Sea Life London Aquarium review for families
In a nutshell
A visit to Sea Life London Aquarium is a fun and educational way to spend a few hours in London. It can have very long queues at peak times so plan ahead and make sure you know what the plan is for lunch
What we tested
- Fun for kids
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Fun for parents
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Worth the money
3.5A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Family friendliness
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Over 500 species of fish, educational, easy one-way system, interactive games, ideal for rainy days, central London location
- Expensive, crowded, long queues
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Neve visited on a warm, sunny Saturday in May term-time with two 6 year olds and a 3 year old.
What age is this venue best for?
- Best for: All children aged 3 +
- Still good fun for: Teens and adults/parents. It’s amazing to see such wonderful sea animals and is full of interesting facts
How much does Sea Life London Aquarium cost in 2022?
Tickets are £31 per adult and £28 for children aged 3-15 if you book on the day. If you book in advance you get a 10% discount (£28 per adult and £25 per child). That’s £106 for a family of 4. We felt it was quite overpriced for what you get, so try to get discounted tickets from some of the suggestions below.
Are there are discounts or cheap tickets available for Sea Life London Aquarium?
- If you travel by National Rail you can get 2FOR1 entry to lots of London attractions including Sea Life centre London. You must pre book your rail tickets online though for guaranteed entry
- Kellogg’s have also teamed up with Sea Life London to offer a free adult ticket valid until 30th June 2023. You can find this promotion on a range of Kellogg’s cereal’s and snack packs. You need to find the unique 10 digit code printed inside the pack and go to merlinfun.com to book your ticket
- You can also save up to 53% on a family of 4 ticket with piqniq which will only cost a total of £55.
- Attractiontix have have tickets at fantastic prices; £28 for adults and £25 for children.
- Evans Evans Tours offer an aquarium tour from £31 per person, taking you through the Shark Walk, Coral Kingdom, Ray Lagoon and more.
Are there any extra charges once I’m there?
- There are some experiences within Sea Life London which will cost you extra if your kids want to have a go, like the Sea Life virtual reality experience for £8 per person or £12 for two, on the day. If you or your kids want the VR experience, ideally you should pre-book a Ticket + VR Experience on the Sea Life website, which then only costs £6 per person. However, it might be cheaper to use another discount site for your ticket and buy the VR experience when you’re there. My children didn’t want to have a go on it anyway, so we managed to pass it by without spending anything.
- There is a tattoo and face painting parlour set up very randomly, halfway through the attraction too. Prices are an extortionate £5-£10 for tattoos and £10-15 for face painting. It has nothing to do with sea life, so we thought this was a bit cheeky having to walk past this and kids begging their parents for one.
- My six-year-old daughter and her friend wanted to go on the hurricane machine which cost £2. Again, not sure why there is a hurricane machine in the middle of an aquarium, it just seems like another way to make more money.
- You also have to walk through the gift shop on the way out so this will of course cost you extra if you want to treat the kids to a gift – or if they are begging you for one! My kids wanted to take home a cuddly sea life toy which were £12 each.
How long will we spend at Sea Life London Aquarium?
Typically 2 to 3 hours, depending on how long you spend at each tank.
For more London fun, take a look at our roundup of the best family days out in London.
What is Sea Life London Aquarium like for families?
It’s a fun and educational day out for all ages. It has a huge variety of sea life, including sharks, tropical fish, guppy whales, turtles, a crocodile and penguins. It’s a free flow, walk through attraction, so you can just wander around at your own pace.
It does get quite busy during peak times and because it’s inside it can feel a bit overcrowded and cramped. But it’s in a nice location in London so you can combine the day with a bit of sightseeing. My children loved looking at Big Ben and the London Eye.
What shouldn’t be missed?
The good news is, it’s a one-way system taking you on a journey through different aquarium zones, so you won’t miss anything.
Highlights for us included:
- Shark Walk - There is an immediate wow factor as you start your journey by walking over a glass window full of sharks. Watching your children tentatively walk over the glass and sharks swim under their feet is amazing.
- The Ray Lagoon – This is a brilliant section of the aquarium with a huge open tank of shallow water where you can watch the sting rays swimming around from above. You get to see them up close, which is really special. If you look through the window below you can see their mouth and gills on the underside of their body which is very amusing for the kids. It gets very packed in here, so you may have to wait your turn to get to close to the tank.
- Coral Kingdom – This is the UK’s largest living coral reef in a huge 40ft tank, where you will see hundreds of tropical fish including clown fish; otherwise known as ‘Nemo’s’ by my children. There are a few ‘Dory’s’ swimming about too. Great fun for any Finding Nemo fans.
- Rainforest Adventure - This is a new section of the aquarium where you step out of the ocean and in to the Amazon. There are creepy crawlies, poisonous frogs, snakes, tarantulas and even a crocodile. They’ve really gone to town with the setting and sounds which really make you feel like you’re in the rainforest. It feels hot and clammy too but we don’t know if that’s just because of the amount of people inside!
- Shark Reef Encounter – Most kids, we think, will get excited when you tell them they are going to see sharks. This is a huge tank full of them, where you can see those terrifying teeth up close. The waters are clear and tank is clean which makes for perfect viewing.
- Ocean invaders – This is such an experience, where all of the jellyfish are lit up with amazing colours. It’s a really great zone in the aquarium which all kids are sure to find quite magical. The colours of the jellyfish are beautiful.
What to bring:
Bring the pram if you have little legs with you that might get bored of walking around for 3 hours. There are a few places to stop and sit down but it is very much a one-way system, with the feeling that you keep going and “get through it.”
What are the queues like?
The queue to enter Sea Life can get extremely long during peak times such as half terms and school holidays. Expect to queue for over an hour during these times. It’s wise to arrive early as soon as it opens which is the quietest time with shorter, if any, queues.
