Short for Natura Artis Magistra ("Nature is the Teacher of the Arts"), Artis was continental Europe's first zoo and is the world's third oldest. Built in the mid-19th century, the 37-acre park is home to a zoo, a natural-history museum and zoological research center, a planetarium with regular films (not just about space), a butterfly pavilion, a geological museum and an aquarium with 500 species of freshwater and saltwater fish, and a fun cross-section of an Amsterdam
canal complete with eels and dumped bicycles. Several animal quarters (the poor lions...) are showing their age but Artis has redevelopment plans. It's a good family day out, and the zoo and all its museums are accessible on a single ticket. The Artis Zoo Express canal boat from Rederij Lovers combines a visit to the zoo with an (expensive) hour-long canal tour (in 15 languages) and goes from Centraal Station.