best free museums in london

Explore London's Rich History for Free

Museums and galleries are found all over London due to their rich history and culture. One amazing fact is that there are plenty of amazing museums that won't cost you a penny to enter. Join us as we take you through the best free museums in London to give you a chance to explore the incredible history this city offers.

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1. london's Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum in London. This is the best free museums in London.Londons Natural History Museum

Anyone interested in science, nature, and history should visit the Natural History Museum in London. More than 80 million specimens from billions of years ago can be explored, including dinosaurs, extinct creatures, and modern plants and animals.

Live demonstrations, interactive exhibits, and expert-led tours provide an engaging way to learn about the natural world. This cultural landmark and its prime location in South Kensington make the building an unforgettable experience for everyone.

Neighbourhood/District: South Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Closest underground station:

  • South Kensington Station with Piccadilly Line (Dark Blue), District Line (Green) and Circle Line (Yellow). Just a 5-minute walk.
  • Gloucester Road Station with District Line (Green) and Circle Line (Yellow) which is further away.

2. British Museum in london

British Museum in London.British Museum In London

Featuring a couple of million years of human history from all corners of the globe, the British Museum is a treasure trove of knowledge. Among the collections on display are the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, and the Egyptian mummies.

The museum provides a unique insight into human civilization's development and achievements through its collection of over 8 million artefacts. Featuring art and architecture as well as science and technology, the British Museum reveals the world's diverse cultures and shared experiences.

Neighbourhood/District: Bloomsbury, Holborn

Underground Station: Tottenham Court Road Station with Central Line (Blue) and Northern Line (Black).

3. Tate Modern - best free museums in london

Tate Modern in London.Tate Modern - Free Museums of London

Tate Modern houses a vast collection of British art, making it one of the world's largest modern and contemporary art museums. On the banks of the Thames, it is located in the former Bankside Power Station.

At the Tate Museum, you can explore the work of some of the most celebrated artists of our time, as well as experience a rich variety of art styles and movements. The museum displays iconic pieces like Mark Rothko's Seagram Murals, Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych, and Damien Hirst's shark installation.

Neighbourhood/District: Bankside, Southwark

Closest underground station: Southwark Station Jubilee Line (Grey).

4. Victoria & Albert Museum

Victoria and Albert Museum in London.Victoria & Albert Museum - London Free Museums

A world-renowned museum of applied arts, decorative arts, and design, the Victoria & Albert Museum, is one of the world's most important museums. It features an extensive collection from around the world. From fashion and textiles to sculpture and ceramics, you can explore a variety of exhibits at the V&A.

Classic works of art and design, including the largest collection of Italian Renaissance sculptures outside of Italy, can also be found there, along with contemporary work by cutting-edge designers and artists.

Neighbourhood/District: South Kensington

Underground Station: South Kensington Station arriving with District Line (Green), Circle Line (Yellow) and Piccadilly Line (Dark Blue).

5. Science Museum

Anyone interested in science and technology will enjoy visiting the Science Museum in London. Space travel, robotics, medicine, and engineering are among the topics covered through interactive exhibits, hands-on displays, and immersive experiences.

In addition to iconic objects like the Apollo 10 command module and the first steam locomotive, the museum's collection includes cutting-edge innovations like 3D printing and artificial intelligence. It offers something for everyone, allowing visitors to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the world around them.

Neighbourhood/District: South Kensington

Underground Station: South Kensington Station arriving with District Line (Green), Circle Line (Yellow) and Piccadilly Line (Dark Blue).

6. Tate Britain in london

The Tate Britain, formerly the National Gallery of British Art, has a collection of more than 500 years of British art and offers a unique perspective on British art. See some of the greatest works of art by British artists and explore the rich cultural heritage of Britain.

Enjoy iconic paintings by Turner, Constable, and Hogarth, as well as contemporary works by Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and David Hockney. In addition to sculptures, photographs, and installations, the museum's collection offers visitors a diverse and thought-provoking experience.

Neighbourhood/District: Pimlico, Westminster

Underground Station: Pimlico Station with Victoria Line (Light Blue).

7. The National portrait Gallery

A unique museum, the National Portrait Gallery showcases a vast collection of significant portraits from history and culture. These paintings are part of the national collections of Europe and Great Britain and date from the middle ages to the 20th century.

