Rome Zoo (Bioparco)

A family destination for when you’re visiting Rome with children

Rome’s Zoo is located in the Villa Borghese park area, on Viale del Giardino Zoologico. It’s close to the route of trams number 3 and 19. Alternatively you can walk across the park from the Spanish Steps or Piazza del Popolo (Spagna and Flaminio on Metro Linea A).

The zoo is handily labelled with signposts suggesting the best route around the paths.

Particularly in the height of summer, some of the animals’ compounds seem bare; little more than dry earth and concrete. However, the zoo is smartening itself up, and some of the newer facilities are much more reassuring for animal-lovers. The bears in particular have a fine landscape of their own, complete with waterfalls and timber. Viewing windows enable the visitor to admire the bears’ surprising underwater skills.

All the usual suspects are here: lions, tigers, many species of monkey, hippos, elephants, elegant giraffes and dashing zebras. There is also a farmyard area with piglets, goats, cows etc.

In keeping with the ‘Bioparco’ name, each creature has a sign (in Italian and English) describing not just its name and characteristics, but the area populated by the species, now and in the past – a sad reminder of the dangers of extinction, and the preservation role of zoos like the Bioparco.

The zoo provides a nice alternative activity for tourists, and entertainment for children who may be bored of static sights. There are plenty of shady spots to sit and rest, complete with drinking water fountains and picnic benches. There’s a small cafe by the zoo entrance, and up on the rooftop there is an expensive restaurant (open in the daytime and evenings) with a fine view over the giraffes.