A Trip to the ARTIS Zoo

King of the Jungle!

When I was fatigued at the end of my second day of touring the sites in Amsterdam, I eagerly looked through the guide of museums and attractions that came with my I Amsterdam card. I asked myself what I could do in 2 hours that was close to the Hermitage Amsterdam Museum. To my surprise, I noted that the card included access to the Artis Royal Zoo of Amsterdam. Looking at my watch, I noted that it was 3 p.m. in the afternoon and I would have about 2 hours to time to walk around.

Most people may say, “why would you spend your time going to the zoo?” My answer would be, why would you not? If you are tired of museums and just need a break, there is nothing like seeing some animals to help you just relax and forget about the world for a few hours. Everyone has an inner child, and to me, this was one of the best ways to indulge that child.

Entrance to the Zoo

Red Panda is fast asleep

The Zoo itself was expensive if you didn’t have the card. Prices for adults are about 24 Euros! Kids are not much cheaper at 20.50 Euros (ages 3-9). With my I Amsterdam card, all I had to do was present my card at the ticket booth and go off to enjoy the animals. I was a little disappointed there were no maps available, but the zoo is small enough to navigate without a map. It made exploring the zoo more interesting not knowing what to expect.

I do want to mention that the zoo is compact, but there are a lot of areas for you to enjoy. I would highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes. You can expect a lot of children and families around. I went when it was fairly cold and wet so it wasn’t as crowded as it could be. I found that the animals were also pretty active in the afternoon.

Planning Your Route

Once you enter the zoo, you will see some excellent signs indicated where the more “popular” animals are. You will hear the monkeys. birds and other animals and know you are entering their world. I’d recommend saving the lions for last, but no matter which direction you head, you are bound to see lots of animals.

The first animals I encountered were the camels and llamas. You will smell them before you see them, they are not the most friendly of animals, but it never gets old watching them relax and graze. I was particularly impressed to see some Japanese Snow Monkeys here! They are not common at any of the zoos in North America and it made for a real treat to see them in person! They were quite intent on a good grooming the afternoon I walked by.

The bird enclosures were beautifully maintained. I watched the Japanese cranes dance and the snowy owl watch me intently. I was secretly hoping I may have a Hogwarts letter from my friend here, but it must be the wrong time of year : ) The vultures claws up close are quite intimidating. The power some of these birds have in their feet while being so adapt at climbing with them is inspiring.


Towards the back of the zoo, I was surprised to find such a large aquarium! The building was right behind the sea lions who made me think of my home here in California. They can be seen at all times of the year here, especially in San Francisco. The aquarium made a nice respite from the cold, frigid outdoors. The tanks displayed a large diversity of tropical fish as well as local fish you may see if you were to swim inside the canals.

The sea horses were my favorite fish to watch, but I do love clown fish! It could be due to Finding Nemo. This aquarium could be a place to visit all on its own. Fish really have a knack for relaxing the human mind and being able to enjoy.

The larger tanks really put into perspective how amazingly large some of the fish can be. If you think about the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, it can grow up to 33 feet in length! We know so little about them including how long their life span is.

Elephants, Zebra and Dogs?

The zoo has a few beautiful elephants, zebras and African wild dogs! Due to the weather, these animals were all indoors; I was glad to see how happy they looked and impressed with the size of the enclosures, once again. The elephants were just relaxing enjoying their hay when I peeked in, as were the gorillas, but the African wild dogs were running around like crazy. They appeared to be fairly skittish which I did not expect. They are sure beautiful in person! Once again, they are not a common animal I’ve been able to see in person so it was a treat to watch them just move about and sniff everything in sight.

I found a few more colorful birds and a big white wolf! My mind jumped into Game of Thrones mode, but this wolf was very quite and just loved watching families walk by. It moved quietly and from looking at the footprints it makes, it’s paws were much larger than you can imagine.


The reptile house had quite a few desert tortoises, snakes and even a Komodo dragon, but I have to admit I’m not the largest fan of reptiles. I appreciate the, from a distance. The komodo dragon is among the largest reptile on earth and has been around nearly as long as crocs and allegators. They look like something out of the Jurassic age.

Sharing the back of the reptile house were the fruit bats and a marmoset. I wish my camera had been ready for the marmoset, but he was too quick for me. The keepers explained he was not usually so active. The fruit bats were a little smelly, but fun to watch them fly and just enjoy being upside down.

The Best for Last

The lions were the animals I enjoyed the most! They were extremely active and it was the first time I got to hear a lion roar in person! It was a very special moment seeing the male lion and female lionesses interact with one another. Their enclosures are right next to one another. Normally lions sleep most of the day. It is a rare treat to see them awake and “speaking” to one another. They truly are the king of the jungle!

Wrapping Up

The zoo for its size packs a punch! I know there are a lot of animals I didn’t mention like giraffes, wallabies, and the illusive jaguar, but it really is difficult to cover everything in one trip. Some animals were hiding, sleeping or just not very social. I can’t speak for the dining options as they were all closed when I was at the zoo, but there are a few places to grab a snack. I would recommend saving any shopping for the end.

The zoo has a planetarium too that may be worth checking out. I didn’t get to the Micobia area, but I’ve heard good reviews about it as well. They are both included with the I Amsterdam card. I wouldn’t pay the 24 Euros on my own, but with the I Amsterdam card it is a good value. If you are going to spend all day at the zoo, it is worth it. For me it was a wonderful way to relax after a long day. Hope you enjoyed the photos! Stay safe out there!