So many great reasons to (re) visit Planckendael animal park near Mechelen in Belgium

Rediscovering Planckendael – One of The Best Animal Parks in Belgium

In Belgium, Europe by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

What child doesn’t like theme parks, zoos or playgrounds. Our kids are no exception. And while we hardly ever visit zoos or theme parks when we travel, here in Belgium we know almost all of them. Last week we took our kids to Planckendael, one of the best animal parks in Belgium, and we all loved it so much that I decided to share our experience in this short review.

We have been to Planckendael many times before, but last time was several years ago, and the park changed so much in the meantime. Planckendael is even better than we remembered it!

You can find practical info for your visit below, but first some inspiration for your visit – what you can expect to see and do in Planckendael in 2017.

You might also be interested to read this: 8 Best Theme Parks in Belgium.

Koala in Planckendael animal park

Koalas must be the cutest animals in Planckendael!


Planckendael – one of the best animal parks in Belgium

Planckendael is a big animal park with a great variety of animals from all continents and some really nice play areas for children. It’s not like a regular zoo, but rather a big forest with big enclosures for animals. There are so many baby animals in the park that I take it as a good sign.

Lemurs in Planckendael



See animals from all continents

Planckendael has an incredible variety of animals from all over the world.Together with its sister park Antwerp Zoo, Planckendael houses over 7,000 animals of more than 950 species (*Source: Wikipedia).

The park is divided into 5 continents: Asia, Oceania, Africa, America, and Europe. The well marked paths allow you to see everything without having to look at the map all the time. However, it’s a big park and you should count at least 5-6 hours in order to see all the animals at a somewhat relaxed pace. Count extra time for lunch, feeding shows, and of course for the playgrounds. We spent 8 hours in Planckendael and didn’t get bored for a minute.

Elephants in Planckendael

Asian Elephant

Cheetah in Planckendael


Giant anteater in Planckendael

Giant anteater

Giraffes in Planckendael



Animal feedings and shows

There are several animal feedings and birds-of-prey shows that you can attend during the day. You can walk among penguins or monkeys and stand at eye level with the giraffes. I wish we attended several more animal feedings! You can find the complete schedule at the entrance of the park or on the website.

Birds of prey in Planckendael

Our oldest was super excited to be able to participate at the birds of prey show


Walking among penguins

One of the best experiences in Planckendael was the penguin enclosure. We happened to be there just before feeding time and penguins were extremely active. They were walking on the path among people, waddling in that funny penguin way and making everyone smile. I think there were hundreds of them… Of course we decided to stay for the feeding!

Apart from South Africa a few years ago, this is the closest we have ever been to so many penguins and our kids were over the moon! Several children are allowed to come and feed the penguins as well, but ours were too far in the long queue. A bit disappointed, they still unanimously said that being amongst the penguins was the the best experience ever! Now they all want a penguin for their birthday…

Walk among penguins in Planckendael animal park in Belgium

Don’t miss the penguin feeding!


Playgrounds and more

There are so many different playgrounds in Planckendael. In addition, you can do a tree top trail, cross a river on a raft or a canoe, and test your skills at the floating play harbour and the aboriginal rope trail, rotating trunks and loops. Just watch out or you may end up with wet feet, as one of my boys did (not that it stopped him from looking for even more challenges). I would lie if I said that it’s fun for kids only. Adults enjoy it just as much!

Fun day in Planckendeal animal park in Belgium

Cross the water on a raft

Planckendeal tree top walk is fun for all ages

Planckendeal tree top trail is fun for all ages

You might have to share the playground with storks at Planckendael

You might have to share the playground with storks

Planckendael is great fun for kids

Cross the river in a canoe

Cheetah runs this track in 1 second - how fast are you

Cheetah runs this track in 1 second – how fast are you?


Art With Lego Bricks

In addition to seeing a huge variety of animals, there is another great reason to visit Planckendael this summer. A temporary Art With Lego Bricks exhibition can only be seen till mid September 2017. Our kids were so inspired by the colourful plants and animals made of Lego bricks, that they started building their own collection of Lego animals at home.

Take a look at these incredible LEGO creations at Planckendael!

Art With Lego Bricks - Lion in Planckendeal animal park Belgium Art with Lego bricks American bison in Planckendael animal park Lego snow leopard in Planckendael Planckendeal - Art with Lego Bricks - White Bear Planckendeal Art With Lego colorful frog


Practical information for visiting Planckendael

  • Planckendael is located next to Mechelen, half way between Brussels and Antwerp.
  • Planckendael can easily be reached by public transport. If you are coming by train, you can buy a ticket that includes train, shuttle bus, and access to the park. More info here.
  • The park is open 365 days a year.
  • It’s a great park for any age, but families with kids age 4 to 12 will probably enjoy it the most.
  • Annual pass offers great value for bigger families. On top of that, it includes free admission to Antwerp Zoo and several other parks. For more information check the official website of Planckendael.


If you are looking for a really nice animal park to visit in Belgium, Planckendael near Mechelen is definitely one of the best choices. I strongly recommend spending the whole day in the park and trying to attend at least one animal feeding. If you live nearby, I would also strongly consider an annual pass as there is so much to see and do in the park.

Walking among monkeys in Planckendeal zoo is great fun for kids

Walking among monkeys is another great experience in Planckendael


Disclaimer: We were guests of Planckendael in regards with another project, but we enjoyed our visit so much that I decided to write this post to share our experience. All opinions are my own.

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There are so many reasons to visit Planckendael animal park in Belgium. Find out!


  1. This all sounds great! Thank you!

  2. What a great blog and sweet motivator! I am so grateful to have found it today! We will be in Belgium in early December. Have you ever visited Planckendael in the winter? Think it’s wortn the trip, or should we stick to the Christmas markets and ice sculptures this time? My husband and I have been to Belgium several times, but this is our first time with kids in tow.
    Thanks, Jurga!

    1. Author

      Hi Ashley, we used to live near Planckendael and have been there in all seasons. Winter is very different, but can still be very nice. There are less people around and some animals are inside, but you can still see most of them. So yes, it can be a nice day out with kids if the weather is dry. I wouldn’t go there if it’s really rainy and windy, but otherwise – why not.
      I’d also recommend to check the Zoo of Antwerp where they had a beautiful China Light festival for the last two winters. If I understand it right, they’ll have it again this year – it’s so nice to visit with kids, especially in the evening (just maybe reserve the tickets a week or two in advance and avoid weekends). I found some information here. It’s in Dutch, however, but there is also a short video that you can see – it should give you an idea of what to expect. You can combine it with a visit to Antwerp Christmas market.
      If the weather would be really bad, you can also try Comics Station in Antwerp – it’s indoors.
      There is also an ice sculpture festival in Brugge (or in Liege) in winter that can be nice to see if visiting Belgium with kids.
      Also, in Brussels you can find some really nice museums that can be interesting for kids. One of my favourites is the Music Instruments Museum.
      There are always many events around the end of the year, so I’m sure you’ll find plenty to do in Belgium, also with kids.

  3. These LEGO animals look so epic! I bet the children were over the moon!

  4. I can’t believe you can get so close to the monkeys – the kids would love that! (Oh, OK, and me!)

    1. Author

      Haha, Alex. I think I’m just excited about being close to the animals as my kids too 🙂

  5. awwww how fun is this?!!? Sounds like a great animal park to take your kids to!

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