As one of the three most visited attractions in Amsterdam, Artis Royal Zoo is bound to impress with its combination of animals and atmosphere. Founded in 1838 as a members-only establishment, the zoo later opened its doors to the public; since then, it's become a favorite destination for both families and individuals, with over 1.2 million visitors each year. The zoo still retains much of its historic architecture, from the Wolvenhuis (Wolf House) and Masmanhuisje (now the ibis abode), both of which predate the zoo, to the phenomenal, purpose-built Aquarium, considered one of the zoo's most marvelous monuments.
Despite its historicity, however, tireless improvements to the zoo have kept it in line with modern standards.
The monumental zoo harbors 900 species over its vast 14 hectares (35 acres), each of which is more spectacular than the next. The diversity of species is extraordinary, from the camels that enthrall visitors just steps beyond the zoo's majestic entrance, to the crocodiles lurk and lemurs that frolic at the far reaches of the terrain. A daily schedule of events enhances zoo visits, from information sessions with zookeepers to planetarium shows. Baby animals are announced with much fanfare on the zoo's web site so that visitors can keep abreast of the latest births, but note that some don't make their public debut until several months old. Special enclosures are dedicated to reptiles, fish, insects, and butterflies.
Zoo visitors can choose to devote a day to the Plantage, the neighborhood where Artis is situated, to make the most of the vicinity's must-see attractions, such as the Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Garden), which once contained the medicinal herbs and plants that the Dutch East India Company whisked back from the colonies; the acclaimed Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum), a tribute to the Dutch civilians who strove to resist the Nazi occupation; the Tropenmuseum (Tropics Museum), where families can discover exotic arts and cultures; and the former Jewish Quarter, a testament to the Jewish community and their contribution to Amsterdam.
Read more about the Plantage on Amsterdam Travel.
Tip: Skip the mediocre zoo meals and head out for lunch: each Artis ticket is a day pass that allows repeat entries for visitors who have their hands stamped with the zoo's re-entry stamp, so visitors have the run of the Plantage's eateries. I recommend Burger Meester, located just down the street at Plantage Kerklaan 37, for a standout lunch of gourmet meat-based or vegetarian burgers and salads.
Artis Royal Zoo Visitor Information
Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
1018 CZ Amsterdam
Tickets are available at the entrance or the online box office.
- Normal admission (10 - 64 years old): € 19.95
- Children (3 - 9 years old): € 16.50
- Children under 3: Free
- Tram - Tram 9 from Amsterdam Central Station and tram 14 from the Dam stop near Artis Zoo; exit at the Plantage Kerklaan stop.