Artis Royal Zoo

Artis Royal Zoo

If you

enjoy wildlife of different sorts, you cannot ask for a better opportunity to

see some of the finest species in a perfect natural setting. The Artis Royal

Zoo is a great place to admire some of the most amazing specimens of unusual

and exotic fauna, but also to enjoy the marvelous examples of 19th

century architecture. It is a truly remarkable spot for anyone looking for

something more than the casual metropolitan chic offered by the Venice of the


The location

If you

happen to stroll around the charmingly fresh and tranquil area of Plantage (a

little to the east from the city centre), it’s impossible to miss the place.

The zoo is located on Plantage Kerklaan, very close to yet two more fantastic

attractions – the picturesque Wertheimpark neighboring the lovely canal of

Nieuwe Herengracht and the amazing Hortus Botanicus – one of the oldest botanic

gardens in the world! Apart from that, the place is surrounded with lots of

fabulous eating establishments, bars and cafés, so if you don’t find anything

appealing to you on the premises of the zoo (Artis offers a rich variety of

restaurants, small cafés and genuine tray bikes (the so-called ‘bakfietsen’) where

you can get a big selection of food and beverages; alternatively, you’re most

welcome to take your own food and organize a picnic under a tree), then feel

free to explore the vicinities in search for the perfect meal. For a quicker meal it would

be a good choice to check out the nearby Burgermeester, but if you have some

more time to spare, you can try the Tempura, Meneer Nilsson or De Pizzabakkers;

either way, there’s plenty to choose from, so you won’t be disappointed.

The zoo

The name of

‘Artis’ comes from the phrase ‘Natura Artis Magistra’, which in turn means ‘nature

is the teacher of art’ in Latin. The zoo was founded in 1838, so now, during

2013 it celebrates its 175th anniversary and on that occasion you

might expect to see it refreshed with tons of new flowers – with all the colors

of the rainbow, the place will be as vibrant and vivid as never before! A proof

of its appeal might be the fact that it is the second most often visited

attraction in Amsterdam and although it might get a bit crowded at times (about

1.2 million visitors each year!), the beautiful natural setting grants a real

sense of comfort and freedom, thus making you able to enjoy the view of all the

750 present species of wildlife to the max.

The place

has three gates, but usually the middle one is used as the entrance. The whole

area is spread over a huge park and features not only some really amazing

species of fauna, but also a range of other excitements.


beginnings of Artis Royal Zoo involve the opening of an orangery (now the

petting zoo) and the initial collection included a couple of monkeys, a

Surinamese wildcat, a few parrots and several other birds. As you might rightly

expect, much has changed with time. Today, apart from the ‘usual’ sights like camels

‘welcoming’ the guests right behind the entrance, crocodiles sprawling in the

shade of their lair, lemurs devoted to their casual antics or giraffes

galloping together with zebras, springboks and gnus, Artis comes with many more

special points of interest. To start with, you should absolutely visit the

wonderful 19th century building of the Aquarium; adopted to modern

use, it offers an incredible diversity of marine life, a chance to have a look

at the aquatic tanks found in the Main Hall, a glimpse into the Amazonian

rainforest and an opportunity to wonder at the tropical coral reef! But wait,

there’s even more – you can ‘descend’ and peer into the depths of the waters of

the underground Amsterdam canal flowing underneath the area!


notable spot to see in Artis is the Butterfly Pavilion. It covers an impressive

surface area of around one thousand square meters and is a home to several

thousands of butterflies, which fly freely all over the place, right in front

of your eyes. Also, if you’re lucky enough (depending on the season, actually),

you might witness the presence of the Blue Morpho – one of the largest

butterflies in the world (with around 15 cm of its wingspread), or the

lightning-speed flight of the Swallowtail Butterfly – the fastest butterfly on


The fun

does not end here, for Artis is much more than a zoo – it is an exceptional

place where culture, nature, knowledge, science and pleasure blend and coexist.

One such example of non-fauna-related attractions is the marvelous Planetarium

where every day you can watch a set of incredible films displayed on the curved

dome of 628 square meters of surface area! Note, however, that the shows are in

Dutch only.


wondered what lives in your garden, backyard or even under the carpet? Meet

your ‘roommates’ in the great Insectarium! This place used to be a food storage

facility but became adopted to its present use in 2005 and since that time it

has attracted lots of visitors curious of the mysterious ways of the most

intriguing creatures on Earth – if you’re one of those curious, it is the place

to go to.

While the

zoo mostly focuses on its inhabitants of today, it still pays homage to the

past. Among the fabulous gardens there await many splendid historic buildings,

responsible to a large extent for the present charm of the place. Some of these

remaining buildings date way back to the times before the zoo was created, like

the Wolf House, which many, many years ago used to be an inn, or the Masman

Garden House – now a habitat of scarlet ibises.

Artis can

also boast a beautiful modern library including a breathtaking collection of

around 80.000 animal prints, 3.000 manuscripts and over 20.000 books, many of

which are devoted to the history of the disciplines of zoology and botany. A

great place to gain some deeper insight into the theory as opposed to the practice

frolicking just outside. All in all, Artis Royal Zoo is a living evidence of

the importance of nature in our life, serving the purpose of both entertainment

and education.

Address, tickets and opening times

Artis Royal

Zoo is located on Plantage Kerklaan 38-40; you can take the tram no. 9 from

Amsterdam Centraal or no. 14 from the Dam stop.

(Editor’s note: Check the video at the bottom of this article for more information about the Amsterdam public transport system). The Zoo is open daily from 9

a.m. to 6 p.m. (this schedule applies from 1 April to 31 October; for a more

detailed schedule, visit

). The prices for the tickets are

the following: youth (for children aged 3-9) = 15,95€, normal ( for visitors

aged 10-64) = 19,50€ and senior (for visitors aged 65+) = 17,95€.


While you’re inside the Zoo, expect to see small

grey-brown puppet figures appearing all over the place. If you’re curious about

its identity, let us explain – it is the Artis de Partis, the mascot of Artis

Royal Zoo. Apart from its obvious entertaining role, it comes also as a

merchandise product and 25% of the sales is allocated to the fund providing

home and care for injured or orphaned giant anteaters, who are released back

into the wild as soon as they get better.