There are hundreds of museums in London, but with so much to see, travellers have to prioritize. Though we could easily expand our picks to 10—nothing personal, Natural History Museum, Design Museum, and National Maritime Museum—these are the five must-see stops on the city’s museum trail. Each of these museums offer free general admission.
British Museum: There’s a lot to love about this massive museum, from its staggering collection of ancient artefacts from around the world to its series of daily—and complimentary—guided tours and gallery talks. The museum hosts special events and stays open late (until 8:30pm) every Friday.
Museum of London: The Museum of London traces the city’s history all the way back to 450,000 BC, long before it existed, through modern times in a series of well-planned galleries and thoughtful exhibits. This is the best place to learn about and get up close with London’s fascinating past (and present).
The National Gallery: This iconic Trafalgar Square institution, which opened in 1838, houses more than 2,300 Western European paintings in its world-class permanent collection from the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, van Eyck, Turner—the impressive list goes on and on. If for some reason you only have time for one museum, make it this one.
Tate Modern: One of the world’s premier modern art museums, the Tate’s permanent collection includes works from Matisse, Turner, Hockney, Rothko, and so many more, all of which are displayed by movement. The museum unveiled its striking, much-anticipated new extension in 2016.
Victoria & Albert Museum: Located south of Hyde Park, near the Science Museum and Natural History Museum, the seven-floor V&A is spectacular in every way, from the building itself to its incredible collection of paintings, jewellery, sculptures, and exquisite fabrics.