Explore the secrets of the sea with these top-notch aquatic wonders, writes Sarah Pollok.

1 AQUARIUM OF GENOA, ITALY

Take a break from the lofty galleries and ancient churches of Europe with a visit to the largest aquarium in the continent. In the old harbour of Genoa, the 3000sq m aquarium welcomes 1.2 million visitors each year to marvel at the 15,000 animals of 500 species. The aquarium's 70 tanks mimic global marine habitats, getting you up close to a spectacular range of creatures from the seas and oceans of the world Come up for air and explore the aquarium's digital learning rooms, biodiversity pavilion or tropical forest exhibit.


2 SEA LIFE SYDNEY AQUARIUM, AUSTRALIA

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Encounter the weird and wonderful of the underwater world at Sydney Australia's Sea Life. Just outside the CBD, this attraction will get you and the kids up close to more than 13,000 of the world's most spectacular ocean creatures. Separated into themed areas, kids can get a front-row view to white spotted eagle rays at Dugong Island, little penguins waddling around South Coast Shipwreck or face their fears wandering through Shark Valley's underwater tunnel. To get the most out of the day, be sure to catch one of the daily feeding sessions or information talks on penguins, fossils and much, much more.

3 SHANGHAI OCEAN AQUARIUM, CHINA

Take in the rare and endangered aquatic life from Antarctica, Australia and beyond at China's Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. The millions of gallons of water are separated into nine exhibition zones featuring the world's oceans and continents, with unforgettable creatures like giant salamanders, leafy sea dragons, walking catfish and zebra sharks. With penguin feeding, indoor waterfalls and the world's longest underwater tunnel, there is more than enough fun to keep the whole family entertained. Although it has a famously exotic collection of ocean creatures, it's also famously busy, so visit early on a weekday for the best experience.