The Shell Grotto
The Shell Grotto
4.5
Caverns & CavesMysterious Sites
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
The Shell Grotto is one of the world’s most mysterious places: a series of underground rooms and passageways covered by 2000sqft of exquisite mosaic created with 4.6 million shells. Discovered in 1835, nobody knows who created it, when, or why. Visitor Information: Please allow approx. 20 minutes to visit the Grotto. Personal photography is allowed. Commercial photography is strictly prohibited. With the exception of registered assistance dogs, dogs are not allowed in the Grotto, but are welcome in the shop. 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. Groups of more than 16 require pre-booking. Please email info@shellgrotto.co.uk.
Duration: < 1 hour
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  • Emma C
    Margate, United Kingdom126 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fascinating and inexplicable
    This is such a fascinating place to visit to imagine when, how, who and why? I found one of the shells had been inscribed L1.Cox. At least that's what it looks like, but the guide book doesn't mention this. The gift shop at the entrance has the most amazing array of gifts and cards. You could really get something unusual and not expensive. I wanted to get myself quite a few things. It is worth a trip to Thanet just to visit The Shell Grotto :-)
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 22, 2023
  • Sarahk1986
    St. Albans, United Kingdom365 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Interesting but small
    Very interesting to see and read about, the shells are really fascinating and lovely to see. Very small though, not sure how people spent much time there. There is a colouring area for kids which kept my daughter more occupied than the grotto itself. Lovely gift shop with a range of items.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 24, 2023
  • carolesea56
    Norwich, United Kingdom272 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    WOW what a find
    We stumbled on the shell museum but had been made aware of its existence. What an incredible experience. Underground tunnels with the walls covered in shells from 1835 but nobody really knows why. So glad somebody found it so we are able to look today. There’s an amazing gift shop too selling a wonderful array of stuff and friendly staff. A really worthwhile visit ♥️
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written August 5, 2023
  • Foxxie52
    Boston, United Kingdom63 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Intriguing but you leave with so many more questions and no answers anywhere!
    Down a back street in the dodgy area of Margate is a place that (if it were anywhere else) would be world renowned and celebrated. Here it's more a secret that has to be kept quiet which baffles me because....wow! The grotto is incredible and mysterious and amazing but why is it so little known? Even locals seem unaware of it. I had so many questions and the Grotto very fairly puts forward the many different theories but I wish we actually knew the answer. Then again, if we did would it ruin it? I bought the very good booklet that has all the information they know but I left craving more. Why are there no books? Multiple books? Websites? TV shows? Why does no one else really, really want to know?! I wonder if we ever will?
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 10, 2023
  • Otterboyontour
    London, United Kingdom34 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Very nice but please follow the rules.
    I have always liked visiting places with a bit of mystery. This one failed to disappoint! There was a short wait as there were lots of people in the grotto, but this works well as you are seeing some very fragile shells down there. My children were in awe of the shell murals and enjoyed the whole experience. My main concern was that no one was down in the grotto to make sure that people were following the rules. Both children and adults were touching the shell murals when told not to at the start of the grotto. Also despite being told to wear rucksacks on the front many were not and we’re brushing the shells as they walked past. I hope they will be a bit firmer with this behaviour we do want to preserve and show this to future generations.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 18, 2023
  • Carol A
    London, United Kingdom15 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Awesome
    A unique little place which I enjoyed visiting. I spent an interesting 20 minutes or so visiting the shell grotto and reading about it in the upstairs room. It is awe inspiring and also has a lovely little shop selling all-sorts of shells, homewares and gifts.
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 24, 2023
  • Dave B
    9 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    A beautiful place, worthy of respect
    The shell grotto is extraordinary. The staff are kind and welcoming. However, it’s clear from some of these reviews and from the atmosphere while inside that it is approached as a ‘tourist attraction’. This is not a tourist attraction - it is a sacred space. The devotion that has created it is truly humbling, inspiring and worthy of a little more respect, in my opinion. I would suggest more could be done to help people become aware of this so the space can be enjoyed as intended and by all. People were very loud and phones were going off etc. Simply keeping one’s voice low is considerate and helps all to enjoy the atmosphere here. It’s an extraordinary place worthy of a little reverence, please bear that in mind during your visit.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 24, 2023
  • Dan
    Basingstoke, United Kingdom7 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fascinating & mysterious attraction!
    Truly unique & intriguing attraction! The grotto is smaller than you might expect but the vast majority of people will still be utterly mesmerised by the mystery surrounding its origins & workmanship, you can easily spend a fascinating hour in both the museum room & the grotto itself & it is certainly worth the money. Staff were welcoming & lovely as-well :) Parking could be an issue as the grotto is located in a residential area (not much anyone can do about that) however we visited on a weekday & were able to park for free almost right outside. Perhaps take a taxi/bus on a weekend, i believe it would be worth the trip :)
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written November 11, 2023
  • kentcritique
    Faversham, United Kingdom924 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    An enjoyable visit quite a clever piece of work
    having read the reviews thought we should go, its quite fascinating. Down some steps into a tunnel made of natural stone and then in the Grotto which is an incredible piece of work. Fortunately it wasn’t too busy when we went, the passages are narrow and theres not a lot of room. You need some space for a photo opportunity. As many have mentioned an excellent gift shop with plenty of choice.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written November 12, 2023
  • Caroline B
    Walton-On-Thames, United Kingdom24 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A must visit in Margate
    Very unusual place. Well informed information still leaving questions about origin. Does not take long and could feel a bit claustrophobic so try to go when not crowded. Very good shop selling - shells of all shape size and colour
    Visited January 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written January 30, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,337 reviews
Excellent
752
Very good
441
Average
112
Poor
19
Terrible
14

