If you visit Norway with children, then a day at a zoo might be just what you need when it’s time to take a break from all the sightseeing. There are a good number of zoos in Norway, but only a few that can be considered big zoos where you can spend an entire day.
We will take a closer look at all the different zoos in Norway in this article, looking at some of the animals you can expect to find there, and talk a little bit about the other attractions you will find in the parks.
How Norwegian zoos differ from zoos around the world
Norwegian zoos tend to be a bit different from many other zoos around the world. There are strict laws and regulations that make the animal welfare in Norwegian zoos pretty high, and most animals will have big areas to live in that are suited to their specific needs.
This means that large predators such as tigers, wolves, bears and animals like that will have very big spaces to live in, and you might not always be able to see them since they can hide far away from where you can see into their enclosure.
People who care about animal welfare will usually find Norwegian zoos to be pleasant, but some people might find it disappointing that some of the animals are far away and difficult to see.
Read more: How to save money when visiting zoos and theme parks in Norway.
1) Best and biggest: Dyreparken in Kristiansand
If you want a full-on zoo experience with many different animals from all over the world, then Dyreparken in Kristiansand is your best choice. This is by far the biggest zoos with the biggest variety of animals, and they are still miles ahead of any of the other zoos in Norway when it comes to the diversity and sheer size of the park.
Some of the animals you can see in Dyreparken are tigers, lions, chimpanzees, wolves, reptiles and lots of different animals from all over the world.
Dyreparken also has some entertainment areas that does not focus on the animals, and this includes a full-size version of the fictive city Kardemommebyen, a city from a children’s book with the same name. The park also has a huge area with a Kaptein Sabeltann-theme, which is a pirate that is very popular among Norwegian children. This comes with a full-sized pirate ship that you can actually board and ride.
You will want to spend an entire day at Dyreparken if you are going there, and you might also consider buying a 2-day ticket if you really want to explore all the park has to offer. It is located in the idyllic city of Kristiansand very far south in Norway, and this city is just lovely during the summer.
2) See large predators at Bjørneparken
If you are interested in the large predators of Norway, then Bjørneparken is a good place to go. This zoo is a lot smaller than Dyreparken, and has mostly animals that are found in Norway, with some exceptions such as the amur leopard.
Their main attraction is the brown bear, and there are two enclosures with two bears in each. These bears usually love to show off, and will come close to the visitors during feeding time. It also has many different Norwegian animals like wolves, lynxes, reindeer, roe deer, red deer and moose, as well as some farm animals.
Bjørneparken has some facilities for children to play at as well, but not on the same scale as Dyreparken. However, there are a few jungle gyms, a small water-splashing area (so bring a swim suit for the children) and a small roller coaster.
It is a pretty small zoo that can be experienced in 2 – 3 hours if you just want to see the animals there, but I suppose it is possible to spend the entire day if you eat dinner and take it slow. I guess it all depends on how you like to be at a zoo. It has some interesting animals, but the diversity and number of animals are not that high.
You can visit Bjørneparken in Flå municipality in a region called Hallingdal. This is about a 2 hour drive from Oslo, and the place is usually visited by tourists that own a cabin in the area.
Read more about Bjørneparken here.
3) Experience a tropical rain forest in Den Lille Dyrehage
Den Lille Dyrehage is a small zoo in an area called Brokelandsheia in the southern part of Norway. This zoo is just a minute away from the main highway (E18), so it’s a nice place to stop to stretch your legs after a long ride.
The main attraction in Den Lille Dyrehage is a huge indoor tropical rain forest. This aims to be as close to a real life rain forest as possible, and has many animals that inhabit the area. So expect to see lemurs and monkeys jumping around you, bats hanging upside down from the trees, or reptiles chilling on rocks. There is also a dedicated snake-area where you can walk around while being surrounded by snakes.
Den Lille Dyrehage is also a kind of small zoo. It does not have that much to offer other than the jungle gum, a few animal enclosures and the huge tropical greenhouse. I really enjoy this zoo and visit it a few times a year with the children, but we usually don’t stay longer than 3 – 4 hours.
This might not come as a surprise to those that understand Norwegian, seeing as Den Lille Dyrehage can be translated into “The Small Zoo”.
You will find a small play area for children outside the main greenhouse where the tropical rain forest is located, but this play area is pretty small, and mostly suited for smaller children.
