London is one of the most famous and most visited cities in the world, with many important and historical landmarks that everyone must visit at least once in their life. There is a mix of diversity and culture like no other city on Earth – it is reckoned that over 250 languages are spoken here.
Which is why HeyTripster is on the scene with our fantastic London trip plans, including the best museums in London.
Whether you visit in summer or winter, London is a beautiful city. From the architecture to the beauty spots, wherever you are there is something to see … the splendour of Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, the famous landmarks such as Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square, the beauty of the Royal Parks, and there is nothing quite like a stroll along the banks of the River Thames on a sunny afternoon.
Of course, another outstanding feature of London is the arts and culture. The museums of London are like nowhere else. World-famous works of art and hands-on displays and exhibitions housed in beautiful buildings make London museums outstanding tourist destinations providing indoor activities for everyone – plus most have free entry! The museums are open every day except December 24 – 26 and January 1 unless stated.
Before you have even finished your visit to London you will already have started planning your next one!
1. Natural History Museum
Opened in 1881, the museum is the world’s foremost centre of natural history and one of HeyTripster’s top picks. More than five million visitors a year marvel at exhibits including a blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling of the central hall, a piece of moon rock collected by Apollo 16, dinosaur fossils, and many, many others.
The museum is a beautiful building and one inside is easy to navigate. The red zone features the history of planet Earth, the blue zone hosts the dinosaur exhibits, the green zone focuses on fossils and marine life, and in the orange zone, you can visit the wildlife garden.
The museum is open 10:00 – 18:00, last entry is at 17:00. To guarantee entry, it is best to book a ticket in advance here.
By London Underground: South Kensington Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green), and Piccadilly Line (dark blue). 5-minute walk to the museum along Cromwell Place.
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2. Science Museum
The most visited science and technology museum in Europe. The museum has over 15,000 extraordinary objects on display including the spacecraft that brought astronaut Tim Peake back to Earth from the International Space Station; a culture of the penicillin developed by Alexander Fleming who discovered the first effective antibiotic; the world’s first MRI scanner; and many, many more.
Interactive displays, audio recordings, and films all play a part in bringing science to life before your very eyes.
Open Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00 and every day during school holidays.
By London Underground: South Kensington Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green), Piccadilly Line (dark blue). 5-minute walk to the museum along Cromwell Place into Exhibition Road. It is round the corner from the Natural History Museum.
3. British Museum
In 1759, the British Museum became the world’s first national museum to be opened to the public and today houses one of the most comprehensive collections anywhere on the planet. It is an absolute treasure trove.
There are so many things not to miss, but HeyTripster’s top must-see exhibits are…
The Rosetta Stone that helped to translate hieroglyphics; the bust of Pharaoh Ramesses the Great; the Parthenon Sculptures from Ancient Greece; the artefacts from Mesopotamia; the statues from Easter Island.
A museum audio guide is available in 10 different languages for £7, but may not be available depending on current COVID restrictions and guidelines.
Museum opening hours are 10:00 – 17:00, last entry is at 15:30. If you wish to book tickets in advance for a particular time, please see this link.
By London Underground: Holborn Station – Central Line (red), Piccadilly Line (dark blue). 10-minute walk to the museum through Bloomsbury Square.
4. The National Gallery
A beautiful building on a world-famous site. The National Gallery is on the perimeter of Trafalgar Square, so visit two important landmarks at once!
The gallery holds a stunning array of artwork boasting nearly 2,500 paintings from artists such as Canaletto, Goya, Holbein, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and many others. For lovers of art, this is an absolute must-see on your trip around London. HeyTripster’s trip plans are designed by city locals who really know the areas.
Open every day 10:00 – 18:00, tickets available and also online.
By London Underground: Charing Cross Station – Bakerloo Line (brown), Northern Line (black). 5-minute walk to the gallery along Strand to Trafalgar Square.
5. Churchill War Rooms
Hidden under the streets of London, the War Rooms were the centre of operations for the British government during the second world war. In these very rooms, Prime Minister Winston Churchill oversaw the campaign against the Nazi threat, directly communicated with both King George VI and US President Roosevelt and they also acted as a bunker for Churchill and his cabinet.
There is much reading material throughout the corridors, not only about how the war was directed but also the stories of those who lived and worked there during the war years.
The War Rooms are open every day, 09:30 – 18:00 with the last entry at 17:00. Entry prices are £25 per adult, £12.50 per child.
