Largest and Best Aquariums in Europe 2018 (Top 10)

The list of the largest and best aquariums in Europe 2018 is established from a thorough research based on different criteria like the largest tank, the viewing panel size and number of big fish hosted like sharks etc.

Europe’s large aquariums, by comparison to Asia where most of the big aquariums belong, or even the US, are certainly not quite as impressive, but there are plenty of interesting and unique ones to visit. In fact, the Oceanogràfic, the best aquarium in Europe, ranks currently as number 9 in the world closely followed by the Oceanarium the Lisboa (11th best aquarium in the world).

1. Oceanografic, Valencia (Spain)  Spain 

— Europe’s finest and most futuristic marine complex laid-out on 110,000 square meters (#9 worldwide)

Things to do in Valencia | Best Cities | No. 24: Valencia | Oceanogràfic (aquarium)
Exterior view of the Oceanografic with its trademark roofs

The Oceanogràfic, situated in Valencia, Spain, is inside the futuristic Cultural Complex named The City of Arts and Sciences. Designed by the famous Spanish architect Félix Candela, it is composed by nine elegant underwater towers that house samples of the most important ecosystems. Due to its avant-garde architecture, it is worthwhile admiring not only the sea life, but also the fanciful buildings themselves.

Inspecting through the various installations, visitors learn experience first-hand the behaviour and way of life of more than 500 different species like various sharks, dolphins, belugas, walruses, sea lions, seals, penguins, turtles, rays, sawfish, jellyfish and especially rare oceanic sunfish amongst others.

With 7 million liters of water and a 35-meter underwater tunnel, the tank in the 'Oceans' environment is by far the biggest of the Oceanogràfic.

Inside the pavilion called ‘Temperate and Tropical Seas’ people are invited to pass through an impressive 70-meter underwater tunnel which connects the temperate regions of the Pacific and Atlantic to the warm waters of the Indian and Caribbean via aquariums with a total of 700’000 liters of water.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 29 EUR

Best aquariums in the World 2017 | Oceanografic Main Tank | Wordcitiesranking.comTunnel of the Tropical and Temperate Seas environment in the Oceanografic

2. Oceanário de Lisboa, Lisbon (Portugal)  Portugal  

— Remarkably presented aquarium, focusing around a central tank with not less than 4 large viewing panels, housing a large oceanic sunfish and impressive schooling fish (#12 worldwide)

The Oceanário de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal, opened its doors in 1998 and was designed by the famous American architect Peter Chermayeff, who also designed the Aquarium Kaiyukan in Osaka, Japan.

The main exhibit contains a central 5 million liter square shaped tank with large (7 m wide and 7 m tall) acrylic windows on each four sides, and smaller focus windows strategically located around it. During the visit, one has the opportunity to see the main tank from various angles, passing by a large viewing panel eight times on two floors. 

One of the very few aquariums in the world, we count six in total, the Oceanário de Lisboa hosts a large oceanic sunfish. As very impressive, we consider also the different kinds of sizable manta rays and schooling fish, very rarely seen in aquariums and well represented in the aquariums logo. Furthermore, the Oceanário de Lisboa houses penguins, sea otters, sharks, rays, chimaeras, a massive octopus, cuttlefish, jellyfish, and many other species. 

The aquarium is located northeast of Lisbon, in the Parque das Nações, where the Expo '98 took place. The building impressively seems to “float” in the Ocean, and is accessible by crossing a drawn-out footbridge.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 16.20 EUR

3. Moscow Oceanarium — Moskvarium, Moscow (Russia)  Russian Federation  

— Europe’s newest big aquarium housing killer whales and Arapaima (#19 worldwide)

Exterior View of the Moskvarium

Opened in 2015, the Moscow Oceanarium (Московский океанариум) — also known as the "Moskvarium" — is the most recent of the big aquariums. Its total water capacity is 25 million liters — making it the second largest in Europe. The bigger part of it belongs to the Dolphinarium.

The exhibits contain more than 8,000 water creatures of 500 different types such as three-meter sharks, dolphins, Russian sturgeon, and immense Arapaima.

