SEA LIFE London Aquarium

Attractions, Zoos and aquariums South Bank
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SEA LIFE London Aquarium
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Crab (Michelle Grant / Time Out)
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Michelle Grant / Time Out
Visitor enjoying the fish (Michelle Grant / Time Out)
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Michelle Grant / Time Out
 (© Sea Life London Aquarium)
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© Sea Life London Aquarium

Walk through, over and under colourful aquatic worlds from the tropical to the Arctic at one of London’s busiest attractions

It’s hard to imagine, when you’re standing outside County Hall, that you’re going to find sharks and penguins inside what used to be a boring old council building. But give them their dues – Sea Life has created a pretty impressive aquatic wonderland right here in Zone One, and within easy reach of Waterloo and London Bridge stations.

You can go at your own pace, but Sea Life London Aquarium follows a set route, so you won’t miss anything. Start with a walk over the glass window that peeks down to the Pacific waters display. This section is called Shark Walk – the clue’s in the name. You then come to the ‘Atlantic Depths’ – with its sand eels and octopus – and the ‘Tidal Reach’ collection of creatures from British waters. You have to feel for the jellyfish and pipefish here. Life in our seas and rivers just doesn’t seem as exciting as the colourful exotica you get when you move through to the Ray Lagoon and the fabulous purple tangs, triggerfish and stripy snapper of the Dive Discovery tropical waters.

Along with rockpool displays of brightly coloured anemones and the gliding green sea turtles that swoop past overhead as you walk through the Ocean Tunnel, there’s a chance to get down deep with the sharks as you peer into the Pacific Wreck gallery and see if you can find Nemo among the clownfish in the Coral Reef zone.

There is a lot to take in here, especially if you visit off peak, when the crowds aren’t too bad. The route continues with a display dedicated to seahorses and an area that reflects the humid setting of the rainforest, where you’ll see piranhas, a Cuban crocodile and poison dart frogs. Nothing causes a stir quite like a meal time, so check the website for the many different feeding sessions, which are hosted daily during visitor hours, and time your trip so you catch the ones you want to see most.

There's also a new permanent exhibition, 'Ocean Invaders', in which you'll also be able to learn more about the weird, wonderful and wobbly world of jellyfish. Visitors can discover the most dangerous species and even create their own digital jellyfish. Sea Life also carries out research and conservation work, and the Thames Walk experience (opened in summer 2015) reveals some of the insights into life in the waters that flow just outside the aquarium, and the work done to make them a cleaner environment in which fish can thrive. The Breed Rescue Project display invites budding marine biologists of all ages to find out more.

Tickets can be purchased on their own or as parts of packages that include other London attractions. Group tickets and annual passes are also available, as well as very cool looking VIP behind the scenes tours, granting you access to areas of the aquarium usually closed to the public, and a snorkeling with sharks experience which more or less does what it says on the tin.  

By: Laura Lee Davies

Posted:

Venue name: SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Contact:
Address: County Hall
Riverside Building
Westminster Bridge Rd
London
SE1 7PB
Opening hours: Open Mon–Fri 10am–7pm (last entry 6pm); Sat–Sun 9am–7pm (last entry 6pm). Closed Dec 25. The aquarium opens for longer hours during school holidays, check website for details
Transport: Tube: Westminster or Waterloo
Price: From (adv online) £19.50, £14.50 under-16s, free under-threes. Tickets on the door will cost more
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