15 Must-See Museums in London
From history and culture, to science and art, the UK capital has plenty to see and do, including some of the most impressive museums the world has to offer. With around 200 museums in the city, here is a list of the top 15 to add to your list of things to do.
Ponder ever artifact you could imagine in one of the largest collections in the world and Britain’s largest museum, aptly named the British Museum. 8 million artifacts spanning 2 million years is enough to keep you busy for quite some time as you walk from the Ancient Egypt exhibit to the Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Roman, and Greek exhibits.
Hours: Open Daily from 10:00 – 17:30 and on Fridays, until 20:30.
Address: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG.
The Rosetta Stone. It’s a large stone on which are three written languages – hieroglyphs, demotic (the language of Egypt at the time), and Greek. Being able to compare the three languages is what made the Rosetta Stone instrumental in being able to decipher hieroglyphs.
Museum of London
The Museum of London traces the turbulent history of this famous city from prehistoric times all the way to the present, so if you are interested in the nation’s capital and it’s vibrant history, this is the museum for you!
There is also a second location: The Museum of London Docklands,
Entry: Free, but voluntary donation suggested.
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 – 18:00
Address: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN and Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, Hertsmere Rd, Canary Wharf, London E14 4AL.
The Lord Mayor of London’s State Coach – considered one of the three great state coaches of the United Kingdom. It’s on display at the Museum of London but is taken out once a year to be ridden in by the Lord Mayor during the Lord Mayor’s Show.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is a UNESCO World Heritage site and historic castle located on the north side of the River Thames in Central London. It is a set of buildings surrounded by 2 rings of defence walls and a moat. It was originally a royal residence and has been used for many purposes since its construction including being used as a royal mint and a prison.
Entry: Adults 18 and older: £22.70; Children aged 5-15: £10.75 (0-4: Free); Adolescents aged 16-17, Students, Seniors (60+), and the disabled: £17.70.
* Save 15% when you buy your tickets online.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-16:30 and Sunday-Monday: 10:00-16:30.
* Last admission: 16:00.
Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB.
The Crown Jewels. This collection housed in the Jewel House in the Waterloo block of the Tower of London is a set of jewellery and other royal ceremonial objects that have been worn or used by the royal family for events including coronations.
Natural History Museum
With over 80 million items and about 500,000 added each year, if the beautiful building doesn’t impress you, the collection absolutely will. Considered a very important centre for conservation research, London’s Natural History Museum is one not to be missed.
Entry: Free, but expect a charge for some temporary exhibits.
Hours: Open daily from 10.00-17.50 with the last entry at 17:30.
Address: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD
The Darwin Centre. Walk through the large elaborate multi-story cocoon structure and see real scientists doing real work inside the museum. This is the newest part of the building and essentially doubled the museum’s laboratory space and houses millions of specimens. Also on display are some of the original specimens brought back by Darwin on his excursions.
National Maritime Museum
Get a taste of amazing exploration stories at the National Maritime Museum. This is the place to marvel at the endeavours and adventures of those who attempted to conquer the seas and defend their country.
Entry: Free but for special exhibitions there’s a charge of £10.35 for adults.
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 – 17:00 including bank holidays.
Address: Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Nelson’s Trafalgar Coat. This is the actual uniform that Admiral Nelson had on when he was fatally shot at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. It’s on display at the museum in the “Nelson, Navy, Nation” exhibit. You can see the bullet hole in the top left shoulder of the coat and although he was killed, the English Navy’s triumph over the French and Spanish forces at this battle saved Britain from Napoleon and the threat of French invasion.
Imperial War Museum
The mission of the Imperial War Museum is to explore conflict, its causes, and its impacts. From exhibits surrounding the First World War, the Holocaust, an ode to everyday life uprooted by the Second World War, undercover espionage, and much more…there is so much to see here.
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 – 18:00.
Address: IWM London, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
The “Witnesses to War”. In the main atrium of the museum, you will be greeted by a crushed and mutilated vehicle known as the Baghdad Car, a British Supermarine Spitfire Mark IA and Harriet Jet hanging above you, a T-34 Tank, and other important objects that bore witness to the major conflicts of our past and present.
Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are of the same family of museums as the Imperial War Museum. Peek into the secret underground rooms and bunkers below Westminster and tour the fascinating facility where Churchill and other advisers made defining decisions pertaining to the darkest hours of the Second World War.
Entry: Adults aged 16-59: £21; Children aged 5-15: £10.50; Seniors, Students, Disabled: £16.80
* Book online and save 10%. Family deals available.
Hours: Open daily from 9:30 – 18:00 with the last admission at 17:00.
Address: Churchill War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street , London SW1A 2AQ
The Map Room. This room is an amazing nod to history as it has essentially been left untouched since last used in 1945.
