County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London. SE1 7PB. Tel: +44 (0)20 7967 8000 Fax: +44 (0)20 7967 8029 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org OPEN: Daily 10am-6pm (5pm last admission) ADMISSION: Adults £8.50;
Children (3-14yrs) £5.00; Concessions: £6.50; „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Last year we brought a Merlin pass with Tesco club card vouchers, so we've been using every opportunity to visit the attractions that this covers and ensure that we get good value for money from the pass. The London Sea Life Aquarium is one of the places that we are able to visit for free using this pass and so it seemed a perfect place to go on a freezing cold Sunday afternoon in the school half term holidays and may be somewhere worth considering visiting during these Easter holidays especially if the weather is not great.
The Sea Life Centre is located on the London's Southbank, in the old County Hall building, right next to the London Eye, so combining these two attractions together can make a good day out and a combined pass can be purchased. Combined tickets are also available for the other London 'Merlin' group attractions such as the London Dungeons and Madam Tussauds, if you're not luck enough to have the full pass. Westminster Tube station is the nearest, but I'd encourage approaching on foot and experiencing the above ground atmosphere of London as nowhere is really far away in this city. Tickets cost £22.80 for over 16s and £17.40 for 3 - 15 year olds. These reduce by 25% after 3pm Behind the scenes tours are an extra £7.50. Opening hours are 9am - 8pm daily.
We arrived about 12.30 and there was only a very short queue inside the building and we were ushered straight to the doors leading into the exhibitions where our passes were checked, bypassing the ticket booths. As we left at 3.00 there was a line forming outside, but still not too long. The centre caters well for wheelchair users and those with pushchairs and two lifts offer an alternative to the stairs as you dive down into the basement to begin your trip. Yes, the entire experience is below ground! I found this quite scary, especially as it is right next to the River Thames as well, so I was aware that the other side of the concrete wall was a wall of water.
My main negative feelings about the aquarium stem from the fact that it was all below ground with no natural light or air. It felt quite oppressive and in many places the ceilings are low. There is no getting away from the fact that you're in the basement of a huge building - there are large expanses of concrete and huge steel girders across the ceilings. In most areas good attempts have been made to disguise them and create a backdrop to suit the fish of that section e.g. ivy and other vegetation covers the ceiling in the tropical area. I was very aware of my safety or potential lack of it the entire time and watched out for the emergency exits, which fortunately occurred at quite regular intervals. I know this building must have passed stringent health and safety inspections and maybe I'm a wimp, but I did worry about how easy it would be for the large numbers of people inside to get out in an emergency.
** The aquarium experience**
Once inside the main exhibition area you are led on a route that leads you around the ocean environments of the world with aquariums of various sizes. The first aquariums are quite small and I found myself comparing it less favourably than the Brighton Sea Life Centre that I have also been too, but as we entered 'The Deep' tank that represents The Atlantic Ocean I was suitably impresses. I think it is probably the largest such tank that I've seen and includes a model skeleton of an 80 foot whale as part of the habitat for the vast numbers of fish in this exhibition. There are numerous viewing areas for this tank at various heights, although you can't look into it from above which was a shame. The tunnel through which you can walk through the tank offers great visibility, but it is very short compared to others that I've visited. I could have stood and watched the huge rays, the sharks, giant turtle and countless other species for hours, but we were not the only ones wanting to watch by a long way so there was always pressure to move along and let the next person in for their turn.
The other large tank holds species native to the Pacific Ocean. I found this tank to be far more sparse in its vegetation than the Atlantic one which was bursting with colour and nooks and crannies in rocks for the fish to swim through. The Pacific area had more rock features and a large statue. Perhaps this is more true to the difference in habitats in the two oceans, as I believe the Pacific is deeper so probably has less vegetation. Three huge traditional looking sharks swim in this tank along with a tiger shark and many smaller fish. I appear to have done a really bad job of taking in the names of fish species to pass on in this review. At other aquariums I have been more aware of what fish I was observing, as there have been boards up with pictures of all of the fish. At the London Centre it is more high tech with computer screens by each exhibit. The problem I found with this was that if there were multiple fish in a tank it scrolled through information about them and I could rarely look at the type of fish that I was interested in without waiting it for it to scroll through and with large crowds this just wasn't possible. I have to say that I was more interested in just watching the fish swim and trying to take good photos with the aquarium setting of my camera than taking in lots of factual information. If that's what you like though it is there, but you have to be patient.
Other environments that you pass through on the journey, are the jungle section that contains crocodiles and terrapins and a tropical area with coral reefs and beautiful bright coloured smaller fish, which really attracted the younger children as they spotted 'Nemo' and 'Dori' look a likes from the Finding Nemo film. I have to say that I have seen other far more brightly coloured tanks in other aquariums so this would not be my favourite part as it often is.
An area that really surprised me as we progressed through the numerous varied habitats was Antarctica. For some reason I hadn't expected to find penguins underground in the middle of London. This was a very well landscaped area and included real ice, but was way too popular with the crowds, so it was a struggle to see. The viewing area would benefit from being at least twice the size.
