Artis is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, one of the oldest zoos in Europe, and one of the oldest zoos in the world.
It also is one of our favorite places to visit in Amsterdam. In that we’re certainly not alone. In 2019 ARTIS received 1.4 million visitors. The zoo gets great reviews at GetYourGuide, our trusted ticket partner.
The zoo was founded in 1838 under the name Natura Artis Magistra — Latin for ‘Nature is the Master of Art.’ Nowadays it is known simply as ARTIS. [ref]The zoo’s entrance has three gates. Each gate bears one of the words from the full name, Natura Artis Magistra. But since visitors normally gathered in front of the middle gate, the park was soon known colloquially as ‘Artis.'[/ref]
The park grounds include no fewer than 26 listed monuments, among which buildings, ponds, and statues. The zoo doesn’t look or ‘feel’ old and dated, though. ARTIS has an ongoing remodeling program.
ARTIS, one of the most pleasant city zoos around
Guidebooks rightly refer to ARTIS as one of the most pleasant city zoos around. The whole place breathes a 19th-century garden atmosphere with ponds, winding paths, majestic trees, fascinating sculptures and monumental historical buildings. Even on busy days, the park is an oasis within the city of Amsterdam.
The zoo is in fact Amsterdam’s oldest city park, with 200 species of trees, some of which — like the evergreen live oak, common in the Mediterranean region — not native to the Netherlands. And if you like flowers you’re in luck as well.
Not surprisingly many Amsterdam locals own a year pass to the zoo, allowing them to enjoy the park and its botanical gardens and greenhouses as much as the animals.
Speaking of which, wherever possible the animal enclosures do not include bars or cages. Instead, the animals appear relaxed and content in landscaping that resembles their natural habitat.
By the way, the zoo is home to over 900 different species of animals.
ARTIS Was a WWII Hiding Place for Jews
Interesting fact: during WWII some 300 Jews were hidden from the Nazis in storerooms above the caged animals, such as the loft above the predator gallery, the wolf house and the round aviary.
Earlier Jewish employees and members of the Board of Directors were forced to give up their jobs. In 1941 the zoo was one of many places designated by the Nazis as ‘Forbidden to Jews’.
In 1943, a resistance group — intent on thwarting the German occupiers from finding people — set fire to the Amsterdam population registry, which was then housed in the former Artis concert hall.
Micropia, the ARTIS Museum of Microbes
Often associated with illness and disease, microbes are also essential for our survival. But are you aware that you carry about 3 pounds of microbes on and in you?
You will be after visiting Micropia — the world’s first museum where the invisible world of micro-organisms becomes visible.
ARTIS ZOO, an All-day Outing for Children and Adults
The ARTIS Zoo features an extensive collection of animals (900 species!). And with anything from a petting zoo to an indoor rain forest — and from playgrounds to a restaurant, you can easily spend an entire day at the park.
It is lots of fun for children and adults alike. Matter of fact, families rate a visit to ARTIS as one of the nicest things to do in Amsterdam with children.
ARTIS Museums & Planetarium
ARTIS was founded on May 1, 1838 by the Zoological Society ‘Natura Artis Magistra.’ In 1852, King Willem III awarded ARTIS the right to carry the designation Koninklijk — ‘Royal.’ Online the organisation presents itself in English as ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo, and in Dutch simply as Dierentuin ARTIS.
Its purpose was: ‘to promote the knowledge of Natural History, in a clear and agreeable way; both by assembling an extensive collection of living animals and by displaying mounted exhibits from the animal kingdom.’
According to Artis, “In the first half of the 19th century, the combination of a zoo, scientific collections, a Zoological Laboratory and Museum as well as the academically exceptional Artis Library, was quite unique.”
The Zoological museum was later joined by a Planetarium and a Geological Museum.
The Artis Aquarium houses some 300 species of fish, amphibians and invertebrates. Its mammoth tanks each house very different ecosystems: the Amazonian flooded forest, the tropical coral reef and a cross section of an Amsterdam canal.
Get your tickets for ARTIS Amsterdam Zoo from GetYourGuide — our trusted ticket partner.
Micropia, the world’s only museum of microbes, requires a separate ticket.
Free entrance to both ARTIS and Micropia is included in the I amsterdam City Card.
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ARTIS Zoo is open 7 days a week. After the coronavirus shutdown, the zoo reopened on May 13, 2020 — for members only. The park will be open to all from June 1, 2020. The number of visitors in the park will be limited to allow for social distancing rules. Initially, indoor exhibits will remain closed until coronavirus rules are further relaxed.
Note that during the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, the zoo will work with timed entry slots.
|March 1 – October 31||9:00 – 18:00 (9 a.m. – 6 p.m.)|
|November 1 – February 28||9:00 – 17:00 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)|
ARTIS Amsterdam Z00
Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
1018 CZ Amsterdam
How to get to Artis Zoo
Tram 14 (to and from Amsterdam Central Station) stops at Halte (Stop) ARTIS, just step from the entrance.
The nearest Metro station is at Waterlooplein, a 10 minute walk from the zoo’s entrance.
In the neighborhood
Here are some other attractions in The Plantage district