With art museums, world history museums, war museums and even a Jack The Ripper museum, London has it all. As a matter of fact, with hundreds of museums to choose from, one could easily spend weeks in London strolling around its many museums without even visiting the city's landmarks or attractions.
Not only are the majority of London's most popular museums free to enter, many of them are arguably some of the best museums in the world, and contain thousands of artefacts and items you won't find anywhere else on the planet.
Whether you're interested in glancing over famous artwork at the Tate Modern or Tate Gallery, getting up close and personal with fascinating historic artefacts at the Natural History Museum or the British Museum, or even playing around with all sorts of different gizmos and gadgets at the Science Museum, you're bound to find at least one London museum that's right down your alley.
Some museums in London have a specific focus on the United Kingdom, Great Britain or the English capital (like the National Army Museum, the Museum of London and the London Transport Museum), while others have exhibitions which educate visitors on international affairs, politics and history (like the Imperial War Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and much, much more).
Some London museums even focus on a specific niche or individual (like The Sherlock Holmes Museum and The Jack The Ripper Museum), while others were founded by famous philanthropists who collected thousands upon thousands of items during their lifetime (like the Horniman Museum and the Sir John Soane Museum).
If you want to see as many museums as possible during your visit to London, or even if you only have time to visit a few and don't know which ones to see, here are some tips for checking out some of London's most popular museums:
If you want to visit a handful of museums during a short trip to London, it may be a good idea to look at a map and see which museums are closest to each other so you can visit them all in one or two days.
Luckily a handful of the most popular museums in London are located within walking distance to each other (like the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Army Museum, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum). However, other museums like the National Maritime Museum, the Museum of London Docklands and The Royal Observatory are quite a distance out of central London, but easy to get to via tube, train, bus or car.
Some museums are close to popular landmarks and attractions in London, so you could easily cover several different sites in one day. The Churchill War Rooms and the Household Cavalry Museum, for example, are close to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, as well as Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, while the Museum of London is close to St. Paul's Cathedral and The Gherkin.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum and British Museum, on the other hand, are located within walking distance to the Camden Markets, Madame Tussauds and The Regent's Park, while the National Maritime Museum is close to Cutty Sark and Greenwich Park.
Although many of London's most popular museums offer free entry (like the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the V&A Museum and the National Maritime Museum, just to name a few) others may have an entry cost.
Museum admission costs can be anywhere from £10 to £15 (for The Sherlock Holmes Museum and Jack The Ripper Museum) or £5 to 10 (for the Royal Observatory Greenwich), however you may be able to save money on ticket costs if you purchase your tickets online beforehand.
The Churchill War Rooms are perhaps the most expensive museum in London (costing £18 with a donation), followed by the London Transport Museum (£16 to 17); however, by purchasing a ticket to the London Transport Museum you will get unlimited daytime entry into all of its galleries and exhibitions for 12 months.
Other museums may have fees for special or temporary exhibitions, and may even have their own attractions inside (like the IMAX Theatre and flight simulators at the Science Museum). However, some museums (like the Natural History Museum) offer annual memberships so you can get into any temporary exhibitions, events or lectures for free.
Some museums may ask for a donation (like the Museum of London), however this is optional.
The majority of London's museums open around 10 a.m. and close between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., however if you have a specific museum in mind it may be a good idea to visit their website beforehand.
Be aware that some museums may not allow you to enter around half an hour before closing time, and some museums may even stay open later during the summer season, or during school holidays like half-term.
Most London museums are closed between December 24th and 26th of every year, and may even close on January 1st as well.
The majority of museums in London have their own toilet facilities and usually their own cafés and restaurants as well; (although they tend to be on the pricey side).
Normally photography and filming is allowed in museums for personal use only; however in some galleries or exhibitions photography may not be allowed. Some museums don't allow the use of tripods or flash photography, so always pay attention to the signs posted on walls during your visit.
London's museums are perhaps best visited when you don't have crowds of people blocking your view or children running around you, so you may want to avoid visiting a museum during a school holiday. However, if you happen to be in London during the busier periods, you may want to arrive at a museum as soon as it opens; otherwise be prepared for long queues and crowded areas.
Try to avoid bringing any large or bulky items with you when visiting a museum, as some may not have places to store your luggage. If you happen to be visiting a museum without any luggage facilities, you could also leave your luggage at various major rail stations like Waterloo, King's Cross, Charing Cross and Euston.