The final area begins to bring you back to reality as a long tank with waterfalls splitting various sections represents the Thames and shows the familiar chubb, carp and roache to name but a few that we are used to seeing in our own country. Up a final escalator or lift and you exit through the gift shop, as with most UK tourist attractions.
As well as decor through most areas reflecting the natural environment atmospheric music plays throughout the tour. Temperatures also are appropriate to the needs of the creatures on display. The tropical and jungle areas are right next to each other and I found myself taking off both coat and jumper and still feeling a bit woozy. I needed to drink or I think I may well have been at risk of passing out. I noticed several people suffering similarly and heard comments to the effect that it was a shame there was no fresh air available anywhere. I was mightily relieved when shortly after this we arrived in the chilled Antarctic and I immediately felt much better and could put my layers back on. A specific route is followed around the exhibits so if you do feel ill or need to leave quickly you have to follow the whole cicuit. I had lost my bearings completely inside, as it appears that you keep traversing around the two main tanks and coming to them from different heights and angles.
The website advertises special events throughout the day such as talks about the different species and feeding times. Due to the circulatory nature of the event, although some of these should have been happening at times when we were there we never saw any. It must just be pure luck if you're in the right place at the right time. There was no list of times given out on entry and no loud speaker notices and certainly we didn't see anybody trying to back track. Maybe it was just too busy for them to cope with running these extras and at a quiet time there may be far more interactive opportunities.
After spending the morning walking around London, we needed to use the toilets and were disappointed to find that at the entrance there are only two disabled / baby changing toilets, so had to queue for these. The only proper toilet facilities we saw were quite near to the end of the journey around the aquarium, which did seem a bit silly and I can imagine that this would be an inconvenience for quite a few people. These facilities were all clean and in good condition.
The shop is quite large, but I was pleased to find that it is stocked almost exclusively with relevant aquatic materials including some very nice story books for toddlers and colourful reference materials for the older kids.
The Sea Life Centre has a strict no eating and drinking policy; there really is nowhere inside where there is room to picnic, but following on from the shop you enter the rest of the County Hall attractions which includes a McDonalds, if you're starving, as well as an arcade and bowling alley. As we exited into daylight again I was quite amazed to be confronted with Big Ben immediately ahead; the underground life had felt a million miles away from the realities of London.
Quizzes, notices and petitions throughout the centre draw your attention to the real reason that this attraction exists. It states that their roles are to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured or orphaned sea creatures and return as many as possible to their natural environments, to raise money for conservation projects, such as a Mediterranean Loggerhead turtle project, to breed endangered species, to help visitors to be aware of marine conservation issues and to campaign and petition governments e.g to ban whaling and reduce by catch. Children's awareness will surely have been well raised after seeing vivid posters and quizzes and I'm sure they'll all know of the risks that carrier bags pose to fish who mistake them for food. I was pleased to be able to sign a couple of pertinent petitions during the visit.
I have mixed feelings about this attraction, part of me knows that its purpose is to raise funds for the conservation of sea life in its natural environment and to educate the general public about the importance of looking after the sea environment but part of me feels as though the creatures here are too confined within their tanks. It is stated though that none of the sealife have been removed from their natural environment to be on display.
We did have a good 2.5 hours in the aquarium and I feel that at a quieter time I would have spent far longer just gazing at the fish and reading notices. I would still recommend it despite the reservations that I have expressed in this review as there is so much to see. If you expreinece claustrophobia or worry excessively about being below ground and the potential safety issues that this could pose, I would definitely avoid this attraction. I feel that the prices are way higher than what I would be prepared for an afternoon only visit and although I appreciate that it has been expensive to salvage this historic river side building and create a tourist attraction and that much of the money is used for good causes, I just could not justify the outlay. With a combined pass it becomes far more acceptable.
London Aquarium is situated along the South Bank of London, in the County Hall, by the London Eye. It has been open since 1997 and is owned by Sea Life, who own 28 public aquariums in the UK and Europe. It is counted as a Merlin Entertainments attraction.
I went to Sea Life London Aquarium on my birthday this year, May 6th 2010. I paid for it as part of a deal where if you buy tickets for the London Eye with tickets for the Aquarium you get it cheaper. I still can't remember how much they were though. I just remember they were a lot, around £15 each.
Anyway, as you go in, everything goes dark and this lovely, relaxing music comes on. We went through a hall with various tropical fish, like goldfish, jellyfish etc, then we got into this enormous room with a large tank on the floor, so technically you could stick your hand in but we weren't encouraged to, because inside there were lots of fish and about a dozen rays! Some rays were lying on the sandy bed, and it was hard to distinguish them from the vegetation and rocks at first. Others, on the other hand, were swimming around, although a more suitable word would be floating, as they moved so majestically. And then you got a couple of really friendly ones, who liked to come right up to you and stick their bellies on the glass! I crouched right down so I could see, and those that have been to an aquarium before will know what I mean when I say they were smiling at me! They were so cute! Experiencing the rays so close, along with the relaxing music was really far out. I could have spent the whole day just in there. We were also allowed to take photos, as long as we left the flash off.
I couldn't see a way out so I thought that was the end of the aquarium, but on the way out, a steward said, 'you haven't been round already have you?' and i said 'yep', and he asked 'so, you've stroked a starfish?' I didn't quite know what he meant by that, nevertheless, my friend and I rushed back in and saw that there was indeed more to the aquarium. Three hours more in fact!