Royal Air Force Museum
Explore the history of aviation, the contemporary use, and future of one of the most powerful air forces in the world: the Royal Air Force. The Royal Air Force Museum is divided into six themed “hangars” chock-full of impressive air crafts and memorabilia, an Aeronauts family-friendly interactive science gallery, and a collection of marine crafts.
Hours: March-October: 10:00 – 18:00 with last entry at 17:30 and November-February: 10:00 – 17:00 with last entry at 16:30.
Address: RAF Museum London, Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL
Hangars 3,4, and 5. These hangars are focused on the Second World War and the Cold War including the
Situated in the ever-busy and famous Trafalgar Square is the incredibly impressive National Gallery, one of the largest galleries in all of Europe. Escape from the bustling city into the peacefulness of an art gallery and marvel at amazing examples of European masterpieces, with some dating all the way back to the 1300’s.
Entry: Free but expect a charge for some temporary exhibits.
Hours: Open Daily from 10:00 – 18:00 and on Fridays, until 21:00.
Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Sunflowers by Van Gogh. This is an iconic image and is permanent in the collection. Therefore, it is a must-see!
Tate Modern is one of the world’s preeminent locations when it comes to modern and contemporary art. Enter in down the ramp into the Turbine Hall (pictured above) and explore the myriad of incredible works that span the various levels. We recommend heading to the top first and working your way down. Also, at the very top on the 10th floor viewing level, you are met with some pretty impressive views of London.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 10.00 – 18.00 and Friday & Saturday 10.00 – 22.00.
Address: Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Picasso’s Weeping Woman. Picasso is one of the most famous and revered artists of the 20th century and the Tate boasts some of his best. Weeping Woman is one of the works Picasso painted during his Guernica series which document his take on the Nazi attacks on Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Victoria and Albert Museum houses a vast collection of art and decor from across the world and across the centuries, including a famous fashion collection. This preeminent design museum is a must-see if you’re headed to London.
Hours: Open daily 10:00 – 17:45 and on Fridays, until 22:00.
Address: Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
The Fashion Gallery. Housed in Room 40, the Fashion Gallery shows the chronology and development of European fashion from 1750 onward. It is part of the Textiles and Fashion exhibit.
Push all the buttons, pull all the levers and immerse yourself in a museum designed with something the entire family can enjoy. The Science Museum is seven floors of interactive fun so there is plenty to keep your entertained.
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 – 18:00.
Address: Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD
The Winton Gallery. This gallery is an ode to mathematics and how this discipline has just about shaped every part of our world. Also, the architecture and design of this gallery is simply stunning.
London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum traces the development of vehicles and modes of mainly public transport over time since the 1800s and teases out the intrinsic connection between the growth of transportation and the growth of London. See the iconic black taxis and red buses among others and learn about the development of London as it built the world’s first underground transportation system.
Entry: Adults: £17.50; Concession (Students and Seniors): £15; Children aged 17 and under: Free
* Book online to save. Tickets allow unlimited entry for 12 months.
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 – 18:00 with the last entry at 17:15.
Address: Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB
The History of The Blitz of 1940-1941. In the second World War, the transportation system of London took major hits due to bombings. This museum details this time and how it was dealt with in an effective and informative way.
Charles Dickens Museum
Step into the home of one of the most famous and treasured British writers, Charles Dickens. The writer of Oliver Twist gets some major respect with this museum dedicated to him. Set in his own home, you can explore the study, the bedchambers, and other formerly private places that the famed novelist called his own.
Entry: Adults: £9.50; Concessions (Students and Seniors): £7.50; Child 6-16 years: £4.50; Children under 6 years: Free
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00- 17:00 with the last admission at 16:00; January-November: Closed on Mondays; December: Open 7 days a week.
Address: 48 – 49 Doughty Street, London, WC1N 2LX
All of his possessions on display. This is the single most important Dickens collection in the world and even though the museum is small, there is plenty to see!
The Postal Museum
The Postal Museum is an ode to British postal and communications history. From simple written letters to mass transportation of mail and the most updated technologies used in one of the most important global cities, this museum traces the entire history.
Entry: Adults: £17.05 and Children: £10.45.
Hours:Open daily from 10:00 – 17:00.
Address: 15-20 Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DA
The Mail Rail. This is a 15-minute ride on a miniature train into the original tunnels of the Royal Mail system. Travel back to the 1930s and see the largely unchanged platforms and tunnels that were built below the Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant office that kept the mail moving throughout London. Hours are the same as the museum, but the last ride of the day leaves at 16:30.
Fancy adding any of these to your London trip itinerary? Unsure of where to stay? Talk to our holiday experts!