13 Best Aquariums in the UK You Should Visit for a Family Day Out

Nothing is more refreshing than watching critters from all the corners of the planet playfully traversing the clear waters in the UK aquariums. The country is home to some of the best aquariums in the world.

Planning a day out to one of these aquariums is a good idea for you and your young ones. You can imagine the joy of beholding the mysteriously colorful and fascinating creatures underwater.

Being a plethora of standard and unique creatures worldwide, you’ll never have enough of these aquariums.

In this post, I have tried my best to bring you the best aquariums in the UK worth visiting and a picture of what to expect in many of them. Read on to explore these gems.

13 of the Best Aquariums in the UK

  1. The National Marine Aquarium
  2. Bristol Aquarium
  3. Sea Life Brighton
  4. Blue Planet
  5. SeaQuarium Rhyl
  6. Cornish Seal Sanctuary
  7. The Deep Hull
  8. Andrews Aquarium
  9. Lake District Coast Aquarium
  10. Exploris Aquarium
  11. Tynemouth Aquarium
  12. Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium
  13. Anglesey Sea Zoo

1. The National Marine Aquarium

Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 844 893 7938

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The National Marine Aquarium

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The National Marine Aquarium (NMA) is the UK’s largest aquarium in Britain’s Ocean City- Plymouth. It is run by the Ocean Conservation Trust, a registered charity that connects people with the ocean.

The aquarium is home to over 5000 animals from around the world. In the early days, it was housed at the British Marine Biological Association and later expanded to its present, making it the largest aquarium in the whole country.

Also, NMA was the first aquarium set as a charity organization tasked with education and conservation services.

This is it if you are looking for a place to visit over the weekend. It’s open daily, 10 am – 5 pm.

Booking is only made online at least one hour before the visiting time. In your booking, you should indicate when you wish to arrive.

2. Bristol Aquarium

Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5TT, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 117 929 8929

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Bristol Aquarium

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Bristol Aquarium is one of the best aquariums in the UK. Located in the heart of Bristol, the aquarium has over 40 displays with natural themes and thousands of beautiful aquatic critters such as rays, sea horses, sharks, piranhas, and many more.

Bristol Aquarium houses tropical fish native to the United Kingdom’s water and those from diverse parts of the world.

Also, the aquarium is the only one that hosts a botanical house in the nation. So, apart from viewing aquatic creatures, you can also get a glimpse of exotic plants at their giant botanical house, Urban Jungle.

Bristol Aquarium is open daily from 10 am-5 pm, with the last entry being 4 pm. It only closes on Christmas day. However, the opening seasons vary, so you should visit their page to confirm before you visit.

3. Sea Life Brighton

Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1TB, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1273 647707

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Sea Life Brighton

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Sea Life Brighton is the world’s oldest aquarium. It was established in 1872 by Eugenius Birch, the architect who designed West Pier.

The experience in this aquarium is out of this world! You can take an underwater journey through their water tunnel or view the ocean floor to ceiling through their viewing window.

The famous residents of this aquarium include sharks, turtles, jellyfish, rays, and many other fantastic creatures.

The aquarium opens daily from 10 am to either 4 pm or 5 pm, depending on the day. Check their site, and find the visit planner to see the closing time on the day you intend to visit. However, they close on Christmas.

4. Blue Planet Aquarium

Longlooms Rd CH65 9LF, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 151 357 8804

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Blue Planet Aquarium

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Blue Planet Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the North West with marine and freshwater creatures where people can visit to view a collection of sharks and other creatures. It was opened by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

Visiting this aquarium gives you access to nine displays with different themed zones with thousands of marine creatures from different parts of the world.

Besides viewing the living creatures, you will have a chance to dine from deep in the sea.

This aquarium has a lot to offer. You’ll have a whole experience if you visit it with your family.

5. SeaQuarium Rhyl

E Parade, Rhyl LL18 3AF, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1745 344660

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SeaQuarium Rhyl

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SeaQuarium Rhyl, located on the outstanding North Wales coastline, has an open seafront giving room for stunning views. It displays animal species from all over the world in 9 different zones.

As a small aquarium compared to many others in the UK, its tickets are less expensive. Regardless, there is much to see in their zones, plus a fantastic Seal Cove.

Some of the creatures in their display include moon jellyfish, tropical terrapins, spider crabs, puffer fish, sharks, and tangs, to mention a few.

6. Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Gweek TR12 6UG, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1326 221361

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Cornish Seal Sanctuary

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Situated in the Gweek village a few miles from Falmouth, Cornish Seal Sanctuary is not an aquarium per se, but it’s worth including it in this collection.

It is owned by Sea Life Trust and was established for the rescue and expert care of injured seals and other marine creatures.

It specializes in treating and rehabilitating injured gray seal pups picked around the shores, after which they release them back to the wild.

Cornish Seal Sanctuary not only gives you a chance to get up close with the seals but also allows you to watch the rehabilitation journey of these fantastic creatures closely.

7. The Deep

Tower St, Hull HU1 4DP, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1482 381000

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The Deep

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The Deep, one of the most amazing aquariums in the world located in Hull, is home to impressive creatures such as penguins, sharks, turtles, and sawfish. It serves as charity conservation and an education center.

With a whopping nine animal zones, Axolotl, Amazon Tree boa, Blue spotted ribbontail ray, Brittle starfish, Blue poison arrow frog, Gray reef shark, Gentoo penguin, and the Green sawfish; The Deep has a lot to offer.

The Deep offers more than just that; the many facilities here, including best-in-class cafes with all the offerings you’d expect. Visiting with your kids will get you to enjoy the moment even more.

