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The city of Amsterdam: Home of ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo


Welcome to Amsterdam, a city where age-old traditions blend seamlessly with cosmopolitan charm. As the beating heart of the Netherlands, Amsterdam unfurls a tapestry of canals lined with iconic narrow houses, vibrant tulip fields, world-class museums, and bustling marketplaces. Steeped in rich history and cultural diversity, it opens its arms to visitors, presenting a treasure trove of experiences that captivate the senses and spark the imagination.

Nestled within this cityscape, ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo emerges as a beacon of natural wonder, offering an intimate encounter with wildlife in the midst of urban grandeur. Whether you’re a history buff, a culture enthusiast, a foodie, or a wildlife lover, Amsterdam promises a journey of discovery and delight at every corner. Let’s start the adventure!

Attractions in Amsterdam

From the moment you set foot in the city, the expansive web of Amsterdam’s canals will leave you mesmerized. These enchanting waterways, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, are lined with 17th-century gabled houses that are a testament to the city’s prosperous Golden Age.

As you meander along the canals, the sight of bobbing houseboats and the sound of bicycle bells chiming provide a quintessential Amsterdam experience. Add to this the visual treat of witnessing the city draped in a riot of colors during the tulip season, and you’ve got an unforgettable spectacle.

And then there’s the wealth of world-class museums that Amsterdam boasts. The city is a haven for art aficionados and history buffs alike, with its treasure trove of galleries and museums that house works from some of the greatest artists in history. The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are noteworthy mentions, showcasing an array of works from the Dutch Golden Age and housing the largest collection of Van Gogh’s artworks in the world, respectively.

For a grim yet poignant historical reminder, the Anne Frank House offers a sober and deeply moving visit. Beyond these, the city’s rich cultural scene is much more than just its museums, with a vibrant theatre and music scene that promises an eclectic mix of performances to enthral and entertain.

Yet, Amsterdam doesn’t stop surprising. Amid the urban hustle, the city has carefully preserved its green spaces. The Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest city park, offers a serene retreat from the city’s lively pace. It’s a perfect spot for picnics, leisurely walks, or simply soaking up the sun on a bright day. Similarly, Amstelpark, another oasis in the city, not only boasts beautiful gardens but also hosts regular art exhibitions.

The cherry on top? The ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo, a sanctuary of wildlife amidst the city’s heart, where nature and architecture merge in the most charming way. Amsterdam, it seems, has a knack for capturing hearts, one canal, one museum, one park at a time.

map of amsterdam zoo

The Amsterdam Zoo (ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo )

Peering into the heart of Amsterdam, the ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo is much more than a wildlife sanctuary. This veritable oasis, founded in 1838, is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest worldwide, making it an integral part of Amsterdam’s historical fabric. It’s a place where nature, cultural heritage, and architecture intersect in unique harmony.

ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo provides an immersive and educational journey into the natural world, housing over 700 animal species and 200 tree varieties. From the enchanting Butterfly Pavilion teeming with colourful butterflies to the Elephant House, home to the majestic Asian elephant, and the vibrant Aquarium revealing the secret life under Amsterdam’s canals, every corner of ARTIS is a nod to the diversity and wonder of life on Earth.

But the zoo’s magic isn’t limited to its wildlife alone. It’s also home to a collection of historical buildings, including the monumental Aquarium, the spectacular Planetarium, and the ARTIS Micropia, the only microbe museum in the world. This beautiful blend of nature, culture, and science makes ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo a not-to-be-missed experience for anyone venturing into the heart of Amsterdam.

History of the city of Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam, fondly known as the “Venice of the North”, traces its roots back to the 12th century. It’s believed that Amsterdam began as a small fishing village in the late 1100s, where people earned their livelihood by fishing, given its advantageous location near the river Amstel. The city derived its name from ‘Amstelredamme’, referring to a dam in the river Amstel.

In the 17th century, commonly referred to as the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam flourished as a prominent centre for finance and trade. The city’s extensive canal system was developed during this period, an infrastructure marvel that stands to this day, augmenting the city’s unique charm. The Dutch East India Company, the world’s first multinational corporation, and the Dutch West India Company, were both established in Amsterdam, further strengthening its economic prowess.

The 20th century painted a different picture for Amsterdam as it was gravely affected by both World Wars. The city witnessed the tragic plight of its Jewish community during the Second World War, with the poignant story of Anne Frank standing as a stark reminder of the atrocities.

Post-war, Amsterdam underwent significant urban development and cultural rebirth that shaped its identity as a diverse, tolerant, and culturally rich city we know and love today. Despite the trials and tribulations, Amsterdam has emerged as a resilient city with an indomitable spirit, preserving its rich heritage while embracing progress and diversity.

amsterdam streets

The vivid culture of Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s cultural landscape is as vibrant and diverse as the city itself. A melting pot of influences from around the globe, the city’s culture is a beautiful tapestry woven from threads of art, music, food, and an unwavering spirit of freedom and tolerance.

From its world-class museums to its bustling music scene, Amsterdam is a paradise for art and culture enthusiasts. The city’s artistic heritage, tracing its roots back to the Dutch Golden Age, continues to thrive today in its galleries, street art, and architecture. Modern art finds a home in Amsterdam too, with the Stedelijk Museum housing an extensive collection of contemporary pieces.

