Is your little ones potty about penguins? Wowed by whales? Stirred and shaken by sharks? Or electrified by giant eels? If the answer’s yes to any of those, then the Sea Life London Aquarium is definitely the place for them. One of the world’s most impressive and unforgettable ocean-related natural history attractions, it’s also among London’s most popular tourist spots, having claimed pride of place for itself on the South Bank way back in 1997 – and 19 years later, it’s still going strong; stronger than ever, in fact.
With its plethora of sea-going creatures and special exhibits tailor-made for families, the London Aquarium is the ideal visitor’s venue for when you want to be taken away from the hustle and bustle of London and to somewhere else entirely. It offers a fascinating journey from the world’s coastlines to the depths of its different oceans; unearthing an underwater world of splendour, grandeur and danger and is filled with a truly astounding array of amazing animals.
Having gone through a relatively recent year-long refurbishment, this London sea life attraction reopened in early 2009 with additional, already much adored attractions – a captivating underwater tunnel, a ‘shark walk’, a revamped tank dedicated to the Pacific Ocean and, probably most popular of all, an exhibit featuring 10 gen too penguins supplied by Edinburgh Zoo. Moreover, a brand new area, Sea Dragon Kingdom, will be opening soon, promising to reveal the most intriguing and unusual marine life to eager visitors – not least those looking for a nearby venue that’ll thrill and delight the whole family, should they be staying in a West End hotel such as Shaftesbury Hyde Park International.
Parents will be reassured to learn that the aquarium also contains two classrooms, which are themed around the conservation campaigns it supports, hosting as they do up to 40,000 school children a year. Best of all, they’re open to the public when not in use by the education programme. To this end, the attraction’s involved in several breeding schemes around the world, increasing the numbers of butterfly goodies, Cuban crocodiles, jellyfish and seahorses, while it maintains working relationships with conservation organisations such as Save Our Seas, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Earth Sea Sky, Shark Trust, South Pacific Projects and Rain forest Concern.
Located in the County Hall space just off the south end of Westminster Bridge, the London Aquarium shares the building with London Dungeon and the Namco Station amusement arcade – all three of them run by Merlin Entertainments. Admittedly, ticket prices are high (£45 per adult; £30 per child, 3-15 years-old), yet if you’re a British resident you may consider buying a year-long pass either for all Sea Life centres in the UK or for all Merlin attractions, of which there’s 32 across the entire country. With one of those, the world beneath the waves is definitely your oyster.
Opening times: 10 am-7 pm Monday- Sunday (last admission 6 pm)
Phone: 0871 663 1678