and watch the swans swimming gracefully by in the lake. A favourite spot for locals walking out in nature, Domein Kiewit is a bit of a hidden gem.
Take a walk or cycle through the reserve. There’s tons of signposted walking trails to choose from. Free to visit, Domein Kiewit is the perfect option for those wanting to see animals on a budget with the kids.
Still need more animal sightseeing spots in your life? Discover even more animals across Belgium here