Top 23 free museums in London

Make the most of your stay in the city with these top 23 free museums and galleries in London (in no particular order!)

Enjoy the best of London’s culture completely free, from world-class exhibitions to stunning art galleries and historic houses. Entry to the permanent collections of these museums and galleries is free; charges may apply for special exhibitions.

Discover all the free attractions in London and the city’s wonderful museums. It’s no surprise London is one of the world’s capitals of culture.

1. British Museum

Retrace the history of humankind through the British Museum’s amazing collection of artefacts from all over the world. Access to the permanent collection - including highlights such as the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures - is free. Read more

2. Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum. Photo: Jon Reid

Wander through the spectacular halls of the Natural History Museum, as you discover fascinating exhibits from the natural world, from dinosaurs’ skeletons to a giant blue whale model. Read more

3. National Gallery

Discover more than 2,000 paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century at the National Gallery. See works by Western European masters of painting such as Da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Van Gogh. Read more

4. Science Museum

Experience the wonders of science first-hand with the Science Museum’s interactive displays. Showcasing more than 15,000 objects, the permanent collection includes must-sees Apollo 10 command capsule and Stephenson’s Rocket. Read more 

5. Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

The Victoria and Albert Museum hosts one of the greatest collections of art and design objects in the world (more than 2.3 million, to be precise). Get lost in its beautiful galleries and retrace the history of creativity through fashion, furniture, sculpture, photography, jewellery and more. Read more

6. Tate Modern

Tate Modern. Photo: Jon Reid

See how a power station has been transformed into London’s centre for modern and contemporary art at Tate Modern. Catch world-class paintings, photographs and performance art, embrace the stunning view on the river from the gallery’s cafe, and explore the newly-opened Switch House. Read more

7. Museum of London

At the Museum of London, the history of the city is at your feet. Enjoy the interactive displays and follow the evolution of London from prehistoric times, through the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, up to the present time. Read more

8. Imperial War Museum

Discover the troubled history of modern war at the Imperial War Museum. Interesting displays will guide you through the stories of modern conflicts, from the First World War to the present day. Read more 

9. Horniman Museum and Gardens

Head to this unusual museum in Forest Hill to see its eclectic collection of musical instruments, anthropology and natural history, including a gigantic walrus. A true hidden gem! Read more

10. National Maritime Museum

Set in historic Maritime Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum showcases Britain’s naval history, from sea battles to exploratory expeditions. See ancient maps and ship models, and don’t miss the iconic uniform Nelson wore the day of the Battle of Trafalgar. Read more 

11. V&A Museum of Childhood

Visiting the V&A Museum of Childhood is like being a kid again, for one day. See a wide collection of childhood objects from the 1600s to the present day: toys, games, dolls and more. Read more

12. Sir John Soane’s Museum

Explore the former home of Sir John Soane, architect of the Bank of England. His historic residence contains a wide collection of paintings, architectural drawings and antiquities, plus the original sarcophagus of Seti I. Read more    

13. Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre

Did you know London has a Roman amphitheatre? Its circular walls were found by archaeologists working on the site of the Guildhall Art Gallery in 1988. Entry to both the gallery and the amphitheatre is free. Read more

14. Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection hosts a precious collection of 18th-century French paintings, together with works by Titian, Canaletto and Rembrandt. The superb building, situated just off Oxford Street, is a treasure in itself. Read more 

15. National Portrait Gallery

Head to the National Portrait Gallery to see the largest collection of portraits in the world. The museum’s focus is on the relationship between the artist and the subject portrayed in the picture, which gives an original insight into different times in history and society. Read more

16. Tate Britain

Tate Britain showcases the best of British art from 1500 to today, and it hosts the world’s largest collection of works by JMW Turner. Follow the Walk Through British Art and see stunning paintings by Gainsborough, Whistler, Bacon and Hirst. Read more 

17. Royal Air Force Museum

Retrace the history of aviation at this fascinating London museum. With more than 100 aircraft memorabilia under one roof, the Royal Air Force Museum is a spectacular account of the inner desire to take flight and the scientific endeavours to make it real. Read more

18. Wellcome Collection

Discover what it means to be human through the Wellcome Collection’s displays of science, medicine and psychology artefacts. Highlights include Darwin’s walking stick and a robot used in the human genome project. Read more

19. British Library

The UK’s national library is home to some of the world’s most important literary treasures, including the Magna Carta, Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketchbook and Shakespeare’s First Folio. Read more 

20. Whitechapel Gallery

Head to the Whitechapel Gallery for cutting-edge contemporary art by emerging and renowned artists. In addition to the exciting programme of exhibitions, the gallery hosts talks, events and workshops. Read more

21. Museum of London Docklands

Learn all about London’s history as a port with the Museum of London Docklands’ exhibits. The interactive displays recreate life during London’s 19-century naval hegemony. Read more

22. National Army Museum

Find out about the history of the army at the National Army Museum. Relive the history of the armed forces, from the British Civil Wars to the modern day, through a showcase of thousands of inspiring objects. Read more

23. Serpentine Galleries

In the middle of Hyde Park, the Serpentine Galleries (Serpentine Gallery and Serpentine Sackler) are two exhibition spaces devoted to displaying international contemporary art. Every summer, a new Serpentine Pavilion is set up in the Serpentine Gallery’s garden, showcasing the talent of a specific artist or architect. Read more

Explore by category