London Itineraries for Museum Lovers
London Itineraries for Museum Lovers – How to spend up to 5 days in London’s best museums.
London is home to some of the largest and most interesting museums in the world. From ancient artefacts to natural curiosities, British paraphernalia to pieces from around the world – there is a museum for everyone in London! Best of all, most of London’s museums are FREE. For those of you who love to spend your holidays strolling through some of the finest museums London has to offer, here is a suggested itinerary for your visit.
After the museums close, you may want to explore the area or take in some world-famous sights. We’ve put a suggestion on each day for something easily accessible from your final museum stop. We’ve also marked the FREE museums, to help you explore on a budget!
[NOTE: On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, many museum offer late nights with some, like the Tate, staying open until 9:00 or even 10:00pm!]
One Day in London
10:00am – Victoria & Albert Museum [FREE] – The V&A Museum holds the world’s largest collection of decorative arts and design objects! Some of the over 4.5million pieces include music instruments or statues, relating to fashion or history, as well as a rotating collection of fantastic exhibitions. Our personal favourite, the “Britain” gallery with artefacts relating to the history of Britain includes an entire Jacobean room that has been rebuilt inside the Museum.
12:30pm – Lunch break at the V&A. There’s a lovely cafe here with fresh food as well as little afternoon tea-style treats.
1:00pm – Natural History Museum [FREE] – The Natural History Museum is filled with fascinating pieces collected from all over the world: extinct animals, and even better a T-Rex dinosaur that moves while you stand in the shadow of the skeleton, a cutting of one of the largest trees in the world, and collections of spiders and butterflies. You can take a walk through the solar system or take a close look at the gemstone collection that rivals the Queen’s!
3:30pm – Science Museum [FREE] – A family favourite, this museum offers a lot of hands-on exhibitions, creating an awesome interactive experience. From the world’s oldest steam locomotive, the first jet engine, and even an IMAX theatre showing science and nature documentaries, there is a lot to see here.
6:00pm – When the gallery closes why not take the opportunity to jump on a bus (Number 9) to Trafalgar Square to see the famous fountains and Nelson’s Column. Then make your way down Whitehall to see Big Ben, red telephone boxes, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. In certain times of the year this will be in the dark hours, making for great atmosphere!
10:00am – British Museum [FREE] – Artefacts here come from all across the globe and the most popular pieces are the Egyptian mummies on display. Perhaps the best known of all the pieces here is the Rosetta Stone (the translating tool that helped us decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics), followed by the Elgin Marbles (pieces of sculpture from classical Greece).
11:30am – Lunch Break – Consider taking your lunch break in the beautiful atrium of the British Museum itself.
12:30pm – Museum of London [FREE] – Take a walk, chronologically, through the history of London. From prehistoric times to a glimpse of the future, this museum will take you along Tudor trails, help you explore Georgian fashion, and walk down a fully recreated Victorian town centre, before leading you along the terrifying and tragic Blitz experience and into London’s future.
3:00pm – London Guildhall and Roman Amphitheatre [FREE] – Even just looking at the Guildhall from the outside is impressive enough, but this is also one of the best places to experience Roman London. Works of art celebrating London are on display alongside the remains of a true Roman Amphitheatre, uncovered during modern day construction in the City centre.
5:00pm – When the museums are closed, consider a stroll along the river Thames from the City to Westminster. Just a short walk from the Guildhall is the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Follow the river west from there, taking in sights like St. Paul’s Cathedral as you go.
10:00am – The National Gallery [FREE] – The flagship gallery of the United Kingdom, there are thousands of works of art here both by little known creators as well as some of the biggest names in history: Monet, Van Gough, Manet, Holbein, Turner…and the list goes on!
12:00pm – Lunch Break at the National Portrait Gallery – Attached to the National Gallery, the top floor at the Portrait Gallery has a lovely little cafe’ with unbeatable views over Trafalgar Square and all the way down to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
12:30pm – The National Portrait Gallery [FREE] – The Portrait Gallery takes you on a chronological journey through time with depictions of some of the most famous (and infamous) figures in history. For those who love their Kings and Queens, you’ll find them all here alongside literary figures, notable politicians and modern-day celebrity figures.