archbishopjonathanblake
London, UK94 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021
Captivating, mysterious and a wonderful visit. One can sense the mesmerizing thrill that must have overwhelmed the children when they first discovered this Aladdin's cave, that is every child's dream and every adult's astonishment. A secret cathedral under the ground, even with its own cupola, where secret and possibly illicit activity happened so successfully, for so long, that no one knew. In our information saturated world, it remains an intriguing mystery, that will forever tantalize. The gift shop was also an attraction in itself. Clean, stocked with an attractive range of items, from small shells to attractive crafts and all reasonably priced. Pleasant, helpful staff. One can stay a while or just briefly, but either way, its enchantment is a joy.
Written June 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

romalind
Norwich, UK14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
Why am I reluctant? Because this is the only work of visual art I have ever seen that leaves me utterly spellbound and deeply moved. It is best appreciated with quiet contemplation, and that means no crowds. This is definitely not a place for children, who should be charged double price, not half. You need to be an adult to appreciate the stunning artistry and creativity of this most beautiful place. So find out when the grotto is likely to be at its quietest and visit then.
Written July 24, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Conrad N
Whitstable, UK1,022 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020 • Couples
Literally millions of shells lining the walls of this grotto make for a unique attraction. Although the colour has been lost under the Victorian soot, the craftsmanship is still apparent. Good for an hour or so with a small cafe to relax afterwards. A definite gem of Margate.
Written March 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dan
Basingstoke, UK7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2023 • Couples
Truly unique & intriguing attraction! The grotto is smaller than you might expect but the vast majority of people will still be utterly mesmerised by the mystery surrounding its origins & workmanship, you can easily spend a fascinating hour in both the museum room & the grotto itself & it is certainly worth the money. Staff were welcoming & lovely as-well :)
Parking could be an issue as the grotto is located in a residential area (not much anyone can do about that) however we visited on a weekday & were able to park for free almost right outside.
Perhaps take a taxi/bus on a weekend, i believe it would be worth the trip :)
Written November 11, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cacher_Geoff
Beverley, UK83 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
I last visited the grotto over45 years ago as a teenager. We are in the area and were walking past the end of the road and I thought my wife would love this place. So an unplanned visit it was. The grotto is larger than I remember, the patterns created using just shells are amazing. If you are in the area this is a rather unique place for a must do visit.
Written March 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mike74
Ely, UK5 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
Amazing, if small, hidden gem in Kent. The grotto is extremely atmospheric, and the mystery of it's creators adds to the experience.

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be too much knowledge of how the grotto was created, so the staff are unable to shed too much light.

Could really do with some financial help to promote this little wonder though. Hopefully more people will visit.
Written August 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Emms W
Isle of Sheppey, UK123 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021 • Family
A lovely little discovery, very interesting, very clever, very busy. Staff did have controls in place to limit entry which was very reassuring. The information about the site was clear and laid out in a brief but information packed exhibition, easy to read and engaging. The grotto itself is very beautiful, be prepared to use your torch as it isn’t well lit, but that could be because constant light may damage the shells. No access for customers who have walking issues, this is a historical site with narrow walkways and stairs to enter and exit. It’s the grotto and a shop, limited street parking, but well worth a visit if you are able.
Written August 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

peyles
UK207 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2023
A truly amazing place which kept the kids quiet for an hour or so.

I have been here since I was a child nearly 40 years ago but it hasn't changed a bit. Still completely fascinating and it is great how it has been preserved for all that time.

The gift shop is also great along with very friendly staff.

We booked the first slot of the day and although there was a few people coming and going, it didn't seem packed or too crowded.

I am really glad to see this place is still going and actively looking at restoring sections of the grotto.
Written February 25, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cressida
Chatham, UK169 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
A reasonable entrance fee (£4.50 at the time of this review) to visit an unusual place. There is a small room which provides some background and the actual 'grotto', although interesting, is quite small, so allow around 15-30 minutes for a visit. There is also a gift shop.
Written October 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Charles B
Northampton, UK271 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
Not to be confused with Margate caves which we also visited this is entirely different. The amount of time, effort, and shells it to to make this must have been huge.
There is a small reproduction panel at the entrance which showed the different coloured shells before years of gas lighting discoloured the shells in the grotto.
Although fragile it would be nice if they were to gently clean and restore some of the main panels in the grotto to their former glory.
Written October 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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