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London Museums Itinerary Planner (Guide to 18 top London museums)

Our London museums itinerary planner provides information about 18 of London’s top museums. Grouped by interest including art, history, literature, military, maritime and those best for kids to help you choose which to add to your London itinerary.

If you’re into museums, then you’re going to adore spending time in London! The city offers an incredible range of institutions for people with a wide variety of interests. And the best part is that many of the UK’s impressive depositories and galleries are entirely free to enter!

That’s not all. As you may already know, the UK is prone to rain, so what better way to while away a wet weather day than by doing some museum hopping?

This guide will show you all the best places to go, from Charles Dicken’s real-life home just north of central London to the Tate Modern on the South Bank.

Boasting the Victoria and Albert arts museum, the Natural History Museum and The Science Museum, well-heeled South Kensington is also a great place for fans of fashion, nature and much more. 

This list comprises 18 of London’s finest museums. Following that, the museums have been categorised, so it’s easy to see at a glance which might interest history, art or literature fans. As well as those who are into maritime or military history specifically. 

The final list of four miscellaneous museums are all ideal for children, who will love the Science, Natural History and London Transport museums. They’ll also love the planetarium and the Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. 

  1. British Museum Tour | Semi-Private Experience OR Private Tour
  2. Tate Modern Tour | Semi-Private Experience OR Private Tour
  3. National Gallery London | Private Tour
  4. Private London WWII Tour | Imperial War Museum & Churchills War Rooms

An overview – London Museums by interest

3 history museums in London

  • The Museum of London
  • The British Museum
  • The Jewish Museum

4 art museums in London

  • The V&A
  • The Tate Modern
  • The National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery 
  • The Tate Britain

3 literary museums in London

  • The British Library
  • The Charles Dickens Museum
  • The Sherlock Holmes Museum

2 military museums in London

  • The Imperial War Museum
  • The Churchill War Rooms

2 maritime museums in London

  • The National Maritime Museum
  • The Cutty Sark

4 kids’ museums in London

  • The Natural History Museum
  • The Science Museum
  • The Royal Observatory Greenwich
  • The London Transport Museum

18 of the best London Museums

The British Museum

The British Museum is a popular choice in any London Museums Itinerary .

The British Museum is located in leafy, elegant Bloomsbury, which lies parallel to the Tottenham Court Road area and the eastern side of Oxford Street. It’s all about millions here – two million years of the history of man showcased as over eight million artefacts.

Like many London museums, it’s free to enter, though there may be a charge to see special exhibitions. You also need to book a slot online in advance. With over 50 galleries to explore, this is one of the ​​best historical places to visit in London when you have a whole day or at least several hours to spare.

The V&A

With well over two million items on display, the Victoria and Albert Museum in leafy South Kensington houses the biggest collection of art and design objects in the world.

This one’s a must for fans of interior design, fashion and the performance arts. If you love exploring human creativity, then you’ll adore the V&A, which was named after Queen Victoria and her husband. 

The Natural History Museum

If you have a nature lover in your family or group as well as a fan of the arts, then the Natural History Museum will keep them happy while visiting South Kensington.

Everything about the natural world is displayed and explored here. Entering the huge hall to see the current skeleton of a large creature is a jaw-dropping experience. 

The Imperial War Museum

The guns outside the Imperial War Museum included in

For young or old fans of all things military, the Imperial War Museum in London is fascinating. Here you can see lifelike reconstructions of the Blitz and typical trenches used by British soldiers.

There are also vehicles such as war planes and tanks on display and you can also find out how the royal family were involved in the war effort. 

The National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum belongs to the Royal Museums Greenwich group of institutions. It focuses on all things seafaring, and there are in excess of two million objects to discover. These include historic maps, naval artefacts and maritime memorabilia.

The stories told here cover this island nation’s rich maritime heritage, including shipbuilding, key naval battles and Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Science Museum

The Science Museum in London is actually part of the Science Museum Group. There are others in the north of England – namely York, county Durham, Bradford and Manchester.

While the others focus on topics such as railways, the media, locomotion and industry, the London branch is more general. Over three million science fans visit the one in South Kensington each year. 

The Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is located in Greenwich. It’s a sailing ship of historic significance, not least due to the fact that it was the fastest of its time. The vessel became famous due its quick journey times, and the tea clipper was also one of the last of its kind.

Today, visitors can get right underneath the ship, as it’s been raised up to allow for full exploration. For a decade, the Cutty Sark held the record for the quickest trip time between Australia and England. 

The London Transport Museum

Sited in Covent Garden, the London Transport Museum is in the centre of London. This is a great one to visit as a family, as there are plenty of vehicles that kids can actually climb into.