Just after we left the rays, there was a room with a series of rockpools containing anemones and starfish. I noticed a member of staff sitting by one so I went up to her and struck up a conversation. I noticed she had a big bucket with a beautiful red starfish inside. It clicked what the guy was saying! I asked the girl if I could stroke it and she said yes. I very gently rubbed each of the starfish's tentacles, and as I did so, it seemed to melt! It almost turned to jelly and slid down the bucket! The girl said I relaxed him! That was another amazing experience.
I don't want to bore you by going into microscopic detail about everything we saw so I shall summarise. There was also a room with a huge tank in that contained sharks and large turtles, which were a particular pleasure to see because they moved so slowly and gracefully. There were also lots of seahorses, jellyfish, crabs. Of course, next to every tank was a plethora of information on every creature.
There was also a room on whales, although of course they didn't have any. There was a large section explaining the hunting and exploitation of cetaceous creatures, and petitions to sign to stop the cruelty. I was really impressed by this as it showed that Sea Life is not just about getting money out of its animals, it also really cares about them and wants to protect them. The protection of whales and dolphins are issues that are really close to my heart so it meant a lot to see that.
My feet were in a lot of pain just halfway through the visit, by the time I got to the gift shop, partly because I'd worn high-heels. But basically it does take a very long time to get round the whole thing so I advise women to wear comfortable shoes.
On the whole I found the experience educational, fun, relaxing and even spiritual, just watching the majesty of these creatures and how slowly they went about their business reminded me that life doesn't have to be lived at such a fast pace.
I am more than happy with the price I paid for this as I got such an amazing experience out of it. I would say it's worth two trips on the London Eye because you get so much more from the Aquarium than that glorified ferris wheel. The staff were gorgeous, the gift shop was lovely but above all, the animals were amazing and I would recommend this to anyone as a brilliant day out, a must-see for tourists in London.
-Info from the website-
SEA LIFE London Aquarium is open 7 days a week (except Christmas Day).
Sunday - Thursday: 10.00-19.00 (last entry 18.00)
Friday - Saturday: 10.00-20.00 (last entry 19.00)
From 23rd July - 4th September (inclusive) open daily: 10.00-20.00 (last entry 19.00)
Christmas Eve - 10:00- 15:00 (last entry 14:00)
Boxing Day - 11:00 19:00 (last entry 18:00)
New Years Eve: 10:00- 15:00 (last entry 14:00)
Timings are subject to change. Please check upon your arrival
Online Price On-the-day Price You Save
Adult (16+ yrs) £16.20 £18.00 £1.80
Child (3-15 yrs) (All children must be accompanied by an adult, 16yrs+) £11.25 £12.50 £1.25
Children Under 3yrs FREE FREE -
Senior Citizens (60yrs +) £14.85 £16.50 £1.65
Family (2 adults & 2 children) £49.40 £55.00 £5.60
Carer (Accompanying Disabled Person) FREE FREE -
I had not been here since early 2007, so I thought it warranted a visit seeing as I had some time off work. A lot has changed...
First of all - the prices:
Adults (15 yrs): £16
Children (3 - 14 yrs): £11.75
(All children must be with an adult of 18 years or older!)
Students and OAPs: £14
Family ticket (2 adults + 2 children): £50
Disabled Adult: £14
Disabled Child: £9.75
Secondly - the London Aquarium layout has changed quite a bit!
1) They have placed a sweet shop right in the middle of the aquarium, next to the theatre.
2) The information posters about the fish are not displayed very well. They use LCD monitors now which have pages that are only displayed for 5 minutes at a time. This is quite bizarre as you have to read it and then wait for information on what other fish are inside the tanks. Also some of the text can be quite hard to read if you are colourblind or dyslexic. (Blue background/Yellow text.)
3) The 'London Thames Path Walk' is now just a coridoor with very little to see. It used to have pictures of what the river used to look like; odd things pulled out of the river and information upon the different types of fish you can find there.
4) They have introduced a 'Shark Walk' where you can walk over some glass above the shark tanks. I found this area to be not very well lit and so you can't actually tell whereabouts corners are...
Thirdly - some dos and don'ts...
1) You are not allowed to use flash photography - but every one still does. Some of the fish can get a bit stunned by it.
2) You can't stroke the rays any more. :(
Lastly - some other niggles about the aquarium:
There doesn't seem to be as many fish around as there once was. I am sure I remember seeing two giant spider crabs in there as well as an octopus. There didn't seem to be any mudskippers or scat fishes either. As well as many other fish besides, it did have a general feel of everything being 'dumbed down'. (No latin naming of the fishes.)
The other thing I felt strongly about was that after paying £16 to get in, you are bombarded halfway through with propaganda over global warming. I have just paid £16 and do't wish to sponsor a half acre of rainforest. Why don't they use a percentage of the entrance fee and do something about it themselves!
Oh, and now the piped music is annoying but you get used to it after a while.
I do not think I shall bother again.
The London Aquarium is located on the river Thames near to the London Eye and several art galleries and is therefore not at the top of the attractions list in the area.
