Getting there Take tram nine from Amsterdam Central Station and tram 14 from Dam to ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. Waterlooplein is the closest metro station and it’s a 10-minute walk from the zoo.
Go elephant spotting with the little ones at ARTIS (Credit: Foto ARTIS)
ARTIS Zoo: open every day 0900–1700 November–March, 0900–1800 March–October, 0900–sunset Saturdays in June, July and August. Micropia museum: Monday–Wednesday 0900–1800, Thursday–Saturday 0900–1600, and Sunday 0900–1800.
Tickets cost €21.50 per adult or €20.50 when bought online. €18 per child aged three to nine, or €17 online. Children aged two and under go free.
Combined ARTIS and Micropia ticket: €28.50 per adult or €27.50 online; €25.40 per child aged three to nine or €23.50 online. Entrance to the zoo is free with the I amsterdam City Card.
Tips to avoid the queues
You can save yourself some time by ordering your tickets online. They will then be sent to you by email and you’ll be able to get into the zoo a little quicker.
Inspired by the London Zoo, the founders of ARTIS wanted to create a public space where people could learn more about nature (Credit: Foto ARTIS)
History of ARTIS
ARTIS was founded in 1838 by a group of men known as ‘the three Ws’ – Gerard Westerman, J.W.H. Werlemann and J.J. Wijsmulle. At this point in history most of the world’s zoos were private, but the three Ws were inspired by the public opening of London Zoo and wanted to create a space where the well-to-do of the time could learn more about nature. The first collection at the zoo was limited to a few parrots and monkeys with the star attraction being a forest cat from Suriname. Within a year the attraction had acquired a panther, lions, a tiger, cougar, hyenas, polar bears, brown bears, a zebra, a wildebeest, a kangaroo, and a 16ft-long boa constrictor. Over the next 40 years the zoo continued to expand, with an onsite museum. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, people continued to donate to the zoo and more and more areas and museums were built onsite. In 1988 the attraction celebrated its 100th birthday and the red ribbon was cut on a new planetarium. Today the zoo is home to more than 750 species of animal and 200 varieties of tree.
ARTIS is roughly a kilometre from end to end and its pathways are laid out like a scribble, so it’s pretty easy to get lost. You can buy a map at the ticket office or download a simplified version from the ARTIS website. In terms of orientation, the Planetarium is located in the northwest corner of the park, the Artisplein is in the southwest, you’ll find the Butterfly Pavilion in the northeast corner, and the Aquarium is in the southeast nook of the park. In between, the areas are dedicated to different animals such as Lemur Land, the Giant Anteater Enclosure, the European Vulture area and the Bird House.
The path to the Aquarium, adorned with classic Dutch tulips (Credit: Foto ARTIS)
Having opened in 2014 Micropia is one of the newest areas in ARTIS and entry is not included in the standard ARTIS admission price. The museum holds a rather unusual title: it’s the self-proclaimed world’s first museum of microbes. Inside you can learn all about the natural world’s smallest organisms, from the history of their discovery to the role they play in our everyday lives. There is also a range of changing displays inside Micropia that explore topics like microbes and sustainable plastics, and microbes and kissing.
You can see live shows in the Planetarium throughout the day. Depending which show you choose you can learn more about the solar system, discover what it’s like to be an astronaut, and find out more about the planets that have most recently been discovered in space. There’s also a range of children’s shows, including one that teaches kids about biodiversity and coral reefs.
Recover from a walk around the zoo in the Artisplein square (Credit: Maarten Van Der Wal)
Get a look at fish from all around the world inside Amsterdam Aquarium. One of the highlights of a visit is the exhibition on the fish that frequent Amsterdam’s canals. Staff are on hand to answer any questions visitors have about the marine life.
If your legs need a rest, take a break in the open-air Artisplein square – it was purpose-designed as a rest area. There’s a fountain here and an area where you can sit and watch ARTIS’ resident flamingos strut around, as well as a restaurant. Café-restaurant de Plantage has floor-to-ceiling windows and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
More than 1,000 butterflies fill the Butterfly Pavilion, like living confetti. You can see species from all around the world. There are ones with zebra stripes, ones with tiger-like markings, and dinky pink and red ones. The highlight, however, has to be the palm-sized Blue Morphos butterflies.