I make no secret of the fact I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to sharks. I love nothing more than a good shark documentary and still have my collection of shark fact books from when I was a kid (don’t judge me). So I jumped at the opportunity to take the rest of the family along for a trip to London Aquarium and see if my toddler shared my interest.
After my two year old got over the HUGE excitement of getting on not one, but three trains, her eyes nearly popped out of her head when she spotted The London Eye next to our destination.
The London Aquarium is in a lovely location on the South Bank. It’s one of my favourite parts of London, with views of Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral and a fun, eclectic atmosphere created by all the art and culture in such a concentrated area.
The aquarium is right next to the London Eye, about two minutes walk from Waterloo Station. I’ve battled the tube lots of times with a buggy and a wilful toddler, but this was the first time we’ve done it all together as a family and the journey to get to Waterlook couldn’t have been easier – just seven stops along the Bakerloo Line from Paddington and we were there.
We timed our arrival for the opening time of 10am and this turned out to be a smart move. Having been told how busy the aquarium gets, we were ready for long queues despite having a priority pass, but we walked straight into the building without waiting at all. If you’re thinking of going, I’d definitely recommend investing in a priority booking pass to cut the queue time and – if you really don’t want to wait at all – get there bang on 10am. By the time we left around two hours later, the queues were 90 minutes long.
Walking into The London Aquarium is like stepping into another world. Soft music plays in dimly lit, winding corridors, with exciting things to look at around each corner. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted with your first glimpse of the aquarium’s biggest boast: the huge tank full of amazing sharks, stingrays, gazillions of fish and giant turtles. Walking across the top of the tank, you’re literally stepping on the glass above all these incredible creatures. It was lovely see my toddler get down onto her hands and knees and peer down into the depths, coming face to face with an enormous and graceful shark gliding beneath her, about a metre away.
As you follow the route of the aquarium, you’re guided into different worlds, with sea life from all parts of the planet and lots of interactive games and activities. We’ve been to an aquarium as a family before, but this trip proved far more successful, as Frog really spent time looking at all the amazing creatures and asking about them. It’s a very child-friendly place, with wide paths for buggies and lots of little portholes and nooks especially suited to inquisitive small children.
Favourites seemed to be “Jenny” the octopus, the many sharks, a giant turtle and the penguins at the end. We spent two hours with only one hint of a tantrum, when Frog tried to jump into a tank to get to know the stingrays a little better. Her fury was short-lived though, as she was diverted by the promise of another shark just around the corner.
It’s easy to forget that we’re raising a country bumpkin, despite having two parents who grew up as city dwellers. Frog’s enthusiasm for the crowds was infectious, as she lapped up the excitement of the hustle and bustle.
We had a brilliant lunch at Giraffe, about five minutes along the South Bank from the London Aquarium. We’re big fans of the chain and regularly visit our nearest Giraffe restuarant for a spot of lunch. The child-friendly atmosphere and little touches (a balloon for each child, along with a colouring sheet with crayons) makes it a really easy place to eat with kids – as do the fresh, healthy and incredibly tasty menu options.
We ended the day with a walk along to Borough Market, although we didn’t have time to explore my favourite corner of London properly, as we had a train to catch. It was here that we bumped into my aunt and uncle – totally unplanned – and I watched with amusement as my confused toddler thought her grandma had left her grandad and shacked up with a new man (my mum and her sister share the likeness of hair colour and glasses!).
It’s days like these which make memories. We’ll definitely be back.
Disclosure: We were given priority passes for The London Aquarium by Superbreak. All opinions remain my own.Follow