It’s no wonder that the best jigsaw puzzles are flying off the shelves right now: there’s only so much time you or the kids can spend in front of a screen or tapping away on a tablet.
Jigsaw puzzles are brilliant things for all kinds of reasons: they’re educational, they give your brain a gentle workout and they’re ideal for these troubled times. Getting stuck into a really good jigsaw turns the outside world off for a while: it’s like mindfulness, but without all the breathing exercises.
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The puzzles we’ve picked here cover a range of ages and budgets, and they were all in stock at the time of writing. Many of them come from a wider range of puzzles, so if you can’t find the exact image you’re looking for you’ll be able to find an alternative that’s just as good.
Some of the puzzles here can be done on a rainy afternoon, but some are much tougher propositions: unless you live in a really massive house where you can keep your unfinished puzzle away from kids, pets and other potential disasters, we’d recommend investing in a roll-up puzzle mat.
They’re not expensive – you can get this great one that works for many jigsaw sizes for £12.99 – but make sure it’s big enough for the puzzle you’re going to be doing. Some of the thousand-plus-piece jigsaws can be massive.
The best jigsaw puzzles for adults and older children
If you fancy something a little more highbrow to put together, Flame Tree Studio’s puzzles feature all kinds of beautiful artworks including this Turner as well as works by Van Gogh and many contemporary artists. With 1,000 pieces, this one’s particularly challenging because so much of it is sea and sky: it’s a good puzzle to really get your teeth into.
Clementoni’s Impossible Puzzle collection offers a range of panoramic photography, retro images and licensed movie tie-ins – in this case, the characters from Pixar’s animated blockbuster. As if 1,000 pieces wasn’t enough of a challenge (though it's good for children from 10 and up), the preponderance of green aliens makes it much harder to identify which piece needs to go where.
Thanks to this smart cylindrical collection, any o’clock can be gin o’clock without doing serious damage to your liver. The 500-piece jigsaw creates something that’s as practical as it’s pretty: a comprehensive illustrated chart of gin drinks, facts, spices and botanicals from around the world. It’s one of several nice, niche puzzles from Ridley’s Games: we also like its Inspirational Women jigsaw.
216 pieces might not sound like much of a challenge, but this puzzle has an extra dimension – quite literally, because it’s a 3D puzzle rather than a flat jigsaw. This one is for ages 10 upwards, and it uses numbered plastic pieces rather than the traditional cardboard so it has enough stamina for repeated builds. When it’s complete it’s 45 x 27 x 50cm.
With 1,000 pieces to play with, chances are this Shakespearean puzzler will take considerably longer than a soliloquy, let alone a sonnet. Adam Simpson’s excellent painting depicts The Globe as it would have been in Shakespeare’s day, with actors rehearsing their roles and a colourful cast of characters filling the streets.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Spongebob Squarepants! Whose 3000 pieces pose enormous difficulty? Spongebob Squarepants! Whose colourful jigsaw will take up your days? Spongebob Squarepants! Whose final completion will awe and amaze? Spongebob Squarepants!
We’ll stop now. Spongebob may not be clever, but at 115cm by 82cm his jigsaw sure is big – and with 3,000 pieces to choose from, it’s a tough one too.
National Geographic is famed for its beautiful photography, so as you’d expect its shark puzzle is an incredible image. It’s also unusual, because the finished image has a 3D effect: the shark appears to move as you move your head and hum the theme from Jaws. If you’d rather make something a little less frightening, the National Geographic jigsaw puzzle range also includes famous landmarks such as The Sphinx.
We’re not 100% sure this technically counts as a jigsaw puzzle, but it’s a beautiful, intricate and incredibly satisfying wooden puzzle for ages 14+. It comes as a collection of pre-cut wooden pieces that you pop out and use to create a beautiful treasure box complete with working gears. Expect to spend around three to five hours making it.
No, that’s not a typo: this jigsaw really does come in 18,000 pieces. The box weighs a kilo, the finished image is a whopping 276cm by 192cm, and while it’s obviously extremely expensive, this is not a puzzle you’re going to finish in the short term or even the medium term. Chances are, by the time you finish this one the entire human race will not only be able to leave their homes again, they may have all moved to Mars.
The best jigsaw puzzles for kids
This lovely little jigsaw is designed for young children, with chunky 10cm x 10cm pieces that are easy to grip and just as importantly, hard to lose. The 26 pieces follow the alphabet with colourful illustrations for each letter – so C is for cat, J is for Jam and U is for umbrella. It’s a fun way to reinforce letter learning, and at 29cm x 82cm fully assembled it doesn’t require a huge amount of floor space.
Orchard Toys makes lots of really nice jigsaw puzzles, and this one is a little different from the rest: while the 20 pieces mean it’s not going to be the toughest challenge – it’s aimed at children 3+ – the fact that many of the pieces are interchangeable means once you’ve completed it, you can do it again with completely different results.
There are lots of Frozen jigsaw puzzles on the market but this one is our favourite for little film fans. The Frozen-themed collection is suitable for ages four plus and gives you four different puzzles: one with 35 pieces, one with 48, one with 54 and one with 70. That means you can start with the simplest one and gently increase the difficulty to keep things interesting.
This beautifully intricate 100-piece puzzle isn’t just a great jigsaw puzzle. It’s also got an extra layer of challenge, because the robots need some important objects to complete their space ship – and the only way to find them is to don one of the supplied Magic Decoder Robot Masks to find the hidden items.
Let’s start with a criticism: this is advertised as a jigsaw puzzle for boys, which is enough to make us want to fire a tordepo up Amazon’s exhaust vent. But the puzzle itself is great for Star Wars fans: it’s a typically high quality Ravensburger effort, its 500 pieces making up a finished 49 x 36cm image of Rey and Finn running from TIE Fighters.
Where’s Wally? Right now he’s in lockdown like the rest of us. But not here: in this puzzle he’s failing to maintain suitable social distancing from a whole bunch of dinosaurs, which makes us wonder if it really was an asteroid that wiped them out. The puzzle itself is a child-friendly 100 pieces.