Top UK Aquariums (Near Me)

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Unpredictable UK weather calls for indoor backup plans, and luckily, there are numerous family-friendly options, including aquariums. Wherever you are in the UK, you’re just a stone’s throw away from an underwater wonderland, where you can meet fascinating creatures up close.

Moreover, top-notch UK aquariums are deeply involved in conservation efforts. Your visit directly contributes to wildlife preservation, clean marine environments, and breeding programs. So, why wait? Let’s dive in!

National Sea Life Centre – Birmingham

Situated right in the heart of the UK, the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham is one of the country’s greatest attractions. But what attracts people the most is that this is the only aquarium in the country to have a 360º ocean tunnel; you’ll feel as though you’re right there at the bottom of the sea as creatures swim around you. 

What’s more, The National Sea Life Centre is home to some amazing family events. Checking the website before you go will allow you to discover what’s on; right now, you can book tickets for the PJ Masks Marine Mayhem event!

At this wonderful aquarium, you’ll also find otters and penguins as well as several other zones to explore. When you’re done, the aquarium sits on the side of the canal at Brindley Place ( ) where you’ll find tonnes of places to eat and drink and look over the photos you’ve taken during your visit to the National Sea Life Centre!

Blue Planet – Chester

If you have a taste for adrenaline then Blue Planet has got to be at the top of your list of aquariums to visit in the UK. It is home to the country’s largest shark collection but you can get super up close and personal with them thanks to the diving with sharks experience. There’s also a junior dive session so that younger marine explorers can get involved. 

If you prefer to admire the marine life from afar, you won’t be disappointed. There are several exhibitions here including the Flooded Forest, Lake Malawi, Pelican Cove, Frog Zone and the Coral Caves. If you want to experience other types of animal life then head to the Caiman Croc exhibition or visit the Venom section where you’ll come face to face with some of the most deadly creatures in the world! Not for the faint hearted!

There’s a lovely restaurant here to top up those tummies during your visit. But what we really love is that Blue Planet throws some amazing kid’s birthday parties which include hand feeding and an aqua theatre show as well as a full tour of the aquarium. Now that’s a birthday with a difference!

Blue Reef Aquarium – Newquay

Blue Reef is an excellent choice if you are looking for somewhere to take the kids that’s going to be super educational. This is thanks to the daily talks on a whole host of marine related topics including sharks, tropical rivers, sea turtles and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to watch live feedings at various points throughout the day. 

What’s wonderful about this aquarium is that there is a lot of local marine life here. Many of Cornwall’s sea-dwelling residents are kept here. However, if you fancy something a little more exotic then you’ll be spoiled for choice thanks to over 40 habitats from around the world. You’ll meet beautiful octopuses, scary sharks and graceful sea turtles; there’s something for everyone. 

The aquarium partners with some amazing charities to ensure conservation of our oceans and the creatures that live in them. This includes the Shark Trust and the Seahorse Trust, among others. 

Sea Life Blackpool

Sea Life has a range of aquariums around the UK and the one in Blackpool is certainly among the very best. Just like its cousin in Birmingham, the Sea Life Centre at Blackpool has a selection of shows and events to keep people of all ages entertained. You can even double up and get tickets for Madame Tussauds and kill two birds with one stone. 

At the Sea Life in Blackpool, you’ll find an array of animals including sharks, jellyfish and much more. The aquarium is split into different sections including an ocean tunnel and the Four Corners Of The Earth. Here you’ll be able to see man made shipwrecks surrounded by marine life based around Asia, Europe, Africa and America. It’s like a world tour without ever having to leave the UK. 

Since this aquarium is located right by the sea, it’ll come as no surprise that it prides itself on helping to keep the beach clean. Across the course of the year, the Sea Life Centre Blackpool invites its patrons to take part in a beach clean. Something different to get the kids involved with and they’re doing their bit for the planet!

The Deep – Hull

The Deep in Hull markets itself as one of the ‘best aquariums in the UK’ and we have to agree. This is an astonishing place that’s an excellent day out for every member of the family. There are more than three and a half thousand marine residents there from more than 300 species. If you want to see as many creatures as possible, this is the place to be! What’s great is that there are lots of unique creatures including the worlds’ only green sawfish!

