London Drum

Top 10 Best Art Galleries To Visit in London

Here are the top ten London galleries we recommend to art-loving tourist. You can also look for art exhibitions today, art exhibitions tomorrow, art exhibitions this weekend, art exhibitions this week, art exhibitions in July and art exhibitions in August

1 National Gallery

National GalleryPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun); 10 AM to 9 PM (Fri)
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2-2½ hours

The National Gallery isn’t just the best art gallery in London, it’s up there with the Louvre and Metropolitan as one of the best galleries in the world.

The Sainsbury Wing is where they keep all the Renaissance artists like Titian, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. The West Wing has French, Italian and Dutch paintings by Michelangelo, Correggio and El Greco. The North Wing displays artworks by the likes of Rubens, Renoir, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Vermeer. You’ll also find works by Cézanne, Seurat and Vincent Van Gogh, and famous British painters like Constable and JMW Turner.

If you only have time to visit one art gallery during your trip to London then make it this one.

2 Tate Britain

Tate BritainPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 1½-2 hours

Tate Britain focuses on British art from the 16th-century onwards, and features famous names like Bacon, Blake, Hockney, Gainsborough and Constable.

Some of the most popular paintings in the gallery are John Millais’ Ophelia and John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott.

The greatest English painter of all-time, JMW Turner, and gets an entire wing all to himself. Contemporary artists include David Hockney, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

3 Courtauld Gallery

Courtauld GalleryPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 45 mins before closing
Price?
Adults £13.00; Children free (under-18)
Time required?
A typical visit takes 1-1½ hours

Despite possessing one of the finest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist art in Europe, not many tourists think to visit the Courtauld Gallery.

It’s worth a visit simply to see inside the courtyard of Somerset House with its pleasant pavement cafe and dancing fountains, but once inside the gallery you’ll be treated to works by some of the greatest names in art: people like Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin, Manet, Monet and Botticelli.

The most famous pieces are probably Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear and Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère.

The only downside is the entry cost. Unless you’re a real art lover you’re probably better off just visiting the National Gallery instead because it’s free.

4 Wallace Collection

Wallace CollectionPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Sun)
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 1½-2 hours

The Wallace Collection is more of a museum than an art gallery, but it does have a very nice collection of paintings. The reason we’ve ranked it so high up is because of the rooms – some of them wouldn’t look out of place inside Buckingham Palace.

There are around seventy paintings on display by famous names like Reynolds, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, Titian and Delacroix.

The best-known artworks are probably Velázquez’s Lady With a Fan and The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals.

5 Victoria & Albert Museum

Victoria & Albert MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5.45 PM (Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun); 10 AM to 10 PM (Fri); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2-3 hours

Okay, so strictly speaking the Victoria & Albert Museum isn’t an art gallery either, but the quality of its paintings surpass most of the proper galleries.

The highlight is undoubtedly Raphael’s preparatory studies for his work in the Sistine Chapel, but they also have a huge collection of British art that rivals the one at Tate Britain. There’s a huge number of pieces by the likes of Landseer, Reynolds, Constable, Gainsborough and JMW Turner.

6 Tate Modern

Tate ModernPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 45 mins before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2-2½ hours

Tate Modern is the most popular art gallery in London, and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the entire capital.

The gallery specialises in modern and contemporary art, boasting famous names like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon and more. When they concentrate on these famous names the paintings are great… it’s only when they move onto the modern-day painters then you’re either going to love it or hate it.

The building itself is monumental. It used to be an old power-station and when you walk inside the vast abandoned chasm of the Turbine Hall you feel like you’re standing in an empty cathedral.

The Blavatnik Building has an open-air observation deck with a great view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the City skyscrapers across the river.

7 Royal Academy of Arts

Royal Academy of ArtsPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 6 PM (Tue-Sun); Closed (Mon); Last entry 30 mins before closing
Time required?
A typical visit takes 30-45 mins

The Royal Academy of Arts is housed inside a very impressive mansion on Piccadilly.

It’s permanent collection is only accessible on a tour of the John Madejski Fine Rooms, but includes works by Constable, Gainsborough and Reynolds. At other times you’ll have to settle for one of their temporary art exhibitions.

It’s best known for its annual Summer Exhibition.

8 Guildhall Art Gallery

Guildhall Art GalleryPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10.30 AM to 4 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 1-1½ hours

The highlight of a visit to the Guildhall Art Gallery isn’t the art – it’s the Roman amphitheatre in the basement.

The art collection upstairs is particularly strong in Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite works, and depict scenes of London life and its most famous buildings. They also have a few portraits of famous faces from London history – it’s all about London.

9 National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait GalleryPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
The gallery is currently closed for renovations, and is not expected to re-open again until 22nd June 2023
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 1½ hours

Surprisingly the National Portrait Gallery appears at No.7 in the list of London’s most visited attractions, whilst the National Gallery doesn’t feature at all. Don’t ask us to explain that because we can’t!

This gallery is a Who’s Who of famous names from British history. You’ll see portraits of famous kings, queens, politicians and celebrities.

They go from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, taking in Cromwell, Christoper Wren and Admiral Nelson along the way. They’ve got everyone from Shakespeare to The Beatles, via George Orwell and Charles Dickens.

If you’re interested in British history then you’ll love it, but if you’re just here for the art, then maybe not.

10 King’s Gallery

kingsgalleryPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon & Thu-Sun); Last entry 1¼ hours before closing
Price?
Adults £17.00; Children £9.00 (5-17); Infants free (under-5)
Time required?
A typical visit takes 45-60 mins

The last gallery in our Top 10 list is the King’s Gallery. This is where they hold temporary exhibitions of works from the Royal Collection. It’s not the largest gallery in the world and only consists of a few rooms, but the quality of artworks is usually outstanding.

In the past they’ve had exhibitions about Canaletto and Leonardo De Vinci, and displayed items from the Royal Collection like fine china, porcelain and Fabergé eggs.

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