Is Taronga Zoo worth visiting? - Emma Jane Explores

Is Taronga Zoo worth visiting in Sydney?

Taronga Zoo is Sydney’s most famous zoo and for good reason. A picturesque tourist attraction, Taronga Zoo is worth visiting for the views of Sydney Harbour alone. 

In operation since 1916, Taronga isn’t quite Australia’s oldest zoo – that title goes to Melbourne Zoo in Victoria – but I have no doubt that it is the most aesthetically striking and therefore should definitely be on your Sydney bucket list. 

Is Taronga Zoo worth visiting (even as an adult)?

Traditionally, I tend not to visit zoos when on holiday, though that is starting to change now that I have a little person in tow who adores animals. 

I lived in Sydney for 7 years before I visited the city’s most iconic zoo, Taronga Zoo in Mosman. It was always on my list of things to do, but I never quite made it there. Oh my, did that all change after my daughter was born. We’re now Zoo Friends members because we visit so frequently that it made more sense for us to buy a yearly pass and in her first year of life, I think we’ve been to Taronga Zoo about 6 times!

When I visited Taronga Zoo for the first time, I was so pleasantly surprised. The zoo is located in one of the most scenic spots in all of Sydney and the animal habitats are well thought out, spacious and all the animals are extremely well cared for.

And whilst Taronga Zoo is worth visiting if you have kids, believe me when I say it is also worth visiting as an adult.

Two giraffes at Taronga Zoo with Sydney Harbour in the background - Is Taronga Zoo worth visiting - Emma Jane Explores
The giraffes have the best view in the zoo

Getting to Taronga Zoo


The most stunning way to arrive at Taronga Zoo is undoubtedly by catching one of Sydney’s famous green and yellow ferries from the iconic Circular Quay. The Taronga Zoo ferry is at Wharf 4 and runs every 30 mins. The trip from Circular Quay across Sydney Harbour to the Taronga Zoo wharf only takes about 15 minutes end to end. Just use your credit card, Opal card or phone pay system to tap on and ride the ferry. 

The one downside to this method of transport is that the Taronga Zoo wharf is located at the base of the zoo, so you’ll be walking uphill to all the exhibits from the wharf. Positively, though, when you’re finished exploring and want to head back onto the ferry, the walk back to the wharf will be all downhill. 


Taronga Zoo has ample parking available (for a fee) and I have found that with a 7 month old, driving works well for us because I time our drive with her nap time to maximise awake time at the zoo. From Sydney’s CBD, the drive is around 20 minutes with no traffic. From the Eastern or Southern suburbs of Sydney, the drive extends to around 30-35 minutes without traffic. 

Parking for the day at Taronga Zoo is $22 AUD (or $11 AUD if you are a Zoo Friends member). If you’re going to visit a few times within the year, a Zoo Friends membership is well worth it. More on this later!


From Sydney’s CBD there is a direct bus line that goes to Taronga Zoo. Simply catch the 100 bus from the stands outside the stunning Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and ride to the end of the line. 

A bus trip will take around 30 minutes. Simply use your credit card or your digital wallet onn your phone to tap on and off. 

A zebra at Taronga Zoo

Getting tickets for Taronga Zoo

These days (post-COVID) I find it is always best to book tickets in advance for any tourist attractions and Taronga Zoo is no exception. This is particularly relevant if you are planning on visiting during Australian school holidays or on weekends as the zoo gets extremely busy with families. 

Book online in advance

Taronga Zoo has tickets available online to ensure a speedy entry on the day as well as packages that include entry to the zoo and return ferry tickets included. An adult entry will cost you around $50 AUD and a child entry will cost $27 AUD. Note that entry for children under 4 is free, so this is a great value activity for young kids and individual tickets purchased online at the Taronga Zoo website save 10% versus buying at the zoo. 

Families will also be pleased to note that a family ticket purchased online will save 20% versus buying at the zoo. The cost of a family pass ranges from $88 AUD – $130 AUD. 

Buy on the day

You are, of course, also able to buy tickets from the ticket booth at Taronga Zoo, however there is no guarantee that the zoo won’t already be at capacity for the day so it is definitely preferable to pre-book if you are able.

Get yourself a Zoo Friends membership

If you are an Australian who enjoys a good zoo visit then you should seriously consider a Zoo Friends membership. This yearly membership grants you unlimited access to Taronga Zoo and the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo as well as entry to the Melbourne Zoo, Adelaide Zoo, Perth Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Monarto Zoo, Werribee Zoo and Kyabram Fauna Park. 

The membership also offers half price parking at Taronga Zoo, so instead of paying $22 AUD, you’ll pay a mere $11 AUD. 

Basically, if you think you’ll visit Taronga (or the partner zoos) two or more times in a year, then the Zoo Friends Membership makes sense to purchase. We have the Flex membership which allows us to swap out the adults accompanying our kiddo if someone else is taking her to the zoo that day.

Elephants at Taronga Zoo

Accommodation at Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo is one of the best and most unique locations to stay at in Sydney and there are a couple of different options available for visitors wanting an overnight stay.

Roar and Snore

Taronga Zoo’s signature accommodation experience is one that all Sydney visitors (and locals) should experience at least once. If Taronga Zoo is worth visiting, then the Roar and Snore is doubly worth doing as it allows you to do a night safari when all the day guests have left, then soak up those harbour views in your glamping tent as you go to sleep with the noises of the zoo animals in the background.

You then get entry to the zoo included for the following day. It is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Parents will small kids, note that you must be at least 5 years old to participate in the Roar and Snore experience.

