The Shell Grotto

* Open Wednesday - Sunday. Booking essential. Please check website for updates *

Discovered in 1835, Margate's Shell Grotto is an astonishing find; 70ft (21 metres) of winding passages decorated with 4.6 million shells.

The walls are covered in images of gods and goddesses, trees of life and patterns made from the shells of whelks, mussels and oysters.

Some think it is an ancient Pagan grotto, others that it is simply an ornate Regency folly; but with no definitive explanation or history, the Shell Grotto is Kent's greatest mystery.

Group Visits are to be Pre-Booked

Access Information

Due to the nature of the Grotto, it is not accessible to wheelchair users. The Grotto itself is located on a very steep road, and there is a step up from the street to enter the shop.

There are steps down to the Grotto from the shop entrance and the terrain inside the passage is uneven, sloped and narrow in places. There is also low lighting in the Grotto, so it can be quite dark at some points.

There is limited on-road parking on Grotto Hill, but this is very steep and narrow. The nearest Blue Badge parking is located at Trinity Square (CT9 1HT), approximately 480 metres from the Grotto, or College Square (CT9 1PR), approximately 600 metres away.

See also the Shell Grotto Social Story for Autistic Spectrum Conditions, Sensory Map, and full Access Statement here.

Opening Times

Winter Opening Thursday to Sunday 11am-4pm (Last entry 3.30pm)
Pre-booking advised to avoid disappointment

Closed from Monday 20th until Thursday 30th December. Open Friday 31st December - Monday 3rd January


Grotto Hill

Entry Price

* Entry is currently via pre-booked tickets only *
Adults: £4.50
Children: £2. (Child age range: 4-16, under 4s free)
Concessions: £4. (Concessions entry qualification: Students, Seniors (over 60), Registered Disabled, Armed Forces (serving and veterans))
Family ticket (2 adults & up to 2 children) £10