Blair Drummond Safari Park | Review & Tips

This post is based on a visit to Blair Drummond Safari Park in July 2021 when there still were some restrictions in Scotland. Please visit for up-to-date information and prices. We visited with a mix of ages (kids aged 5, 10, 12, 14 plus three adults). 

Blair Drummond Safari Park | Review & Tips

Blair Drummond Safari Park is just over a 3 hour drive from Newcastle. Located near Stirling in Scotland (and not far from Falkirk if you wish to extend your break - click here to read 50 things to do in Falkirk). We visited as part of our holiday in the Central Lowlands in July 2021. 

If you are looking for a place to stop off en-route, I recommend Harestanes Adventure Playground in Jedburgh, the Plough on the Hill at Berwick or St Abbs. 

It is fairly easy to reach Blair Drummond via public transport with direct buses leaving Glasgow and Stirling several times per day (see here for details). 

Pet dogs are not permitted to enter the safari park but there are free (but basic) kennels beside the ticket office. 

Blair Drummond Safari Park is accessible. I spotted a huge Changing Places toilet at the entrance, they have over 70 disabled parking spaces, the pathways around the park are accessible, there is a wheelchair space at the birds of prey show and carers go free. You can read more about accessibility here. 

Overall, we enjoyed Blair Drummond Safari Park and we left feeling as if we had received good value. We spent 7 hours there but could have easily stayed a little longer. I would say if your prime reason for visiting is to see animals, there are better zoos out there but if you are looking for a real variety of activities suitable for all ages (including animals). Blair Drummond fits the bill. 

I preferred Blair Drummond to Edinburgh Zoo. Prices are comparable and I think it is worth the extra hour or so journey time. There is also less walking than Edinburgh and Blair Drummond is mostly flat (Edinburgh Zoo is on a big hill). 

At Blair Drummond, you show your ticket to an attendant via a drive through booth. The car parks are past the booth and part of the main site meaning you can come and go to your car as much as you like. The car parks are close to the action too so no long walks or having to have your hand stamped. 

The park is split into two parts - the 'in car' safari and the 'walk through' areas. You can come and go to both sections as many times as you like. Many people seem to complete the drive through section on arrival, park up and visit the walk through section, then visit the drive through area again before they leave. 

One niggle is that as soon as you enter the park, you see a mini funfair which of course, it chargeable. There are a few deals including £5 for 3 rides so it's not too pricey. The kids didn't ask to go on the rides though and I never offered. If you wish to skip the rides, there is still loads going on. The rides seemed mostly suited to under 11s. 

On the day before our visit, my personalised Google News obviously knew I was due to visit and the algorithm threw up some interesting articles including articles mentioning whistle blowers, several unnecessary animal deaths and reports of improper social grouping at the park. Born Free say this is a pattern of behaviour and are calling for an inquiry. Obviously, I do not know the full story and this is just one side of the story. The animals all seemed happy enough to me (with the exception of the elephant who was all alone) but I am no expert. I wish I had researched the park more before we visited which is why I am including this info. Something to be aware of. 

Blair Drummond Safari Park | Drive Through Area 

The Drive Through Area at Blair Drummond is split into four areas, each with a traffic lighted double gate / holding area between zones. We visited at around 3:30pm and although there were plenty of other cars there, it didn't feel busy and we were able to see everything very clearly. 

If you don't have a car, there are safari buses that visit this area but they were limited on the day of our visit. 

There is a Macaque section and they are notorious for causing damage to cars (in fact at Longleat a few years ago, a Macaque pulled some of the trim off our car). There is a route where you can avoid the monkeys if you don't want to take the risk. 

At Blair Drummond there are keepers walking around though and as soon as a monkey jumped on a car, they were straight over. Some visitors decided to put food on their roof to entice the monkeys and received a good telling off. Please don't do this! 

The lions were the star of the safari. You can get really close to them. Obviously, it is important you keep your windows up and cars locked in this section. There are a few rangers in cars patrolling this zone and if any car (stupidly) tried to wind their window down, they were straight over and moved on. Honestly how thick are some people!!! 

We visited during a sunny day and the lions were mostly just sunbathing but they were still great to see and there was much excitement in the car. 

I didn't expect too much from the drive through but it was a brilliant way to end the day and we ended on a real high. 

Blair Drummond Safari Park | Walk Through Sections 

The following sections are all included with admission and available to visit an unlimited number of times across the day at no additional cost (minus any food/drink purchases). 

During the day of our visit, Scotland was still living under some Coronavirus restrictions and the boat trips to chimp island were not in operation. I expect these would be fantastic so fingers crossed they return soon. Instead, there is a walkway where you can view the island. Even with our binoculars, we didn't get the best view of the chimps but I guess it is the luck of the draw. 

There is a bird of prey section where you can view the animals or watch a display / talk three times per day. This is well worth doing as it gives you a chance to sit down and rest your feet / have a breather for a minute and learn about these fab animals. The birds which fly do vary and on our visit, it was a vulture and red kites. They were incredible and got really close. There were lots of gasps from the crowd and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the display. There were several times where we felt as if we needed to duck for cover which is all part of the fun. 

When it comes to food options, there is something for everyone. Lots of people brought a picnic as access to your car is so easy and there is lots of seating/picnic tables around the park. There is an undercover picnic area in a marquee and a buggy store too. 