However, it is quite a well designed aquarium and is well worth visiting. There arent loads of fish there and many of the species are nothing particularly special; you can see them in pretty much any aquarium. However, the design of the aquarium and the way the shark tank has been layed out is very good.
The aquarium has been layed out on two floors, with the gift shop and entrance on the floor above. The aquarium is all underground, making the walkways darker to highlight the light coming from the tanks and so as not to scare the fish too much either.
Flashing cameras arent allowed because they may scare the fish but don't let this deter you; the aquarium is a very good place to visit if you're in London for a few days and enjoy looking at wildlife and animals.
London is a city with many great attractions but London Aquarium is probably not at the top of most people's things to see while visiting the capital city. When visiting the aquarium however, I was bowled over by the beauty of the fish and became childlishly excited by the huge rays, sharks and turtles. The trip really was a lot of fun and although much of the credit must go to the creatures themselves, it was clear to see that the aquarium was created in a way which allowed you to do more than just peer at fish behind glass.
I visited the aquarium on a friday and didn't queue for very long at all, although I can imagine that on a weekend the wait to get in would be significantly longer. Not all of the information about the fish is in tiny, inaccessible print. Larger facts and questions are printed on walls and boards which are interesting and educational for both adults and children. Indeed, there are many activities on offer for young ones. With colouring, badge making, starfish touching and shark feeding, it was hardly suprising that I didn't see a single child that looked fed up or bored during my trip.
One of the highlights of the aquarium is a walk-in tunnel through the largest tank at the aquarium where giant rays, completely unphased by your presence, glide over centremetres above your head. You really don't feel distanced from the fish at any point and there are stations where staff allow you to touch some rock-pool creatures.
There are regular events throughout the day such as shark feeding and talks on seahorses, rays and terrapins which are informative and interesting.
Unfortunately the aquarium is not a cheap day out at £15.75 for an adult and £11.75 for a child but if tickets are purchased online in advance, they are slightly cheaper. Additionally, if you have travelled to london by train, which is what I did, you can use to the train tickets to get a 2 for 1 offer into the aquarium, making the trip far more feasible.
The aquarium takes between 2 and 3 hours to get around and although I had a great time, I probably wouldn't pay £15.75 to go. If you can get an offer though such as the 2 for 1 deal with national rail, the aquarium really is good value for money and a fun-filled afternoon.
We visted London Aquarium during Easter weekend with my 2 year old baby. Whenever I think about any aquarium, the imagination runs from small colourful fish-tank up to huge undersea aquarium of Singapore shown in National Geographic chanel. But visit to London aquarium is going to change that perception.
It is located near London Eye, which is one of the least directly accessible area in London. You have to walk a lot with the pushchair, and be ready to carry pushchair over long stairs, as sight of lift is rare. We used Waterloo train station, so had to cross long distaince including many stairs.
Luckily we booked online previous day, so it was a big relief that we did not have to join very very long queue. The price for adult was around £13.76 with online discount. (£15.70 normal price). I think it is very very expensive for any aquarium.
The interior was quite dark and with the ghost sound (probably whale talk) playing from speakers all around, it looked more like dungeon. Our little baby was bit scarred and it took time to settle him.
As it was easter weekend, it was very crowded and given that it is not spacious at all, we struggled to push through the crowd. You can hardly get a chance to get near the tank due to lot of people trying to reach there first.
The queues were everywhere, even for some silly "Shark Walk", which was a big joke, we had to stand in a queue for 20 minutes. My baby gave up and went to sleep.
The big tank was ok, with lot of sharks and ray fish. But it was very dark and with artificial blue shades in the tank, I could not wait to come out and see the natural day light.
Also, there were very limited information near each exhibits. So Adults would not enjoy either.
Some crucial lifts were not working, and whatever was working were in horrible condition. They rattled mid way and my wife thought that we are all going down with the broken lift. The signs were not very helpful. It made it very tought to browse through the aquarium. The worst part was the narrow final "WAY OUT" escalator where we struggled to take our pushchair out.
It was very dark and crowded, not anywhere near to my imagination of beautiful fishes in colorful coral fish atmosphere. It was too big for little kids to enjoy and too silly for adults to admire. This is way too expensive and I would not recommend this to anyone.
The London Aquarium is located on the South Bank of the River Thames, in the old County Hall Building. There are several other attractions in that building and the immediate area, including the London Eye, the Movieum of London and a permanent Salvador Dali exhibition.
The easiest way to get to the London Aquarium is by public transport. My preference would be to go to Westminster on the District, Circle or Jubilee Lines and walk across Westminster Bridge, as the views up and down the Thames are great. You can also walk there easily from Waterloo or Embankment Stations. There is not much parking in the surrounding areas, although there are public car parks at the Royal Festival Hall and at Waterloo Station.
Opening Times and Prices
Opening times are 10am until 6pm (last entry at 5pm) Monday to Friday. 10am until 7pm (last entry at 6pm) Saturday and Sunday. Standard ticket prices are £8.25 for Adults 18+ yrs, £7.25 for 15-17 years (with proof of age) and students with student cards, £6.75 for Children from 3-14 years and free for Under 3s. However, at the moment, ticket prices are variable as they are carrying out major refurbishment works - we paid £6.65 on 9th March, but their website says that prices are subject to change depending on what is open.
