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How do I book a ticket?

Tickets can be pre-booked here.

Do I have to pre-book?

We are continuing with online booking to ensure the Grotto is not over crowded, so that visitors have the best possible experience. Some walk up tickets will be available, but we do recommend that you pre-book at busy times such as weekends and school holidays. We anticipate that we will have to turn visitors away at these times who have not booked – so if you want to guarantee that you get to see the Grotto, you should pre-book.

Why is the date/time I want not showing as available?

We are currently releasing tickets around a month in advance; if the date you're looking for is after that you'll need to come back and book nearer the time. Otherwise, it will be because we don't have availability in the time slot, or on the day, that you're looking for.

I am bringing a child who is under 4 - do I need to book them a ticket?

No - we have allocated enough space to allow for under 4s.

Can I book on the same day as my visit?

Yes, if we have availability, you can book on the day.

What happens if I am late or early?

Please try to arrive within your 30-minute time slot. If you arrive late or early, we may not be able to allow you to enter and we will not be able to offer refunds. However, we always do our best to make it work for our visitors. Entrance will not be permitted after 4.45pm.

I’m a Friend, do I have to book?

No, if you are a current Friend you do not need to book. Please bring your card!

I have a complimentary ticket/gift voucher - how do I use it?

You don't need to book but do remember to bring your ticket with you otherwise you may be charged in full.

Will you provide a refund or transfer for my pre-booked tickets if I need to cancel my booking?

We operate a no refunds policy except for COVID-related reasons. If you are unable to visit because of self-isolation etc, please notify us via email at by 9am on the day before your visit. Please include your name and booking number. We will refund your tickets so that you can re-book at a later date; please allow up to two weeks for your refund to appear in your account (we'll action it same day - that's just how long the payment company take). Please note that refunds are at the Shell Grotto’s discretion and will be subject to a 10% charge to cover fees.


What happens when I arrive?

We just need your name to access your booking on our system. We will check it against our bookings and give you information for entering the Grotto.

Will the Grotto be crowded?

We are restricting visitor numbers into the Grotto to ensure the best possible visitor experience. However, it is a small, underground space and we ask everyone to be mindful of others and their concerns.

Is the shop open?

Yes, the shop is open. We accept contactless card payments and cash.

Online shopping is available here.

Are the toilets open?

We have only one public toilet on site, which will be open. Additional cleaning procedures are in place, but we do ask you to be considerate and leave the space as you would wish to find it. Please do wash your hands for 20 seconds after using the facilities.

Can we bring bikes / scooters / prams / rucksacks / luggage?

Large items such as rucksacks / scooters / suitcases etc cannot be taken into the Grotto because of the delicate nature of the structure. You will be able to leave them in the shop, but we’re afraid they usually won’t be in a secure area.

Are dogs allowed?

No, with the exception of assistance dogs, dogs are not allowed in the Grotto, but are welcome in the shop.

Do I have to wear a face covering?

You do not currently need to wear a face covering. However, the Grotto is a confined, underground space with limited ventilation - so you may wish to wear one.

What COVID safety measures are in place for 2022?

We have a HEPA air filter installed in the shop and our hand sanitiser station will remain in place on entry. We want you and our team to feel safe and be safe.



We've put together a FAQs list so you can find out all about booking tickets, our COVID safety measures and what to expect from a visit to the Grotto.




We're pleased and proud to say that we have been awarded a 2020 Traveller's Choice Award, putting us in the top 10% of attractions on the site worldwide.




We're incredibly saddened by the death of Chris Pearson, who has died at the age of 68. Chris served as an archivist for both the Shell Grotto and Margate Caves.


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