7 Best Museums in London

These 7 must-see museums are essential for understanding London, Great Britain and even the history of the planet.

7 Best Museums in London
These 7 must-see museums are essential for understanding London, Great Britain and even the history of the planet. Getty Images / iStock / Leonid Andronov

Few cities in the world can rival London on the quality and sheer breadth of its museums. Big, small, world-class, hyper-local, accessible, esoteric, it's all here in this metropolis of eight million inhabitants. In fact, there at least 250 museums in London alone. You don't have a lifetime to visit all of them? Here are the seven best.

View a Google Maps list of some of the best museums in London.

British Museum

The museum to end all museums on planet Earth, the always-free-entry British Museum is a must for any first time (or even 51st time) visitor to London. Opened in 1759, it was the first public museum of its kind. There are eight million objects alone but they are not all on display. That said, one percent is still viewable (that's 80,000), so if you don't have an entire month to take in the place, here are few must-see priceless artifacts: the Rosetta Stone, the granite head of Amenhotep III from ancient Egypt, the mummy of Katebit and the Elgin Marbles—taken from the Parthenon in Athens.

Great Russell St.

Imperial War Museums

Great Britain has invaded and/or occupied eighty percent of the countries on the planet. So a war museum would make sense. Founded during World War I, IWM explores the unfortunate existence and terror of war and all its impacts on people and the planet. There is the main museum but also related sites, including the underground Churchill War Rooms, the HMS Belfast, and the IWM North and IWM Duxford.

Lambeth Rd.

Museum of London

You're in London, so the best primer on this city is to point yourself right to the museum dedicated to this amazing city: the Museum of London. From pre-historic times to the Romans to the medieval period all the way up the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, you'll walk out of here with a feeling that you know this city of eight million people a lot better than you did when you walked in.

150 London Wall

National Gallery

Rivaling the Louvre, the Uffizi, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery has a superlative collection of art through the ages, epochs, and centuries. And, as with most state-owned museums in Great Britain, entrance is free. One minute you're lingering in Trafalgar Square and the next you're standing in front of iconic works by Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Jan van Eyck, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Dürer, Raphael, Bruegel, Monet, Degas, Goya, and Rembrandt, among many many others.

Trafalgar Square

Natural History Museum

Located in South Kensington, London's Natural History Museum is a fascinating spot where you can walk amongst dinosaur skeletons, learn about evolution, see a rock about as old as the solar system, and linger with a massive blue whale, among a gazillion other things that will keep you indoors and intellectually fascinated for the day.

Cromwell Rd.

Tate Modern

One of the greatest modern and contemporary art museums in the world, the Tate is fashioned out of an old power plant on the banks of the Thames River, re-designed around the year 2000 (when the museum opened) by lauded Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. The museum houses the works of a who's who of 20th and 21st-century artists, including Warhol, Hockney, Picasso, Matisse, and Dalí, among many others.


The V&A

Short for the Victoria and Albert Museum, this South Kensington institution is the largest applied and decorative arts and design museum on the planet. The permanent collection alone consists of over two million objects. In 150 different galleries, spread out on seven floors, see everything from illustrations by Raphael to Buddhist sculpture to antique gold and silver jewelry, among a plethora of other fascinating objects.

Cromwell Rd.