With the likes of Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Monet, and Van Gogh lining its walls, it's no wonder why millions of art lovers flock to the National Gallery in London each year.

Not only is the National Gallery one of the most famous art museums in the world, it also contains some of the biggest and most diverse painting collections on the planet, with artwork from the French Impressionists, the Italian Renaissance, the late medieval period and much more.

Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery's location was chosen specifically because the historic square is considered by many to be the “heart” of central London. Originally, however, the National Gallery was located in a small Pall Mall townhouse which was owned by John Julius Angerstein (whose 38 paintings were the first to be added to the gallery), but due to the collections' massive expansion, it was eventually moved to Trafalgar Square in 1838.

Not just limited to artwork, today the National Gallery hosts numerous temporary exhibits throughout the year, as well as family workshops for children, and even regular concerts.

National Gallery, artwork. By David Bramhall National Gallery, artwork. By David Holt
National Gallery, entrance signs. By David Holt National Gallery, exterior. By Wally Gobetz National Gallery, interior. By Rudolf Schuba

National Gallery Highlights

Some of the many world-famous works of art you can expect to see at the National Gallery include:

  • “The Virgin of the Rocks” (Leonardo da Vinci, around 1491/2-9 and 1506-8)
  • “A Young Woman standing at a Virginal” (1670-2, Johannes Vermeer)
  • “The Arnolfini Portrait” (Jan van Eyck, 1434)
  • “The Toilet of Venus” ('The Rokeby Venus') (Diego Velázquez, 1647-51)
  • “The Fighting Temeraire” (Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1839)
  • “Sunflowers” (Vincent van Gogh,1888)
  • “Venus and Mars” (Sandro Botticelli, circa 1485)
  • “Bacchus and Ariadne” (Titian, 1520-3)
  • “Bathers at La Grenouillère” (1869, Claude Monet)
  • “The Supper at Emmaus” (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1601)
  • “Equestrian Portrait of Charles I” (Anthony van Dyck, circa 1637-8)
  • “Samson and Delilah” (Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1609-10)
  • “Self Portrait at the Age of 34” (Rembrandt, 1640)
  • “The Baptism of Christ” (Piero della Francesca, 1450s)
  • “The Madonna of the Pinks” ('La Madonna dei Garofani') (Raphael, circa 1506-7)

Special Tips

  • If you want to purchase an audio tour, it's cheaper if you combine one tour with the Collection audio tour package.
  • If you like podcasts, then make sure you download the National Gallery podcast for more background information about the art that is currently displayed, as well as tours you can listen to during your visit.
  • Perhaps it may go without saying, but reserve at least half an hour before or after your visit to the museum to check out Trafalgar Square; (and make sure you snap some photos of Nelson's Column, one of the most iconic landmarks in London!)
  • There is a National Gallery Membership which costs £50, so members can get free entry into exhibitions for 12 months, and also take part in Members'-only events and special offers.