The Moskvarium is one of the very few aquariums in the world that still house killer whales (Orcas). Animal Rights activists have led serious protests against the continuation of this practice. If you still want to see them, pay attention as they are quite badly contained in a huge tank with a very small, extremely blurred viewing panel with massive reflection problems. They will probably only pass by every 30 minutes for a quick moment.

The Moskvarium is rather far away from a metro station, but fortunately there is a regularly operating shuttle bus (with the picture of a giant orca on it) starting opposite of the VDNKh Metro station.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 1000 RUB (on weekends) (ca. 15.50 EUR)

Largest and best aquariums in Europe, Moscow Oceanarium — Moskvarium (Московский океанариум)Shark in the Moskvarium

4. Aquàrium Barcelona, Barcelona (Spain)  Spain

— Displaying oceanic sunfish and a fascinating 80-meter-long underwater tunnel (#20 worldwide)

Sunfish in the Aquàrium Barcelona

The Aquàrium Barcelona, conveniently located in Port Vell, displays over 11,000 marine animals in over 35 different water basins from 450 species. Its highlight is an 80-meter-long underwater tunnel through the shark basin. Here one can easily distinguish two types of shark, the sandbar shark, which is grey, slim and keeps its mouth closed, and the sand tiger shark, which has brown markings and always swims with its mouth open.

There are two easily distinguishable types of shark, the sandbar shark, which is grey, slim and keeps its mouth closed, and the sand tiger shark, which has brown markings and always swims with its mouth open.

Furthermore , one of the only six aquariums in the top 30 list of the best aquariums in the world, it houses an ocean sunfish. Aquarium exhibits rarely hold Sunfish due to the unique and demanding requirements of their care.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 18 EUR (internet price);  Official Webpage (English)

Underwater Tunnel of the Aquàrium Barcelona ( by Paul Hermans / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

5. National Aquarium Denmark — Den Blå Planet, Copenhagen (Denmark) Denmark 

— Fancy modern architecture and the 2nd largest viewing panel of Europe in the suburbs of Copenhagen (#22 worldwide)

National Aquarium Denmark from above

Den Blå Planet National Aquarium Denmark opened in 2013. Situated in Kastrup, a suburb of Copenhagen, it is one of the most modern aquariums in Europe. The spiral design by the Danish studio 3XN is an architectural highlight that consists of a shiny façade covered with small diamond-shaped aluminium plates.

The aquarium is home to 20,000 fish of 450 different species and other aquatic animals, which include sharks, sea lions, dwarf crocodiles, moray eels, and barracudas.

The largest tank disposes of an impressive 16 by 8 m main viewing panel and it’s the 2nd largest in Europe after Royal Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem, Netherlands. There is a shuttle bus operating from April to September.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 170 DKK (ca. 23 EUR);  Official Webpage (English)

Tunnel of the National Aquarium Denmark ( by Daniel from Melrose / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

6. Antalya Aquarium, Antalya (Turkey)  Turkey 

— Displaying the world's second longest submarine viewing tunnel with a total length of 131 meters for an exorbitant price

With a massive entry fee of 43 EUR Antalya Aquarium is by far the most expensive aquarium in our best list. 

Antalya Aquarium, situated near the city center and just a short walk from the sea, features the second longest underwater viewing tunnel in the world with a length of 131 meters. The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium ranks first in this category.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 123 TRY (ca.  43 EUR);  Official Webpage (English)

Submarine Tunnel of the Antalya Aquarium ( by Хомелка / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

7. Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium (former Turkuazoo Istanbul Aquarium), Istanbul (Turkey)  Turkey  

— Featuring an impressive 83 m long underwater tunnel and a large collection of sharks

Often causing quite a bit of confusion, the capital of Turkey is home to two rather big aquariums with similar names, both on the European side of the city: Apart from the 'Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium' there is also the 'Istanbul Aquarium'.
 

