Best Museums in London:
When you visit the grand city of London, England museums should be a part of your trip. I understand that any travel can get boring and repetitive if you just venture into museums all day, so I have tried to pick only the best museums in London and given you a complete list if you want to change things up a bit. There are dozens of London museums to choose from and the most popular are ones like The National Gallery, British Museum, and the Natural History Museum. If you have children along on the trip then you may have to switch just what museums you see as I know that kids get sick of looking at paintings all day long or learning about history that is beyond them. I feel overwhelmed when entering a museum like The National Gallery in London since it's loaded with great works of art and unless you have read up on the key pieces on display you may be lost when looking at them all. It's best to buy a guide book on London and get the lowdown on what areas of museums like this are important to view. You can literally cut down your visit from 3 hours to 1 1/2 hours and still see all the major pieces.
My personal feeling is that 2 museums each day is plenty mixed in with meals, pubs, and walking around London. There's no doubt that the museums in London offer lots to look at, but I find that getting out into the city and walking around is just as enlightening. If you have 2 days in London, I would recommend seeing The National Gallery, the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. For those with kids, check out a website dedicated to London museums that are good for children .
. If you have extra time in London or really like museums, we also suggest seeing the London Transport Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. You can find a complete list of museums and exhibits online HERE
. Even if you had a month, it would be hard to see everything in London, so pick those that interest you and try buying a London Museum pass to get the best deals in terms of admission prices. The good news is that the major museums are all FREE to enter which makes them a very economical activity to do when in London.
The National Gallery:
To begin with, it's FREE to the public and the galleries inside are worth a look. The museum is open daily from 10AM-6PM (9PM on Fridays) and the only days it's closed is on December 24-26 and January 1st. The museum is well thought out and the various era of paintings are broken down into color coded rooms. For a guide to the museum layout, see the floorplan map here
. There are brochures you get when you enter which also have the map and significants works of art located in each room. The museum is located right next to Trafalgar Square in one of the most central spots in all of London. Check out the location map here
. The nearest Underground stops are at Leicester Square or Charing Cross. For a quick look at the most popular works you can see in each wing, see the Gallery details here
. Famous pieces include Botticelli (Venus and Mars), Bellini (The Doge Leonardo Loredan), and van Eyck (The Arnolfini Portrait) - paintings from 1250 to 1500. Moving on to the 16th Century paintings - be sure to see Leonardo da Vinci (The Virgin of the Rocks), Michelangelo (The Entombment), Raphael (The Madonna of the Pinks), and Titian (Bacchus and Ariadne). The 17th Century paintings include ones from Rubens, Vermeer, Rembrandt (self portrait), and Van Dyck. As you move to the 18th Century and beyond you find Van Gogh (Sunflowers), Monet, Degas, and Cezanne paintings. If you are doing the self guided tours get the audio guides to help. You should be able to get through the museum in roughly 1 1/2 hours. We were lucky enough to see the Picasso Prints when we were there in March 2009. The official website is at Nationalgallery.co.uk
Once again you will be happy to note that the museum is FREE to everyone and it's open daily from 10AM to 7:30 PM (later on Thursday and Friday). It too is closed on Jan 1 and Dec 24-26. There is an excellent map of the floorplan online HERE
. There is a ground floor, lower floor, and upper floor, all of which are to find once inside. The highlights for me is Room 18 and 19 with the Greece Parthenon relics and items from Athens. Room 4 has the famous Rosetta Stone that dates back to 196 BC. The Egyptian mummies in Room 62 are interesting to view as well. You can get an audio tour of the museum and with so much to see it's probably a good idea so you can hear background and history on certain items that interest you. Check with the Tours Desk as you enter to see if any guided tours are being offered at the time you arrive. The British Museum is easy to access as it's a short walk from the Tottenham Court Road tube station. An excellent map can be found Online HERE
Other Top London Museums:
Everyone has their own interest and with that in mind there are literally dozen's of museums in London that you could possible see. A complete list of located online
. Some of my other favorites include the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms
- an historic look back on WWII from the perspective of Winston Churchill in London. There is an admission charge and expect to spend about 90 minutes viewing the exhibits. The London Transport Museum
is another interesting spot that is located near the Covent Garden Piazza. There is a charge for entrance and it's open daily (except for a few holidays). You get a chance to see over 80 road and rail vehicles that have been used over the last 2 centuries. There are also posters and photographs on exhibit. Lastly, the Natural History Museum
is open daily and admission is free. Get off at the South Kensington tube station and follow the signs to the museum. Kids like this place as well as adults and it you can spend a few hours here easy. See dinosaurs, mammals, learn about volcanos and earthquakes, and see rocks, minerals and gemstones. To get an idea of how the building is layed out, see the floorplans map here