Many of us never really have the chance to come face to face with some of the world’s largest and most magnificent underwater creatures in their natural habitat. After all, the encounter might not end up well for us humans.

Luckily enough, gigantic aquariums exist throughout the world and some of them are located in Europe. Whether you live on this continent or you’re just visiting, take a look at the 10 best aquariums in Europe and get up close to the marine life as you’ve never seen it before.

1. Oceanarium, Moscow (Russia)

Oceanarium in Moscow

Oceanarium (it usually goes by the hashtag #moskvarium) is Russia’s pride and joy and it’s also one of the best aquariums in Europe, and possibly in the whole world. This tank is home to over 7 000 of underwater species coming from rivers, lakes, and oceans and there are 12 000 animals in total. In this aquarium, visitors can admire beluga whales, dolphins, killer whales, rays, octopuses, starfish, and many other residents. There is a wide range of shows the aquarium offers, from feeding the sharks to multimedia exhibitions. The majestic aquarium is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm. 

Entrance fee: 2 200 – 3 400 RUB (groups), 200 – 600 RUB (children), 900 – 1 000 (adults)
Address: 119 Prospekt Mira, building 23, Moscow
Phone number: +7 499 677 77 77
Website: Oceanarium Moscow

2. Oceanario de Lisboa, Lisbon (Portugal)

Aquarium in Lisbon
© Aquarium de Lisboa

Oceanario de Lisboa exists since 1998 and today, it holds a whopping 5 millions of liters of seawater. Within this formidable body of water, you can spot sharks, barracudas, eels, and tunas. The complex comprises four marine habitats and apart from permanent exhibitions displaying amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and birds, the aquarium also hosts temporary exhibitions, such as Forests Underwater by Takashi Amano. 

Entrance fee: Family package 42€, adults 16€, children 4-12 11€
Address: Esplanada Dom Carlos I s/n, 1990-005 Lisboa
Phone number: +351 218 917 000
Website: Oceanario de Lisboa

Read more: Ideas to Spend 2 Weeks in Europe

3. L’Oceanografic, Valencia (Spain)

Exterior of the aquarium in Valencia
© Oceanogràfic de Valencia

L’Oceanografic aquarium in Valencia is located in the eastern part of the city and it’s one of the largest oceanographic museum and dolphinariums in the world. It is home to over 500 marine species, including sharks, tropical fish (clownfish, damselfish, dreamfish, longhorn cowfish, to name a few). Within the complex, there is a 35-meter long tunnel that takes visitors on a journey through the underwater kingdom, just inches from sharks, bull rays, seals, octopuses, and all the other marine inhabitants. 

Entrance fee: Adults 30.70€, School group‎: ‎13.30€, Group‎: ‎20.20€, With Cinema 4D supplement of‎ ‎3.00€
Address: Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciències, Carrer d’Eduardo Primo Yúfera, 1B, 46013 
Phone number: (+34) 96 047 06 47
Website: L’Oceanografic

4. Sea Life Aquarium, Istanbul (Turkey)

A large tank in the aquarium in Istanbul
©İstanbul Akvaryum

Sea Life Aquarium, also called The TurkuaZoo, represents the largest aquarium in this part of Europe. It is home to an incredibly large number of seawater and freshwater species while its biggest attraction is the 83-meter long tunnel with a 270° view. The volume of water in the TurkuaZoo is 7 000 cubic meters and the complex covers 22 000 square meters. The uniqueness of Sea Life in Istanbul is mirrored in thematization of the spaces, accompanied by interactive workshops, multimedia, and other cutting-edge innovation bringing us closer to the marine world.

Entrance fee: 280 TL (family of 4), 210 TL (family of 3), 84.15 TL (adults), 58.65 TL (2-12-year olds, students, veterans)
Address: Şenlikköy Mahallesi Yeşilköy Halkalı Cad. No:93 Florya
Phone number: 444 9 744
Website: Sea Life Aquarium

5. Nausicaá, Boulogne-sur-Mer (France)

Tank at Nausicaá at Boulogne-sur-mer
© Nausicaá

Nausicaá is home to 58 000 animals, including manta rays, hammerhead sharks, sea lions, clownfish, and many more. Journey on the High Seas, one of the aquarium’s tours, lets you observe the sea bed through an immense window and get up close to some of the animals man can hardly ever see in nature. The window is 5 meters high and 20 meters long. There is also an 18-meter long tunnel where you can get even closer tot he marvelous creatures. Nausicaá hosts various programs that enable visitors to get familiar with different eco-systems on our planet through interactive presentations and real-life recreations of the biodiversity. In the same way, the aquarium constantly tries to raise awareness of the problems humanity is causing to the oceans and rivers. Opening hours start at 9.30 am – 8 pm (until 7 pm in September).