Wildlife Retreat

If Roar and Snore isn’t your thing then you can stay in luxury in the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Retreat which has several varied rooms with different views. This accommodation package also includes two days’ visit to Taronga Zoo, complimentary breakfast and a guided tour of the wildlife sanctuary.

Taronga Zoo is also home to some of Australia’s most unique animals like Koalas

What to see to make Taronga Zoo worth visiting

There’s honestly so much to see here that Taronga Zoo is worth visiting over and over again. But if you’re here for a day trip, then here’s a few of my favourite exhibits and things to do at Taronga Zoo.

Check out the seal show

Who doesn’t love those funny-looking, gorgeous furry friends, the seals? Taronga Zoo has a wonderful seal show called Seals for the Wild that is educational and a lot of fun. It showcases their many different seals and everytime I have attended the show has had a different program and a mix of different seals, so it is always nicely varied. It is definitely one of the highlights that makes Taronga Zoo worth visiting as an adult or with your kids.

The seals make Taronga Zoo worth visiting
Seals at Taronga Zoo

Take a trip to Indonesia in the zoo’s amazing tiger exhibit

The Tiger exhibit at Taronga Zoo is incredible. Designed to look like the Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia, this is one of the best parts of the zoo for sure. Often, I’ve been and the tigers have been prowling right up next to the glass which has been super exciting (and a little scary) for our toddler. She absolutely loves this area of Taronga Zoo and so do I.

The tiger exhibit at Tarona Zoo where you can get up close and personal with these beautiful animals

Take in the incredible view at the shared giraffe and zebra enclosure

Honestly, Taronga Zoo is worth visiting not just for the animals but also for the setting and the giraffe and zebra exhibit is the epicentre of the best view at the zoo. This spacious enclosure where giraffes and zebras roam and feed freely looks over the stunning harbour. It is so picturesque that you’d be forgiven for wanting to spend your entire day just at this exhibit taking in the view.

The giraffe and zebra enclosure is nothing short of stunning

Admire the elephants before they depart

The Asian elephants are one of my daughter’s absolute favourites at Taronga Zoo, so we have mixed emotions about the news that these lovely animals will depart the zoo for South Australia in 2025. Of course, we are over the moon that they’ll be able to join a bigger herd with more room to roam, but we will certainly miss seeing them on our regular zoo visits. Make the most of their remaining time at Taronga Zoo by making sure that you visit before they head off to their new lives.

The Asian elephants are departing the zoo in 2025 so be sure to visit before they do.

Watch the lions on the prowl

The lions made headlines a few years back for their daring escape, but rest assured they’re well contained within their enclosure again. These african lions are amazing to see at the zoo, particularly when they’ve had cubs which we were lucky enough to see on a couple of visits. There’s a daily lion keeper talk for visitors to learn more about these beautiful and majestic animals.

Lions on the prowl at Taronga Zoo

See Australian animals in the new Nura Diya exhibit

Australian wildlife is some of the most unique and interesting in the entire world, so no trip to Taronga Zoo would be worthwhile without a visit to the zoo’s Nura Diya area – a section of the zoo dedicated to the incredible fauna found in this country. There are dingoes, koalas and free roaming emus and wallabies to be discovered.

The dingoes are a great part of the Nura Diya area

Say hello to Mr Hobbs the sun bear

It’s rare that you get to see a bear in Australia and Taronga Zoo has a beautiful sun bear named Mr Hobbs that you can visit on your way walking from the elephants to the tigers. Mr Hobbs tends to spend his days lazing in the sun, but every now and again you might be lucky enough to see him exploring his enclosure.

Mr Hobbs the sun bear

See the gorillas interacting

Right opposite the Seals for the Wild show area is the wonderful gorilla enclosure where you can see these enormous primates up close and interacting with each other. Whenever I’ve been the gorillas have been fairly relaxed, enjoying lying in the sun or combing through each other’s hair.

Is Taronga Zoo worth visiting - Definitely to see the gorillas
One of the gorillas at Taronga Zoo

So, is Taronga Zoo worth visiting?

I can’t imagine that the answer is anything other than a resounding yes. This unique part of Sydney is a must-see for kids and adults alike. It is the perfect blend of educational and incredibly fun. The keeper talks and animal demonstrations like the seal show will be adored by your kids and you’ll want to keep going back again and again.

Taronga Zoo FAQs

Are there baby change facilities at Taronga Zoo?

Yes, Taronga Zoo has baby change facilities throughout the zoo and a fabulous parents room located right near the giraffe enclosure that has a microwave, change tables and a breast feeding room.

Are there places to buy food at Taronga Zoo?

There are several places to buy food at Taronga Zoo ranging from nice restaurants to cafeteria-style options. You can also bring your own snacks and food from home – we usually do a combination of both. Zoo Friends members get discounts on the food purchased, so it is a great way to get a bit more out of your membership.

Do you need to book for the seal show and other animal shows?

No, you can simply turn up for the seal show and other keeper talks and demonstrations. However, I do recommend you get there around 15 minutes prior to the show starting to secure a good seat, particularly on school holidays.

What are Taronga Zoo’s open hours?

In summer months, Taronga Zoo is open from 9.30am – 5pm. In winter, the zoo closes at 4.30pm instead.

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Is Taronga Zoo Worth Visiting in Sydney - Emma Jane Explores
Is Taronga Zoo Worth Visiting in Sydney?
Is Taronga Zoo Worth Visiting in Sydney - Emma Jane Explores
Is Taronga Zoo Worth Visiting in Sydney?

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