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How do I book a ticket?

Tickets must be pre-booked here. Please read the information carefully when you pre-book your ticket and take the time to download or print our information sheet and/or activity sheet to help you get the most from your visit.

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

We are releasing tickets three weeks in advance; if the date you're looking for is more than three weeks away 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. We do sell out most days.

Why do I need to book online?

Booking online is essential so that we can manage our daily visitor numbers to comply with government guidelines around social distancing. Booking online also reduces contact for you and our staff, making the environment safer for us all. We are releasing only 12 tickets every 30 minutes to ensure there is plenty of space for everyone.

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, you can book on the same day as your visit, as long as there is availability.

Why do I have to book a time for my visit?

Booking a time slot means we can manage queues and ensure social distancing, making the environment safer for us all. Please arrive within your 30-minute time slot. If you arrive late, we may not be able to allow you to enter and we will not be able to offer refunds. Entrance will not be permitted after 4.45pm.

I’m a Friend, do I have to book? And how?

Yes, you do. Booking online is essential so that we can manage our daily visitor numbers to enable social distancing. Simply email us at with your preferred date and time and the number of people in your party. Please remember to bring your membership card with you otherwise you may be charged in full, and non-members with you will be asked for payment of course.

As a Friend, will I be compensated for the days I have missed due to the COVID-19 closure?

Of course - Friends Memberships will be extended to reflect the number of days that we have been closed.

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

Simply email us at with your preferred date and time, details of your voucher and the number of people in your party. 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 instructions for entering the Grotto. Everyone over 16 will need to check in using the NHS Test & Trace app; if you do not have this, you can fill in a short form with your contact details. We have a hand sanitiser station at the main entrance and we ask that everyone use it before entering.

Do I have to wear a face covering?

Yes, wearing a face covering is mandatory, and we will ask that you have one in place before you enter - unless you are exempt.

What safety measures are in place?

All staff will wear PPE in the form of visors or masks if they are not behind one of our screens, which have been installed at till points. If you need a member of staff to lower their mask to aid communication, do please just ask - we're happy to do so.

We have installed hand sanitisers and we have increased the frequency of cleaning, paying close attention to high-contact areas such as door handles, handrails and card readers. We want you and our staff to feel safe and be safe.

Staff are temperature checked every day and take COVID tests twice a week, in line with government guidance.

Can I social distance in the Grotto?

We are only allowing 12 people into the Grotto every 30 minutes to assist with social distancing BUT the Grotto is a small, underground space. You will need to be considerate of other visitors and keep children under close control to avoid them rounding a corner and bumping into others. We have instigated a one-way system in the Rotunda. It is possible to pass others in the Serpentine Passage with care as the passage is over 1m wide. However, the North Passage is only 1m wide and so visitors leaving the Grotto will need to give way to visitors entering the Grotto; please back up into the Rotunda and allow visitors to enter as per the one-way system.

There is also a one-way route in the Museum Room. We have sadly removed our interactive elements to reduce contact, including our kids’ colouring station. You can download and print our Kids’ Activity Sheet for your children to complete at home.

Is the shop open?

Yes, the shop is open. Social distancing must be adhered to at all times please. We do request that you browse without touching whenever possible. 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. To ensure a safer environment for queuing please pay attention to social distancing.

Can I pay with cash in the shop?

Yes you can.

Has your Access Statement changed?

Yes, our Access Statement has been amended because of the changes that we have had to make to enable social distancing around the site. Please see our revised access statement for more information. We are also updating our Social Story and Sensory Map.

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

In normal times we are happy to look after your large belongings behind the counter, but that’s not the case right now. 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 won’t be in a secure area.

Are dogs allowed?

No, with the exception of assistance dogs, dogs are not allowed. We have had to amend some of our practices to best deal with the COVID-19 situation; we hope to allow dogs back into the shop in due course but right now, no dogs are allowed inside.

Do you have anywhere we can picnic?

Sorry, we do not any outside space at all at the Grotto. However, Dane Park is just a couple of minutes’ walk away.




We've put together a short FAQs
list so you can find out all about
what toexpect from a visit to the Shell Grotto.




Thanks to all our customers who have left reviews for us - once again we've been awarded a Travellers' Choice Award, putting us in the top 10% of attractions 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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