One of the coolest places and a big surprise for me in this city of bicycles was Artis Royal Zoo. Although quitе touristy, this zoo is one of the hidden gems of Amsterdam.
Artis Royal Zoo, one of the hidden gems of Amsterdam, is located conveniently in the heart of the city. It is well-governed and displays great variety of animal species in very natural conditions. (Although I develop intolerance to all kinds of places that keep animals away from their natural habitats, I must admit – here they are well taken care of and it is a pleasure to see them.)
Take lions for example. You feel like you can reach out and give them a pat. Penguins are at a stone’s throw distance, and to the pink flamingos, you think you can get to by simply splashing your way across the shallow shore. Of course, you are not allowed to do all those things!
Here are the most significant reasons WHY you should include Artis Royal Zoo in your Amsterdam itinerary:
Variety of Species
There are more than 900 animal species in Artis Royal Zoo. Many of them are so adorable that you will take hundreds of photos (sometimes of the same animal) just because it seems that the camera cannot catch well enough its cuteness.
In the Butterfly pavilion, you will see dozens of species flying around while you can walk freely and observe them.
In the aquarium, you will see the whole beauty of the underwater world of our planet, presented in well-arranged water tanks.
And the Insectarium, even though it’s not my favourite place, has large collection of insects that are very interesting to observe.
Outdoors, there is a large variety of exotic and less-known animal species. And every one of them has its characteristic way of a ‘lifestyle’. The lions are curious creatures and in the Artis Zoo there is nothing that can prevent them to get to know you from close up (at least it seems so). The zebras and giraffes – in my opinion, the most beautiful among the African animals – look happy and well cared for. A kiss from a giraffe is something your kid will remember!
One of the Hidden Gems of Amsterdam is Also Easily Accessible
Located in the heart of the city, Artis Royal Zoo is an island of unexpected wildlife in a modern and fast-paced living city. We did walk from the city centre (around half an hour walk) but you can take the tram for a short ride from Dam Square.
Either way, you will see another part of the city, a little bit aside of the famous canal districts, that is also very green and interesting with its residential life.
Another reason why this zoo is so remarkable is hidden in its gardens. I visited Amsterdam in October when the leaves were falling in a beautiful pageant of colours. There are many corners in these gardens, arranged in different styles, where you can sit and just enjoy your time with coffee or a snack.; or just sitting in silence and reconnecting with your inner self. Even better if you are with kids – they will never get bored during this visit. Artis Royal Zoo is a maze of adventure!
Architecture and History
The buildings that are part of the zoo’s complex are some of the most interesting in Amsterdam. They are all in different styles and all stunning in their own ways. Some of the buildings were built before the place became a zoo – officially in 1838. In a historical aspect, this zoopark was accessible only for a limited group of people. But now, years after its public opening in 1920, it expanded dramatically.
The Name and Philosophy behind Artis Zoo
The full name of the park, which is rarely used by visitors, is Natura Artis Magistra. Beautiful, isn’t it? The meaning is – nature is the teacher of art and science. And of the people, I would add. You just need to sit and observe the animals and you will find clear connections between theirs and our lives and relationships. It’s really funny and easy to let animals teach you.
Zoos are not my usual choice of tourist sights to visit, but this one certainly surprised me in a good way. So far, I have no way to compare it with other similar places around the world but can wholeheartedly advise you to include it in your Amsterdam itinerary.
What are the best zoos that you have visited so far? What did you like about them? Or maybe disliked?