Formerly known as Turkuazoo Istanbul Aquarium, the highlight of the Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium, located inside the gigantic Forum İstanbul Mall, is its 83 m long underwater tunnel. It hosts a large collection of sharks including massive tiger sharks, nurse sharks, guitar sharks, zebra sharks, whitetip and blacktip sharks. The aquarium has direct access to the Kocatepe metro station.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 40 TRY (online Price) (ca.  10 EUR);  Official Webpage (English)

Underwater Tunnel in the Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium

8. AquaDom, Berlin (Germany)  Germany  

— The world’s largest freestanding cylindrical-shaped aquarium with a built-in transparent elevator, located in the inner court of a 5-star Hotel

Best Aquariums in Europe

The stunning dome opened in 2004 and is located at the inner court of the Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin. 

The very stylish AquaDom in Berlin, Germany, is a 25 meters tall cylindrical acrylic glass aquarium (containing ca.0.9 million liters) with a built-in transparent elevator in the center.

It is the largest cylinder-shaped aquarium in the world and the highlight of the SEA LIFE Centre Berlin.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 18 EUR (cheaper online tickets sometimes available); Official Webpage (English)

Cylindrical AquaDom, seen from below

9. Acquario di Genova, Genoa (Italy)  Italy  

— Italy's best aquarium, designed by the Genoese architect Renzo Piano

Best Aquariums in Europe

The aquarium is located on a quay jutting out into the waters of the Porto Antico area. It is a linear structure designed as if it were containers on a cargo ship.

The Aquarium of Genoa was designed for Genoa Expo '92. The Genoese Pritzker prize-winner and internationally known Renzo Piano worked in collaboration with Peter Chermayeff.

It was expanded in 1998 with the addition of a 100-metre ship connected to the original building by a walkway. The aquarium consists of 70 tanks with 15 thousand animals from 500 different species like dolphins, various sharks, penguins, manatees, jellyfish, seals, and tropical fish amongst others.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 25 EUR (online price); Official Webpage (English) by Christine Zenino / CC BY-SA 2.0

10. Nordsoen Oceanarium, Hirtshals (Denmark)  Denmark 

— The phoenixlike cold water aquarium containing exclusively species native to the oceans around Denmark

Best Aquariums in Europe, Nordsøen Oceanarium

The Oceanarium opened in 1998, but was destroyed in 2003 after a devastating fire (which killed all the fish). The aquarium finally reopened in 2005.

The Nordsøen Oceanarium situated on the shores of the North Sea in Hirtshals, Denmark, possesses a main tank that holds 4.5 million liters of cold water and is Northern Europe’s largest aquarium.

It houses about 3,000 fish and displays large specimens of the North Sea like cod, saithe, turbot, sea bass and several rare ocean sunfish through an impressive 6 x 12 m acrylic-viewing panel.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 160 DKK (Internet Price) (ca. 22 EUR);  Official Webpage (English)

Best Aquariums in Europe, Nordsøen Oceanarium
Ocean Sunfish in the Nordsøen Oceanarium

11. Honorable Mention

Istanbul Aquarium, Istanbul (Turkey) Turkey  

— The second large aquarium in Istanbul presenting the most variety of fish species in Europe

Best Aquariums in Europe

Visitors are invited to a 1,2 km long travel route passing by 16 thematic geographic areas originating in the Black Sea towards the Pacific.

Istanbul Aquarium (Istanbul Akvaryum) is situated 5 km from the Atatürk International Airport, in Florya, on the European side of Istanbul. It claims to be the world’s biggest thematic aquarium and exhibits  a remarkable amount of species (1500). Highlights include arapaima, capybara, various type of sharks and rays as well as an immersive Amazon rain forest exhibit featuring piranhas, small caiman crocodiles and countless tropical plants.

The largest of its 64 tanks is filled with 4 million liters of water and has a ca. 8 m wide and 4 m tall viewing panel.

Entrance Fee (for 1 Adult): 53 TRY (online Price) (ca.  13.50 EUR);  Official Webpage (English)

Best Aquariums in Europe
Exterior view of the Istanbul Aquarium

12. Comparison List of the Best Aquariums in the World

For an overview of the top 30 aquariums, see our detailed comparison list of the best aquariums in the world 2018

Best Aquariums in the World Top 10 List

Best Aquariums in the World Comparison List

We also created a video of the Top 50 Cities in the World 2018 (ranked by 13 criteria):