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Last updated on March 22nd, 2021
St. Andrews Aquarium in Fife will let you come face to face with a wonderful assortment of wild animals including crocodiles, seals, penguins and lionfish.
Review of St. Andrews Aquarium
No visit to the historic coastal town of St. Andrews can be complete without a visit to St. Andrews Aquarium. Situated on the north-facing cliffs of this ancient town in Fife, you’ll find the aquarium building looking out over the bay of St. Andrews with its unassuming entrance facing the world-famous golf course.
But take a walk inside and you’ll begin an undersea journey into the habitats of some of the world’s most fascinating creatures, where an impressive collection of animals from across the globe can be seen in their custom-made tanks and enclosures.
Like most animal attractions, St. Andrews Aquarium has daily interactive demonstrations so you and your kids can get up close and personal with some of the creatures on display and throughout the day you’ll find sessions with penguin feeding (at 2pm), reptile and spider handling (at 11.20am and 2.20pm) and meerkat feeding sessions (at 12.20pm and 3.20pm).
During my visit I arrived just as the reptile session was starting so I got to hold a couple of (surprisingly warm) lizards which is something I’d never done before, and I can say hand on heart that I loved the experience.
If you’d like the chance to see reptiles and insects up close I don’t think you’ll go far wrong with a visit to this attraction.
Things to do at St. Andrews Aquarium
The diverse collection of exhibits in St. Andrews Aquarium range from lobsters to leaf-cutter ants, spiders to poison dart frogs, piranhas to seals, and penguins to meerkats – with every conceivable species of fish also thrown in for good measure.
Although many of these animals are cute and cuddly – who wouldn’t want to give a penguin a hug? – some are quite deadly, with pack-hunting piranhas and the poisonous lionfish being particular highlights.
Other animals are rather more sedate like the fascinating leaf-cutter ants that can be seen walking along suspended ropes as they carry their heavy loads (for an ant) of chewed-up green leaves.
British marine species are well-represented at the aquarium too and visitors will enjoy seeing a selection of sharks and rays in their new purpose-built tank, alongside lots of information displays that serve to educate the public about the plight of many of our own home-grown ocean predators.
In fact, conservation and education are two of the core principles that the aquarium serves to promote and I can’t think of a better way of bringing our native marine species to the public’s attention than with the St. Andrews Aquarium collection of Smooth-hound sharks, Bull Huss sharks and Spotted Rays as they swim around their tanks.
Outside the Victorian building you’ll find the homes of the most popular aquarium residents – the Humboldt penguins and the Harbour seals.
One of the great things about this attraction is that for a small additional cost you can take part in a feeding experience and get really close to these loveable creatures with a bucket of fish and some eager, hungry mouths to feed. The seals in particular are great fun and the keepers have been training them to obey certain commands which you can try out for yourself.
Hold a bucket of fish, make a shape with your hand, and hey-presto! A hungry seal suddenly appears. Brilliant stuff.
This popular Scottish tourist attraction also features a gift shop and café, and as it’s close to the town centre it’s easy to get to with car parking available nearby. You’ll find lots of things to do in St. Andrews town centre after you’ve visited the aquarium and there’s a nice walk to be found on the golden sands of the beach opposite.
As a top-tip, I recommend taking a look at St. Andrews Cathedral in the town centre after a visit to the aquarium because it offers amazing views from the top of one of its towers and it’s a beautiful example of medieval craftsmanship. You can read all about this popular attraction with my Complete Guide to St. Andrews Cathedral.
Find more places to visit in the area with my Scottish Tourist Attractions Map.
- The aquarium is a well-laid out attraction with plenty to see and do for adults and children.
- The animal habitats are excellent and the animals seem well cared for.
- It’s easy to combine an afternoon at the aquarium with a visit to St. Andrews town centre.
- You can buy tickets to feed the seals which is well worth doing if you’ve got kids.
- If you’d like to see another attraction featuring animals take a trip to the Scottish Deer Centre.
- Dundee is a short drive to the north so you could combine a visit with the V&A Gallery or the McManus Museum.
Things to do near St. Andrews Aquarium
- St. Andrews Cathedral. The Pends, St Andrews KY16 9QL. 13-minute walk. This was Scotland’s largest church in the 1500s and the site has been used for worship for at least 1,300 years. Much of the cathedral is in ruin but there is a 33-metre central tower (St. Rule’s Tower) that allows visitors a climb to the top for spectacular views across the town.
- St. Andrews Links. W Sands Rd, St Andrews KY16 9XL. 2-minute walk. The world’s oldest golf course. St. Andrews course was founded in the early 15th-century. It is possible to walk alongside the course via West Sands Road. The clubhouse has a snack bar and a café.
- St. Andrews Castle. The Scores, St Andrews KY16 9AR. 8-minute walk. Ruined castle atop cliffs that overlook the North Sea. During the course of the 450 years that it was in use it acted as a bishop’s palace, a prison and a fortress. There is a museum inside the recently-constructed visitor centre.
- West Sands beach. W Sands Rd, St Andrews KY16 9XL. 8-minute walk. An exceptionally large beach that is backed by St. Andrews Links. The beach juts out into the area where the River Eden flows into the North Sea at Out Head. Car parking and public toilets are located close to the beach.
- St. Andrews Botanic Garden. Canongate, St Andrews KY16 8RT. 20-minute walk. A large botanic garden and greenhouses that cover 18 acres in the heart of St. Andrews. There are more than 8,000 plant species to view, many of which are exotics that are rarely seen in Scotland. There are woodland walks, a play area and a gift shop on-site.
Address and map
Tickets and opening times
St. Andrews Aquarium has several ticket options, including an all-day pass, an annual pass, and feeding experiences. See their website for details.
- St Andrews Aquarium is open 7 Days per week: 10am- 6pm (Last admission 5pm)
- Cafe & Coffee Shop Opening hours: 7 days- 10am – 4pm
- Closed: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
- Closed: New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
- Telephone: +44(0)1334 474786
- email: email@example.com
- Website: St. Andrews Aquarium
Photos and video
More places to visit in Central Scotland
- Loch Leven – Kinross: Complete Visitor GuideLoch Leven is a large expanse of water situated in the rural Scottish county of Perth and Kinross. The National Nature Reserve is renowned for the number of wildfowl that live there and in fact, it’s home to more breeding ducks than anywhere else in Europe.
- Culross – Fife: Complete Visitor GuideThe historic village of Culross is situated on the banks of the Firth of Forth where it overlooks the petrochemical works of Grangemouth to the south and the Longannet power station to the west.
- Ben Lawers – Perth & Kinross: Complete Visitor GuideScotland’s 10th-highest Munro is one of Central Scotland’s most popular tourist hotspots, famed not only for the fantastic walks to the massif summit but also for the wonderful views visitors get to enjoy along the way.
- Schiehallion Mountain – Perthshire: Complete Visitor GuideSchiehallion mountain lies between Loch’s Tay, Rannoch, and Tummel roughly 10 miles north-west of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, and it’s renowned amongst Scotland’s hillwalkers as being one of the easiest Munro’s to ‘bag’ in the country.
- The Hermitage Forest – Perthshire: Complete Visitor GuideThere are over 200,000 acres of woodland in Perthshire so you’re pretty much spoilt for choice if you ever visit the region and fancy taking a walk, but in my opinion one of the best forests is Tay Forest Park, home of The Hermitage.