Entrance fee: 25€ adults – 22€ students, seniors, families (some discounts are available in the aquarium’s ticket office)
Address: Boulevard Saint-Beuve 62200 Boulogne-sur-Mer
Phone number: +33 3 21 30 99 99
Website: Nausicaá

6. L’Aquàrium Barcelona, Barcelona (Spain)

Sharks at Barcelona aquarium
© Aquarium de Barcelona

L’Aquàrium Barcelona is divided into several aquariums – the Oceanarium, Mediterranean aquarium, Tropical aquarium, Themed aquarium, Planet Aqua, and Jewels of the Sea, all of which offer visitors a unique insight into the hidden marine world. The glass tunnel extends for 80 meters, guiding you through all the different sections of the complex. The stars of the aquarium – the sand tiger shark and the sandbar shark, swim gracefully among their other marine companions, including the guitarfish, leerfish, bullet tuna, turbot, and many more marine species which make up for a microcosm of the Mediterranean Sea. L’Aquàrium Barcelona is open daily from 10 am and the closing hours depend on the season.

Entrance fee: Family pack 63,50€ or 72,00€, adults 11+ 21,00€, children 3 – 10 years old 8,00€ to 16,00€
Address: Moll d’Espanya del Port Vell, s/n 08039 Barcelona
Phone number: +34 932 21 74 74
Website: L’Aquàrium Barcelona

Read more: Visiting Europe on a Budget

7. Den Blå Planet, Copenhagen (Denmark)

Aquarium Den Blå Planet in Copenhagen
© Den Bla Planet

Den Blå Planet or the Blue Planet is the largest sea life aquarium in Northern Europe. With 20 000 individual fish and 52 separate aquarium tanks holding 7 million liters of water, Den Blå Planet is one of the best aquariums in Europe. The building was beautifully designed by a Danish architect, resembling a shape of a sea creature and standing slightly elevated above the sea, providing its inhabitants with fresh and filtered seawater. The central Ocean tank stretches for 16 meters in length and 8 meters in height, holding 4 million liters of water. Different tanks stem from the oval central aquarium, allowing visitors to explore the rest of the complex. Sea urchins, masons, rays, black-spotted bullfish, West Atlantic seahorse, sharks, and many other underwater creatures have found their home in Den Blå Planet. The aquarium is open on from 1 pm to 5 pm every day of the week.

Entrance fee: Adults 180 DKK, children (3 -11 years old) 100 DKK
Address: Jacob Fortlingsvej 1 2770 Kastrup
Phone number: + 45 44 22 22 44
Website: Den Blå Planet

8. Acquario di Genova, Genoa (Italy)

Exterior view of the aquarium in Genoa
© Acquario di Genova

Acquario di Genova sprawls across 27 000 square meters and contains 12 000 specimens of 600 marine species from every corner of the world. Sharks, seals, jellyfish, manatees, and colorful tropical fish are only some of its permanent residents. The aquarium also has a permanent virtual reality installation called the Abyss Hall, equipped with 8 seats and Samsung GearVR viewers which will guide your through the hidden depths to the bottom of the ocean as you’ve never seen it before. Acquario di Genova is one of the rare places where you can meet the Antarctic fish, Papua penguins, and Magellanic penguins. 

Entrance fee: Different packages 12€ – 17€ children, 18€ – 44€ adults
Address: Area Porto Antico Spinola Bridge 16128 Genoa
Phone number: 010 – 23451
Website: Acquario di Genova

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9. Antalya Aquarium, Antalya (Turkey)

Tunnel in Antalya Aquarium
©Antalya Aquarium

Antalya Aquarium hosts a diverse range of ecosystems and species. With 131-meter long tunnel and 40 thematic aquariums, this is one of the largest tanks in the world. All the big oceans in the world are on display through their micro-representations. The Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific welcome visitors to discover their most majestic creatures, including giant morays, sharks, corals, octopuses, dolphins, and many more. Visiting hours start at 9:30 am and the aquarium closes at 11 pm all days of the week.

Entrance fee: $70 for all attractions, $35 for aquarium
Address: Dumlupınar Bulvarı Arapsuyu Mahallesi No: 502 Konyaaltı, Antalya
Phone number: (242) 245 65 65
Website: Antalya Aquarium

10. The Sea Life Aquarium, London (UK)

Sea Life aquarium in London
©SEA LIFE London Aquarium

The Sea Life Aquarium is situated just minutes from the London Eye. The complex is divided into sections – one is dedicated to sharks (Shark Walk), other to rays (Ray Lagoon), then there is the Seahorse Kingdom, the Thames Underwater World, and so on. The total volume of water in the tanks is 530 000 gallons. Visitors can take part in feeding the animals, take a “Behind the scenes” tour, or even snorkel with the sharks! The aquarium is open from 10 am to 18:00 on weekdays, from 9:30 am to 7 pm on Saturday, and 10 am to 6 pm on Sunday. 

Entrance fee: Shark Experiences £150, family ticket £26, groups and schools £18.50
Address: County Hall Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB, London 
Phone number: +44 871 663 1678
Website: The Sea Life Aquarium

From shark tanks to lovely little tropical fish, colorful corals and playful penguins, these aquariums offer a spectacular experience to anyone who visits. Your next Europe travels will be all the more complete if you encounter these majestic marine creatures and you are sure to return with unforgettable memories.