10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Ireland

Updated On October 7, 2023

Aquariums and zoos open a world that we may not know existed.

Both provide amazing experiences and education for the world around us.

When visiting an aquarium, you may find that there are many sea creatures in the depths that you may not know existed.

Zoos provide a unique look at the habits and daily lives of the animals that they house.

Depending on which you prefer, Ireland does not disappoint when it comes to must-see aquariums and zoos. 

I’ve found that there are plenty of spots that should be included on your list while you are touring Ireland’s best.

From past and present animals native to the area to exotic and endangered animals – there is something for everyone to see.

10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Ireland

Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8, D08 AC98, Ireland

Dublin Zoo opened over 130 years ago and is still one of the most popular zoo attractions in Ireland.

The zoo offers something for everyone, with 69 acres of space to explore.

One of the things that stands out to me about the Dublin Zoo is its mission.

Over the years it has shifted its focus from solely being a zoo attraction to becoming an advocate for conservation and the repopulation of endangered species.

When you visit, you are able to see hundreds of species that are rare or endangered, It’s an experience filled with wonder.

Belfast Zoo, Antrim Rd, Belfast BT36 7PN, United Kingdom

The Belfast Zoo is one of Northern Ireland‘s most popular animal attractions.

You can visit, learn about, and even interact with some of the zoo’s thousands of animal residents.

The Belfast Zoo is focused on conservation, the majority of the animals that you will see when you’re visiting are either endangered or live in environments that are threatened.

One of the goals of the zoo is to educate and support the conservation of the world’s animals.

The keepers are knowledgeable about the animals under their care, they are on hand to provide interesting facts about the animals and their habitats. 

Wild Ireland, Dundrean, Burnfoot, Co. Donegal, F93 KN7X, Ireland

If you’re looking for a unique experience that is filled with a ton of facts on past and present animals, Wild Ireland is an engaging experience.

Wild Ireland is a newer attraction that takes visitors on a journey through Ireland’s old landscape.

There are bears, and wolves, and what I found surprising, are monkeys that all used to inhabit Northern Ireland.

What makes Wild Ireland unique is that it offers a glimpse into a long-forgotten past.

You can see the mammals and birds that inhabited Northern Ireland’s rainforests hundreds of years ago.

The National Reptile Zoo, Gowran Hebron Business Park, Hebron Rd, Leggetsrath West, Kilkenny, Ireland

If you are a reptile enthusiast, the National Reptile Zoo is your spot for education, conservation efforts, and reptile habitats.

The National Reptile Zoo recently moved to its current and larger location, allowing them to expand its work.

When visiting you can see, and interact with, reptiles, arachnids, and other insects.

Not only is it a fun experience to interact with the zoo’s residents, but the zoo also keeps are on hand to provide you with information and facts about the critters that you’re seeing.

Wild Encounters Mini Zoo, Coolyroe, Kilmeedy, Co. Limerick, V42 TD81, Ireland

The Wild Encounters Mini Zoo focuses on educating people about their animals.

They provide specialized encounters for schools and groups, as well as showcasing their zoo inhabitants to visitors.

You can see and interact with a collection of mammals, birds, and reptiles.

What makes Wild Encounters Mini Zoo unique is that due to its small side, you are able to get interact more with the keepers to get more information on the animals that you are seeing. 

The Donkey Sanctuary, Mallow, Knockardbane, Mallow, Co. Cork, Ireland

If you’re looking for a sanctuary in the area, the Donkey Sanctuary is the place for you.

The sanctuary is dedicated to providing a life free of cruelty and rehabilitating donkeys and mules.

The Donkey Sanctuary rescues donkeys and mules across Ireland and brings them to their sanctuary where they are able to roam free

When you visit you can walk through the sanctuary and interact with its long-eared residents.

The Donkey Sanctuary collaborates with similar organizations across the world.

When you visit, not only do you get to learn about their furry residents, but you are also contributing to a global rescue initiative. 

SEA LIFE Bray Aquarium, Strand Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow, A98 N8N3, Ireland

One of the largest aquariums in Ireland is the SEA Life Bray Aquarium.

The aquarium is home to an exciting array of sea life.

When visiting you can observe and even interact with some of their sea creatures.

There aren’t only sea creatures inhabiting the aquarium, there is also a selection of creatures that you would find in the rainforest.

Outside of their aquarium, SEA LIFE Bray Aquarium has its SEA LIFE Trust.

The SEA LIFE Trust was founded to enact conservation efforts for the sea life in the world’s oceans. 

Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, The Wood, Farrannakilla, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland

If you want to visit penguins, fish, sharks, and even butterflies, the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium is the perfect place for you.

The Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium has Ireland’s largest collection of sharks.

