38 best museums in London in 2024

Small groups of people mill around inside the Great Court, which has a rounded white central gallery with a blue glass roof.
The Great Court at the British Museum © Trustees of the British Museum. Image courtesy of the British Museum.
From ancient history to modern art, explore the city with our list of the 38 best museums and galleries in London.

No visit to London is complete without checking out its fantastic selection of museums. Here are 38 of the best (in no particular order), from big hitters to quirkier specialist museums.

You'll see there's one to suit every interest and many of them are free to visit – take your pick, then use the London attractions map to work out how to get there and which one to visit next.

Fun and cool museums in London

1. British Museum

Step into the world-famous British Museum and revel in its amazing collection of rare and historic artefacts from around the world. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures and Egyptian mummies.

Where: Bloomsbury (Great Russell St, WC1B 3DG)

2. Imperial War Museum London

Discover the realities of modern wartime history at IWM London, from the First World War to the present day. Its permanent displays include Peace and Security, The Holocaust Exhibition and the First World War Galleries.

Where: Elephant and Castle (Lambeth Rd, SE1 6HZ)

3. Natural History Museum

A whale skeleton exhibit hanging at the Natural History Museum. Credits: visitlondon.com/Jon Reid.
Visit the Natural History Museum which is full of natural wonders. Credits: visitlondon.com/Jon Reid.

Explore our planet's living wonders at the Natural History Museum. Inside the striking building, favourites include the Dinosaurs gallery, the blue whale model and the state-of-the-art Darwin Centre, where you can see hundreds of specimens as well as scientists at work.

Where: South Kensington (Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD)

4. Science Museum

Get hands-on at the Science Museum's interactive galleries and simulators. Trace the journey of scientific breakthroughs, then visit the in-house IMAX 3D cinema and take a trip deep underwater or zoom high up into space.

Where: South Kensington (Exhibition Road, SW7 2DD)

5. London Transport Museum

Two red London buses and an older bus inside the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.
Inside the London Transport Museum. Image courtesy of the London Transport Museum.

Discover how public transport played a part in the development of London with a visit to the London Transport Museum. See the original artwork for Harry Beck’s Underground map, the world’s first Underground steam engine, old London Routemaster buses and more. Book London Transport Museum tickets

Where: Covent Garden (The Piazza, WC2E 7BB)

6. Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands houses all manner of objects charting London’s history as a port. Exhibits found within this 200-year-old warehouse include Sailortown, recreating what life was like in 19th-century London; and London, Sugar & Slavery, about the capital’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.

Where: Canary Wharf (No. 1 West India Quay, E14 4AL)

7. Cutty Sark

A woman is climbing the stairs to reach the top deck of the Cutty Sark, the iconic ship docked in Greenwich.
Discover what life at sea was like when exploring the Cutty Sark, the iconic ship docked in Greenwich. © visitlondon.com/Michael Barrow

Take the ship's wheel, meet the crew and explore beneath the hull of Cutty Sark, the world's oldest surviving tea clipper. You'll uncover plenty of seafaring shenanigans and discover how the ship became the fastest of its kind during your time on board this Greenwich attraction. Book Cutty Sark tickets

Where: Greenwich (King William Walk, SE10 9HT)

8. Bank of England Museum

Uncover the history of the Bank of England from its beginnings in 1694 to the present day at the Bank of England Museum. Get your hands on a real gold bar and capture the moment with a selfie in the Bank's 'gold corridor'.

Where: Bank (Bartholomew Ln, EC2R 8AH)

9. Royal Observatory Greenwich

People stand astride the Meridian Line outside the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
Explore the skies at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Image courtesy of Visit Greenwich.

Marvel at space and time with Royal Observatory Greenwich's many attractions. Must-dos include straddling the Meridian Line, seeing a planetarium show and learning how a self-taught clockmaker made waves by solving the problem of longitude at sea. Book Royal Observatory Greenwich tickets

Where: Greenwich (Greenwich Park, SE10 9NF)

10. Clink Prison Museum

Serve your time at the Clink Prison Museum, a recreated medieval prison located on the site of the original Clink. Discover the history of the gaol and its rowdy neighbourhood, and find out what it was like to be an inmate at one of England’s most notorious prisons. Book the Clink Prison Museum tickets

Where: Bankside (1 Clink Street, SE1 9DG)

11. Wellcome Collection

Explore what it means to be human through science, medicine and psychology at the Wellcome Collection. Highlights include Darwin’s walking stick and Napoleon’s toothbrush. Look out for the schedule of thought-provoking talks and temporary exhibitions too.