The aquarium focuses heavily on conservation so you’ll have the opportunity to learn a lot about protecting our oceans and animals. But even more than this, the aquarium offers sleepovers so you and your family or friends can spend the night observing the beautiful creatures that live here. There’s also a private dining experience for that extra special romantic evening. 

If you’re feeling a little peckish after getting to know the sea creatures, bugs and penguins, there is a choice of two cafes serving hot and cold food throughout the day.

Oceanarium – Bournemouth

For anyone who wants to meet a diverse range of creatures, the Oceanarium is an amazing place to visit. It’s home to a plethora of animals including turtles, sharks, eels, water dragons, crocodiles and so much more. It would be impossible to list all the marine life here, you really do need to see it for yourself. 

We also love that the Oceanarium is a highly educational place. Not only are there various displays with lots of information but there’s a hugely interesting exhibition showing what’ll happen when the polar ice caps melt. 

If you want to take your wildlife exploration out of the water then here is just the place to do it. There’s a bird exhibition as well as some friendly little sea otters to get better acquainted with. When you’re done, there’s a couple of cafes and a gift shop and if the kids enjoyed it, why not book their next birthday party at the Oceanarium?

Exploris Aquarium – Northern Ireland

If you’re just across the water in Northern Ireland, there’s still a great opportunity to explore the oceans. Exploris aquarium is the only attraction of its type in this part of the UK and one of the biggest attractions are the seals. 

Not only can you watch these beautiful animals but there’s an opportunity to adopt a seal. You’ll receive a gift pack and when the seal is released into the wild, you’ll have the chance to go and see it.

Exploris plays home to some wonderful creatures including sharks, crocodiles, turtles, rays, jellyfish and much more. There’s some great seasonal events on throughout the year including the ‘Teeth or Treat’ walk at Halloween. 

When you’re done exploring the vast number of animals here, there’s the Kraken Bar and Grill that serves a wide range of hot and cold food. What’s more, if you want something extra special, you can book out the whole restaurant for the evening!

Lake District Coast Aquarium – Cumbria

The Lake District Coast Aquarium is so much more than just an aquarium. If you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids then this is the place to be. Not only are there an array of sea-based exhibitions but there’s crazy golf, an adventure playground, a cafe and even a fishing tackle shop!

Compared to some of the other aquariums on this list, there aren’t quite as many marine displays but with around 75 tanks, there’s still plenty to discover. One of the biggest attractions is the ray pool. The rays here are super friendly and are known to regularly interact with visitors. 

There’s a conference room where you can book events and the aquarium hosts kid’s parties as well as school visits. During these, there’s even access to the aqua theatre where educational films are played. 

Bristol Aquarium – Bristol

Do you want a real  undersea adventure with some of the ocean’s giants? While these aquariums might not be large enough to house these animals, they can take you to meet them virtually. Meet sharks and humpback whales in an immersive experience or explore a plastic laden shipwreck to get a better idea of the effect humans are having on the ocean. 

There are several zones to visit including the underwater tunnel, Bay of Rays and the Coral Seas. If you’re into the younger marine life then the learning lab is perfect. Here, you’ll be able to see the juvenile species and how they’re getting prepared for the big wide world. There are talks and demonstrations throughout the day so it’s super educational as well. 

One of the other huge attractions at Bristol Aquarium is the Mighty Amazon. You can explore the mangroves filled with real plant life and this is home to a huge 60,000 litre tank filled with some of South America’s most notorious species.

The National Marine Aquarium – Plymouth

Heading right down south for our last stop on this aquarium tour, we find the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. What’s so special about it? Well, for starters it’s the largest aquarium in the UK and is home to more than 4000 creatures big and small!

If you’ve ever wanted to travel Down Under and haven’t had the chance, The Great Barrier Reef display with 650,000 litres of water will delight you with its colourful display. There’s sealife from all around the world including Atlantic barracudas all the way through to local marine life. 

But the best thing about the National Marine Aquarium is that it caters to everyone; all ages, genders and more. There’s an over 60’s session, romantic dining experiences, yoga sessions, scouts and guides tours and so much more. No matter who you are or what you’re into, this will be an unforgettable ocean adventure.


The UK is filled with things to do and being an island, you’re never too far from the sea. But it’s not always warm enough to get in the ocean and join the fish so why not head to one of the best aquariums in the UK and discover marine life in the driest way possible? There’s a huge choice of venues, each offering something special. No matter how old you are or what you’re into, there’s something for you!

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