London is known for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe and it might be true. But you can also find many places to visit and activities to do for free, including museums. Most museums and galleries in London are completely free of charge. Here’s a list of the best free museums to visit in London so you can choose which ones to visit.
Please note that although museums are free, charges may apply for special temporary exhibitions.
In this post you will find:
Best free museums in London
The British Museum is one of the most famous and visited museums in the world. Here you will find the most important collection of ancient Egypt in the world after the Museum of Cairo. In addition to the Egyptian collection you will find collection of artefacts from all over the world, including highlights such as the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures. British Museum neoclassical building is immense and was opened to the public in 1759. The Great Court, designed by British architect Norman Foster, opened in December 2000 and is the largest covered square in Europe.
Opening Hours: 10.00 – 17.30 hs / Fridays until 20.30 hs – British Museum official website
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum of London is my favorite, not for its collection but because of its building. The main hall is breathtaking and reminded me of a church or Hogwarts too. The museum is even sometimes called a “Cathedral of Nature” because of its cathedral-like design. Located in South Kensington neighborhood, the Natural History Museum houses a collection that contains some 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens.
It is a very beautiful museum and the collection is super entertaining for children.
Opening Hours: 10.00-17.50 hs – Natural History Museum official website
Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A)
Also in South Kensington neighborhood you will find the Victoria & Albert Museum, an art and design museum founded in 1852. The V&A houses one of the world’s greatest collections of decorative arts, in varied fields as ceramics, sculpture, jewels, clothes, and photography. You will see all kind of objects from many cultures of the world.
Opening Hours: 10.00 – 17.45 hs / Fridays until 22 hs – Victoria & Albert official website
The National Gallery in London is located in Trafalgar Square and it houses one of the best collections in the world of paintings from the 13th to the 19th century. You will find works by artists such as Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and many more. National Gallery was founded in 1824 and was built in London central area with the objective that anyone in London could enjoy the gallery.
Opening Hours: 10.00-18.00 hs / Fridays until 21 hs – National Gallery official website
National Portrait Gallery
Just behind the National Gallery building is the National Portrait Gallery, a museum distinguished by having the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. You will find paintings of characters such as William Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, football player Bobby Charlton and of course Queen Elizabeth II. You will also find contemporary photographic portraits.
Opening Hours: 10.00-18.00 hs / Thursdays and Fridays until 21 hs – National Portrait Gallery official website
If you prefer modern and contemporary art, Tate Modern is your museum. Tate Modern is located on the south bank of the River Thames at Bankside and the building is the former Bankside Power Station. Tate Modern holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. In addition to seeing amazing modern art, you can also admire a beautiful view of London from Tate Modern’s terrace, completely free! Tate Modern is part of the Tate Museum group together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.
Opening Hours: 10.00 – 18.00 hs / Fridays and Saturdays until 22 hs – Tate Modern official website
Other free museums in London:
- Science Museum: educational and entertaining exhibits, ideal for visiting with children.
- Museum of London: The history of London, from prehistoric times to the present.
- Saatchi Gallery: latest trends in contemporary art.
- Tate Britain: national collection of art.
- Royal Air Force Museum: The Museum of the Royal British Air Force is located at an airfield and houses more than 100 aircrafts.
- Museum of London Docklands: It shows the history of the city from Roman settlement to the development of Canary Wharf.
- The Museum of Methodism: shows the history of the Methodist movement from John Wesley to the present day. The museum is located in London’s Shoreditch area.
Paid attractions in London
As you can see there are plenty of places to visit in London without spending a penny. However paid attractions in London aren’t cheap at all, that’s why there are two tourist cards that allow you to save some money: London Pass and London Explorer Pass.
If you buy the London Pass (which includes entry to more than 80 London attractions) you can also use it in many of London’s free museums to have a free audio guide so you don’t miss any details.
For more info about the passes read: London Pass vs London Explorer Pass: which is better for you?
Other London posts that you might like:
- Best Budget places to stay in London
- Complete 4 day London itinerary
- London architecture guide: the best buildings to visit
- Visiting the Tower of London: is it worth it?
- Stonehenge day trip from London
- How to get to Oxford from London
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