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London has a great variety of world class museums and galleries. Most of the major venues also have free admission, although voluntary donations are 'encouraged' and special exhibitions often have an admission charge. If you are interested in the subject matter, many of these museums and galleries will take at least a day of your time.
As many are so large, a good approach is to make several visits spread over your visit made possible by the free admission. Some of the museums also have late night openings. All have restaurants and most will have workshops and lectures available.
On this page, we talk about official museums. Attractions such as Madame Tussauds and London Dungeon are discussed on their own dedicated pages and are listed under our most popular sights section in the right menu.
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Free these museums may be, but they are all world class and most of them very, very large. They are so large that you may find it a good ploy to make several visits of a couple of hours each. Many of the museums have evening open hours.
Victoria & Albert museum is the acknowledged greatest museum in the world devoted to decorative arts. Exhibits are drawn from around the world, both modern and ancient. The museum has the largest collection of Renaissance sculpture outside Italy, the largest collection of Indian art outside India, similarly Chinese and Japanese. In stark contrast the British Galleries house furniture, ceramics and sculpture unfolding the story of British design from 1500.
The Natural History Museum is the home of the national collections of living and fossil plants, animals, and minerals with many specimens on display. What attracts most attention are the dinosaur exhibits, including robotic life size examples. A full scale exhibit of a whale also leaves a lasting impression. From the outside the museum looks more like a palace and is truly impressive. The museum was built between 1873 and 1881.
The Science Museum traces the development of science and industry and their influence on life. There is something here for everyone, including plenty of hands on exhibits and workshops for the kids. Over 300,000 exhibits covering the entire history of western science, technology and medicine.
One of the world's greatest museums of human history and culture. Its collections, which number more than 13 million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present.
The terms of reference of the museum cover both world wars and all military operations in which Britain or the Commonwealth have been involved since August 1914. It doesn't glorify war, and certainly covers all aspects including the human and civilian side of warfare.
Largest dedicated museum to London, tracing London from its beginnings to modern day. The Museum of London is one of the world's largest urban history museums and cares for over two million objects in its collection.
Discover some of the world's most exciting and significant books, from Magna Carta and the Gutenberg Bible, to Handel and the Beatles. See the earliest versions of some of the greatest works of English literature, including Alice's Adventures Under Ground and Shakespeare's First Folio.
The Bank of England Museum tells the story of the Bank of England from its foundation in 1694 to its role today as the United Kingdom's central bank. The historical displays include material drawn from the Bank's own collections of books, documents, silver, prints, paintings, bank notes, coins and photographs. There is a display of gold, including Roman and modern gold bars.
One of the most powerful large light cruisers ever built, HMS Belfast is now the only surviving vessel of her type to have seen active service during the Second World War. Serving Britain for 32 years, she played an important role in both the Second World War and the Korean War as well as performing peacekeeping duties throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The ship is now moored in the Pool of London, London's original dock.
The underground war rooms, also known as Churchill War Rooms, where Winston Churchill directed the 2nd World War whilst London was being bombed during the Blitz. Highlights are some of the most important rooms, including the Map Room, the Cabinet Room and Churchill's bedroom. The Churchill Museum part of the attraction chronicles the life of Winston Churchill.
You can walk across Tower Bridge at all times, but this attraction allows you to go one step further. The Tower Bridge Exhibition is inside the most famous bridge in the world.
Lifts take you high above the traffic deck to the high level walkways where you can take your photographs unobstructed by glass. Another part explores the engine rooms that enable the bridge to lift, (which it still performs today).
As its name implies, this museum is all about London's public transport. Highlights at the London Transport Museum is more than 80 road and rail vehicles in its collection representing public transport in the city and its suburban and country areas over the last two centuries, supported by displays to provide history and insight.
Book discounted London sightseeing and attraction tickets
• Hop-on hop-off buses • Madame Tussauds • London Eye • Tower of London • Tower Bridge • The Shard • War of the Worlds • Wesminster Abbey • Historic royal palaces and more...
|London Eye||Amazing panoramic flight on the world's highest observation wheel. » Fast track tickets available.|
|The Shard||Tallest building in Western Europe with viewing of London from the top. » Fast track tickets available.|
|St Paul's Cathedral||Cathedral of the Diocese of London, venue for royal weddings. » Pre-book to guarantee entry.|
|Westminster Abbey||Along with St Paul's, England's main religious building.» Pre-book to guarantee entry.|
|Tower of London||Home of the Crown Jewels and a rich thousand year history. » Fast track tickets available.|
|Madame Tussauds||See wax statues of the most famous people in the world. » Fast track tickets available.|
|London Dungeon||The creepiest attraction in town, the London Dungeon. » Fast track tickets available.|
|Hampton Court Palace||Henry VIII Medieval Palace set in vast grounds. » Pre-book to save money.|
|The London Zoo||World class zoo in the centre of London. » Flexi tickets available.|