Top 5 FREE MUSEUMS in London

the Shard, London

We all know how expensive London is. Every year the admission prices for various attractions rise as well as the cost of the public transport (tube). Add to that your accommodation cost and you are left with very little money to spend on food and souvenirs. That is, unless you are a millionaire (I read recently that the biggest number of millionaires live in London). Luckily, London has a lot of FREE MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES. Most of these museums are world-known and house many priceless artifacts that are important for a lot of nations. So, you may be in London but when you visit some of its museums you’ll feel like you’ve travelled to faraway places.

Here’s my list of top 5 free museums in London

1.The British Museum

Warning! It’s huge! It’s better to choose some parts of it that are of particular interest to you then to try to see it all. Unless, it’s really cold & rainy and you really like spending an entire day in a museum. When I first visited it I was shocked by the sheer number of visitors. Well, that’s because it’s free. So what can you see in the British Museum? I think the better question is what can’t you see there!:) It’s got around 8 million items spanning 1.8 million years of world civilization from the Egyptian, Greek and Roman galleries to Asian and American ones and everything in between. The museum was established in 1753 by Sir Hans Sloane which makes it one of the oldest museums in the world too. Some of the most famous exhibits include the Rosetta stone, Mixtec-Aztec Mosaic Mask, Parthenon Sculptures and Mildenhall Treasure. Be sure to check out the Reading room too!:) If you get hungry don’t worry. As in many other museums there’s a café as well as a souvenir shop (and toilets and a cloak room of course). There are also some temporary exhibitions for which you have to pay the ticket. This is valid for all the museums on this list.

2.Natural History Museum

What I particularly liked about this museum was the Dinosaurs Wing. You can see big life-like animatronic models and be scared by the sounds they make. It’s like you’re in a Jurassic Park movie (almost!). Apart from the dinosaurs you can see many other fossils, skeletons, gemstones and even journey through the Earth (via the escalators of course). 🙂 The building itself is really beautiful, especially the grand entrance. In the winter you can skate on an ice-rink in front of the museum. This is a very family friendly museum with a lot of hands-on exhibits for the kids. Did you know that many of the items were collected by Charles Darwin and Captain Cook’s botanist Joseph Banks?

3.V & A

Named after the royal couple, the queen Victoria and her husband Albert, this museum displays decorative arts. So, if you’re into jewellery, ceramics, metalwork, glass, sculptures and more you’ll be very happy in this museum. I especially liked the fashion collection and admired the dresses from the bygone eras. There’s a lovely courtyard too where you can sit on a bench and reflect on life (or chocolate) :). I guess I chose I quiet day when I visited it because it was almost empty which enabled me to roam freely through its many galleries and enjoy everything in utter silence. This is not usually the case with the free museums in London.  

4.Science Museum

It’s immensely popular and it’s just around the corner of the Natural History Museum. You can see spinning looms, steam engines, mummified cat and an Apollo 10 command Module which went around  the Moon in 1969, just to name a few of the exciting exhibits. You can learn about medicine or universe and get acquainted with the newest cutting edge technologies. The museum is very child-friendly.

5. Museum of London

I haven’t visited this museum yet but I had to put it on this list. I’m planning to explore it on my next trip to London which is in less than 12 days! Anyway, the Museum of London provides a detailed account of London life through the history. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing exhibits about Roman Londinium and to learn more about the Great Fire of London (I climbed the Monument!). I’m sure I’ll be surprised by its many items and that I’ll end the visit with a new-found knowledge about my favourite city in the whole world!:)

Here are some other free museums/galleries worth visiting: Tate Modern, National Gallery, Wallace Collection, Tate Britain, Imperial War Museum, National Maritime Museum, Horniman Museum, National Army Museum,  V&A Museum of Childhood, Museum of London Docklands, Geffrey Museum, Bank of England Museum, Burgh house, British Library, Royal Air Force Museum, Grant Museum of Zoology, The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Sir John Soane’s Museum.

Tate Modern

Which free museums have you visited?

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40 thoughts on “Top 5 FREE MUSEUMS in London

  1. Pingback: Museum of London – the Red Phone Box travels

  2. Pingback: Bank of England Museum, London – the Red Phone Box travels

  3. Hi Tanja, I love that London has so many great museums that are free. The British Museum and V&A are two of my faves. I have been to 4/5 of these, I have also not been to the Museum of London but it sounds interesting. I found the natural history museum a bit disappointing and antiquated, as did Laurence who said it has not really changed since he was a kid. I personally think the National Gallery would be on my top 5 as it has so many amazing paintings by some world-class artists – we popped in there just last week to check out the Turner and Canaletto paintings. Another free museum I did not see on your list next door which is also free is the National Portrait Gallery. Looking forward to a return visit to London already! ~ Jessica

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    1. yes, those two (the National Gallery and the National Portrait gallery) are strictly speaking galleries not museums:) I’ve been to the National gallery, it has a remarkable collection. I included them on the list at the end of the post:)

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  4. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad

    I have been to all except the V&A, which is terrible as I grew up very near London and live not far away now. I have visiting the V&A on my 30 before 30 list, and I’d better get a move on because I turn 30 in 2 weeks…!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing these Tanja! I’m moving to London next year, and I can’t wait to take in all the culture and history! I’ve only been to the British Museum, so all of these have been added to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Tanja, great list. I always think Greenwich is worth a visit as there are a few (free) museums there including the fabulous Maritime Museum and a great market (if that’s your thing too!) The Wallace Collection is also a wonderful free museum near Selfridges that I love

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  7. The Imperial War Museum has some fascinating exhibits. I am interested in the home front during WWII and there is an exhibit called “A Family in Wartime” or something similar. It recreates one family’s home during that time period. They also had a fashion during wartime exhibit last year that was fantastic.

    I haven’t been to the Museum of London either. I will be interested to see what you think of it.

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