The collection includes paintings by famous European masters such as Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Caravaggio. Among the many portraits you will find are those of monarchs, politicians, writers, artists, musicians, and a host of other influential people. Every time you visit the museum, you will discover new and exciting topics and themes on display.

Neighbourhood/District: Trafalgar Square, Westminster

Closest underground station:

  • Charing Cross Station with Northern Line (Black) and Bakerloo Line (Brown). It is 755 feet or 230 metres away.
  • Leicester Square Station with The Northern Line (Black) and the Piccadilly Line (Dark Blue). A distance of 640 feet or 195 metres away.

8. Imperial War Museum

At the Imperial War Museum, you can learn more about modern warfare and how it affects people's lives. Through exhibitions, artefacts, and personal stories, you can explore the human experience of war. There are displays of military vehicles, aircraft, and artillery, as well as photographs, documents, and interactive exhibits illustrating the realities of war.

From the First World War to the present, temporary exhibitions are also held at the museum. This museum's Holocaust Exhibition offers a powerful and educational reminder of the atrocities committed during the Second World War.

Neighbourhood/District: Lambeth

Closest Underground Station:

  • Lambeth North Station with Bakerloo Line (Brown), around a 5-minute walk.
  • Elephant & Castle Station Underground Bakerloo Line (Brown) and Northern Line (Black). Approximately a 10-minute walk.
  • London Waterloo National Rail
  • Bus Routes 3, 59, 159, 344, and 360

9. Museum of London

London's history is told through the Museum of London from prehistory to the present. Through its exhibits, visitors can see how the city has evolved from its earliest days as a Roman settlement to what it is today as a vibrant metropolis.

With interactive exhibits and multimedia displays, the museum provides a fascinating look into the lives of ordinary people throughout the city's history, from medieval traders to modern immigrants. There are temporary exhibitions in the museum on topics ranging from fashion history to technological advancements.

Neighbourhood/District: Barbican, City of London

Closest Underground Station:

  • Barbican Station with Circle Line (Yellow), Hammersmith & City Line (Pink) and Metropolitan Line (Purple) with an approximately 3-minute walk.
  • St. Paul's Station with Central Line (Blue) with a 7 minute walk. 
  • Moorgate Station with Circle Line (Yellow), Hammersmith & City Line (Pink), Metropolitan Line (Purple) and Northern Line (Black). Around a 10-minute walk.

10. Royal Museums Greenwich

Royal Museums Greenwich is a collection of four museums located in a stunning waterfront setting. They offer a fascinating insight into British and global maritime history. The Royal Observatory, which houses Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian, and the Cutty Sark are iconic sites.

There are artefacts belonging to Captain James Cook and Sir Francis Drake on display. In addition to maritime art and ship models, the museum has navigational instruments and maritime simulations.

Neighbourhood/District: Greenwich

Underground Station: Taking an underground tube is not a direct option to reach the Royal Museums, Greenwich. However, you could take the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf station and then change to the DLR to Cutty Sark station.

Other Transport:

  • Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Cutty Sark Station is the most convenient, with a walk that should take around 5-10 minutes.
  • Take a Thames River Bus service to Greenwich Pier, which is also located near the museums.

11. Churchill War Rooms

A museum in London dedicated to Winston Churchill's life and work offers an insight into his life and work. In the Churchill War Rooms, you'll discover the secret underground headquarters of Churchill and his team during World War II. Original furniture, maps, and equipment are preserved in the rooms where Churchill lived and worked.

Multimedia displays and interactive exhibits provide an interesting insight into the political and military decisions that shaped the war. Churchill War Rooms is a must-visit attraction in London for history, politics, and leadership buffs.

Neighbourhood/District: Westminster

Closest Underground Station: Westminster Station Jubilee Line (Grey), District Line (Green), and Circle Line (Yellow). A walking distance of 6 to 7 minutes.

12. Young V&A

There is no doubt that the Young V&A celebrates the world of childhood, as well as the objects that are shaping it. This museum contains a large collection of toys, games, and objects that are sure to evoke memories of childhood for individuals of all ages. Barbie, Lego, Meccano, and vintage games, dolls, and puppets are on display.