By London Underground: Westminster Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green), Jubilee Line (silver). A 5-minute walk along Great George Street into Horse Guards’ Parade. The entrance is next to the statue of Clive of India.
6. The Wallace Collection
If you only have time to visit one art gallery in your life, please, please, please make it this one. It is stunningly beautiful – both the collection and the house. Over 5,000 pieces of art and artefacts from the 15th to 19th centuries by such leading lights as Canaletto, Gainsborough, Hals, Rembrandt, and Velazquez amongst others make for one of the finest collections of masterpieces anywhere in the world.
The Wallace Collection’s premises, Hertford House, was the family home of the Marquesses of Hertford, one of the richest families in Europe.
The collection is divided into six separate departments – Arms and Armour; Ceramics and Glass; Gold Boxes and Furniture; Picture and Miniatures; Sculpture and Works of Art; and Sevres Porcelain.
Visiting hours are 10:00 – 17:00 daily and it is recommended to book a free ticket in advance and an app can be downloaded to access a digital guide to the collection.
By London Underground: Marble Arch Station – Central Line (red). 10-minute walk via Oxford Street, Portman Street, Portman Square, Fitzhardinge Street into Manchester Square.
7. National Army Museum
The museum was established in 1960, moving to the current premises in 1971. The museum has undergone recent refurbishments and was reopened in 2017 by the Queen.
Five galleries enable the visitor to embark upon an interactive journey through the history of the British Army. The collections relate to all aspects of the British Army dating back to the Battle of Agincourt of 1415. There are reconstructions of how life was as a soldier in the Duke of Wellington’s army during the Napoleonic Wars, in the trenches of World War I, and during the Normandy Landings that changed the course of World War II. An exhibition on the role of women in the forces includes jewellery owned by Florence Nightingale.
Open Wednesday – Sunday, 10:00 – 17:30. Entry is free but they would prefer you to book a time slot beforehand.
By London Underground: Sloane Square Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green). A 12-minute walk down Holbein Place, right into Pimlico Road into Royal Hospital Road, the museum is next to the Royal Chelsea Hospital.
8. Royal Academy Of Arts
In 1768, King George III was presented with a petition signed by 36 artists to form a society for promoting the arts. The King gave his permission and the Academy was formed.
It is actually a practicing academy and therefore each member of the Royal Academy must be a practicing artist and be elected by their peers. Upon acceptance, each Academician donates one of their piece’s to the Academy’s collection.
As the Royal Academy is not government-funded like the other museums, one of the main sources of revenue comes from hosting temporary exhibitions. This means you can visit every year and see something completely different. Past exhibitions include Making Art And Music With Computers and The End Of The World.
You can explore this museum with this HeyTripster trip plan by a real Londoner.
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 – 18:00. Entry is free but all visitors need to book a ticket.
By London Underground: Piccadilly Circus Station – Bakerloo Line (brown), Piccadilly Line (dark blue). A 6-minute walk along Piccadilly past BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and the Academy of Arts is opposite Fortnum And Mason.
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9. Tate Britain
Previously known as the National Gallery Of British Art, the Tate Britain contains a substantial collection of art dating back to the Tudor times of the 1500s. There is a network of Tate galleries in England, the Tate Britain being the oldest.
In 1889, an industrialist called Henry Tate decided to offer his collection of 19th-century art to the nation rather than keep them as a private collection. Not only did he make the offer but he provided the funding for the first gallery. It was opened in 1897 under the name National Gallery Of British Art, although it was known as the Tate Gallery after its benefactor.
The Tate Britain is open every day from 10:00 – 18:00. Entry is free but all visitors need to book a ticket. Check this HeyTripster trip plan to explore the Tate with a local point of view.
By London Underground: Westminster Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green), Jubilee Line (silver). 15-minute walk. Exit the station opposite the Houses of Parliament and turn into Parliament Square by the Winston Churchill statue. Continue along past Westminster Abbey and follow Millbank past Lambeth Bridge along the side of the River Thames.
10. Tate Modern
This gallery of modern and contemporary art is housed in what used to be a power station alongside the Thames. Works by artists such as Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso are amongst the exhibits awaiting the visitors.
In 2020, the Tate Modern was the third most visited art museum in the world.
An extra photo opportunity is provided by St Paul’s Cathedral being directly opposite across the river. HeyTripster can offer extras like this as all trip plans are designed by locals with local knowledge.
The Tate Britain is open Sunday – Thursday 10:00 – 18:00, Friday and Saturday 10:00 – 22:00. Like its sister museum the Tate Britain, entry to the Tate Modern is free but visitors need to book a ticket.