The more spectacular part of the aquarium is the large central tank which is home to several large sharks. The sharks swim right up to the glass and it is amazing being able to watch them so closely. The Aquarium is themed into various zones - including Rainforest, Mangroves, Oceans, Rivers and Lakes - and the exhibits reflect these. There are some really interesting fish that you wouldn't necessarily see anywhere else - especially the little ones with eyes on top of their heads in the Mangrove area which I found fascinating. The piranhas were also a big hit - unfortunately we missed feeding time, but it would have been well worth seeing! We also liked the terrapin pool and the tropical fish tanks, and my 2 year old was very impressed with the 'Nemo fish' (and by turning all the big wheels which create souvenir pennies). Unfortunately, on our visit, a lot of the exhibits were shut for refurbishment work which is due to be completed in April 2009, so we didn't get to see the ray pool which I was really looking forward to, and there was a lot of building work going on all around the Aquarium which did make the visit less enjoyable than it would have normally been. On the plus side, it wasn't that busy so we had plenty of time to sit and watch the fish without feeling overcrowded.
The Aquarium is fully accessible for wheelchairs and buggies, and there are toilets and baby changing facilities available on each floor. There is a really good shop at the exit which has all kind of sea-themed products, and when fully open, they also take your photograph on entry which is then available for purchase. There isn't a restaurant / café within the main Aquarium, but there are plenty of places to eat and drink elsewhere in the County Hall building and in the surrounding area.
Overall, I think that the London Aquarium is a good place to visit, and I am looking forward to going back once the refurbishment is completed. I think the highlight was definitely the shark tank as the sheer scale of it is so impressive, and the variety of fish that they have there is fantastic. I wouldn't recommend going while the building works are on though - even though it is cheaper, I think the fact that there are workmen everywhere and lots of exhibits are closed is a definite negative.
I am an absolute animal lover, and that includes a love of fish too! I visited the London Aquarium about a month ago and bought my tickets online in advance of the visit, to get a 10% discount. I paid £8.25 per adult ticket (18+) but reduced tickets for others would be as follows:
Children 3-14 years old £6.75
Students (ID required) £7.25
Seniors (60+) £7.25)
Children under 3 years go free!!
If you book in advance please note that you need to do so at least 24 hours before your intended visit. Therefore, planning your trip advance will save you a decent amount of money.
The location of the Aquarium is fantastic and can make for a really great family day out if done on a sunny day. It is located on the South Bank and situated a stone's throw from the River Thames. Nearby attractions include the London Eye, Westminster and Millenium Brigde. Along this part of the river you will also be able to spot St Pauls Cathedral and the famous Oxo Tower, therefore really great pciture opportunities if you bring your camera along!
The aquarium itself was great fun, they have displays of fish from all different types of sea and oceans e.g the coral reef, the pacific ocean and temperate waters. In addition there are special attractions such as the shark aquarium which I spent a lot of time observing! You can also get involved if you so wish as there are scheduled feeds. talks and dives at scheduled times on specific days (check the website or call before planning this in).
Overall, I had a fab time at the Aquarium. They are open 7 days a week:
This is great for children or anyone that likes animals/fishes.
The London Aquarium - What a disappointment. It costs £13.95 (or thereabouts) on the door and I would have been tempted to complain had I paid that (the annual Merlin Pass gives free entry)
There is nothing much of interest and if you compare it to Nausicaa in Bologne it really fails in all categories.
At nausicaa there is so much more to see and do. The London Aquarium has one very cool tank with lots of stingrays and sharks but that's about the only thing of real interest.
Don't spend your hard earnt money going here. You'd be better off going to Chessington, paying extra but having more to do and they have a sea life and a zoo included in the price.
When London zoo finally opens Biota in East London, I think London Aquarium's days will be numbered.
A totally disappointing day out. Don't go there, folks!
As half term is all but over, but with Easter just around the corner, just an idea as to where you can take the children is the London Aquarium. Being a Piscean where best for me to see some relations ! Hubby and I took my three ankle biters in the last half term which was October 2005.
Here's a guide as to what to expect if you make that journey.
~~WHERE IS IT AND HOW TO GET THERE.~~
The London Aquarium is situated on the South Bank. The river Thames runs adjacent to the building and during the summer months this is an ideal place to stroll along and people watch. Not recommended in freezing October though.
The building is situated right next to the London Eye, past Westminster Bridge and within walking distance to Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament. Salvador Dali has one of his curious statues close to the entrance.
Being London there is limited parking so I suggest you take public transport. If however you decide that driving into town is more convenient for you then there is parking at The Royal Festival Hall or you can use the underground parking facility at Waterloo Station. Please remember central London Congestion Charge, Monday-Friday and the huge cost of parking per hour. Waterloo Station is filled quite early in the day by city workers so it is a gamble as to whether you can get a parking slot.
If you take the tube then the nearest stations are Westminster and Waterloo. Westminster tube is on the Circle, Jubilee and District lines. As you leave the station follow the signs for the Houses of parliament and use this as your landmark for the south bank. You can pick up a free time table at your departure station, all situated by the ticket kiosk. Try to leave after rush hour when it's cheaper and you can get a family day ticket with no time limit to return.