Where: Euston (183 Euston Rd, NW1 2BE)

12. Household Cavalry Museum

Horseguards at attention on horses at whitehall london.
The Horse Guards Parade at Whitehall. © Unsplash/Hulki Okan Tabak

Located right at Horse Guards, the Household Cavalry Museum celebrates the history and people of this renowned regiment, founded in 1661. Take a closer look at sharp uniforms, see troopers preparing their horses, and try on helmets and pieces of armour. Book Household Cavalry Museum tickets

Where: Westminster (Horse Guards, SW1A 2AX)

13. British Library

See literary treasures, from Magna Carta to Shakespeare's First Folio and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, in a permanent, free exhibition at the British Library. The UK’s national library also has a programme of world-class temporary exhibitions.

Where: St Pancras (96 Euston Rd, NW1 2DB)

14. National Maritime Museum

A man ad a woman are standing in front of the Maritime Museum in London.
Explore Greenwich's maritime legacy when visiting the National Maritime Museum. ©London & Partners/Michael Barrow

Chart Britain’s rich naval history at the National Maritime Museum, from sea battles to voyages into the unknown. Among the museum's free galleries, you can explore Polar Worlds, go on Pacific Encounters, see Turner's Battle of Trafalgar Gallery, and find unique exhibits such as the uniform Nelson was wearing at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Where: Greenwich (Romney Rd, SE10 9NF)

15. Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

Go behind the scenes at Wimbledon, the home of tennis in the UK. Take a tour of the famous grounds and learn about the players who found fame there. Sports fans should also check out London’s other sports museums.

Where: Wimbledon (Church Rd, SW19 5AE)

16. Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

a cabinet filled with skeletons and heads of dead people
A cabinet dedicated to dead people at The Viktor Wynd Museum Of Curiosities © Oskar Proctor. Image courtesy of Oskar Proctor.

Ever shared a drink with a lion? No? Well, now's your chance. Join Leonora, the full-sized taxidermy lioness, for a drink from the absinthe-inspired cocktail list at The Last Tuesday Society. Then, venture downstairs to Viktor Wynd's Museum of Curiosities to discover more strange, shocking and sometimes macabre collections.

Where: Hackney (11 Mare St, E8 4RP)

17. Jewish Museum

Discover London’s rich Jewish culture, heritage and identity at the Camden-based Jewish Museum. Temporary exhibitions sit alongside permanent galleries on the Holocaust, Jewish ceremonial art and the history of Jewish life in Britain.

Where: Camden (Raymond Burton House, NW1 7NB)

18. Charles Dickens Museum

The exterior of the Charles Dickens Museum with gated railings, two large windows showing the rooms lit up inside and a green front door
The Charles Dickens Museum. Image courtesy of The Charles Dickens Museum.

See the building where the great writer himself lived from 1837 to 1839. The Charles Dickens Museum spotlights the real life of a man best known for his fiction. Carefully restored rooms showcase the museum’s collection of letters, pictures and books, as well as temporary exhibitions.

Where: King’s Cross (48-49 Doughty St, WC1N 2LX)

19. Foundling Museum

Witness the touching story of the Foundling Hospital, the first home for abandoned babies in London, at the Foundling Museum. Alongside the children's scant belongings are tokens left by their mothers, plus artworks by the likes of Hogarth and Reynolds.

Where: Camden (40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ)

20. The Wallace Collection

Enjoy the delights of the Wallace Collection, a historic London townhouse whose 28 elaborate rooms are decorated with outstanding art. Visit the armories, see paintings by Titian, Hals and Velázquez, and admire 18th-century French treasures – some once owned by Queen Marie-Antoinette.

Where: Marylebone (Hertford House, W1U 3BN)

21. Freud Museum

Step into Sigmund Freud's study and see his famous couch at the Freud Museum, located in the former home of the famous psychoanalyst. Discover his journey from Nazi-occupied Vienna to London, and muse on the inner workings of the mind.

Where: Camden (20 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5SX)

22. Sir John Soane's Museum

A small room, whose walls are covered in paintings in gold-coloured frames. with wood panelling on the lower walls and a small fireplace.
The Picture Room at Sir John Soane's Museum. Photo: Gareth Gardener. Image courtesy of Sir John Soane's Museum.

Explore Sir John Soane's Museum, the architect of the Bank of England's former home. The house, untouched for almost 180 years, contains some 30,000 architectural drawings, as well as antiquities, artworks by Hogarth and Turner, and the sarcophagus of King Seti I.

Where: Holborn (13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP)

23. London Canal Museum

Step back in time to the days when London’s canals were bustling with traders, boat dwellers and cargo – and its streets full of the clip-clop of horses pulling the boats and carts. Located in a former ice warehouse, the London Canal Museum even has a preserved ice well inside.

Where: King’s Cross (12/13 New Wharf Rd, N1 9RT)

24. Royal Air Force Museum

Fly back in time and discover the history of aviation at the Royal Air Force Museum. Learn about the earliest balloon flight, see the impressive collection of more than 100 aircraft and test your pilot skills in a 4D flying experience.

Where: Edgware (Grahame Park Way, NW9 5LL)

25. Horniman Museum and Gardens

An over-stuffed walrus, racing frontwards, site on a white plinth in the middle of a gallery, with display cases of specimens in the background.
An over-stuffed walrus at Horniman Museum and Gardens. Image courtesy of Horniman Museum and Gardens.

