The London Aquarium houses over 500 species from every part of the world arranged into 14 themed zones, over 3 floors, in over 2 million litres of water. There are more than 40 sharks from 12 different species. It is split into sections which lead to each other and is set in the vaults of County Hall.
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
As soon as you have had your tickets checked you find yourself walking across a glass platform and see sharks and rays swimming below you. This can be a little daunting at first but is then amazing! The lift takes you down into the vaults and there are lots of different tanks with different species of fish, seahorses and octopus. There are screens with changing information to let you know about species in each tank. Don’t spend too long here or you won’t make it through to the end! These vaults lead round to a rock pool area. Here you can touch a starfish. Here you will also see the main tank for the first time. There is a viewing window round the corner past the tunnel as well. The tunnel is a highlight. It also has peephole windows at crawling height.
Next come the rays which are in an open tank but don’t dangle fingers in. This open tank has glass walls so even the littlest people can get an eye level view. The rays are stunning and captivating.
After that you come to the sharks which have huge viewing windows. Beyond here you are in the coral reef area. This is where the clownfish (‘Nemo’) fish are. There is also the rainforest area with the crocodile and then tanks with fish which can be found in the River Thames. There’s some information about the history of the River Thames and although it is interesting to see what lives in the river outside, after all the bright colours of other fish and excitement about the sharks, it’s easy to not to notice. Finally come the penguins which are very entertaining and another highlight. You can consult a chart to work out which penguin is which and you can see them swim, slide on their bellies, huddle and dive into the water.
The London Aquarium is a good day out but it’s difficult to see all of it within a little one’s attention span. There’s a lot to take in and children are very impressed with the creatures. As a result little ones do not however like to stay in the buggy as its all so exciting and most people seem to end up carrying their little ones round or toddle with them whilst also pushing a loaded buggy. If possible I’d leave the buggy at home. Due to the layout it is practically impossible to miss a section out so if you hit the point where they’ve seen enough, you still need to power through.
The range of creatures is amazing and the layout is very clever given that you see the main take many times from different angles and different magnification.
Address: SEA LIFE London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7PB.
Playground: There is no dedicated playground but the South Bank has ample running around space and a big climbing frame in Jubilee Gardens and Archibishop’s park is a short walk away.
Cafe: There doesn’t seem to be a specific cafe but there are cafes in and outside County Hall and numerous on the South Bank.
Toilets: There are several toilets dotted around the aquarium route. All have a baby change in the disabled cubicle.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: The aquarium is surprisingly buggy/wheelchair friendly given it is located in underground vaults. Pathways are wide and there are easily located lifts to different levels. There isn’t a buggy park anywhere. Some areas, particularly the rainforest have chippings on the floor and it’s harder to push the buggy there.
Parking: The nearest car parking is a short walk away, along the South Bank at the Royal Festival Hall. Please be aware of the central London Congestion Charge, which typically runs from Monday to Friday.
Train: The nearest train station is Waterloo. Charing Cross train station is a short walk over Hungerford Bridge.
Tube: The nearest tube stations are Westminster and Waterloo. Westminster tube is on the Circle, Jubilee and District lines. Waterloo tube is on the Northern, Bakerloo, Waterloo & City lines.
There are a large number of bus services which stop in the vicinity of Waterloo or Westminster Bridge Road (both accessible to the Aquarium.) For Westminster Bridge Road, take the 12, 53, 59, 76, 148, 159, 211 or 341. For Belvedere Road (just behind the Aquarium, parallel to the South Bank), take the 77 or RV1. For York Road (next to Waterloo and behind the Aquarium) take the 211, 77 or 381. Many other buses stop in Waterloo Road, which is a few minutes walk from the Aquarium. These include 1,4, 26, X68, 76, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 243, 507 and 638.
All the London sightseeing buses also pick up and drop off at these points.
Phone: General office: 08712 06632 01678.
Email: Online form: www2.visitsealife.com/london/find/contact-us.
Zones include: shark walk, Atlantic depths (octopus), tidal reach (jellyfish), Ray lagoon, dive discovery, rock pool (touch a starfish), ocean tunnel (turtles), Pacific wreck (sharks), Nemo’s Kingdom (clownfish), sea dragon Kingdom (seahorses, lionfish), rainforests of the world (crocodile), Thames walk, shark reef encounter (sharks), Antarctic adventure (Gentoo penguins).
There are various talks and feeding times throughout the day. Ask when buying tickets or check the website for timings.
Adult £23.50 (£19.98 online), child £16.95 (£14.41 online), family (two adults + two children or one adult + three children) £70.64 (£62.15), children under three go free.
We used a Kellogg’s kids go free voucher but there are also 2 for 1 vouchers with the days out by train promotion.
Review by Vanessa Legouix