Additionally, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions that explore children's literature, contemporary art, and design. Families with young children will enjoy the museum's interactive exhibits and play areas.

The museum will reopen on 1st July 2023.

Neighbourhood/District: Tower Hamlets borough

  • Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA

Closest Underground Station: Bethnal Green Station Central Line (Blue). Walking time 8-9 minutes.

Related Article: A Guide To The London Eye

13. Design Museum

There is a museum dedicated to modern design in London that is considered one of the best in the world. There are some exhibits at the museum that showcase a variety of innovative and thought-provoking exhibits, including fashion and architecture, as well as digital design and product design.

Design plays a large role in society, and visitors can learn about the creative process and its impact on our lives. Featuring a variety of events, talks, and workshops, the Design Museum offers a stimulating and engaging experience for design enthusiasts of all ages.

Neighbourhood/District: Kensington

Closest Underground Station:

  • High Street Kensington Station Circle Line (Yellow) and District Line (Green). Walking time is around 7-minutes.
  • Holland Park Station with Central Line (Blue)
  • Earl's Court Station with District Line (Green) and Piccadilly Line (Dark Blue). Walking time is around 15 minutes.
  • Kensington Olympia is around 14 minutes on foot which comes the closest railway station.

We have come to the end of this guide to the best free museums in London. We have summarised the free London galleries and museums that you can visit totally without spending a dime. Make sure you do your research well and plan your museum itinerary properly as there are plenty of museums and you can get lost.

While here why not check out other free things to do in London.

question about museums in london 

Are all London Museums free?

No, not all the museums in London are free to enter.

How many museums in London are there?

In London, you will find more than 170 museums scattered around the city and many of them are free of charge to enter.

What are the best free museums to visit in London?

In our guide, we provide the best free museums in London. But in summary, the top museums are London's Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Museum In London and plenty more. Check out our guide for the top 13 free museums and galleries.

Is there a dress code for visiting the free museums in London?

There is no specific dress code for visiting the free museums in London. However, we advise to dress appropriately and comfortably as the majority of your time in the museums will be on your feet. Be aware that some museums might have some guidelines regarding dress codes.

What are the opening hours of free museums in London?

Opening hours differ from museum to museum and the day of the week. On the whole, museums are open between 10 am and 5 pm. We advise visitors to check on the museum's official website for specific opening hour details.

How long should I allow for a visit to a free museum in London?

The amount of time depends on the museum's size and your interest. Some museums could take from just a couple of hours up to even a full day or multiple days. It is advised that you plan accordingly.

Can I take photos inside the free museums in London?

Photography is typically allowed in free museums in London, but be on the lookout for any restrictions on flash or prohibited photography.

Are the free museums in London suitable for children and families?

The free museums in London are appropriate for both children and families, as they offer interactive displays and engaging activities specifically tailored to younger visitors.

Are there any free guided tours available at London's museums?

Most of London's museums offer free guided tours which are done by staff or volunteers. With these tours, you can have a better understanding of the exhibits on display. For more information about these guides, it is recommended you check on the museum's website or by the information desk at the premises.

What are the most interesting things to see at the British Museum?

In the British Museum, you'll find a rich collection of art and artefacts from around the world. There are several interesting things to see, including the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, the mummies of Ancient Egypt, and the Sutton Hoo treasure. Besides the Assyrian reliefs, the Lewis chessmen, and the Elgin Marbles, other notable exhibits can be found there.

What are the most popular exhibits at the Natural History Museum?

It is a popular destination for people of all ages to visit the Natural History Museum. In Hintze Hall, there are blue whale skeletons, dinosaur skeletons in the Dinosaurs Gallery, an exhibit featuring gemstones and minerals, and a Darwin Centre where visitors can see research collections.

What are the must-see displays at the National Gallery?

Some of the most iconic works of art in the world can be found at the National Gallery. There are several artworks to see at the museum, including Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers, Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Virgin, Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, and Johannes Vermeer's A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal.

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Natural History Museum in London.

Photo sources & resources

  • Tate Modern - Image by Heiko from Pixabay
  • Natural History Museum - Image by Public Co from Pixabay
  • British Museum - Image by Hurk from Pixabay
  • Tate Britain Millbank - Rept0n1x, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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