Once you are inside, there aren’t many queues but you may have to wait for the crowds to pass if you want to get closer to the tanks. We recommend visiting on a weekend during term time for more space inside.
What to watch out for:
Extra costs. As mentioned above there are a few things within the aquarium which require extra money. It is a cashless venue too so make sure you have your bank card with you.
Personally, I found the penguin zone hard to look at. These penguins are kept in an exhibition tank without seeing the light of day, and we felt that these penguins should be released to a place where they can live outside in a more natural habitat and be able to see the sky.
A spokesperson for SEA LIFE London Aquarium told MadeForMums: “We provide our penguins with full spectrum lighting that imitates natural sunlight, this is due to the need to stimulate the birds’ natural behaviours with corrected day length for where wild birds would be found. This lighting variation throughout the year means the birds follow this cue to go into nesting and breeding season, then also carry out their annual moult of their feathers ready for the winter period.
"It is extremely important that the air and water temperatures and the lighting within the enclosure are carefully controlled. They are gradually altered throughout the year in order to replicate the seasons and this in turn helps to stimulate the penguins’ natural moulting and breeding cycles, essential to penguin health and well-being. Our Gentoo penguins are also breeding which is a sign of good health and happiness within the group.”
What are the food and drink facilities like at Sea Life London Aquarium?
Eating and drinking are not permitted in the aquarium except for water, so make sure you plan your visit before or after lunch. There is a drinks fridge in the gift shop as you exit if you need to buy any on the way out.
There are a huge variety of places to eat along the Southbank if you want to eat out. My family took a short stroll to Pizza Express which is a very family friendly place for lunch, just behind the Royal Festival Hall.
What are the toilets like?
The toilets are clean and have baby changing and disabled facilities. There is no sense of floor plan though, so you cannot say what is coming next or predict where toilets might be which is a bit annoying.
Is it pushchair friendly?
Yes, but there were times when my pushchair got in the way a little when people needed to walk past. It’s quite a small aquarium and can feel a bit cramped at times, so some manoeuvring was needed. If you have a small baby with you, we’d recommend using a sling if you can.
How well does it cater for disabled visitors?
- The aquarium is very pushchair and wheelchair friendly with slopes, lifts to floors and flat surfaces. There is a ramp at the entrance for entry and exit.
- Carers can go free to accompany a disabled guest, without having to book a ticket. All you need to do is present one of the following documentations: A DLA/DWP/PIP award letter, a Blue Badge or an International Proof of Disability. All visiting guests apart from the carer, require a ticket.
- Sea Life London allow access of up to 10 wheelchair users inside at any one time, but at present they do not offer wheelchairs for hire. Mobility scooters as well as guide/assistance dogs are welcome too.
- For those with a hearing impairment, hearing loops are offered at the retail points. There are also lots of written facts and information throughout the aquarium.
- See the Sea Life London Aquarium disability guide here.
What to do before you go:
- Definitely pre-book your ticket to save money.
- It’s also worth thinking about what you want from your day. For instance, do you want to see other London attractions whilst you are there? You can combine your Sea Life centre ticket with another London attraction nearby, like the London Eye. Booking a Sea Life + London Eye ticket on the Sea Life centre website in advance will cost you £50 per adult instead of £67 when booking separately, so it’s worth being organised to save money.
- There are a number of different nearby attractions that you can combine with your Sea Life ticket including Shrek’s Adventure, Madame Tussauds and The London Dungeons. Just look on the Sea Life centre London website in the ‘tickets and prices’ drop down menu for all of the options.
Sea Life is open from 10am-6pm 7 days a week, but for up to date opening times and changes, check here.
How to get there?
Sea Life London Aquarium is in central London, The nearest tube station is Westminster. Once you come out of Westminster tube station, Sea Life centre is a short walk over Westminster Bridge. It’s a nice walk where the kids can see Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
The nearest over-ground station is Waterloo. You have to follow the exit signs for the South Bank and walk towards the London Eye.
The Sea Life centre website has a very in depth page about how to get there whether you are travelling by train, car or bus. Find all of the directions to SEA LIFE London Aquarium here.
Is it worth a long car journey?
If travelling to London is easy for you by train or tube we would highly recommend a visit to this attraction. It’s fun and interesting with loads to see and do. If you are out-of-towners and decide to make a special trip to London, this is only a 2-3 hour attraction so make sure you include some sightseeing during your day out and then it will be worth it. The great thing about Sea Life London is that it is located on the South Bank of the river Thames. There is so much to see and do here.
Is there free parking?
The Q-Park Westminster is a short distance from the Aquarium. If you pre book your parking you can get a 15% discount. To book and claim your discount click on this link London Westminster Parking| Q-Park and enter the promotional code SEALIFE to make your booking.
If driving, be aware of the London congestion charge which runs every day!
Which hotels or holiday accommodation are near Sea Life London Aquarium?
- You can find nearby family-friendly accommodation on Booking.com.
- Look on Holiday Extras for deals including overnight stays, breakfast and Sea Life London tickets.
- There are self-catering options near to Sea Life London on Vrbo and Airbnb.
Check out our round up of the best family-friendly hotels in London.
Nearby attractions for a longer day out:
Within a short walk you will find Shrek's Adventure, London Dungeon and the Lastminute.com London Eye. If you're willing to venture further in central London, you can also visit Madame Tussauds, Tower of London or Natural History Museum.
Sea Life Centre London Aquarium offers a fantastic few hours in London for the whole family. The fish are displayed in imaginative and exciting ways with lots of interactive games for all to enjoy. It’s in a great part of London too so you can make a day of it – just make sure you pre book your tickets, plan your day in advance and watch out for extra costs.