The city is also a hub for music, hosting numerous concerts, festivals, and performances covering a multitude of genres from classical and jazz to pop and electronic.

Another integral part of Amsterdam’s culture is its cuisine. The city offers a smorgasbord of culinary experiences, reflecting its cosmopolitan personality. From traditional Dutch fare like herring, cheese, and ‘Stroopwafels’ to a wide array of international cuisines owing to its diverse immigrant communities, the gastronomic scene in Amsterdam is as diverse as it gets.

The city’s cafe culture, with its cozy ‘brown cafes’, or ‘bruin cafés’, is a beloved part of the local lifestyle. Let’s not forget the city’s liberal attitudes towards social issues which contribute to its vibrant nightlife and the famous, bustling ‘coffee shops’. Indeed, Amsterdam’s culture is a delightful blend of the traditional and the modern, the local and the global, all co-existing in beautiful harmony.

Food and drink in the city of Amsterdam

Bracing the gastronomic diversity of Amsterdam is akin to embarking on a culinary journey around the globe. The city’s food scene is a testament to its multicultural ethos, offering a medley of mouth-watering flavours from traditional Dutch to exotic cuisines.

The quintessential Dutch herring, a raw fish served with onions and pickles, is a must-try for the daring foodie. For those with a sweet tooth, Amsterdam’s famous ‘Stroopwafels’ — caramel-syrup-filled waffles — offer a taste of traditional Dutch dessert that is nothing short of delightful.

The ‘bruin café’, or brown café, is a staple of Amsterdam’s local food culture. These cosy, wood-panelled cafes exude a homely charm, offering a perfect spot to relax with a hearty Dutch meal or a locally brewed beer. Named after their tobacco-stained walls from the past, these cafes serve traditional dishes like ‘Bitterballen’, deep-fried meatballs, and ‘Erwtensoep’, a thick pea soup, perfect for colder weather.

Amsterdam’s drink culture is as diverse and vibrant as its food. The city is famous for its gin-like spirit, Jenever, and boasts an array of breweries offering a multitude of craft beers. For the wine aficionados, Amsterdam houses exceptional wine bars sourcing fine wines from around the globe.

Lastly, coffee-lovers can rejoice in the city’s thriving coffee culture, with countless cafes serving high-quality brews in charming settings. From culinary adventurers to comfort-food lovers, Amsterdam’s food and drink scene promises an exciting palette of experiences for everyone.

Getting around in Amsterdam

Navigating Amsterdam is a breeze, thanks to its comprehensive and efficient public transportation system. The city boasts an extensive network of trams, buses, and metros operated by GVB. Trams are a popular choice for locals and tourists alike, with 14 different lines crisscrossing the city. Buses offer a reliable option for reaching outlying suburbs and attractions, while the metro is a great choice for longer journeys.

Yet, the quintessential Amsterdam experience is undoubtedly exploring the city on two wheels. Cycling is an integral part of Amsterdam’s culture, with more bicycles than people in the city! With well-marked bike lanes and dedicated traffic signals, it’s a safe and eco-friendly way to traverse the city’s charming neighbourhoods, scenic canals, and bustling marketplaces. Numerous bike rental shops throughout the city make it easy for visitors to join the local cycling culture.

For a more leisurely and scenic journey, consider getting around Amsterdam by boat. The city’s extensive canal system offers a unique and picturesque method of transportation. Various companies offer hop-on hop-off boat services, making it a fun and convenient way to sightsee. Whether you’re rushing to a meeting or leisurely sightseeing, Amsterdam’s mix of modern convenience and old-world charm provides an array of transportation options.

Practical information about the city of Amsterdam

Amsterdam operates on Central European Time (CET), and Dutch is the official language, although English is widely spoken and understood. The city is known for its cashless transactions, so it’s handy to have a credit or debit card with you. Most places, including taxis and small businesses, prefer card payments. The currency used is the Euro (€).

Amsterdam is famous for its relatively wet climate, with rainfall occurring quite frequently throughout the year. However, this doesn’t dampen the spirits of the locals or the tourists, who consider the unpredictability part of the city’s charm. The city enjoys a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers (17-20°C) and cool winters (2-6°C). Layering is highly recommended when packing for your trip to Amsterdam.

Public amenities such as toilets may require a small fee for use. Tap water in Amsterdam is clean and safe to drink. Smoking tobacco is only permitted in designated areas, and while marijuana is tolerated in coffee shops, it is technically illegal.

Amsterdam is generally a safe city with low crime rates, but like any other major city, it’s advisable to stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas. Free Wi-Fi is widely available in public spaces, cafes, and most accommodations. 


In wrapping up, it’s clear that Amsterdam is so much more than its renowned canals and tulip fields. It’s a multicultural hotspot where the world converges, offering a smorgasbord of culinary delights that mirror its diverse cultural fabric. From its traditional ‘bruin cafés’ to its eclectic food and drink scene, the city is a gastronomic paradise. Getting around couldn’t be easier with a robust public transportation system enhanced by a pervasive cycling culture.

Practicalities are straightforward, with cashless transactions and English as a widely spoken language. And while the climate might be a touch unpredictable, the resilient spirit of this city more than makes up for it. Amsterdam’s charm lies in its harmonious blend of historic tradition and modern lifestyle, a city that welcomes all with open arms, promising an unforgettable experience.