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(Over 60s, students,
registered disabled, a
rmed forces)

(Aged 4 - 16)

(Under 4)

(2 x adults and up to 2 x children)






* Children and infants must be accompanied by an adult.

We restrict numbers in the Grotto, both to protect the mosaic and ensure you have the best visit. At very busy times you might be asked to wait before entering; this is usually for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Opening Times

Open thurs-sun, 11-4


Please read our FAQ before visiting.

Allow approx. 30 minutes per visit.

The Grotto is a confined, underground space with limited ventilation.

No dogs allowed.

Personal photography is allowed.

Filming and commercial photography is strictly prohibited.

The Grotto may be closed without warning. We reserve the right to refuse admission.

Members go free!

Support the Grotto, receive exclusive invites to talks, tours and performances, and gain free entry for a year!

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2023 Opening Times

As a rule, we open: • Thurs-Sun, 11-4, in Winter, which is November to March. • Every day during school holidays, 10-5, and on Bank Holidays over the summer season.• Weds-Sun, 10-5, for the rest of the summer. • We close over Christmas and we do occasionally close for maintenance, but that will always be detailed here.

Admission & Opening Times
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There is no on-street parking directly outside the Grotto on Grotto Hill, but most of the roads around us do not have any parking restrictions. Although, please remember that we are in a residential area and respect our neighbours.

The nearest Pay & Display car park is at Trinity Square, CT9 1QY.


This is also the best car park to use for visits to the Old Town and Turner Contemporary.


From London, there are high-speed rail services to Margate from St Pancras and Stratford Intl, which run hourly and take 90 minutes. Slower services run from Charing Cross, Cannon Street, London Bridge and Victoria. There are also direct services to Margate from the Medway Towns, Canterbury and Ashford.

To plan your train journey visit National Rail Enquiries.


National Express operate a coach service to Margate. Details on their routes can be found here.


The Grotto is on several bus routes, including The Loop, No 8 and No 32.


For full details visit the Stagecoach website here.

How To Find Us


Access to the Grotto includes two sets of stairs. The Grotto's floor is uneven in places and has a slight camberVisitors are advised to take care and use the handrails provided.


Large-print maps and Museum Room text are available on site for the visually impaired. Our Museum Room text is also available to download here.

For visitors with Autistic Spectrum Conditions we have the Shell Grotto Social Story; a guide that will help you find your way around the Grotto. 


Our Sensory Map identifies spaces around the Grotto which might be noisy, bright, busy, dark or smelly. 


We do our best to be sensitive to all of our visitors’ needs so please don’t hesitate to ask if you require assistance.


We have a full Access Statement to assist with planning your visit.

Please Note


No step-free access.

Not suitable for wheelchairs, walking frames, or those with reduced mobility.

No pets allowed in the Grotto except for registered assistance dogs.


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If you wish to you can download or print a copy of our map and Activity Sheet before your visit.

Our maps are also available in other languages.

German (coming soon)
Maps & Activity Sheets
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Group Visits


Due to the delicate nature of the shells, and the Grotto being a confined space we are unable to accommodate large group and whole-class school visits. We have nowhere to wait for larger groups to change over, so splitting large groups is not possible.

We can sometimes accept bookings for smaller groups, although rarely during school holidays or at weekends. Please email us with your date, time and size of group to request a booking - groups arriving without a pre-booking will almost always be turned away due to the size constraints of the Grotto.

We do not offer group rates. 


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For school visits, we can only accommodate half
a class at a time, and this will need to b
e pre-booked.

Please note there is nowhere to wait for groups to change over.

School visits require pre-booking and are subject to availability. We are happy to offer a free preparatory teachers' visit.


School Visits
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Onsite Shop

We stock hundreds of products in our shop, some inspired by the designs in the Grotto, some inspired by the seaside and many inspired by, or made of, shells.

We also stock an interesting range of jewellery, plus fossils, crystals and a small but perfectly formed selection of books.

All the shells we sell are natural and from sustainable sources. The majority are a by product of the food industry. Our suppliers are socially and ethically responsible and do not export any currently endangered species. We do not stock items taken solely for decorative purposes such as starfish, seahorses or puffer fish.

Our online shop is growing, department by department, and was launched in November 2020.


Opening Times

Open thurs-sun, 11-4


No step-free access.
We are happy to assist if required.

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