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14 Best Museums in London for All Tastes

14 Best Museums in London for All Tastes

Welcome to the enchanting city of London, where history and culture come alive through its remarkable museums! Whether you are an art aficionado, a history enthusiast, or simply seeking inspiration, London’s museums are sure to leave you spellbound with their rich tapestry of knowledge and beauty.

As a former London resident, I have had the privilege of exploring the vibrant museum scene that this city has to offer.

Best Museums in London

1. Victoria & Albert Museum – Best for Decorative Arts and Design

Interior of Victoria & Albert Museum in London showcasing a variety of sculptures and decorative arts beneath an elegant arched glass ceiling, illustrating the museum's reputation as one of the best museums for decorative arts and design in London.
  • Highlight: The jewelry gallery & Tipu’s Tiger
  • Entrance: Free
  • Open: Daily 10 am – 5:45 pm, Friday until 10 pm.
  • Location: Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL

Dubbed the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, V&A Museum near Knightsbridge is home to some of the UK’s best national collections with a permanent collection of 2.27 million objects.

It’s completely free to peruse. They also always have fun and interactive exhibitions going on targeting all age groups to get involved in art and creativity so make sure to check out their website to see what’s on.

Recommended Tours:
Victoria and Albert Museum Private Guided Tour
Victoria and Albert Museum, South London Guided Walking Tour

2. British Museum – Best Free Museum in London

  • Highlight: Rosetta Stone
  • Entrance: Free, but you should still book tickets in advance. Special exhibitions require a purchased ticket.
  • Open: Daily 10 am 5 pm, Fridays until 8:30 pm.
  • Location: Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG

Located in the Bloomsbury area of London, the British Museum holds a huge permanent collection spanning 2 million years of human history. 

With art and artifacts from all around the world on display every day of the week, it’s a very popular museum so I recommend getting there early and booking a ticket in advance to beat the rush.

The best part is general admission is free, but there are fees for special exhibitions. 

Also if you only have a short window, book an Around the World in 90 Minutes tour. You’ll still see all the big sights, including the Rosetta Stone.

Recommended Tours:
British Museum Guided Tour
British Museum Private Guided Tour with Tickets

3. Tate Modern – Best London Museum for Contemporary Art

  • Highlight: Picasso and Dali artworks
  • Entrance: Free for galleries, entrance fees apply for special exhibitions.
  • Open: Sunday to Thursday 10 am – 6 pm, Friday to Saturday 10 am – 10 pm.
  • Location: Bankside, London SE1 9TG

Walk south across the Thames on the Millenium Bridge to the most popular of four art museums in the Tate Group. The Tate Modern showcases international contemporary and modern art in Bankside, London.

You’ll get to see works by famous artists like Picasso and Dalí amongst the museum’s permanent collections which are free to visit, as well as special exhibitions requiring a fee.

Recommended Tours:
Tate Modern Official Guided Tour with Art Expert

4. National Gallery – Best Art Museum in London

The grand central hall of the Natural History Museum in London, with its Romanesque architecture, intricate stonework, and vaulted glass ceiling, highlighting its place among London's most popular museums.
  • Highlight: Iconic paintings by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Turner
  • Entrance: Free for general admission, tickets can be booked in advance. Entrance fees apply for some special exhibitions.
  • Open: Daily 10 am – 6 pm, Friday until 9 pm.
  • Location: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

One of the best aspects of London is that the city wants visitors to experience and learn about their history, so many of the best free things to do in London include the famous museums. Head to beautiful Trafalgar Square to see the lions and fountains commemorating the British naval victory during the Napoleonic Wars.

After admiring the architecture, step inside the National Gallery to view over 2,300 paintings, including works by Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh.

Try to come early to beat the crowds, and check online for required timed entrance tickets for popular exhibits. Don’t forget to stick around for some delicious food and drinks or attend one of the many events and concerts they host.

Recommended Tours:
Explore the National Gallery with an Art Expert
National Gallery Guided Tour

5. National Portrait Gallery – Best for Portraiture Art

  • Highlight: The Virgin Of The Rocks By Leonardo da Vinci. 
  • Entrance: Free (able to pre-book online), with entrance fees for some special exhibitions.
  • Open: Daily 10 am – 6 pm, Thursday and Friday until 9 pm.
  • Location: St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE

The National Portrait Gallery is ideally located in London’s Covent Garden and is home to the most extensive collection of portraits in the world.

With no admission fee and over 11,000 portraits in the Primary Collection alone, there’s plenty to explore from 16th-century pieces to a modern-day tribute to the late King of Pop.

6. The Courtauld Gallery – Best for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art

  • Highlight: Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear by Vincent van Gogh
  • Entrance: Adults £10-£12, free for under 18s 
  • Open: Monday to Sunday 10 am – 6 pm (last entry 5:15 pm).
  • Location: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

More frequently called The Courtauld, the gallery is situated on the Strand which is between Westminster and The British Museum.

The Gallery is part of a self-governing college of the University of London specializing in the study of the history of art and conservation (where I actually had a chance to study art history back in the day).

In the winter you can also enjoy ice skating at the rink located inside the courtyard!

7. Wallace Collection – Most Immersive Museum in London

The Wallace Collection is home to yet another of London’s beautiful art collections, housed at Hertford House in Manchester Square.