When visiting the aquarium you can observe and interact with the aquarium’s animals.

The Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium’s mission is conservation and education about our ocean’s animals.

The keepers offer insightful facts about the animals that you see on your trip and can help educate you on what some of the dangers that they face in the wild. 

Galway Atlantaquaria, National Aquarium of Ireland, Seapoint Promenade, Galway, H91 T2FD, Ireland

If you’re looking for a collection of species that are native to the waters of Ireland, Galway Atlantaquaria, National Aquarium of Ireland boasts the largest collection of species native to Ireland.

While visiting you can learn about the species and the habitats that they call home.

You can see both freshwater and saltwater inhabitants.

They promote education and conservation of Irelands’ unique aquatic creatures.

One of their most popular exhibits is Ocean Zone.

The large saltwater aquarium has a mix of predators and fish that you can find in the oceans around Ireland.

The Achill Experience Aquarium & Visitor Centre, Crumpaun, Keel East, Achill, Co. Mayo, F28 TX49, Ireland

The Achill Experience is home to fish species that call the Atlantic Ocean off the Achill shoreline home.

When visiting you learn the history of the fishing community in the 1950s, including the facts behind the shark fishing industry in the area.

In addition to the aquarium, there is the visitors center.

The visitors center covers all things history when it comes to Achill.

When you step inside, you are truly able to step back in time. 

10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Ireland – Summary Table

Zoos & AquariumsAddress
Dublin ZooPhoenix Park, Dublin 8, D08 AC98, Ireland
Belfast ZooAntrim Rd, Belfast BT36 7PN, United Kingdom
Wild IrelandDundrean, Burnfoot, Co. Donegal, F93 KN7X, Ireland
The National Reptile ZooGowran Hebron Business Park, Hebron Rd, Leggetsrath West, Kilkenny, Ireland
Wild Encounters Mini ZooCoolyroe, Kilmeedy, Co. Limerick, V42 TD81, Ireland
The Donkey SanctuaryMallow, Knockardbane, Mallow, Co. Cork, Ireland
SEA LIFE Bray AquariumStrand Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow, A98 N8N3, Ireland
Dingle Oceanworld AquariumThe Wood, Farrannakilla, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Galway Atlantaquaria National Aquarium of Ireland,Seapoint Promenade, Galway, H91 T2FD, Ireland
The Achill Experience Aquarium & Visitor CentreCrumpaun, Keel East, Achill, Co. Mayo, F28 TX49, Ireland

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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I book tickets before visiting?

For all of these zoos and aquariums, you are able to book tickets ahead of time online.

While it’s not necessary, if you are visiting during the summer or for events, booking ahead is your best option.

If you’re like me, you like to avoid waiting in long lines.

For additional experiences, such as animal encounters, booking ahead of time is a must as they only have space for a certain amount of people.

Can I touch the animals?

The zoos and aquariums in Ireland, the majority of them allow you to interact with some of their animals.

You can take part in keeper presentations where the keeps talk about the animals that they work with.

These animals are also at the demonstrations and you can learn the proper way to handle some of them.

There are also experiences where you can feed or touch certain animals.

Are these locations disabled and accessible?

Both the zoos and aquariums are disabled accessible.

However, for some of the animal encounters, calling ahead is a good practice to make sure that they can accommodate you or your disabled member at your party.

Many of the zoos and aquariums in Ireland also have several wheelchairs available if you feel that you may need one during your visit.

What are some things that I should know before visiting the zoos in Ireland?

One of the most important things to remember is that you are a visitor to these animals’ habitats.

It’s important to not disturb, cause distress, or feed the animals while viewing them in their enclosures.

You should always remember that, unless there is a keeper present and is allowing you to, you should never attempt to interact with the animals.

We’ve all seen news stories where people are injured, or even killed while attempting to touch animals in the zoo.

While the animals may call the zoo home, they are still wild animals.

You should also anticipate that touring the zoo will take up a good part of your day.

Wearing comfortable clothing and shoes will make your visit more enjoyable.

Some zoos in Ireland will let you bring in your own food and water, otherwise, you can take time to rehydrate and snack at the zoos’ cafes.

Can I take pictures inside the aquariums or the zoos?

When you are visiting the aquariums and zoos of Ireland, you can take photos as you, please.

There are options to have professional photos taken at certain animal experiences or locations.

As long as you don’t use flash-around aquariums or zoo animals that are sensitive to light, you can take as many pictures as you want unless otherwise noted.

For certain animals, seeing a flash can cause discomfort or anger.

1 Comment on 10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Ireland

  1. Ireland offers a diverse range of aquarium and zoo experiences, each with their own unique focus on education and conservation. Overall, I highly recommend visiting these top 10 spots for an unforgettable and eye-opening experience.

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