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The Best Aquariums in the UK

What better place to visit when the weather is it's typical grey, rainy self in the UK than an aquarium?

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What better place to visit when the weather is it's typical grey, rainy self in the UK than an aquarium? Get your fill of some of the ocean’s coolest creatures. We’re talking sharks, stingrays, jellyfish – proper Blue Planet vibes. We don't just shout about any old aquarium, so read on to discover the best aquariums in the UK.

1. National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

Don’t be fooled, this is not just an aquarium, it’s also an educational centre of excellence run by the Ocean Conservation Trust. There’re tonnes of different zones to check out too – check out the Plymouth Sound zone, the natural harbour found just outside the aquarium acts as an ode to local wildlife like the snipe fish, boarfish and common lobster. Oh, and if you feel like seeing critters from a little further afar, head to the Ocean Drifters zone to meet Sea Nettle Jellyfish and Moon Jellyfish.

2. SEA LIFE Loch Lomond

Without a doubt, this is the best aquarium in the UK for amazing views. SEA LIFE Loch Lomond is (obviously) based on the stunning Loch Lomond and makes for a perfect day out. Even better is that you can book your SEA LIFE Loch Lomond tickets right here! You’ll meet loads of cool creatures here – from adorable Cownose Rays (the ones that have a permanent smile) to fascinating Sea Horses, they’ve got it all. You can’t forget to check out the Lochs of Scotland themed area which puts a spotlight on all the amazing creatures you can spot in the local Lochs. Our top tip: Keep an eye out for the rare Albino Dogfish – their unique colour means they can blend into the shells below.

3. National SEA LIFE Centre, Birmingham

Walk through the UK’s only 360° Ocean Tunnel at the amazing national centre for sea critters. With over 2,000 species to meet, it’s not hard to see why this aquarium is such a hot spot. The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham is also home to an adorable pair of Alaskan sea otters in their mammal rescue centre facility – they really care about conservation which is always a winner. Book your National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham tickets here!

4. Bristol Aquarium

Discover a whole world of underwater magic at this spectacular spot and check out one of the best aquariums in the UK for conservation efforts – Captive Breeding is a big part of Bristol Aquarium’s philosophy and plays a key role in the health and wellbeing of their animals. Did you know? They collect ray and shark eggs from the tank and nurture the fertile into juveniles – ain't that nifty.

5. SEA LIFE Brighton

If you’re looking for a slice of history with your aquatic day out, then SEA LIFE Brighton is the best aquarium in the UK for you. This packed aquarium just happens to be the oldest in the world, having opened way back in 1872 there’s some pretty cool architecture going on to check out too. Head into the Victorian Arcade and look up at the original vaulted ceilings while checking out tonnes of species of cool sea critters. Oh, and you can’t miss the Day & Night Ocean Experience, it’s the ultimate insight to the 24-hour cycle of a coral reef.

6. Blue Planet Chester

Home to a 71-metre ocean tunnel, Blue Planet Chester probably one of the best aquariums in the UK for experiences – you adrenaline junkies will love swimming with sharks here. This experience includes full instructions, a close-up (and cage free) diving experience and free entry for two spectators – oh, and you get an “I Dived with the Sharks at Blue Planet Aquarium” certificate. P.S Dives often run on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2pm or 4pm, although this remains subject to change and availability. Shark lovers rejoice we have a whole guide on places you can swim with and see sharks in the UK

Sound like your kinda thing? We reckon you should head to The Bear Grylls Adventure and check out their shark diving experience.

7. SEA LIFE London

Without a doubt the best UK Aquarium in London, this one is perfect for tourists visiting the capital. Like other SEA LIFE aquariums, you can explore by zone – at SEA LIFE London there’s a Shark Walk, Rainforest Adventure, Coral Kingdom and Ray Lagoon (amongst many others) to explore. Oh, and a top tip for visiting this one – if you fancy avoiding the crowds, book your tickets in advance for early in the day.

8. The Deep, Hull

It's not just the exterior of this building which is exciting (I mean, look at it sparkle) - The Deep, Hull is packed with cool creatures and definitely the best aquarium in the UK when it comes to unique buildings. The aquarium is recognised as one of the best across the world and is home to magnificent sharks, turtles, penguins and the UK’s only Green Sawfish – try and beat that, we double dare ya. This is a top spot to visit in Hull, you’ll get the best views over the Humber estuary.

9. Lake District Coast Aquarium, Cumbria

The perfect stopping point on a jaunt out to the Lake District, the Coast Aquarium is located in Maryport (right on the coastline), making it the perfect spot for an aquarium like no other. Explore the 75+ tanks which act as home to hundreds of species – our favourite zones are the Piranha tank, SeaLab extension, Jellyfish breeding tanks and the huge coral display which your little ones can climb inside.

10. SEA LIFE Scarborough

There’s an awesome rescue facility at SEA LIFE Scarborough and it just happens to be home to some of the most adorable Seals you’ll ever see. Besides the usual aquarium critters (can’t fault the classics, right?), there’s also an extensive collection of reptiles and insects in the Rainforest Adventure themed area. Book your SEA LIFE Scarborough tickets here!

11. Oceanarium, Bournemouth

Visiting Oceanarium in Bournemouth is probably your best opportunity to meet a West African Dwarf Crocodile in the UK – it's seriously one of the best aquariums in the UK for spotting unique residents. And if that wasn’t enough to get you to visit, there are also loads of super informative (and fun) talks on everyday – think Otter Feeding Presentation, Penguins Feeding Presentation, Feed at Shark Wreck Reef and Penguins Feeding Presentation.

12. SEA LIFE Blackpool

Fancy checking out an aquarium next to some of the north’s top tourist attractions? You can get your Madame Tussauds Blackpool tickets, the Blackpool Tower Dungeon tickets, Tower Ballroom tickets and Tower Circus tickets – just to name a few. Oh, and this one is perfect for those family visits too – little ones will love the Rockpools (aka the perfect opportunity to get respectfully up close and personal with loads of cool sea creatures).

13. Blue Reef, Newquay

If underwater tunnels are your thing, you’ll just love it at Blue Reef, Newquay – the tunnel is the centrepiece of the aquarium and makes for a real sight to see. We could literally spend hours in here checking out the talks, like the 12:30pm Omiros the Loggerhead Turtle and the 3:30pm Ocean Feed.

14. SEA LIFE Manchester

Another spectacular aquarium which acts as home to over 2,000 sea creatures – including sharks and giant green sea turtles. One of our favourite things to do on a visit to SEA LIFE Manchester is watch the turtle feeding session – but they always have on cool events on like After Hours with the Mermaids and the Pirate Treasure Hunt (it’s literally the perfect spot for a family day out). If that sounds like your kind of day you can book your SEA LIFE Manchester tickets here! Oh, and another reason to love this one – it's located right by the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (and you can get your LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester tickets here!), which makes for the perfect duo on a day out.

15. Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre

If you’re particularly fond of Seals (who isn’t? they're literally adorable), the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary is the place for you. Not only does the wildlife centre care for seals, but they also rescue a variety of animals like Primates, Reptiles, Bird of Prey, Meerkats and Aviary Birds – as you can imagine, dinner times are quite the occasion.

16. SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth

Fancy seeing more than the usual aquarium dwellers? You’re in luck at SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth. Head to their Rainforest Ranger Basecamp and immerse yourself in the world of creepy crawlies and other critters – it's not just about Leafcutter Ants either, they also have Blue Poison Dart Frogs too.