Attica Zoological Park in Athens – The Best Zoo in Greece
Staying in Athens with kids gave us the opportunity to visit the Attica Zoo, the zoo near Athens, the capital of Greece. The crowded but beautiful historic center of Athens is magnificent (also for kids), but our son was dying to visit the zoo, which is officially called Attica Zoological Park. So we got on the subway and the bus to Spata, a suburb to the east of Athens where the biggest and best zoo in Greece is located.
It was the most enjoyable family day trip we made in Athens! The zoo is really huge and there are about 2000 animals of 320 species! Walking through this zoo is a real pleasure because of the many colorful flowers, trees, and plants. Everywhere you will find maps and information boards, and educational sessions are taking place throughout the day.
Activities in the Athens Zoo
When visiting Attica Zoological Park you can join a couple of activities. There are the animal feedings, and three educational programs: the Marine Mammal Program, the Birds of Prey Program, and the Asian Elephant Program. The time schedules of the different activities in the zoo you can find on the site of the Attica Zoological Park.
We spent seven hours in the 20-hectare zoo and attended several activities. One of the best experiences was when the ring-tailed Lemurs from Madagascar were being fed. These little furry animals live in their Lemur Forest in the park, from which they have access to the public. During feeding time they will climb all over you and their behavior is very naughty, which causes a lot of laughter and joy.
Other animal feedings that you can attend are the feeding of the bears, the elephants, the chimpanzees, the African Penguins, and the Macaws. The duration of a feeding is between 5 and 15 minutes, and some feedings can only be attended by the public during the weekends.
You can also enjoy shows by the amphitheater, where flying birds of prey give representations. In the weekends there is a reptile presentation, while you can attend live shows with dolphins in the Dolphinarium throughout the week.
The Animals of the Athens Zoo in Greece
The Attica Zoological Park in Athens was established in 2000 as a Bird Park, and has the third largest collection of birds in the world, with 1100 birds from 300 different species. Gradually the zoo expanded and mammals, reptiles, and marine animals were added to its collection.
There are a couple of themed areas, but most animals live in separate sections. They are easy to find though because of the clear information boards with maps in the park.
The World of Reptiles houses alligators, different turtle species, Pythons, Boas, Anacondas, crocodiles and a Komodo Dragon, which is the largest lizard in the world. The Komodo Dragon can reach up to 3 meters in length and its saliva is extremely toxic.
There is also an Aldabra Tortoise, a kind of turtle of which the male can grow to 1.2 meters and weight up to 250 kg. This tortoise can reach more than 200 years of age!
In the Greek Fauna section, you will find animals specific for Greece, like wild cats, lynxes, wolves, and brown bears.
The African Savannah section is a large open area with giraffes, zebras and other animals found in this region.
Other sections include Big Cats, a Monkey Forest, and Cheetah Land. There is even a Sea Mammal section with dolphins and seals where also the Dolphinarium is located.
The Athens zoo houses some rare and endangered animals like the Giant Anteater, the Barbary Macaque, the Cheetah, the African Wild Dog, the Somali Wild Ass, the Pygmy Hippopotamus, the Bactrian Camel, the Baringo Giraffe, and the White Tiger. The Somali Wild Ass is believed to be the ancestor of the domestic donkey and there are less than 500 left in the wild. The White Tiger is highly endangered and has not been seen in the wild since 1958. They only exist in zoos.
Some facilities are a little dated compared to west European zoos, but we felt that the animals are taken good care of. At least most of the animals were playful and looked happy. Giraffes came close to the fence to be petted, brown bears were playing together in a pond, and a more than hundred years old gigantic turtle was…well, just being lazy.
The Komodo Dragon with a length of about three meters was a real highlight for our son, who had done his research on the internet and knew the smallest details about this animal. The dangerous animal was sitting quietly on a little rock within a fenced area, but our son made it clear to us that this was just a trick of the dragon.
After seven hours strolling through the zoo, we (the grown-ups), were exhausted and wanted to leave. That’s when our son disappeared. We found him at the White Tigers explaining to us that he really couldn’t leave without having seen the White Tigers, as they are really rare. Imagine that after seven hours in the zoo, we still hadn’t seen everything!
If you have little kids, the petting farm is a true paradise. In the farm, you can pet donkeys, goats, a cow and watch rabbits jumping around and getting in and out of their rabbit holes. Next to the petting farm is a playground with a picnic area and a small kiosk where you can buy something to drink.
Breeding Programs of the Athens Zoo in Greece
Attica Zoological Park is a member of EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, an organization with about 300 members supporting wildlife conservation. EAZA members actively participate in breeding programs, education and scientific study and are obliged to adopt the Association’s standards for the accommodation, care, health and hygiene of animals in their parks.
The Athens zoo participates in breeding programs for 62 endangered species and cooperates actively with other European zoos on the exchange of animals bred in captivity, educational matters, veterinary research and other subjects of common interest.
A special breeding program taking place at the premises of the zoo is of the rare Chamaeleon of Pylos. This animal is only found in the Peloponnese Peninsula in Greece and is under extinction.
Visiting Athens Zoo in Greece
During summer I would advise visiting Attica Zoological Park either early in the morning, or after 5 pm, especially with small children. Before that time it’s just too hot and many animals are hiding from the sun and asleep. Beware that the zoo closes at sunset.
When you decide to visit the Athens Zoo in Greece in spring, summer, or fall during the day you should wear a hat, sunscreen, and drink enough water. Also, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes because you will walk a lot.
The zoo has plenty of picnic areas, but also a café-restaurant that overlooks the African Savannah, where you can sit outside to eat and drink something and the kids can play.
How to get to the Athens Zoo in Greece
As said we traveled by public transport from the center of Athens to the zoo, and we considered the zoo difficult to reach by public transport. First, you have to take the subway from the center of Athens to Doukisis Plakentias Station, and from there the bus. This took about 90 minutes. Last you will have to walk from the bus stop to the zoo for about 10 minutes or even more, depending on which bus you were on.
On return, we ordered a taxi at the reception of the zoo which brought us to the center of Athens in less than half an hour. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how much we paid, but you can ask first at the zoo or look at the zoo’s website for special taxi arrangements the zoo has with taxi companies.
When you plan to return by bus, make sure to purchase your return trip bus tickets in Athens. At the zoo, there is no selling point for bus tickets.
More information on Attica Zoological Park
On the website of the Attica Zoological Park, you can find lots of information about the animals, the park, the feeding times, the activities in the zoo, and on how to get there. The zoo also has an informative Facebook Page.