15 museums in London worth visiting

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London'd Nationally Gallery and a fountain. One of the best museums in London.
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London’s museums aren’t just stuffy places to see… stuff. Expect to touch, experience, play and get creative. And with a stellar selection of nearly 200 museums in London, you might find it hard to choose which ones to go to.

We’ve whittled them down to the top 15, including the pick of the bunch for history lovers, art aficionados, families and more! And, best of all, most of them are free! Read on for the full details of our top 15 museums in London.

3 unmissable museums in London

A man takes a photo of a statue at the British Museum, one of the top museums in London.

Let’s kick off with the heavyweights. These three museums are musts for any traveller in London.

1. British Museum

First up is the British Museum, the granddaddy of all museums in London.

This place is enormous. With over 8 million artifacts from around the world, including the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles, you’ll want to set aside a decent chunk of time to see it all. It’s so big, you might even need a nap halfway through!

  • Opening hours: Saturday – Thursday: 10.00–17.00, Fridays: 10:00 – 20.30. Last entry: 15 minutes before closing.
  • Entry is free, but it’s a good idea to book tickets online in advance.

2. Victoria and Albert Museum

Next on our list of the crème de la crème of museums in London is the Victoria and Albert (V & A). It’s all about art and fashion here, so don your best togs to fit in with the fashionistas and design nerds!

With a collection that spans over 5,000 years of creativity, the V&A showcases everything from ancient sculptures to contemporary couture.

Exhibitions are creative and original. Find out how the IKEA bag of dreams was designed, take a peek at ever-evolving underwear styles throughout the decades and even see Harry Styles’ most famous cardigan!

  • Opening hours: Saturday – Thursday: 10.00 – 17.45, Friday: 10.00 – 22.00 (some galleries open after 17.45). Closed 24th – 26th
  • It’s free to enter, and you don’t need to book.

3. Natural History Museum

Unleash your inner explorer while you learn all about the natural world at the Natural History Museum.

Home to a stunning collection of specimens, including the famous Diplodocus skeleton and the vast blue whale model, this museum will ignite your passion for the natural world. Curious kids, nature enthusiasts and dinosaur lovers will be in heaven!

3 museums for history lovers

The front of the Imperial War Museum, with canons pointing at the camera.

Calling all history buffs! London has a wealth of stories to share, and these three museums are essential for any history lover.

4. London Imperial War Museum

First up is the London Imperial War Museum. It’s amazing to think that this historic museum was founded way back when the First World War was still being fought!

The emotive and thought-provoking exhibitions include letters and personal items from some of the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust and the survivors of the First and Second World Wars.

5. London Canal Museum

For a truly unique experience, visit the London Canal Museum and explore the intriguing world of canals and waterways.

From the horse-drawn barges of yesteryear to the industrial revolution, this museum will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the city’s hidden water highways.

Who knew something as simple as a canal could have such a fascinating and exciting history?

  • Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 – 16:30. Closed on Mondays, but open on bank holiday Mondays. Closed 23rd – 26th and 31st
  • There is a small admission charge. You do not need to book in advance to visit.

6. Museum of London Docklands

Next, hop on a time-travelling boat and set sail to the Museum of London Docklands, situated in a former sugar warehouse in Canary Wharf.

You’ll discover the fascinating secret lives of traders, explorers and even pirates. Better get practising your best pirate accent. Arrr, matey!

  • Opening hours: every day: 10:00 – 17:00. The recommended last entry is 16:00 to ensure you have time to see it all!
  • General admission is free, and no ticket is required.

3 of London's best art galleries

The intricate facade of the Tate Britain, one of the best art museums in London.

London houses some of the world’s most prestigious art galleries, catering to all tastes and preferences.

7. National Gallery

Begin your art-filled adventure at the National Gallery, home to a vast collection of European masterpieces.

From the Renaissance to Impressionism, you’ll have the chance to ponder the meaning of life while admiring works by some of the world’s most famous painters, including Van Gogh, Monet, and Da Vinci.

  • Opening hours: Every day 10:00 –18:00 and Friday 10:00 – 21:00. Closed 24th – 26th December and 1st
  • The National Gallery is free to visit, but online booking is recommended.

8. Tate Britain

Head over to the Tate Britain to embrace your inner Brit. This gallery is all about showing off the best of GB’s art.

Enjoy 500 years of British art, from classic portraits to contemporary pieces, including works by David Hockney, Bridget Riley and JMW Turner.

You’ll leave feeling cultured, sophisticated, and maybe even craving tea and biscuits.