The museum, another free entry, features pieces collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and includes things like paintings, sculptures, porcelain, and even armor.

For anyone looking for something a little different, the Wallace Collection is a great choice that is often a little more off the beaten path of the average tourist.

Recommended Tours:
Wallace Collection & National Gallery Private Tours
London’s Wallace Collection: A Self-Guided Audio Tour

8. Natural History Museum – Most Popular London Museum

National History Museum
  • Highlight: Dinosaur Gallery
  • Entrance: Free entry but need to pre-book to avoid lines. Entrance fees may apply for special exhibitions.
  • Open: Daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm, closed 24-26 December.
  • Location: Cromwell Road, South Kensington

Located near the Science Museum and Victoria Albert Museum on the aptly named Exhibition Road in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum is an absolute must while in London.

There are 36 permanent galleries filled with diamonds and gems, fossils, wildlife, and countless other exhibits.

The queues here can last for over an hour both at the entrance and at popular sections like the Dinosaurs exhibit, so here’s a tip: pre-book tickets for popular galleries and special exhibits on the official site and skip the line.

You can also take a behind-the-scenes tour and get a special guided tour of specimens personally collected by Charles Darwin among other fascinating exhibitions.

Recommended Tours:
Natural History Museum Tour
Natural History Museum Entry Ticket and Guided Tour

9. Science Museum – Best Museum for Families in London

  • Highlight: Interactive exhibits
  • Entrance: Free (book online). Some areas like the IMAX cinema or virtual reality simulator require paid tickets.
  • Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm, closed on December 24, 25, and 26.
  • Location: Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD

The Science Museum is a captivating space that explores everything from the wonders of space to the intricacies of human anatomy in a fun and engaging way. 

Great for families, this museum transforms learning into an adventure with interactive exhibits that invite visitors to engage with scientific concepts, making it a thrilling experience for all ages. 

Whether you’re unleashing your inner scientist or marveling at technological breakthroughs, there’s something for everyone here. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance online

10. Sir John Soane’s Museum – Most Off the Beaten Path Museum

Sir John Soane was one of Britain’s best architects known for his unique style and quirky personality. Today the home that he built and lived in throughout the later years of his life has become a hidden gem and one of the best unusual things to do in London

This museum is not just a collection but a meticulously curated journey through the mind of a visionary architect as the home was left just as it was when he passed away. Sir John Soane’s home showcases a kaleidoscope of art, antiquities, and architectural wonders, offering a unique glimpse into the life and passions of a bygone era. 

Every nook and cranny holds a surprise, making the museum a delightful escape into the quirkier side of London’s cultural heritage. Entry is free and tours are available to all visitors who want to take a look at this unique spot. 

11. Museum of London – Best for Learning about London’s Past

From prehistoric times to the swinging ’60s, the Museum of London chronicles the evolution of the city, showcasing artifacts, documents, and recreations that bring each era to life

With its interactive exhibits and interesting visual displays, this is another great free museum for families looking for some fun in London. They also run plenty of workshops and events throughout the year that are a great way to spend some time learning about a more specific part of London’s history. Check the website to see what’s on when you visit.  

12. Tate Britain – Best Museum for British Art

  • Highlight: Portrait of a Young Girl by Mary Beale
  • Entrance: Free, entrance fees for special exhibitions.
  • Open: Daily 10 am – 6 pm 
  • Location: Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

We’ve already talked about the Tate Modern and now we have the Tate Britain, another great museum that displays the rich artistic heritage of Britain.

Housing an unparalleled collection of British art, this museum is a journey through centuries of creativity. From the grand masters of the past to the avant-garde innovators of the present, Tate Britain showcases the diversity and brilliance of British artistic expression. 

Entry is free and there are plenty of rotating exhibitions so there is always something new to see even if you have visited before. Make sure to stop by “Tate Draw” where you can draw an image on a sketch pad and see it come alive on a large screen. 

Recommended Tours:
Tate Britain Official Discovery Tour

13. London Transport Museum – Best Museum in London for Young Kids

  • Highlight: “Driving” a double-decker bus
  • Entrance: Adults – £24, free entrance for 17 years and under
  • Open: Daily 10 am – 6 pm.
  • Location: London WC2E 7BB

All aboard for a fascinating exploration of London’s vibrant history at the London Transport Museum. From vintage double-decker busses to the evolution of the iconic Underground, this museum offers a delightful blend of nostalgia and innovation in a truly immersive way. 

The museum has plenty of iconic vehicles, interactive displays, and captivating stories of how Londoners have gotten around throughout the decades. To visit the London Transport Museum you do need to purchase tickets but prices are very affordable and valid for an entire year! 

With countless chances to get in and pose for a picture in an old-fashioned car, this is a great choice for kids but also provides plenty of interesting information for adults to get just as much out of the experience. 

14. The Design Museum – Best for Exploring New Mediums

If you’re someone who loves modern design of all kinds, the Design Museum is the perfect spot for you. 

From cutting-edge architecture to avant-garde fashion, this museum explores the evolution of design through thought-provoking exhibits and immersive installations that showcase the transformative impact of aesthetics on our daily lives. 

This place is even more than just a museum, it is a cultural hub of London where creatives come to participate in workshops, exchange ideas, and learn. Most of the museum is free to visit however some special exhibitions do charge a fee. 

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