Picture this: you hate reptiles (especially snakes), but you get convinced to walk through the reptile house at the Antwerp Zoo. Reluctantly you go along knowing that all the reptiles will be safely behind glass, right? Right? Wrong!
Okay, let me back up for a minute and set the scene for you. Stepping off the train in Antwerp I knew there wasn’t a lot to see and do in the city. However, conveniently located right next to the train station is the Antwerp Zoo and both Sant and I love going to the zoo so I knew this would make it on our day’s itinerary. After spending a few hours exploring Antwerp, we made our way back to the train station and headed for the zoo.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me about the couple of European zoos I’ve been to is how compact they are. I guess I’ve gotten so used to how spread out the Kansas City Zoo is that it’s always a nice surprise to visit a European zoo and be able to stand in one spot and see four different animal habitats. I absolutely loved the Antwerp Zoo, there were so many new exhibits and animals that I’ve never seen before. I think it’s fascinating to visit zoos around the world to see new and different animals from various regions.
The Antwerp Zoo was jam packed with interesting exhibits and new animals just waiting to be discovered. We started off our zoo adventure in the monkey exhibit, admiring the diverse variety of species. There was also an adorable sleeping koala hanging out in a tree.
I was in awe at all the different exhibits: monkeys, an aquarium, reptiles, nighttime animals, butterflies and much more.
So we are strolling along admiring all the different animals and we approach the reptile house. I hate most reptiles so I promptly told Sant I would wait outside while he went through the reptile house. I should have known he was never going to let me get away with skipping the reptiles. Reluctantly, I agreed to make a super quick walk through knowing all the reptiles would be behind glass in their habitats.
With my heart pounding, I hesitantly crossed the threshold into the reptile house. While keeping my gaze averted down, we began our way past lizards and small snakes. Luckily, I got a brief break from the creepy reptiles when we reached the turtles because turtles are the opposite of scary (well normally). I was so surprised by how huge and tall the turtle shells were, definitely different from the turtles I’ve seen in the past.
After leaving the turtles, I averted my eyes downward and power walked past all the ginormous snakes to the end of the reptile house. The coolest reptile (in my opinion) was waiting for us at the end, the Komodo dragon. No, I don’t like reptiles, but the Komodo dragon was awesome. His cage was super foggy when I first got there and as I stood waiting for Sant to catch up with me, the fog began to clear. Once the fog cleared enough, I could see inside the cage and finally got my first look at a Komodo dragon. We definitely don’t have one of these at the zoo in my hometown. He was a lot bigger than I expected and the Komodo dragon alone made the trip through the reptile house worth it… or so I thought.
Once Sant finally caught up to me, we stood captivated by the Komodo dragon pacing around his home. After a while, we figured it was time to go and began heading toward a plastic curtain that leads to the exit or so I thought. When I finally looked at the curtain to leave, an iguana was walking through the curtain! I immediately screamed and sprinted back the other way toward the Komodo dragon. When I finally calmed down, I walked back toward the curtain to find Sant laughing at me and the iguana gone. Apparently I scared the iguana as much as it scared me because it scurried back behind the curtain.
After a few minutes of debate, Sant dragged me through the curtain and into the last room of the reptile house where iguanas roam free (and occasionally try to escape). I know, I know, it was only an iguana, but come on, all reptiles should be inside a cage not wandering freely through the building. They are going to give someone a heart attack!
I was definitely freaked out in the moment, but looking back on it, it always makes me laugh. These spontaneous and sometimes frightening experiences often make for the best travel stories and memories. I would definitely recommend a trip to the zoo if you’re traveling to Antwerp, but watch out for those sneaky iguanas! It’s truly a phenomenal zoo with an incredible variety of animals and exhibits. One of my favorite exhibits was the nighttime animal exhibit that displayed sloths, bats, and much more. You definitely won’t be disappointed by spending an afternoon exploring the Antwerp Zoo.
- Admission prices and opening hours vary throughout the year depending on zoo discounts and the time of year. Check the Antwerp Zoo website for the most up-to-date information on admission prices and opening hours (search for the date you’ll be in Antwerp).
- Address: Koningin Astridplein 20-26, 2018 Antwerpen, Belgium. Located right next to the Antwerp Central train station.
Have you been to the Antwerp Zoo? What are some of your other favorite things to do in Antwerp? I would love to hear your opinion – leave a comment below!