At busy times - such as weekends and school holidays - we are usually only able to accommodate pre-bookings. If you wish to guarantee entry you should book tickets.



(Seniors over 60, students, registered disabled, armed forces)


(Aged 4 - 16)


(Under 4, no booking required)


(2 x adults and up to 2 x children)






We advise pre-booking to guarantee entry.

Entry for Members is free.


Opening Times 2021


OPEN WEDS-SUN, 10-5, plus daily during half term from 25-31 october

Currently taking bookings to end October. 


Please read our FAQ before booking tickets.
* Children and infants must be accompanied by an adult.
Allow approx. 30 minutes per visit.

We strongly encourage you do wear a face covering, if you are not exempt, particularly in the Grotto, which 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.

Shell Row Red.png

Photo by Frank Leppard.


Mermaid Shell

Shell Grotto

Grotto Hill, Margate

Kent, CT9 2BU


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 Straford 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.


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

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, interactive or smelly.

We have information available in French, German, with Spanish and Russian coming soon.


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.

No step-free access.

Not suitable for wheelchairs or those with reduced mobility.

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



Sea Shell



(over 60s, registered disabled, armed forces)


(Aged 4 - 16)


(Under 4)





Bead Shell

Groups of 10 or more qualify for these group rates.


Group visits require pre-booking and are subject to availability. We are often unable to accommodate groups at busy times; we almost always have to refuse group bookings during the school summer holidays for example.

Large groups will be divided into smaller groups of 15 - 20 due to the delicate nature of the Grotto. 


Group visits are self-guided. You should allow around 45 minutes for groups of 20 and fewer, adding another 20 minutes for every additional group.

Free entry for coach drivers. There are coach drop-off points nearby.



STUDENT (Under 16)


(1 free adult per 10  students)






A visit to the Shell Grotto can touch upon many areas of the national curriculum including art and design, the natural world and World War II.

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


Free entry for one adult per ten students. Extra charges for additional adults apply.

Please advise us in advance if any students require one-to-one supervision. In these instances, their accompanying adult will not be charged admittance.



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 2021


open weds-sun, 10-5

Plus daily during Half Term, 25 to 31 October. 

Pre-booking is not required to visit the shop - although it is advised if you wish to visit the Grotto. 



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



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