What makes London museums and galleries even more attractive? Many favourites won’t cost you a penny! Whether you’re planning a budget weekend in the city or have plenty of cash to splash, a couple of hours of free entertainment is always welcome. 

With more than 170 museums and galleries in London, choosing just a couple can seem impossible. Here are some of the best to help narrow down your planning: 

Natural History Museum 

Natural History Museums around the world are as exciting for adults as kids, and London is home to one of the best. Get ready to be blown away from the moment you step inside. 

The Natural History Museum welcomes visitors with a gigantic blue whale skeleton hanging from the cathedral-inspired ceiling. When you arrive, be sure to spend some time admiring Hope (that’s her name) from the Hintze Hall. 

There are many things to discover while walking around the Natural History Museum. The galleries include British Wildlife, Dinosaurs, Human Evolution, Oceans and Space – something for everyone! 

The museum is home to over 80 million objects spanning thousands of years. Family favourites include the Dinosaurs gallery and volcanoes and earthquakes exhibits. Whether you have a couple of hours or a whole day to spare, there’s more than enough to keep you busy. 

Tube station: South Kensington (Circle and District lines) is 5 minutes walk, Gloucester Road (Circle, District and Picadilly lines) is 12 minutes 

Train station: London Victoria 

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:50 (last entry at 17:00) 

Victoria And Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum, or V&A, is another of the most famous museums in London. It’s easy to see why! This is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, boasting a diverse collection that spans architecture, jewellery, fashion, furniture and more. 

Theatre and performance collections include more than 3,500 stage costumes from the 18th century to the present day. See the costume worn by Fred Astaire in Shall We Dance and eye-catching creations worn by Mick Jagger and Elton John. If you enjoy historical fashions, you might also like the wedding dress Collection. Check out breathtaking 18th-century gowns and beautiful modern designs when you wander through this atmospheric gallery. 

The V&A Museum is in South Kensington, next to the Natural History Museum. Why not combine trips? 

Tube station: South Kensington (Circle and District lines), is 5 minutes walk Gloucester Road (Circle, District and Picadilly) is 10 minutes 

Train station: London Victoria is 35 minutes walk 

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:45 

London Science Museum 

The London Science Museum is jam-packed with exciting things to see, an easy choice if you’re visiting the capital with kids or teenagers. Plus, the exhibitions here let you interact with science first-hand. 

Explore over 15,000 objects on display, including the famous spacecraft that brought Tim Peake back to earth from the International Space Station. There’s also a piece of the moon on display! Not to mention lots of interactive galleries that bring learning to life. 

See lightning strike, admire a starry sky, fly a Red Arrows jet in a 3D simulator or watch a film on the IMAX screen. Enjoy live shows and demonstrations, ride down friction slides in the Forces Zone or build colourful geometric shapes in the Maths Zone. One thing’s for sure – you won’t be bored here. 

The London Science Museum is in South Kensington, close to Hyde Park, Harrods and the Royal Albert Hall. 

Tube station: South Kensington tube station (Circle and District lines) is 5 minutes walk, while Gloucester Road (Circle, District and Picadilly lines) is 15 minutes 

Train station: London Victoria is 38 minutes walk 

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 18:00 (last entry at 17:15) 

National Maritime Museum 

The National Maritime Museum is part of the Royal Museums Greenwich family, including the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark and the Queen’s House. Greenwich itself is worth the journey. The beautiful London borough sits on the banks of the River Thames, famous for its maritime history and home to a prestigious university campus and Royal Park. Not to mention the Prime Meridian Line! 

Back to the museum, the largest of its kind in the world, where visitors can discover incredible stories of adventure and exploration. The National Maritime Museum is home to boats, uniforms and equipment from centuries of sea adventures. 

See Turner’s Battle of Trafalgar, the artist’s most extensive work depicting the famous naval battle. The museum displays the jacket Nelson was wearing when he was shot and killed in action. Look closely for the bullet hole where the fatal shot went in. There are also sculptures and touchable objects to discover, and a pocket watch worn by a passenger on the Titanic. Find navigational instruments used by Christopher Colombus and Francis Drake or check out a special exhibition; The National Maritime Museum hosts an ever-changing programme of temporary displays. 

The museum is straightforward to get to from Central London and within easy walking distance of Greenwich town centre and its other Royal Museums. It also backs onto beautiful Greenwich Park, so you can stretch your legs before or after your visit, heading up to the crest of the hill for spectacular views over London. 

Tube station: Docklands Light Railway (DLR) services run to Cutty Sark station, connecting with the tube at Bank (Central and Waterloo & City lines) and Stratford (Central and Jubilee lines) 

Train station: Greenwich is 9 minutes walk 

Opening times: Daily between 09:00 and 17:00 

Old Royal Naval College 

The Old Royal Naval College is also in Greenwich; just one more reason to head here for a full day out in London! This unique institution sits at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting a series of magnificent Baroque buildings that were the backdrop to the 2022 New Year’s fireworks. 

Visit England voted the Old Royal Naval College the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2020, and it’s easy to see why. The buildings and grounds attract over a million visitors annually, with tourists keen to explore centuries of history both inside and out. It’s also a popular filming location; special tours are available for film fans to see their favourite sets in real life. 

Head to the Visitor Centre or enjoy the riverside grounds for free. You can also visit the Chapel of St David and Paul for free and even attend a service.  

If you buy a ticket (which we highly recommend), you’ll be able to visit the Painted Hall, the jewel in the crown of the Old Royal Naval College. Often called Britain’s Sistine Chapel, this stunning hall boasts one of the most spectacular Baroque interiors in Europe. Admire the painted ceiling and intricate wall decorations by Sir James Thornhill, which took 19 years to complete – it’s easy to see why! 

Tube station: Cutty Sark (DLR) is 3 minutes walk 

Train station: Maze Hill 

Opening hours: Every day from 10:00 to 17:00 

Getting around London’s museums 

Finding your way around London is relatively straightforward, thanks to the city’s world-class public transport system. Simply hop on a tube and get to your next destination in minutes. 

If you’re exploring museums, you can enjoy a leisurely day without long commutes; many of London’s best are within walking distance of one another. 

Take the Natural History, Victoria and Albert and London Science museums. All three are clustered together in South Kensington. Simple! Just take the tube to South Kensington station and browse the day away. Or head to Greenwich and visit the National Maritime Museum, Old Royal Naval College, Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory. Hop on a train to Greenwich station – it couldn’t be easier. 

How to use trains, tubes and busses in London 

It’s the same whether you’re taking a London overground, tube or bus. Just tap your contactless payment card or device on the yellow circle at any station entrance or next to the driver on London busses. For trains and undergrounds, tap off in the station before leaving. Busses charge a flat fare of £1.55, so just hop off at your stop – no need to tap! 

Travelling by train to London?

If you're thinking of spending some time in London, why not take the train? Travelling to London by train is simple due to the high-speed rail connections operated by 28 major train companies across the UK. You can travel to London from some of the most popular cities in the UK, including Oxford to London (47m), Manchester to London (2h 3m) and Brighton to London (1h).

Need more information about travelling to London by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to London.