Spend a day at south London's popular Horniman Museum and Gardens, a favourite with children and fans of natural history and anthropology. Visit the famous stuffed walrus, see the aquarium, play in the park and enjoy events for all the family.

Where: Forest Hill (100 London Rd, SE23 3PQ)

26. Fan Museum

As any enthusiast of period dramas know, fans have all kinds of uses, from cooling to gossiping. Discover more about their history and see stunning examples from the 18th and 19th centuries inside the beautiful environs of the Fan Museum in Greenwich.

Where: Greenwich (12 Crooms Hill, SE10 8ER)

27. The Postal Museum

Two women, dressed with trench coats and grey flat caps, are sorting out mail at the Postal Museum.
Visit the Postal Museum, an immersive attraction exploring London's postal system and its best inventions. ©London & Partners/Michael Barrow

Encounter the exciting history of Royal Mail and the postal service at the Postal Museum. For an extra thrill, take a ride on the Mail Rail, the subterranean train that ran from Whitechapel to Paddington and kept London’s communications flowing for more than 75 years. Book the Postal Museum tickets

Where: Clerkenwell (15-20 Phoenix Pl, WC1X 0DA)

28. Keats House

Delve into the world of English Romantic poet John Keats at Keats House, the Grade I-listed building and garden where he once lived. The museum features paintings, prints and other objects belonging to him and his peers.

Where: Hampstead (10 Keats Grove, NW3 2RR)

29. National Army Museum

Find out about the history of the armed forces at the National Army Museum. Relive the heritage of the army from the English Civil War to the modern day, through a showcase of thousands of historical objects.

Where: Chelsea (Royal Hospital Rd, SW3 4HT)

Modern museums in London

30. Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

Be dazzled by the eclectic art and design on offer at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Its vast collections include everything from ceramics and fashion to wallpapers and jewellery, spanning 5,000 years.

Where: South Kensington (Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL)

31. Tate Modern

Don't miss Tate Modern, the iconic power-station-turned-art-gallery, which houses modern and contemporary art from round the world. See the latest installation in the massive Turbine Hall and admire works by Picasso, Bourgeois, Warhol, Rothko and more.

Where: Bankside (Bankside, SE1 9TG)

32. The Twist Museum

A light installation in a dark room with multi-coloured lightbulbs at Twist Museum
Twist Museum in Oxford Street. Photo credit: Dan Weill Photography. Source: Family PR.

Test your senses and immerse yourself in a world of unique, interactive and multi-sensory experiences at Twist Museum. Discover how your brain interprets colours, shapes and sounds when presented in alternative realities. Explore more than 60 effects and illusions by booking your visit to the Twist Museum now.

Where: Oxford Street (248 Oxford St, W1C 1DH)

33. Young V&A

Spend a day at East London’s Young V&A, a favourite with children and young people looking to discover their inner artist. Get hands-on with interactive displays and workshops, then take to the amphitheatre-style stage to show off performance skills.

Where: Bethnal Green (Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 9PA)

34. Garden Museum

Take a tranquil moment to celebrate British gardens and gardening at the riverside Garden Museum. Explore its temporary exhibitions before venturing into the garden to see the words and pictures come to life.

Where: Waterloo (5 Lambeth Place Rd, SE1 7LB)

35. Museum of Brands

At the Museum of Brands, a few cereal boxes are exhibited, many dating back decades.
Visit one of London's quirkiest museums, the Museum of Brands, and see if you can recognise any packaging. ©London & Partners/Michael Barrow

Revisit your childhood through the packaging and adverts of decades gone by. The Museum of Brands has more than 12,000 items, dating back as far as Victorian times, including sweets, household products and more. Book Museum of Brands tickets

Where: Notting Hill (111-117 Lancaster Rd, W11 1QT)

36. Sherlock Holmes Museum

Venture into the home of the famous fictional detective at the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street. Inside his apartment, life-size waxworks recreate breakthrough moments in the place where he solved many of his baffling cases.

Where: Westminster (221b Baker St, NW1 6XE)

Fashion museums in London

37. Design Museum

Experience the world of contemporary design at the sleek, modern Design Museum. Its exhibitions feature fashion, graphics, architecture and more, while its line-up of talks and events complements the stunning visual displays.

Where: Kensington (224-238 Kensington High St, W8 6AG)

38. Fashion and Textile Museum

A pioneering centre of contemporary fashion, textiles and jewellery, the Fashion and Textile Museum was founded by colourful British design legend Zandra Rhodes. As well as permanent and temporary exhibitions, it runs courses for creatives.

Where: Bermondsey (83 Bermondsey St, SE1 3XF)

For more inspiration, check out our lists of London's free museums and the best art galleries, or find out more about London's art scene and museums, including best gallery and museum lates in the city.

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