Patience and observation are key with these jigsaw puzzles, suitable for all ages
For some good old-fashioned fun, look no further than the humble jigsaw. Having come a long way in the 200 years since they were invented, the best jigsaw puzzles can now be bought in all shapes and sizes; from the 3D puzzle to the customisable jigsaw and brain teaser varieties.
Partially due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the jigsaw has enjoyed a popular resurgence. In 2020, UK sales reached a whopping £1M: a 38% increase compared to the previous year.
Of course, it’s no secret that we’re in a board game renaissance, and you can see our roundup of the best family and adult board games here. But if we’ve piqued your interest with our talk of puzzles, read on for our list of the best jigsaws that will keep you entertained at home, whatever the occasion.
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Best jigsaw puzzles: At a glance
- Best for art lovers: The Dream of Surrealism, 1,000pc | £14
- Best 3D puzzle: Ravensburger Buckingham Palace, Night Edition | £22
- Best for challenge-seekers: Where’s Wally? Wild Wild West, 1,000pc | £14
- Best puzzle with an imaginative twist: Wasgij, The Wasgij Games! 1,000pc | £10
- Best customisable jigsaw puzzle: Photobox Photo Jigsaw | From £18
How to choose the best jigsaw puzzle for you
What kinds of jigsaw puzzles are there?
Like the pieces they are made up of, puzzles can come in all shapes and sizes. This list features many different types of jigsaws, from traditional 2D pictures designs to whacky 3D and magnet-based puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles can be made out of more than just cheap cardboard, too. There are plenty of jigsaws out there composed of more premium materials such as sustainable wood and even metal.
How many pieces should a jigsaw have?
The number of pieces in your ideal jigsaw depends on the size and complexity of the puzzle you’re after. Jigsaws can have literally thousands of pieces, or they can have just a handful. If you’re a master puzzle solver – or just a glutton for punishment – then you could decide to opt for a design that has tens of thousands of pieces.
But if you’re buying for a small child, then you won’t want one with lots of tiny pieces – not least because of the choking hazard that presents. Very young children will enjoy something with fewer pieces so that it doesn’t become too long a task, though you don’t want something that’s too easy, either.
Do jigsaw puzzles take a long time to complete?
The completion time of a puzzle is dependent on the number of pieces it has and the commitment of the person – or group – putting it together. With enough effort, a family could polish off a 500 piece puzzle in a single evening. If you’re on your own or prefer to pick away at the task little by little, then you can really make a puzzle last much longer. There are those out there who dedicate their lives to solving large puzzles in world-record times, but that’s not necessarily the main purpose of puzzling. As with many pastimes, the journey is arguably more important than the destination when solving a puzzle.
If you’re tackling a particularly tricky or large puzzle, and you’re in it for the long-haul, then it might be worth investing in a puzzle board that allows you to pack away a half-completed jigsaw without undoing all of your hard-earned progress.This Portapuzzle mat folds up and holds your jigsaw in place with velcro fasteners when it’s time to clear the table.
How much should I spend on a jigsaw puzzle?
The jigsaw puzzles in this list start from around £12, and there aren’t too many standard puzzles that will cost more than £30. Even puzzles with 1,000 or more pieces can be surprisingly affordable. The more expensive puzzles on the market tend to be made out of pricier, high-end materials or have a less conventional design. For the finest quality wooden jigsaw puzzle, you may need to spend closer to £60-£70, while gigantic room-sized puzzles will likely set you back hundreds.
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The best jigsaw puzzles you can buy in 2022
1. The Dream of Surrealism, 1,000pc jigsaw puzzle: Best puzzle for art lovers
Price: £14 | Buy now from WH Smith
Taking the form of a surrealist dreamscape, The Dream of Surrealism from Laurence King Publishing tasks puzzlers with spotting all the key figures and works from the 20th century art movement from Sigmund Freud dancing with a skeleton to Salvador Dali’s moustache.
It’s a mini art history lesson as well as a fun puzzle, and has been beautifully designed by illustrator Brecht Vandenbroucke – making it a perfect gift for the modern art lover. If surrealism is not your thing, however, other options include Laurence King’s Pop Art Puzzle, The Story of Impressionism, and The World of Frida Kahlo (which also comes with a fold-out poster featuring facts about the artist and her work).
Key specs – No. of pieces: 1,000; Material type: cardboard; Recommended age: 10+; Puzzle dimensions: 245 x 345mm
Also Consider: National Gallery 1000pc Jigsaw Puzzles
If you’re after a more traditional art puzzle, Flame Tree Publishing haspartnered with The National Gallery to produce a number of lovely jigsaws, depicting classic paintings such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Turner’s Fighting Temeraire and Monet’s The Museum at Le Havre.
2. Ravensburger Buckingham Palace Night Edition, 237pc 3D Jigsaw Puzzle: Best 3D jigsaw puzzle
Price: £22 | Buy now from Amazon
Unlike traditional 2D puzzles, which are often packed away soon after they are complete, 3D puzzles are perfect for putting on display, and can have pride of place on a shelf or mantlepiece. This particular 3D puzzle of London’s iconic Buckingham Palace, complete with Union Jack flagpole, has 237 plastic pieces which slot together without the need for any glue. The ‘night edition’ of Ravensburger’s 3D Buckingham Palace also comes with an LED light box which illuminates the puzzle from the inside, creating a glowing nighttime scene.
It is a one-time build however; it’s not going to be easy to disassemble once it’s constructed. Ravensburger has plenty of other buildings in its 3D landmarks series, including Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, so this could be the start of a worldly collection.
