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The most beautiful aquariums around the world

by Anne Larue

eskystudio / Shutterstock

Travel is not recommended during the pandemic, but nothing’s stopping those who are curious from visiting a local aquarium or planning a future visit to beautiful aquariums elsewhere on the planet. Some of these attractions stand out as much for their architecture as for the impressive aquatic creatures swimming about in their tanks. Read on to discover the world’s most fascinating aquariums.

Aquarium of Western Australia — Perth, Australia

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Australia’s west coast marine animals take centre stage at this aquarium. A long 98-metre tunnel enables visitors to admire several species, including giant sharks. Spectacularly coloured coral is also on view in one of the largest displays of living coral seen in an aquarium.

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National Aquarium Denmark — Den Blå Planet — Copenhagen, Denmark

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This aquarium’s most prominent feature is its unusual architecture. In fact, the structure has won numerous architectural awards. Once inside the impressive building, visitors can wander through three worlds. Observe otters in the Northern Lakes and Seas exhibit, several species of fish in the Tropical Rivers and Lakes zone, and turtles and seahorses in the Ocean display.

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Vancouver Aquarium — Vancouver, Canada

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In the heart of Stanley Park, visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium can observe the seals and sea lions benefiting from its mammal rescue program. This is the only centre in Canada dedicated to helping these animals. Furthermore, the Vancouver Aquarium no longer houses cetaceans, but several cameras provide a live glimpse of various species, including penguins, otters, and jellyfish.

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London Aquarium — London, England

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The building that houses the London Aquarium is remarkable. Three floors of dozens of species stand ready to delight visitors. The three-storey shark tank is truly a must-see, as are the replicas of Easter Island statues. Cuban crocodiles, octopuses, and fish round out this aquarium’s impressive collection of specimens.

Atlantis Marine Habitat — Paradise Island, Bahamas

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The vacation destination known as Paradise Island has its own aquarium featuring 12 exhibits. Visitors can see The Dig, a re-creation of the lost city of Atlantis; go snorkelling in the Ruins Lagoon; and thrill to the sensation of water sliding through the heart of the Predator Lagoon, complete with sharks!

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Chimelong Ocean Kingdom — Hengqin, China

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This aquarium is located within an ocean-themed amusement park. Its tanks sit alongside thrilling rides and enclosures housing polar animals and other creatures, but its top attraction is an impressive dome providing a spectacular view of sharks. What’s more, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom’s aquarium is the largest in the world.

The Deep — Hull, England

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This aquarium’s futuristic architecture resembles the bow of a ship dominating the Humber River estuary. The Deep is divided into several zones, such as the Kingdom of Ice with penguins and the Lagoon of Light featuring tropical fish. The aquarium also serves as an important scientific research centre.

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo — Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is one of the largest aquariums in the world. What’s more, it’s located in one of the biggest malls on the planet! Over 33,000 marine animals call this aquarium home and can be seen swimming behind one of the world’s largest glass windows. In fact, it can withstand the pressure from 10 million litres of water.

Georgia Aquarium — Atlanta, USA

Instagram @georgiaaquarium

This aquarium provides visitors with truly unique experiences. Enjoy guaranteed thrills in the company of belugas, swimming with rays, or diving with sharks (from the safety of a cage). Less adventurous visitors can admire more than 120,000 aquatic animals, including manta rays, alligators, dolphins, penguins, and, of course, dozens of species of fish. The more curious may want to take a behind-the-scenes tour of this impressive attraction!

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Marine Life Park — Sentosa Island, Singapore

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Despite losing its status as the world’s largest aquarium to China’s Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, the size of Singapore’s Marine Life Park still impresses. Among its nine exhibits, the main attraction is an open pool housing more than 120 marine species, including manta rays. The coral reefs found in the underwater city are also a remarkable sight.

Monterey Bay Aquarium — Monterey, USA

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s numerous aquatic species are a must-stop along the California coast’s Route 1. Crustaceans, fish, and jellyfish share the spotlight with otters, sea lions, and penguins. Visitors will also enjoy watching fish swim among the fronds of the majestic Kelp Forest.

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Nausicaá, French National Sea Centre — Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

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Northern France’s Nausicaá is one of the largest aquariums in Europe. It also boasts Europe’s largest bay window, behind which visitors can admire a ballet of sharks, manta rays, and schools of sardines, while the sea lion tunnel provides an up-close experience with these curious and playful animals.

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Oceanogràfic — Valencia, Spain

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Europe’s largest aquarium is located in Valencia, Spain. Even before touring its various pools, visitors will delight in the building’s impressive architecture in the shape of a lily pad. The perfectly re-created marine environments house over 45,000 aquatic specimens belonging to more than 500 species! The beluga whales and seahorses, in particular, are a must-see during any visit.

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Océanopolis — Brest, France

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Océanopolis is a major European research site. Its crab-shaped building houses numerous pools with over 10,000 animals and plants. Visitors can browse several wings, including the polar, tropical, and temperate pavilions.

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Oceanário — Lisbon, Portugal

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Lisbon’s Oceanário is one of the largest aquariums in Europe. Located in the Oceans Pavilion of the Park of Nations, site of the 1998 Lisbon World Fair, the uniquely designed building appears to float on water. Four re-created ecosystems host numerous tropical fish, sharks, a rare sunfish, marine mammals, amphibians, and penguins.

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Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium — Okinawa, Japan

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This recently reopened aquarium, located on the Motobu Peninsula waterfront, is one of the largest aquariums in the world. In fact, its tanks are big enough to accommodate a whale shark. Don’t worry, though, this enormous specimen primarily eats plankton. Other shark species, however, are also a must-see, especially during feeding time.

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Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada — Toronto, Canada

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Located at the foot of the famous CN Tower, Toronto’s aquarium is the largest in Canada. See over 16,000 marine animals in various exhibits, such as Canadian Waters, Rainbow Reef, and Dangerous Lagoon. The latter features a long, underwater observation tunnel that surrounds visitors with spectacular aquatic life, including majestic sharks.

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Shedd Aquarium — Chicago, USA

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Chicago’s aquarium is named after its largest donor, John G. Shedd, who contributed several million dollars for its construction in the 1920s. The facility is located in a beautiful neoclassical building on the Museum Campus. Visitors can tour multiple floors to observe penguins, dolphins, belugas, otters, and turtles.

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TurkuaZoo — Istanbul, Turkey

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What’s so special about this aquarium? It’s located in a shopping centre and boasts the longest underwater tunnel in Europe (83 metres). Among its 11 zones, visitors can drop in on Turtle World, Ocean Cave, and Clownfish Alley. Plus, a brand-new experience awaits those seeking a unique perspective. Tour the exhibits aboard a glass-bottomed boat!

Oceanographic Museum — Monte Carlo, Monaco

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The Oceanographic Museum’s construction dates to the late 1880s. The building overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and is a must-stop during any visit to the principality. The Oceanographic Museum is also one of the world’s oldest aquariums. While its numerous displays house several thousand aquatic creatures, the turtle care centre, a facility dedicated to caring for wounded turtles, is not to be missed.

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