Relics from horse-powered days sit alongside more modern forms of transport.

A gift shop offering goods inspired by the new Elizabeth line covers current times, and the stories of stations past and what can be found nearby are also told here. 

The Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms – also known as the Cabinet War Rooms – are located at Whitehall and form part of the Imperial War Museum. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill lived and worked in these basement rooms during World War II.

If you want to witness historical things to see in London relating to the Second World War, then it would be easy to spend a whole day discovering the Imperial War Museum and the subterranean Cabinet War Rooms.

The Museum of London

Located in the redeveloped Barbican area of the city, the Museum of London charts the UK capital’s progress throughout history. Spanning the period between prehistoric and current times, you can explore the history of London’s people here.

Big events that shaped the city – such as the Great Fire of London – are also documented. From archeology and architecture to black and women’s history, there is plenty here to attract visitors with a variety of interests. 

The Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is positioned on the South Bank of the Thames and houses an art collection covering the last century. It’s one of four Tate galleries in the UK.

The exhibits include sculpture as well as paintings and other artworks.

Entry is free, and you don’t even need to book, unless for a special exhibition. From the early 1900s to modernism and beyond, all that’s exciting about the art of the last 100 years or so can be explored here. 

London’s National Portrait Gallery forms part of the National Gallery, so both can be found in central London, close to Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Covent Garden.

The Portrait Gallery showcases photos as well as paintings of famous people, including royalty.

The National Gallery’s collection includes paintings from the 1200s up to the 20th century. If you want to explore all eras, don’t miss the Tate Modern, as this covers from 1900 onwards. 

The Tate Britain

Tate Britain is the other Tate gallery in London. There are others in Liverpool and St Ives, Cornwall. For modern art lovers, the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank is the other option in the city.

Tate Britain shows off artwork from all over the UK, arranged according to date so you can clearly see the progress made throughout the centuries.

Expect to see works by sculptor Henry Moore and artist David Hockney, plus murals by Mark Rothko and much more.  

The Royal Observatory Greenwich

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is significant on a global scale – it’s home to Greenwich Mean Time, which sets the clocks for the entire planet.

The London Planetarium and the Prime Meridian Line can also be found here. Don’t miss the chance of grabbing a photo with one foot in each hemisphere!

The huge Great Equatorial Telescope is also one to take a look at during your visit. 

The British Library

There’s an incredible range of history here that goes way beyond the literary. The British Library is located on Euston Road, close to King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston train stations. There are 400 miles (or almost 650 kilometres) of shelving here.

Some 150 million items are stored here, including handwritten Beatles lyrics and the original Magna Carta.

A copy of every book published in the UK or Ireland is housed here. In addition to books, there are also magazines, newspapers, maps, journals, manuscripts, audio and video recordings and a whole lot more. 

The Charles Dickens Museum

Visiting the Charles Dickens museum is like stepping back in time, and the Georgian house near King’s Cross station was once the famous author’s home. Oliver Twist – possibly Dickens’ best-loved work – was written here.

As well as the house itself, the museum holds more than 100,000 objects relating to the life and times of Charles Dickens. These include paintings, manuscripts, rare books and personal belongings. This is the only London home of the author still standing. 

The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum is a fascinating place for anyone interested in semitic history. Here you can read haunting tales from the Holocaust of World War II, examine judaistic artefacts and even see a reproduction of a Jewish Quarter as per Victorian times.

All sorts of items relating to the culture and history of Jewish people can be found here. The museum is in northwest London, close to the vibrant and multicultural Camden Town area. 

The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Everyone’s favourite detective was the inspiration behind this privately-run museum in London. Not surprisingly, it’s situated on Baker Street in Marylebone. In fact 221B Baker Street is one of the best-known addresses in the British capital.

In the fictional world created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes lived at this address for over two decades between the late 1800s and the early 1900s.

If you visit, you can really feel how life must have been for the famous, entirely invented detective and his faithful sidekick Dr Watson. Coming here is de rigueur for fans of the TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and the late Una Stubbs. 

Map showing the Lonodon museum locations

Which London Museums will you visit?

Whether you plan to stick to one area – such as South Kensington with its trio of world-class institutions, or Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory – or to go with a theme, there are some fabulous museums in London to explore. Don’t forget that many of them are free to enter!

Whichever you choose, another thing to remember is to take note of the architecture. Many of London’s best museums are housed in some of the city’s most breathtaking buildings, making the structure itself a museum of sorts as much as the contents. 

From art and literature to the history of the city, Jewish culture, seafaring and war, London’s top museums are leaders in their field. If you’re wondering which will be your favourite London museum, there’s only one way to find out for sure!

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