Artis Zoo Amsterdam – Artis is a historic zoo, dating back to 1838, which perhaps explains why it’s so central and easy to reach in Amsterdam. The modern focus is on natural education, stimulating a love and care for nature, and dedicating more space to the animals. From a child’s point of view, Artis has elephants, lions and leopards – so what’s not to love?
Getting There & Getting Around
It’s so easy. When we arrived at Amsterdam’s central station a really handy sign advised jumping on the No.14 tram, taking us to Artis’ front door. We had tickets on our phone, and passed through the gates in a couple of minutes -seamless. Once inside we spotted wee carts to transport kids around. Pop €2 in the slot (as you would with a supermarket trolley) and it’s time to get exploring.
Finding the Animals
You do need a map as Artis is vast. Maps cost €2 from the gift shop (right next to the entrance gates), and this is viewed as a donation to a new gibbon house. But we barely had time to buy one before camels, donkeys and cattle came into view and Mr Tot dragged us off course.
Like most kids, Mr Tot had a priority – elephants. We swung past a lake of pelicans, Gibbon Island, Ibex Rock, a Lion Terrace, being rapidly and repeatedly distracted from the elephants, even visiting the Reptile House that has crocodiles inside. As we walked around I noticed that Artis is such a green, lush destination. It’s even home to a 300 year old oak tree, so if you’re into gardens or visiting rich, parkland then Artis is full of flora that’s really calming, despite being dragged around by a five year old.
When we finally found them, the elephants didn’t disappoint. The enclosure is massive, with opportunities to see them from different angles. Next door the giraffes were equally impressive.
Food & Drink
There is mix of food and drink offerings at Artis. Next to the giraffe enclosure is de Twee Cheetahs, situated in a lovely canal side location with both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s attractive but it isn’t cheap – think around €11 for an adult hot dog and sides. I grabbed a sandwich, and kids had Dutch sausages – the budget options. A playground is close by, so after lunch we let the kids run around as we finished our drinks.
Later in the day we picked up coffee and little Dutch pancakes at de Hazelaar – the tiny pancakes were delicious, but I could have eaten about ten more. Other food offerings on site include the Planetarium Café for pancakes and pastry, ‘t Polderhuis for ice cream and milkshakes, Tuinpaviljoen for coffee and treats or Polderfrietkot for Dutch fries. Leave the health kick at home!
We experienced mixed weather and Artis is ideal for this. Dip inside the Aquarium, nip into the Bird House, Forest House, Butterfly Pavilion, take an underwater look at the sealions or visit the Small Mammals when the rain falls.
When the sun shines hang outside with the penguins, face the flamingoes, grill the gorillas, walk with wolves or rendezvous with red pandas. Finding the jaguars and the characterful chimpanzees was another highlight for Mr Tot. Whilst the kids were learning and experiencing with every step, I, too, saw animals I’d never heard of before. Every day is a school day when you travel with kids.
Prices & Opening Hours
|3-9 years||€ 20.50|
1 March – 31 October – Open 0900-1800
1 November – 28 February – Open 0900-1700
The prices from 2019 are listed above, but click here for up to date info. Artis is a full day trip, and the prices are in line with other similar establishments in the UK. Admission tickets can be ordered online for €2 less than at the till. Parking is available roughly 150 metres from Artis, at a cost of €10.
Value for money? The kids mention Artis and Duinrell Amusement Park as their favourite memories of Holland, so it’s a site they totally remember and talk about. We spent a day here before heading to Schipol airport, so it worked on so many levels – practical, educational, fun and memorable. If you’re looking for a family destination in lively and artistic Amsterdam then Artis does work particularly well.
There’s more on site but we ran out of time, and energy! Artis deserves a couple of visits. We didn’t visit Artis-Micropia (fee required) the world’s first museum of microbes, the Planetarium (fee required), or Artisplein (no ticket required) described as a place to connect with living nature.
We flew direct from Scotland to Amsterdam. We stayed at the Vakantiepark Koningshof caravan park near Leiden, catching the train to Amsterdam (leaving our bags at left luggage), then the tram to Artis.