As well as all the London sightseeing busses that pick up and drop off at this point, you can also catch the following route numbers:
For Westminster Bridge Road, take the 12, 53, 59, 76, 148, 159, 211 or 341.
For Belvedere Road which runs parallel to the South Bank, take the 77.
There are also no's 4, 26, X68, 76, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 243, 507 and 638. Waterloo Road is the pick up and drop off point for this route, but is no more than a three minute walk from the aquarium.
~~HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ENTER AND OPENING TIMES ~~
Taken from the last brochure dated 2005.
Off Peak - School Term Time
9 Jan - 10 Feb
27 Feb - 31 March
04 Sept - 13 Oct
30 Oct - 15 Dec
Children 3-14 £7.25
Student 15-18 (&/proof) £8.50
Senior Citizen 60+ £8.50
Unemployed (Uk only) £8.50
Registered Disabled & carers £8.50
Family Ticket (2 ad & 2 Ch) £32.00
11 Feb - 26 Feb - Half Term week
01 April - 03 Sept
14 Oct - 29 Oct
16 Dec - 31 Dec
Adult £11.25 Disabled £9.50
Children 3-14 £9.50
Student 15-18 (&/proof) £9.50
Senior Citizen 60+ £9.50
Unemployed (Uk only) £9.50
Family Ticket (2 ad & 2 Ch)
~~DISABLED FACILITIES, BABY CHANGING AND TOILETS~~
Facilities are catered for on all three. You will find toilets, some with baby changing units, on every floor. Though not exactly spotlessly clean with the large influx of people using them, they are quite modern inside and as the saying goes "any port in a storm will do". The separate baby units and disabled toilets are nearly always locked so you have to ask for assistance if you want a private cubicle.
Lifts take you up on all levels, though not designed to carry more than a few visitors and one wheelchair at a time. There is always a long wait for these and it annoys me that the lifts are filled with able-bodied persons too idle to take the staircase. I have no choice than to take the lift as I have a young child in a buggy, so I usually end up waiting a good 10 to 15 minutes for an empty elevator.
Once inside the Aquarium you will find it easy to manoeuvre a buggy or wheelchair, as the non-slip flooring is all one level apart from the odd one or two small slopes. These aren't so much of an obstacle and they can be avoided.
~~ ONCE INSIDE ~~
The waiting time outside is usually quite long. During off peak, it's the school parties that hold everyone up, then peak time its all the children and their parents. Expect to wait a good 20 minutes from the entrance to the ticket office.
If you use fast track and pre book your tickets on line then you can avoid this all together. Just go straight through and up to the fast track member of staff who will clip your ticket and usher you through. It costs the same as buying at the door but without the hassle and pushing.
Occasionally when I have been there a very annoying town crier is outside bellowing the words " Move Along Please". Believe me I cannot print what I would like to have done with that huge feather on the back of his hat.
Be aware of the tourists, they don't understand the British code of conduct and queue for your turn. Occasionally you will find a group that just push right in front of you, I too can sound like a town crier when this happens.
So you have got your ticket and then what? Well the first thing you will notice is the lack of light. Its very tranquil as you enter the Aquarium and the sound of the bubbles through the filter is so relaxing. I felt like a deep-sea diver.
Before you can go any further, you have to have your picture taken against the backdrop of some sharks and the Aquarium logo. There is a barrier to stop people walking past so you have no option other than to have this done. You have your family picture taken and then take your receipt number to the photo desk, which is situated on the next floor up. Do not offer plastic for payment, they only take cash and you get to see the prints on the monitor before you buy.
It is actually well worth the £10.50. You receive one large print, one smaller one and two magnets. All presented in paper frames and a strong carrier bag.
~~ON ALL FLOORS ~~
So now you are free to wander around at your leisure. What do you get to see for your money? Well you wont be bored as there are 350 species in over 50 displays and in 14 different zones. The London Aquarium is set of 3 levels, the ground level, sub level 1 and sub level 2.
I wont go into full detail about every display otherwise it might ruin the surprise of your day trip. Every level, every glass panel has something beautiful inside. It feels like a different world and is such a relaxing experience, even with children, that you might be tempted to keep going round the floors. If you do, you see something new each time.
The fish are oblivious to us unless you tap the glass of the smaller aquariums. Please do be tempted, it just scares them and you will be captured on CCTV doing this.
Here's some of the fish that have taken up residence here on the South Bank:
In the Atlantic Level: Mackerel, Gilthead Bread, Dogfish, Flatfish, Ballen Wrasse, cuckoo Wrasse, Rays, and Pollack.
Ponds: Koi carp, Bream and Trout (I was surprised to see how big these are).
Indian Ocean: Garden Eels, Stonefish, Cardinals, boxfish and Valentine's Toby (very stunning looking fish).
Coral Reef: Corals, Lionfish, Moray Eel, Tangs, Seahorses, Picasso triggerfish, French angelfish, Blue-spotted boxfish.
Pacific Ocean: Jacks, lookdowns, Golden Trevally, Mono, Sand tiger Sharks, Brown Sharks, Zebra Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Grouper.