By London Underground: Blackfriars Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green). 15-minute walk. Exit the station and cross the Thames on Blackfriars Bridge and follow the Thames Path to the Tate.
11. Victoria And Albert Museum
Opened by Queen Victoria in 1857, the V&A is the biggest museum of applied and decorative arts in the world and has the biggest collection of Italian Renaissance art outside of Italy.
The museum itself is an impressive building and the various galleries are beautiful in decoration and architecture.
There is so much to see – HeyTripster fully recommends that if you can only see a few of the highlighted museums, the Victoria And Albert is certainly one of them. Do not miss the collection of landscapes by John Constable; the wooden sculpture of a tiger made for Indian ruler Tipu Sultan; and the collection of cartoons designed for the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican by Raphael, commissioned by Pope Leo X. The museum has an offshoot V&A Childhood Museum which is one of the best museums in East London.
Opening times are Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:45. You can book a ticket in advance through the official website.
By London Underground: South Kensington Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green), and Piccadilly Line (dark blue). 5-minute walk to the museum along Cromwell Place. The V&A is next door to the Natural History Museum.
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12. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Where can you meet Michael Jackson, David Beckham, George Clooney, the British Royal Family, and The Incredible Hulk in the same room?
Take a journey around the different zones featuring stars of stage and screen, sport and music as well as special Star Wars Feature and Marvel Hall. You are allowed up close and personal for selfies.
HeyTripster’s tip is to visit Madame Tussauds for a bit of light relief after the culture of some of the other museums and galleries.
Opening times are Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 – 16:00. Tickets are £34 per adult, but £30.50 if you pre-book online.
By London Underground: Baker Street Station – Bakerloo Line (brown), Circle Line (yellow), Jubilee Line (silver), Hammersmith & City Line (pink), and Metropolitan Line (purple). The museum is by the Marylebone Road exit.
13. Sherlock Holmes Museum
According to author Arthur Conan Doyle, 221b Baker Street was the home and office of London’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes. So it is fitting that the Sherlock Holmes Museum is situated at that very residence.
The museum opened in 1900 and is now home to the biggest collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia anywhere in the world.
Focussing more on the Sherlock Holmes books than the tv series, you can see Sherlock’s desk, read his letters to Doctor Watson and there is plenty to read as you go round. Covering four storeys, the museum takes you through Sherlock’s apartment, including his bedroom!
Opening times are Wednesday – Sunday 09:30 – 18:00. Tickets are £15 per adult and £10 per child and can be booked online. One word of warning … as it is not housed in a particularly big premises, there can be some queuing outside involved. HeyTripster’s local knowledge due to real locals designing trips.
By London Underground: Baker Street Station – Bakerloo Line (brown), Circle Line (yellow), Jubilee Line (silver), Hammersmith & City Line (pink) and Metropolitan Line (purple). Use the Baker Street exit and turn right along Baker Street. The museum is number 221b (of course!), next to the London Beatles Store.
14. Design Museum
A relatively new museum, it was opened to the public in 1989 in its original home near Tower Bridge, moving to the present premises in 2006.
As the name suggests, the Design Museum is inspired by design in all it’s different guises, be it architecture, graphic design, transport or fashion. Within its walls are exhibition areas, library and archives, a cafe and restaurant as well as a design studio.
The museum is broken down into three sections – Designer, Marker and User investigating the process behind the design and why things turn out as they do; the manufacturing side of things; and how the product affects the consumer.
Since its opening, the museum has hosted over 100 exhibitions featuring Zaha Hadid, Stanley Kubrick, Ferrari and Swarovski amongst others.
Open 10:00 – 18:00 daily, please book a ticket in advance.
By London Underground: High Street Kensington – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green). Exit the station and turn left into Kensington HighStreet. The museum is next to Holland Park.
15. London Transport Museum
The story of London transport is told here. The museum is a chronicle of how London has changed down the years. Visit some wonderful old vehicles – including the evolution of the world-famous red London bus -, the many maps that have helped visitors around the city, sound recordings, archives and so much more.
This is a lovely museum for anyone interest in either London or transport (and if you’re not interested in London, what are you doing here…?!)
Open every day 10:00 – 18:00, last entry at 17:00. General admission is £18.50 for an adult, children are free.
By London Underground: Covent Garden – Piccadilly Line (dark blue). Walk down James Street into Covent Garden. The museum is next to Jubilee Hall Market.
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