London Drum

Top 10 Best Museums To Visit in London

Here’s our pick of the ten best museums in London. You can also look for museum exhibitions today, museum exhibitions tomorrow, museum exhibitions this weekend, museum exhibitions this week, museum exhibitions in June and museum exhibitions in July

1 Natural History Museum

Natural History MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5.50 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 20 mins before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 3 hours

No.1 in our list is the Natural History Museum. We’ve ranked it first because it’s entertaining for both adults and kids – and how many museums can say that?

If you visited the museum as a child then you probably still remember the big dinosaur skeleton in the hall. That’s been replaced by the bones of a great whale diving down from the ceiling now, but they do still have the atmospheric dinosaur rooms. They’ve got the bones of a Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Pterodactyl in there, plus a huge animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex.

After that comes a dead zoo where you’ll find the stuffed bodies of elephants, lions, tigers, giraffes, gorillas… practically every animal you can think of.

2 British Museum

British Museum
Opening times?
10 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun); 10 AM to 8.30 PM (Fri); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2½-3 hours

We’re not sure the British Museum can be considered ‘fun’, but it is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest museums, so that’s why it’s riding high at No.2.

If you’re interested in ancient civilisations then they have an extensive collection of Egyptian artefacts including some huge statues, sarcophagi and tomb stelae, wrapped and unwrapped mummies, and lots of hieroglyphic texts including the famous Rosetta Stone.

Their Persian and Roman sections are great as well. They’ve even got a couple of reconstructed temples and colossal city gates. The Greek section is best known for the controversial Elgin Marbles.

The British section includes pieces from the Mildenhall treasure horde and the Sutton Hoo burial mound.

3 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

The highlight of a visit to the V&A Museum is the Cast Room. The Victorians went around the world taking plaster casts of the world’s greatest statues and columns and created life-size copies of them back in England. And when we say the world’s greatest statues and columns, that’s exactly what we mean – you can see Michelangelo’s David and a huge chunk of Trajan’s Column in here!

The museum also has a very fine collection of artworks by Gainsborough, Constable and Turner, plus some of Raphael’s preparatory studies for the Sistine Chapel.

If you’re into fashion then there’s a huge collection of clothes from 18th-century Royal robes to the floral hippy gear and miniskirts that they wore in the sixties.

4 Science Museum

Science MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 6 PM (Wed-Sun until 3 Jul, then Mon-Sun from 4 Jul); Last entry 45 mins before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2½ hours, plus another hour if you watch an IMAX movie

Here’s another one that we recommend for kids. The Science Museum is especially great if your kids are interested in space because they’ve got some life-size rockets and a mock-up of the Apollo moon lander.

Another highlight is the aircraft hangar they’ve got halfway up the building, and yes, you did read that right – there’s a huge hall filled with airplanes and helicopters halfway up the building.

You can see some early cars and steam trains in the Making the Modern World exhibition, and the computer section has a nostalgic display of home computers that you probably remember playing with as a kid.

5 Churchill War Rooms

Churchill War RoomsPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
9.30 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Price?
Adults £29.00; Children £14.50 (5-15); Infants free (under-5)
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2½-3 hours

If you’re interested in World War II then a visit to the Churchill War Rooms is a total no-brainer. This is the underground bunker where Churchill directed the war. You can walk through all the gloomy corridors and peer into the pokey little rooms where they worked and slept whilst the Luftwaffe rained bombs down on Whitehall.

You can also see the War Cabinet room where the politicians worked, the Transatlantic Telephone Room where Churchill spoke to Roosevelt, and the Map Room and Chief of Staff’s Conference Room where the Army, Navy and Air Force plotted their battles.

6 Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5 PM (Wed-Sun); Closed (Mon-Tue); Last entry 30 mins before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 1 hour

Not many tourists ever think to visit this place (not many tourists have even heard of it) – but trust us, this place is definitely worth a visit. From the outside it just looks like a normal townhouse, but you won’t believe it when you step through the front door.

Sir John Soane’s Museum is packed tight with ancient artefacts. Every wall seems to have a marble bust, stone statue, glass vase, Roman plate or roof slate on it… every space has a piece of history squeezed into it.

It really does have to be seen to be believed. It’s as if he tried to squeeze the entire contents of the British Museum into this one little townhouse.

You can also see some important paintings by the likes of Canaletto and William Hogarth, but the highlight is what you’ll find in the basement… the 3,300-year-old sarcophagus of the Egyptian Pharaoh Seti I.

7 Museum of London

Museum of LondonPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
The museum is closing on the 4th Dec 2022 and will re-open again after relocating to Smithfield Market
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2 hours

The Museum of London tells the story of the city from prehistoric times to the present day. It begins with all the hunter-gatherer bones and axe heads, and then moves onto what’s left of Roman Londinium.

The medieval section has a nice collection of religious treasures from the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and then there’s a little exhibition about the plague and Great Fire of London. After that comes a Victorian street with full-sized shopfronts that you can peer into. Then comes the Blitz and Swinging Sixties.

8 Imperial War Museum

Imperial War MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 30 mins before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2-3 hours

There are quite a few war museums in London but the biggest and best is the Imperial War Museum, housed inside a very impressive building south of Waterloo.

The first thing you’ll see when you enter the door are some warplanes hanging from the ceiling like giant chandeliers. There are military vehicles everywhere: jeeps, tanks, artillery pieces and midget submarines, the cockpit of a Lancaster Bomber, plus a huge collection of guns, grenades, uniforms and helmets.

Their World War I exhibition is particularly strong, but you’re probably better off going to the Churchill War Rooms if you’re looking for World War II.

9 National Maritime Museum

National Maritime MuseumPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 45 mins before closing
Price?
Free
Time required?
A typical visit takes 2-21½ hours

The National Maritime Museum tells the story of the British Navy from the early days of Henry VII, through the Spanish Armada, right up to the North Atlantic battles of World War II.

The exhibition is particularly strong when it comes to the British Empire and the East India Company, and there’s a great little exhibition about the Battle of Trafalgar – including the actual jacket and bloodstained clothes that Admiral Nelson wore aboard HMS Victory.

10 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 half-museum and half-art gallery. There’s a lot of beautiful porcelains, golden bowls and jewellery, and lots of religious treasures as well. They also have a very good collection of medieval armour and racks full of swords and shields, pistols, rifles and deadly crossbows.

Their art rooms contain a lot of very famous artists like Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Canaletto, plus two of Britain’s biggest names: Reynolds and Gainsborough.

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