London Zoo, London
I'm putting this in my tourist trap tips for a couple of reasons. First is the cost, a whopping L13 for an adult admission, the highest admission price for any attraction that I saw in London on this trip. For a top notch zoo, like the San Diego Zoo, I can see paying a sum that high, but not for this zoo which is much smaller and not state of the art.
Second is the fact that it's really not close to a tube station or centrally located, I think it took us at least 10-15 minutes to get to the nearest tube. But if you are in Camden, you can enjoy a walk along the Regent Canal path to get to the zoo.
Unique Suggestions: If you have the London Pass and are near Camden or Regent Park, it was worth a brief stop just to see the two resident Kimodo dragons and the lovely playful otters who put on quite a show. But I would have been very disappointed had I paid the admission charge.
My apologies to the otters pictured in the attached photo, they really were quite a treat to watch.
Fun Alternatives: If you are traveling with children to London, I think the best place we visited that children would enjoy as well as adults is Warwick Castle, filled with activities and exhibitions, tales of knights and kings, ghosts and dungeons.
London Zoo is very poor and boring compared with other zoos, and a large proportion of the exhibits are empty. However you do not find out how bad it is until you have paid the extortionate ticket prices and entered the zoo.
The adult tickets are 14.50 GBP and child tickets are 11.50 GBP. However, these prices include a 'voluntary donation' of 1.50 GBP, so make sure you make the zoo ticket staff remove the extra 1.50 GBP if you do not wish to make the donation.
Once you enter the zoo, you will find that there are few big animals.
The Gorillas and Bugs areas are closed and under redevelopment, with parts scheduled for completion from the middle of 2007 onwards. Therefore there are no gorillas and few monkeys, and the bugs are in small exhibits in the education centre.
There are no elephants, very few flamingos, penguins, and the bird areas are mostly empty.
The aquarium building is in very poor condition, and has many tanks empty. The exhibits along one wall the length of the building that are supposed to contain fish have been replaced with pictures of fish.
Unique Suggestions: If you feel you must go to London Zoo, then make sure you buy food to take in and so avoid the pricey food sold there.
Beware of the 'voluntary donation' that the zoo ticket sales staff will try to make you pay on top of the already very expensive entrance tickets.
Get a map of the place when you go in, the zoo is very confusingly laid out. You can then plan which sections to see, and how to visit them in the most efficient order.
Try to visit the zoo on a day when the weather is not too hot nor too wet.
In hot weather, the animals are either suffering and wilting because they have no shelter against the heat, or else they are hiding in their shelters, so you cannot see them. In wet weather, the zoo is a big puddle, and there is little shelter for the visitors. Again the animals are either exposed to the elements, or else they will be hiding in their shelters, out of view.
Fun Alternatives: There are any number of more interesting and better value visits in and around London:
Historic palaces, such as Hampton Court, Tower of London, etc
Free museums, such as natural history museum, science museum, war museum, etc
Above all, if you are an animal lover, do not visit London Zoo and so support the locking away of animals in small and crowded enclosures.
There are far better alternatives in the safari and natural parks such as Longleat, where the animals can be seen in a freer and more natural habitat.
London zoo is very expensive and in my view very overrated. We took our 2 kids in the summer and they were upset to find no elephants and a number of others missing. The restaurant is incredibly overpriced as well.
Fun Alternatives: Although a good 30 miles north of London , Whipsnade zoo is a much bigger and better value attraction
At london Zoo- Regent Park, as you enter to buy your tickets, there is a friendly photographer who will take your picture as a memory that you can collect before leaving. What he forgets to tell is that, the photograph and some other book comes at a price. It costs 15 pounds per photo/copy.
The zoo itself isn't that great in itself. The photo which I thought was a nice inclusion to make the experience better turned out to be a dissapointment.
The London Eye takes you to new heights and offers a wonderful panoramic view of the city. I was fortunate to go on a clear and sunny summer day, so the views were quite spectacular. I can't really say if it was worth the cost. It was a nice relaxing and unique ride, but that's about it. There are some interesting options including renting a private capsule or options for holidays (valentines, new years etc) which would be neat. If I were to go again, I would consider riding the London Eye at night. I think this would provide a more interesting perspective. That said, I will only suggest this if my family (who I am travelling to London with this summer) is wanting to go on the London Eye. I think there are better things to put your money toward in this beautiful city.
Unique Suggestions: If the line appears to be long, then it truly is long! If you have the extra funds, the fast track line could be worth it. I arrived early and thus did not have to wait too long in the regular line; however, by the time I boarded and looked down on the droves of people waiting, I was in complete shock. If you don't plan to be there early, you could end up waiting for over an hour!
Fun Alternatives: I managed to sneak my way in to have my picture taken while on the LE (there is a camera outside the capsule just as you are coming back down to the platform). If you want the picture, you should hang out in this spot the majority of the time. I will say that there were only a small number of people in my capsule and I stood in the "picture spot" for a majority of the ride. Needless to say, I could tell others wanted the picture as well, so when I reached the souvenir shop I felt GUILTED into buying the photo. In reality, the photo was of pretty low quality and very pixelated. I felt like I should buy it because my standing in that spot meant that others didn't get to be in a photo that they might have wanted for a keepsake. Ultimately, the photo isn't really worth the cost (or the guilt).