2:00pm – Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace – The Queen’s Gallery is attached to Buckingham Palace and houses an ever-changing exhibition of works from the Royal Collection. Previous exhibitions have seen anatomical works by Leonardo da Vinci, portraits of the Tudor and Stuart royal families, and works by 16th century court-favourite Hans Holbein. The works of art on display are always national treasures and often include great surprises – like a pair of socks owned by King William III!
3:15pm – Queen’s Mews, Buckingham Palace – An often overlooked London museum, the Queen’s Mews is the royal collection of historical coaches and carriages, as well as some of the ones that are still used today – and some you may have seen, like that which carried William and Kate back to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey on their wedding day! It is here that all road travel arrangements for the Queen are carried out. It’s all contained within London’s most impressive working stables.
5:00pm – When the galleries close, take a wander through one of our gorgeous parks. You’ll be easily able to get to St. James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park from Buckingham Palace. In the summer months when daylight hours are longest, you could visit all three.
10:00am – The Bank of England Museum [FREE] – This museum details the history of the Bank of England, beginning back in 1694. Some of the oldest bank notes in existence are on display here, as well as forgeries from over the centuries, historical artefacts, and a genuine solid gold bar – which you can even try to pick up yourself!
12:00pm – Lunch Break – Travel to Greenwich and take your lunch at the delightful Greenwich Market! With dozens of cuisines to choose from, there’s something for everyone and it’s always light on the wallet!
1:30pm – The Queen’s House, Greenwich [FREE] – Built by famed architect and artist Inigo Jones, the Queen’s House was built in the early 17th century for Anne of Denmark, Queen of King James I. The very first “conscious classical” building to have been constructed in Britain, today it holds fine examples of paintings and portraits related to maritime history.
2:30pm – The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich [FREE] – Designed by famed architect Sir Christopher Wren, the Old Royal Naval College is listed by UNESCO as the “finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles” – whew! Parts of this site are open to visitors, including the magnificent chapel – with free tours available.
3:30pm – The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich [FREE] – The largest museum dedicated to maritime history in the world, the National Maritime Museum is filled with art and artefacts all dedicated to telling the story of Britain’s naval history. It is just behind the museum and up the hill that you can visit the Royal Observatory – and see where time “began” at the Prime Meridian.
6:00pm – When the museums close, consider taking a boat back to London. You can travel all the way from Greenwich to Westminster.
10:00am – The Imperial War Museum [FREE] – The Imperial War Museum documents the history of war and the resulting outcomes on the lives of those who are affected by warfare. Famed for its magnificent collection of wartime vehicles and planes, as well as a start but beautifully presented section dedicated to the studying of the Holocaust.
12:00pm – Lunch Break – Think about taking lunch at The Three Stags Pub just across the road, or get yourself to Bloomsbury for a bite to eat in Lincoln’s Inn Fields if the weather is good.
1:30pm – The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons [FREE] – Named after John Hunter, whose collection of specimens and artefacts form the museum itself. The museum itself is not large but is jam packed of thousands of anatomical specimens including the skeleton of the “Irish Giant” Charles Byrne, and early medical surgical instruments that will fascinate and terrify!
2:30pm – The Grant Museum of Zoology [FREE] – Part of the University College, London, the Grant Museum of Zoology is a collection of zoological specimens and materials previously belonging to a Robert Edmond Grant. With over 67,000 zoological specimens, the collection holds rare pieces such as bones from the extinct Dodo and dinosaur fossils.
4:00pm – The Wellcome Collection [FREE] – Medical artifacts and art pieces that “explore ideas about the connections between medicine, life and art.” The museum for the “incurably curious,” the Wellcome Collection is comprised of an ever-changing program of events and exhibitions that incorporate art, life, medicine and death.
6:00pm – When the museum closes, consider a walk through Regent’s Park, or perhaps a visit to Leicester Square or Chinatown which are easily accessible from this area.
++Phew! And if you still got the energy, come and join us on our famous pay-what-you-like walking tours!++