This was our favourite zone. You get to see the sharks so close it is quite frightening. They actually come up to the glass and open their huge jaws, bounce off the glass and come back round for more. These creatures are huge and the tank is on two floor levels. There is seating around both large windows and I would have been happy to stay there all day. It is truly amazing to see them.
However, after the initial shock of seeing so many sharks, my kids lost their interest and couldn't take their eyes off a dead Mono that was upside down, spinning in the air current. They were pointing to it, telling the sharks to come and eat!
Touch Pool: Sting Rays and Plaice
The second best zone to see. Kids and adults stand on platforms and dip their hands into the cold water whilst the fish and Rays swim around your fingers. The rays don't attempt to nip you but gracefully slide under your palms. Gets very packed at all times and you have to just grab a spot when you can.
No splashing is allowed and anyone seen by the staff will be removed.
Small sinks are visible and it is recommend to wash your hands after dipping them into this water.
Robotics: robotic fish, each with jewel-bright scales and realistic movements. After seeing the live ones, I found this quite a let down and unless you're a bit of tecchie head, you wont appreciate this zone very much.
The gift shop is well worth a look and is at the last point before you exit out. Remember that once you exit out you cannot get back in unless you pay the charge again. The shop is not overly expensive which is a surprise being London, it does however stock some unusual and different knick-knacks to remind you of your day. Prices start from £1 upwards.
However, the aisles are narrow and the shop is not that big on space, so buggies and wheelchairs will find it awkward.
Very simply, there isn't one. The Aquarium has a strict no eating and drinking policy. For school parties though there is a classroom available for schools that pre-book. Being the South Bank there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby, such as MacDonald's. Though far from cheap, I would recommend taking your own sandwiches and just purchasing drinks from these outlets.
As part of your visitor experience, you get the opportunity to see the animals being fed. The professional divers actually go into the tanks with the Sharks. Also throughout the day there are free talks so you can learn more about the fish in each zone. I found it hard keeping the little ones quiet in order to listen.
Dives take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 12pm in the Atlantic Tank. During the summer holidays dives take place on Monday to Friday but this does attract lots of visitors and if you don't get front position at least an hour before the dive, you will not see anything.
This is great experience, not sure if you can spend the whole day there. We covered it all by early afternoon but still worth the money. Each time we have re-visited, there has always been something different. Photography is allowed and even the camera on your phone will give you good results. The colours are amazing .
If you make that trip, I hope you enjoy it.
Westminster Bridge Road
TEL: 020 7967 8000
When you enter theres a mini which has been changed into a fish tank, they are fed through the skylight I think. Theres many breeds of fish to be seen & is one of Europe's biggest & most amazing displays of aquatic life.
Theres three levels all reached by a lift, along the wall you can tounch modal fish & theres sounds of the sea coming from loud speakers. On the first level is the Pacific display which houses a large tank with great white sharks in, lots of people were taking pictures with their camera phones; you can also touch the skates & adopt a fish.
London Aquarium is by the London Eye and Waterloo Train Station. It faces the Themes, although it can be a bit chilly along the South Bank. I would recommend this to other people, it's well worth a visit.
Prices for Peak times are:
Adults: £9.75 (£8.75 off peak)
Kids: £6.25 (£5.25 off peak)
Student: £7.50 (£6.50 off peak) (applies to the unemployed)
Family: £29 (£25 off peak)
If you like fish, this is a place not to be missed. If you live in London or not, you must try and see the Aquarium, it is brilliant. It is right by the London Eye so directions to it should be okay, or if you use the tube, Westminster is the best stop. You start off by walking in and there is this Ford Ka in the entrance way. Un be known to me, until later it has actually been converted into a mini aquarium. All the windows have been sealed up and it is filled with rocks and water with fish inside it. You can look through the windows and see all around. That alone was well worth a look and a photo. Entrance into the aquarium was quick even though it was fairly busy! It cost £8.50 per adult which I thought was a little expensive but at the end it was well worth it. There are hundreds of fish there, from carp to sea horses, from sting rays to sharks. The shark pool was busy and I can see why. It is a huge pool about 40 ft deep and there are about 4 viewing pods all at different levels. There are brown sharks, tigers sharks, leopard sharks and sting rays all in the same tank, with Easter Island statues in there too. They will come right up to the glass, which is probably about 40cm thick! That was amazing!! Next were more fish, crabs, lobsters and then the sting rays. This was packed. It is a huge open top shallow(ish) pool with loads of sting rays. Everyone was around the edge and with wet hands you are able to stroke the sting rays and touch them. That was incredible!! You could spend a good few hours in there easy and is a definite attraction to see. The restaurant/cafe at the side is also nice but expensive though!