We weren't as prepared and dined in the food court which overlooks the huge play parks. We found a table, ordered and paid via the QR code and then food was brought to our table. I MUCH preferred this to the usual chaos of food courts and hope this system stays. Service was super quick. Lunch and drinks for 5 was around £40 which wasn't bad. The food was actually ok too. 

After our lunch, we ordered some coffees for the grown ups via the app and let the kids burn off some energy in the park. Harry decided to take his phone into the huge fort and ended up losing it!!!!! Luckily for him, some kind soul handed it in and we were quickly reunited. 

Other options include a pizza shack, taco bar, ice cream parlour and doughnut area. I also spotted firepits where you can toast your own marshmallows. 

One option which I haven't really seen elsewhere is a BBQ area. These are FREE to hire (simply reserve / book on arrival) and the staff will provide the coal and light it for you. Each BBQ comes with it's own seating area. I was so jealous as we walked past and would definitely consider this if we visit again.  

The animals are easy to view at Blair Drummond, there are a couple of viewing platforms with lower areas for kids to see too. The platforms are suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. We loved the giraffes! 

At the very end of the park is 'Lemur Land' - a walk through area where the Lemurs roam free. These can be so much fun and we managed to see the Lemurs in the distance as they dashed across the path. 

Next to this area there is a coffee shop, gift shop and pedal boat hire (extra charge). The Flying Fox was closed on the day of our visit so I can't comment but I've heard it's fun. 

As mentioned earlier in the post, the only area of the park that didn't sit well with us was the elephant area. There was only one elephant there and he looked really sad. Elephants are my mam's favourite animal and the last time we visited elephants was at Chester Zoo where they are in a lovely family group and just seem to have more to do / happier. It was a stark contrast seeing just one elephant wandering around the enclosure here. 

On the main viewing platform, you can look right into the lion enclosure. It is a pretty good view and we were lucky and were able to watch as they enjoyed their lunch. This photo looks a little misleading - there are lots of barriers in between you and the lions and it felt very safe. 

One of the real selling points of Blair Drummond is this huge play fort. There is also a pirate ship play area and a fairly forest in the same area. Plenty of seating for adults (or some brought a picnic blanket) and like us, it is a brill place to let the kids burn some energy after lunch. Obviously, our kids are older but I imagine with toddlers trying to keep an eye on them in here might be a bit of a nightmare. Fun though! 

There are lots of swings and slides, a giant astro-glide slide and zip wire. You can see the food court overlooking the pirate ship below. 

Credit | Blair Drummond 

The dinosaur section was a real hit with us. This walk through experience can be enjoyed as many times as you like and is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. It is right next to the play forts and BBQ area. Expect to meet various dinosaurs which move about and road (one even squirts water) and read lots of dino facts. Evan was screaming with joy as he walked through which was lush. 

Blair Drummond Safari Park has their own farm which is a cute little place to walk around. They are in the middle of building a new sea lion enclosure here (the sea lions are currently on holiday) and nearby you can see penguins and marmosets. 

Top Tips for Visiting Blair Drummond Safari Park 

  • Pre-book tickets online and google for discount deals before you visit as there are often offers available
  • Complete the drive through section on arrival and then again as you leave - get your money's worth 
  • Bring a picnic/food for the BBQ which are free to hire. The car park is very accessible and easy to reach from the main park 
  • There is an undercover seating area and buggy store (although the park is pushchair friendly)
  • You are given a map on arrival with a suggested route. We followed this and it worked well / we didn't miss anything 
  • Agree a budget for rides before you visit (or agree that rides are not park of the day). I suggest £5.
  • Don't miss the birds of prey show - check times on arrival and get there around 15 minutes before it starts
  • The park has free WiFi 
  • Keep your windows up when driving through the safari area and follow the safety guidance 
  • During the summer months, the park is open late and closes at 7/9pm on some evenings. There is no need to rush around
  • We spent 6/7 hours there but could have spent longer - especially if we visited the fairground, let the kids play on the fort for longer and completed the drive through more than once 
  • Check out the suggested accommodation options here. You can camp/glamp/take your caravan to nearby Blair Drummond Safari Park and book multi-entry tickets from the site reception
  • The closest Premier Inn is (affiliate ad) Premier Inn Stirling South which has 5* reviews, left luggage facilities, free on site parking and is a 12 minute drive away
  • If you'd like to make a weekend of it, I recommend combining a visit with the Falkirk Wheel and Kelpies, Glasgow Science Museum/Open Top Bus Tour or Stirling Castle. All fantastic attractions! 

Find out more and book here. 

Overall, we did enjoy our day at Blair Drummond. It has a nice range of activities on offer and it is the kind of place you can spend a full day. Personally, I would visit if I was in the area but probably wouldn't make a special day trip unless it was part of a longer break. I would also keep an eye on the on-going whistle blowing / animal welfare situation and news before deciding on if we should visit again. 

Check out our other zoo reviews below: 

If I had to pick my favourite UK Zoo, I would choose Chester Zoo or Twycross Zoo. Both fab! We are off to Yorkshire Wildlife Park soon, so look out for a review from there soon. 

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Thank you for your support as always. 

Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area, leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Remember face coverings are required for indoor attractions / shops for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed after this post was published. 


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