Key specs – No. of pieces: 237; Material type: plastic; Recommended age: 8+; Puzzle dimensions: 220 x 120 x 280mm
3. Where’s Wally? Wild Wild West, 1000pc Puzzle: Best jigsaw for challenge-seekers
Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon
This challenging jigsaw is based on the popular kids’ puzzle books featuring everyone’s favourite elusive tourist. In this particular puzzle, Wally is lurking somewhere on the streets of a dusty frontier town, but there are plenty of other designs available – including a Parisian ballroom, a beach holiday, and a chaotic Aztec scene.
With a ‘Where’s Wally?’ jigsaw, you really get two puzzles for your money: once you’ve managed to piece together the scene, the next challenge is finding Wally himself.
Key specs – No. of pieces: 1,000; Material type: cardboard; Recommended age: 12+; Puzzle dimensions: 480mm x 680mm
4. Ravensburger New York Summer and Winter Puzzle: Best traditional jigsaw puzzle
Price: £18 | Buy now from Selfridges
Ravensburger has been manufacturing jigsaw puzzles since 1891 and has become a leader in the European jigsaw market. It has broken records for its monumental jigsaws, including the 20kg, 40,320 piece Disney Mickey through the Years, one of the largest commercially available jigsaw puzzles in the world.
Ravensburger boasts a massive collection of puzzles across a whole range of designs: In fact, if you’ve got any dusty old jigsaws stored away at home, chances are there’ll be a Ravensburger among them. This 1500-piece jigsaw depicting a scenic view of the New York City skyline throughout the seasons is a nice choice for those after a traditional picture-postcard puzzle.
Key specs – No. of pieces: 1,500; Material type: cardboard; Recommended age: 14+; Puzzle dimensions: 750 x 980mm
5. Janod World Map 92pc Magnet Puzzle: Best educational puzzle for kids
Price: £38 | Buy now from John Lewis
Travel around the world in 92 magnets with this high-quality wooden world map puzzle from Janod. Every region in the world is represented on the wooden backboard, and there are matching pieces, made of dense cardboard, which slot over the countries magnetically. Some of the pieces cover a single country, while others depict several smaller ones, and children will get an entertaining geographical tour as they slot the pieces into place.
Capital cities are highlighted and there are tonnes of great illustrations depicting the characteristics of each region. The Janod World Map even comes with its own hanging cord for wall mounting, so you and your kids can scrub up on your geography each time you walk past.
Key specs – No. of pieces: 92; Material type: wood, card, magnetic material; Recommended age: 7+; Puzzle dimensions: 77 x 46mm
6. Wasgij The Wasgij Games! 1,000pc: The adult puzzle with an imaginative twist
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
Wasgij claims to be the top-selling adult puzzle brand for the past decade and, though we don’t have the data to hand, we’re inclined to believe it. There are a huge number of challenging puzzles to choose from across several collections, each one with its own unique twist. None of Wasgij’s puzzle boxes actually show what the completed puzzle will look like; instead, you have to use the humorous illustrations on the box to guess.
In the Destiny series, which The Wasgij Games 1,000 piece puzzle belongs to, puzzlers must imagine what this chaotic Colosseum scene would look like in modern times. The Mystery series asks you to guess what’ll happen next, while the Original puzzles have you constructing the scene that the characters on the cover are looking at.
Key specs – No. of pieces: 1,000; Material type: cardboard; Recommended age: 12+; Puzzle dimensions: 680 x 490mm
7. Photobox Photo Jigsaw: Best customisable jigsaw puzzle
Price: From £18 | Buy now from Photobox
If none of the jigsaw designs we’ve featured so far capture your eye, then why not use your own? As part of its photo gift range, Photobox has partnered with Ravensburger to offer a customisable jigsaw service, allowing you to turn any photo into a puzzle – whether it be a family memory or a scenic landscape you’re particularly proud of snapping.
As we’ve already established, quality is pretty much guaranteed with a Ravensburger puzzle. Available in a range of sizes, it‘s made from extra-strong recycled cardboard and comes packaged in a personalised box (or a metal tin if you choose the 49pc puzzle). It’s fairly pricey, starting at £18 for a 49-piece puzzle and rising to £60 for a 2000 pieces. But if you’re willing to splash out, it’s a great gift option for the puzzler in your life.
Key specs – No. of pieces: 49, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000; Material type: cardboard; Recommended age: Not specified; Puzzle dimensions: 180 x 180mm, 490 x 360mm, 700 x 500mm, 980 x 750mm
8. Ravensburger Pokémon Classics 1500pc Jigsaw: Best Pokémon jigsaw puzzle
Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon
There are a huge number of Pokémon jigsaw puzzles on the market, but none encapsulate the iconic franchise better than this option from Ravensburger. All the big names from Gen 1 are present and correct, including Pikachu, Charizard, Snorlax, Eeevee and Mew, and those Kanto characters are joined by a few more recent additions to the National Pokédex like Lucario and Mimkyu.
The spacing of the Pokémon and their relatively distinctive designs and colour patterns mean this isn’t the trickiest puzzle, but with 1,500 pieces, it’ll probably prove too tough for younger trainers – for super effective jigsaw puzzling, you’ll want to assemble your strongest team of family members.
And for those that really want to test their jigsaw skills, Ravensburger also produces a more complicated 1,000 piece Challenge Pokémon puzzle that features a much larger cast of pocket monsters crammed into its 700 x 500mm frame. Not only are there more Pokémon, but they’re grouped by colour to make the puzzle that little bit more fiendish to complete.
Key specs – No. of pieces: 1500; Material type: cardboard; Recommended age: 12+; Puzzle dimensions: 800 x 600mm