I went to the Lndon Aquarium for the first time a few months ago and can't wait to go back. They had the most amazing exhibits i have seen at an Aquarium. Their "touch" section whee you can touch Plaice, crabs, starfish and further on a big tank where you can touch stingray is fabulous. The whole experience is amazing . It's a very big place just near the London Eye. It looks very small but it is massive. I cannot get over the amount of different species that were there. If you take my advice and go either with your family or friends you will not be disappointed. And look out for the Pirahna fish. they are the stillest fish i have ever seen. They have not only small fish there are beautiful sharks in the centre of the aquarium which you could just stand there for hours and watch. It's a very calming place to be... maybe not in the school holidays but when it's a rainy day you have hours worth to do. My only critiscism is that when we were there there was a little re-furbishing going on which made us think the rest of the aquarium was like it . Don't be fooled, when you pass that it is literally a world of water and beauty. If you get the chance to go . Please do it's amazing !!!!
London Aquarium has fish in it. Big ones and small ones. Some are fat and others are skinny, but they all have one thing in common. They are fish. Well, except for that Poison Dart frog that seemed to have escaped anyway. The London Aquarium would have been an excellent day out for me except for one thing. The sharks were swimming in circles with no room to move. Yes, they had a massive tank to roll about in, but to me it seemed like they didn't have enough room as they lazily rolled round ignoring all the other smaller fish in the tank with them. I have swam with sharks in the Red Sea, and this is not how they acted there. Here they were docile and happy to do nothing all day rather than get fed by their handlers, who probably have no real wish to preserve these killers' hunting skills. They lazily bumped off walls and windows, not really caring what was going on around them. And it was depressing. One of the sharks I saw had a large wound on the end of its nose, which would have been okay if I had seen this in the wild, but on an animal in captivity it could show that they creature has not been watched or protected carefully enough. I lied. There are two things that ruined my day. Kids. And their parents. Granted, I only have myself to blame as I went during school holidays, but that does not excuse the ignorance and rudness of the parents and their children there. I was continually pushed away from windows and screen by parents so that their little Johnny could press his grubby little hands and face into the glass so that he could stare at the fish. As this happened more and more I got more and more irritated and so had to leave before I embarrassed my girlfriend by shouting at some woman for elbowing her way past groups to push her daughter up to see the ray. It would have been okay if the woman actually wanted to teach her child about something to do with sea-life, but she seemed happy that the ray in the petting-tank took her ch
ilds attention away so that she could gossip with two of her other friends while their kids were also let loose on an unsuspecting public. Sound like I'm just having a whinge, but this was a constant problem for thew whole time I was in there. If you cannot handle lots of shouting children and rude parents who think the world owes them something for the fact they have born children, then don't go. Or else find out when the London Aquarium has its least busy time of the year. Other than these problems, pretty much everything else about the place was quite good. There are stands that make you think about what it is like in the deepest depths of the oceans and make you wonder about all the other stuff the human race has not discovered about the universe under the sea...
We decided to visit the Aquarium with our 2 daughters and our friends with their daughter. Children 11 months 3 and 4 years. This was arranged as a midway stop for both families (we both live around 1 hours transport from there) and it seemed as good a place as any. WELL BOY WAS I IMPRESSED. IT was easy to find (signposted clearly from waterloo station) and prices were reasonable I thought. (£8.50 per adult children under 3 free and £5.50 per child family tickets -2 adults 2 children- £24) this is money well spend. The children LOVED it, they found it amazing to be able to look at the fish from different angels (most aquariums are set at a good height for children and you can also look into them from the top) the "main" aquarium runs through the centre and you get to look at it from different angels as you walk through the aquarium and get lower down. They also have a come and touch me area where they have fish that the children actually can stick their fingers into the water and get to touch. The fish seemed to come up to get a scratch or at least a pat on the back. The look on the 4 year olds face when she touched a Ray is indescribable but looks off wonder amazement and total delight rolled into one starts to describe it. The 11 month old we had originally thought would find this a little boring and not be that interested, but she LOVED it she was staring wide eyed at the fish trying to "catch" one by sticking her hand out (got stopped by the window panes <g>)and it was obvious that she thought it was amazing. All the way through the aquarium was little snippets of information about different fish and you could also buy quiz sheets that would take you through the aquarium. I saw some children with one and they where well engrossed in the task they had. To begin with I was very worried about their toilet situation (we needed to use them as we came in) as there was only 2 toilets in ladies a
gents (dont know how many in there) and a disabled. I thought gosh this is never going to be able to cope with everyone who comes in here. But as we started walking around the Aquarium I realised that instead of having just one set of toilets with x amounts of toilets they had staggered toilets through out the aquarium making them smaller but more easily available. There also was disabled toilets AND (this I was VERY impressed with) toilets with baby changing FOR MEN... NOT only in the ladies toilet but in the gents as well. There was a couple of stairways but with each of them also a lift provided with a sign saying only for disabled, people with prams or the elderly. And it seemed to work most people was using the stairs. The aquarium exhibition in itself is marvellous it is done into different sections and is well thought out through out it also looks clean and looked after all over the place you dont end up feeling sorry for the fish as they dont look as if they are being taken care of, it is obvious that they are being taken very well care off. Only thing that I felt let them down was their brochure to "accompany" you around the aquarium that is down right boring. Black and white pictures of fish is NOT a good guide and I would really hope that they will get this changed asap. But that is the only thing that I was not impressed with so next time I will simply save my £3 and go without (perfectly possible as there is so much information in the aquarium anyway) I will definitely be going back again I am so impressed and still am amazed from a wonderful visit.