A visit to St. Andrews Aquarium in Fife allows you to come face to face with a wonderful assortment of marine animals including crocodiles, seals, penguins and lionfish. The aquarium has expert staff on hand that will answer any questions you have about the 120+ species on display, and you can even arrange a penguin and seal feeding session.
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 entrance facing the world-famous golf course.
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 2 pm), reptile and spider handling (at 11.20 am and 2.20 pm) and meerkat feeding sessions (at 12.20 pm and 3.20 pm).
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.
If you’d like to find more attractions in St. Andrews take a look at the Central Scotland archives.
Things to do at St. Andrews Aquarium
The diverse collection of animals 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 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 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 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.
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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 sand 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, plus the feeding experience is a must-do if you’ve never been close to penguins or seals before.
- It’s easy to combine an afternoon at the aquarium with a visit to St. Andrews town centre. St. Andrews is one of the nicest towns in Fife and a visit offers arts and craft shops galore along with great cafés and lots of history along the seafront.
- Parking is easy thanks to a 150-space car park just a hundred yards from the aquarium. If the spaces are full try the Murray Place car park off The Scores road.
- After you’ve visited the aquarium take a walk along West Sands beach which was the filming location for the film Chariots of Fire.
- Dundee is just a 30-minute drive to the north so you could easily combine a visit to the aquarium with the V&A Gallery or the McManus Museum.
Photo gallery and video
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.
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.