Other than that, there’s a big enclosure for kangaroos and wallabies that you can enter to get close to the animals, an enclosure with meerkats, as well as an enclosure for farm animals.
Learn more about Den Lille Dyrehage in its own travel guide by clicking here.
4) Learn all about reptiles in Oslo Reptilpark
Oslo Reptilpark is the perfect stop for anyone that loves reptiles, because as the name suggest, reptiles are the bread and butter of Oslo Reptilpark. They have a big variety of different snakes, lizards, frogs and other small animals like that, and it will surely teach you a lot about some of the different reptile species in the world.
One of the great things about Oslo Reptilpark is that it is located close to the Oslo City center, so you can make a quick stop there while exploring Oslo, and don’t need to spend the entire day getting there and back again.
5) Get close to Norwegian farm animals and some big predators at Langedrag Naturpark
Langedrag Naturpark is a type of zoo located in Nesbyen municipality in the Hallingdal-region of Norway. It is actually pretty close to Bjørneparken, so visiting these two at the same time is a great option.
Langedrag is not a strict zoo, but more like a type of open farm where you can see farm animals as well as some Norwegian animals. The primary area is an open enclosure with farm animals that you can pet and get close to, which is a lot of fun for children.
There are also some wild animals in Langedrag, including wolves, lynxes and moose. The lynxes and wolves are actually very tame, and the owners often go into the cages to feed them and play with them. Sorry for the terrible photo of the lynx, but it’s the best I had!
There are some play areas for children, but these are not the biggest ones.
Read more about Langedrag here.
6) Fun for the children at Haugaland Zoo in Karmøy
Haugaland Zoo is located in Karmøy on the west coast of Norway. This park has some animals such as kangaroos, monkeys, snakes, antelopes and lots of different birds.
This is also a pretty small zoo, but it is supposedly a nice place to spend a few hours. I have never been able to visit this zoo personally, so I can’t really tell you too much about it. It has been in the media a few times due to getting remarks for subpar animal welfare, but they have apparently improved the conditions for the animals.
7) See all the amazing fish at Akvariet i Bergen
Akvariet i Bergen (Bergen Aquarium) is an aquarium that some people might consider a type of zoo, so if you are interested in fish or other marine animals, then this is a perfect place for you.
As you can expect, there’s lots of different fish and marine invertebrates in different fish tanks at the park, but there are also penguins, otters, sea lions and crocodiles.
As you can expect from the name, Akvariet i Bergen is located in Bergen, and it’s very easy to get there from the city center.
8) See the arctic animals at Polar Park
Polar Park is the northernmost zoo in the entire world, and it is located outside of Bardu, not that far away from Narvik. It has mostly Norwegian animals like wolves, brown bears, wolverines and moose, and it’s a nice place to stop by if you want to visit a zoo when you are this far north.
Some of the nice things about Polar Park is that you can get pretty close to the predators. They have the option for people to come to guided tours inside the wolf enclosure to meet the wolves, but you will have to pay extra for this tour.
The zoo has plans to get polar bears, so they might be the first and only zoo in Norway to have polar bears if their plans succeed.
9) Get close to the brown bear at Namsskogan Familiepark
Namsskogan Familiepark is a zoo and activity park located north of Namsos. This park also focuses on Norwegian wildlife, with brown bears, red foxes, deer, wolves, badgers, moose, arctic foxes, rein deer, wolverines and lynxes, as well as many different farm animals.
There are also many different activities for children there, such as a “summer toboggan”, a climbing area, a train ride, trampolines and jungle gyms.
10) Feed the animals at Tangen Dyrepark
Tangen Dyrepark is another smaller zoo, this time located just 30 minutes south of Hamar. This means that it’s pretty close to Oslo, so it’s a nice place to stop by if you’re in the region north of Oslo.
The zoo has several different species of monkeys, zebras, camels, foxes and plenty of farm animals. There’s also a lot of different reptiles such as snakes and lizards in the park.
One of the cool things about the zoo is that you can buy food that you can give to the animals. Each pack comes with a list of all the animals that can be fed it, which is a lot of fun for the children!
Tangen Dyrepark is also pretty reasonably priced, so it’s not one of those parks where you need to pay several thousands kroner for all the family to get in. On the flip side, it’s far from the biggest zoo, so you are unlikely to be spending more than 2 – 4 hours there, depending on how much time the children spend in the play areas really.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.