What will catch your attention is their tickets! They have a ticket category called Day Plus that, when you purchase, covers multiple visits for up to 12 months; fantastic, right?

For your visits, The Deep is open daily from 10 am – 6 pm Monday – Friday and 9 am – 6 pm on weekends & school holidays (last entry 5pm).

8. Andrews Aquarium

The Scores, St Andrews KY16 9AS, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1334 474786

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Andrews Aquarium

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St. Andrews Aquarium is a family-owned aquarium located in Scotland. Here you’ll meet up to 120 species ranging from fish, poisonous, pleasant, and anything in between.

Some visitors’ favorites include penguins, marmosets, arachnids, West African dwarf crocodiles, Great British sharks and rays, and many more.

In Andrews Aquarium, you’ll not only get up close and personal with the magnificent sea creatures but also get some time to explore the unforgettable underwater and learn the many wonders of the sea.

The aquarium is open 7 Days a Week, 10 am – 5 pm, with the last admission at 4 pm. It is open year-round except on the 24th-26th of December. You are advised to book in advance for a good experience.

9. Lake District Coast Aquarium

S Quay, Maryport CA15 8AB, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1900 814774

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Lake District Coast Aquarium

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Located in the heart of Maryport Harbor, the Lake District Aquarium has over 35 creative displays with native British aquatic creatures. In this aquarium, you can view up to 150 different species thanks to its 75 display tanks.

You’ll get personal with some friendly creatures at their rock pool and other points. Besides magnificent marine life here, there are other outstanding fun facilities in Lake District Coast Aquarium; excellent restaurants, a children’s playground, a 14-hole golf course, and many more.

The spot is open seven days a week, all year round (excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day) from 10 am to 5 pm. Drive down and have a fantastic weekend.

10. Exploris Aquarium

1 The RopeWalk, Castle St, Portaferry, Newtownards BT22 1NZ, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 28 4272 8062

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Exploris Aquarium

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Exploris Aquarium is located on the Ards Peninsula. It is surrounded by the Irish Sea and Strangford Lough, creating a vast coastline. The aquarium has different sea life, such as sunken galleons, friendly sharks, and snappy crocodiles.

The aquarium has a lot more. It features a penguin island, a turtle cove, an otter enclosure, Percy’s pitstop, and a selection of ducks.

There is also an outdoor BBQ spot for the BBq lovers and a bar. Visiting this aquarium will let you enjoy every moment.

Its opening hours are:

Mon-Sun: 10am – 5pm

Last admission: 4pm

Quiet Sessions

Mon-Sun: 4pm – 5pm

11. Tynemouth Aquarium

Grand Parade, Tynemouth, North Shields NE30 4JF, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 191 258 1031

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Tynemouth Aquarium

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Tynemouth Aquarium is located on Long Sands beach, Tynemouth, not far from Newcastle Upon Tyne city center. Some of the sea life you’ll find in this aquarium includes blacktip reef shark, Arabian angelfish, clown triggerfish, leaf scorpion fish, sexy shrimp, short snout seahorse, and many others.

As a conservation, you’ll learn a few things about the sea creatures and how to help safeguard them. There’s also a talk and feed session where you feed the animals and interact with them closely.

These include river giants talk and feed, ocean talk and feed’ seal show, and many other striking encounters with the sea life.

Tynemouth Aquarium is open daily from 10 am-5 pm (the last entry is 4 pm). However, their available time varies each season, so before visiting, check their site to confirm.

12. Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium

The Cobb, Lyme Regis DT7 3JJ, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1297 444230

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Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium

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Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium is a family-owned aquarium located at The Cobb, Lymes harbor. It provides its visitors with interactive encounters with sea creatures native to its local waters.

This aquarium is one of the fascinating points to visit in West Dorset for its unique presentations and historical exhibits.

Visiting this aquarium allows you to interact with the sea life mainly found along the local coastline, thanks to the aquarium’s supervised feeding sessions. It’s a remarkable experience for adults and kids alike.

Even though it’s a small aquarium, you’ll see many kinds of fish, Ballan bass, wrasse, lobster, blennies, starfish, mullet, sea scorpions, dogfish, and crabs on their various displays.

They are open from 12th February until 31st October 7 days a week – 10 am to 4.30 pm. You are advised to book in advance.

13. Anglesey Sea Zoo

Brynsiencyn, Llanfairpwll LL61 6TQ, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 1248 430411

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Anglesey Sea Zoo

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Anglesey Sea Zoo is an aquarium focusing exclusively on British sea creatures making it a fantastic place to learn about the critters and sea life habitats found in the region.

Some of the exciting sea life you see in their 40 displays include British long-snouted seahorses, quirky lumpsuckers, and moon jellyfish.

There are many other experiences offered at this zoo. Some that you’ll like include Rockpool cafe, Dairy area, and Pick Your Own pearls.

Also, they have several facilities to keep you and your family entertained as long as you are here. A massive parking lot is available free of charge, so you don’t have to worry about your machines. An all-inclusive bouncy castle and a playground are free of charge for all visitors.

Their golf course is another facility liked by many visitors, although you’ll pay a small fee to use it. There are many more amenities such as coffee shops, gift shops, gator boats for navigating crocodiles, and more.

As you can see, Anglesey Sea Zoo is probably the best point for a family fun day out in the region!

The spot is open seven days a week. The open hours for aquarium visitors are 10 am-4:45 pm, and public members are allowed between 9:30 am-4 pm.

Final Word

The UK is home to some of the world’s best aquariums! You’ll be spoilt for choice due to the many options at hand.

Our list above helps narrow down your options and find the perfect place to visit over the weekends. What do you think about it? Comment down below and share your mind regarding this list.

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