  • Opening hours: Every day 10:00 –18:00
  • Entry to the gallery is free, and there’s no need to book! There is a charge for some exhibitions, and it’s a good idea to book for those.

9. Royal Academy of Arts

Take a trip to the strange and wonderful world of contemporary art at the Royal Academy of Arts.

With ever-changing exhibitions and a commitment to showcasing the cutting edge, this institution pushes the boundaries of artistic expression.

Some paintings may make you wonder if it’s a profound statement or if someone accidentally spilled their coffee! Who knows?


3 brilliant museums if you visit London with kids

The gardens and building of the beautiful Horniman Museum, London.

Travelling to London with little explorers in tow? Fear not, because the city has plenty of family-friendly museums to keep both kids and adults entertained.

10. Horniman Museum

Strap on your safari hat and head to the Horniman Museum, where you can meet all sorts of animals and jump into a world of interactive learning.

From the excellent aquarium to the stunning 16-acre gardens, this eclectic museum promises a day of exploration and fun for all ages.

  • Opening hours: every day: 10:00 – 17.30
  • The Horniman Museum and Gardens are free to enter.

11. Young V&A Museum

Next, take a trip down memory lane at the V&A Childhood Museum, formerly known as the Museum of Childhood.

Having recently undergone a £13 million makeover, this light and airy museum intends to involve and engage children.

Forget stuffy museums with bits of broken pot behind glass cases – this museum is for doing, playing, imagining, designing, shouting and being creative. Who said learning can’t be fun?

  • Opening hours: Every day 10.00 – 17.45. Galleries close from 17.00. Closed 24th – 26th
  • Admission is free and you don’t need to book.

12. Madame Tussauds

And of course, what’s a family trip to London without a visit to Madame Tussauds? Get ready to take selfies with your favourite celebrities, historical figures and superheroes.

Finally, you’ll have photographic evidence of that time you hung out with the King and Spiderman (no Photoshop required)!

  • Opening hours: Madame Tussauds is open every day of the week. Opening hours vary.
  • You can buy your Madame Tussauds tickets

3 of London's historic houses

Sir John Soane's Museum, London

Who doesn’t want to step into the world of London’s elite to have a nosy around their opulent abodes? Here are three of London’s best historic houses!

13. Sir John Soane's Museum

First stop, the Sir John Soane’s Museum, where you can marvel at the eccentric collection of a man who clearly had one too many hobbies.

From ancient Egyptian artifacts to bizarre architectural wonders, this museum will leave you with a strong desire to fill your house with oddities!

  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:00 with last admission 16:30. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but open for bank holidays.
  • Entry is free! And there’s no need to book in advance.

14. Sambourne House

Sambourne House is a beautifully preserved time capsule of Victorian life.

The exquisite Grade II-listed building is the former home of legendary Victorian illustrator and photographer Edward Linley Sambourne.

Explore five storeys of rarities and get a glimpse into how the other half lived in the nineteenth century.

  • Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 – 17:30 (last entry 16:30). Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Entry is £11 to £12 for adults and £5 for children (6 – 18). Under 5s can go for free.

15. Dennis Severs' House

If you’re looking for an immersive experience that will transport you to 18th-century London, look no further.

Dennis Severs’ House is a still-life drama. It’s hugely atmospheric with its candlelit rooms and beautiful period furniture. 

Take a tour and wander through the rooms of this historical imagining of London life in the 1700s. In one of the rooms, you might get the feeling you’re being watched… 

  • Opening hours: Friday – Sunday 12:00 – 15:15 and on Friday, also 17:00 – 20:15. Closed Monday – Thursday.
  • Tours are available at varying rates.

Explore London's most magnificent museums​

So, we’ve reached the end of our top 15 museums in London!

We hope we’ve taken some of the hard work out of researching which museum is right for you, whether you’re a history buff, an art ogler, a parent or simply looking to see the cream of the crop of the capital’s cultural offering.

Now, all that remains is to get yourself to London, plan how to get around the city and start checking off items on your museum bucket list!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are several hidden gem museums in London, such as the Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Charles Dickens Museum, and the Pollock’s Toy Museum. These museums may not be as well-known as some of the larger ones, but they offer unique experiences that are definitely worth a visit.

Yes, many museums in London offer immersive and virtual reality experiences for visitors. Some examples include the British Museum’s virtual reality tour of the Emperor’s Palace in Ancient Rome, the Tate Modern’s interactive art installations, and the Science Museum’s Wonderlab exhibition, which features various interactive exhibits and live demonstrations.

London has many museums that cater to children and families. As well as the Horniman Museum, the Young V&A Museum and Madame Tussaud’s, some great options to visit with kids are the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Museum of London Docklands.