This is a post on how to visit the National Gallery in London, including all the information you need to plan your visit to this FREE museum.
Most Notable Works
The National Gallery holds works by some of the most well-known artists of history, and the collection of 2,300 paintings includes works from all over the world.
Here is a brief list of some of the most notable works in the collection:
- Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh
- Snow Scene at Argenteuil and The Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet
- The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger
- The Fighting Temeraire by J. M. W. Turner
- The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck
- Marriage-a-la-mode by William Hogarth
- The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci
- Boy Bitten by a Lizard by Caravaggio
- The Judgement of Paris by Peter Paul Rubens
- Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt
- The Entombment by Michelangelo
You can browse the entire collection before you go. Take this 'virtual tour' to see what to expect.
Throughout the year, the museum hosts unique and specially curated exhibits. Some special exhibitions are free to enter, but most require tickets.
Ticket prices generally range from £18 - £20. You receive a discount when you purchase online in advance.
It is recommended that you book ahead as these exhibitions tend to be very popular.
Here are the current and upcoming exhibitions from late 2019 through 2021:
- Raphael 3 October 2020 – 24 January 2021 (ticket required)
- Dürer's Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist 13 February – 16 May 2021 (ticket required)
- Every day of the year except 1 January and 24–26 December.
- 10:00 - 18:00 Saturdays to Thursdays
- 10:00 - 21:00 Fridays
- Guests are asked to prepare to leave 5 minutes before closing time.
Consider going to the museum on a Friday night when it is open until 21:00! It's free, fun, and a great way to spend a night out in London.
For other ideas on things to do at night, see our post on things to do in London at night.
How do I get there?
The National Gallery is located on the northern edge of Trafalgar Square (map).
The Gallery is a short walk from either Charing Cross or Leicester Square Stations.
You can also get to Trafalgar Square by taking a bus, with routes numbers 3, 6, 9,11, 12, 23, 24, 29, 87, 88, 139, 159 and 176.
Use this Google Maps link to get directions from your departure point to the Museum.
How much time should I set aside for a visit?
This depends on how much of the Gallery you wish to see.
We recommend around 3 hours, but for those who have less time or just want to see the highlights, you can look at the floor plans in advance and decide where you would like to focus your time.
The Museum has some helpful guides that will help you organize your time to get the most out of a short amount of time.
- 30 Highlights - A short collection of the major pieces in the Museum
- Renaissance Masterpieces - A focus on Renaissance art
- 30 Key Artists - Highlighting one work each by a list of important artists
Also, guided tours are a good way to maximize your time. See our Tours section below.
Is the Museum Family-Friendly?
Absolutely. In fact, the National Gallery has gone out of its way to provide entertainment and activities for guests of all ages.
See all of the activities, tours, and other events for families here.
Food and Drink
- National Gallery Dining Room - A full restaurant with fabulous views over Trafalgar Square
- National Cafe - A sit-down, relaxed cafe
- Espresso Bar - Perfect for a light bite and a drink
Find out more here.
Coat/Bag Check Information
The Museum reserves the right to check bags, rucksacks, packages, and other personal items brought to the building.
We recommend that you allow extra time for security checks at the entrance.
There is a coat/bag check for £2 per item.
The maximum size allowed is 40 cm x 25 cm x 25 cm. Suitcases and cabin bags are not accepted.
TIP: If you have bags or luggage that is too large for the Bag Check, read our post on where to store luggage in London to find inexpensive short-term storage options near the museum.
The National Gallery actually has a wonderful selection of things to purchase, including a print-on-demand service where you can order prints of your favorite pieces.
You may take photographs with these exceptions: no flash, no tripods, and no selfie sticks. No photo-taking is permitted in special exhibitions.
To delve deeply into this world-class museum, you may wish to take a tour. The gallery is large that a guided tour can help you maximize your time.
There are several excellent tour options at different price points, some even free.
Whether you're an art expert or a complete novice our walk through the gallery will keep you entertained and gripped by the stories these incredible paintings have to tell.
Our 2-hour tour is offered several days a week and is free to take! You get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it's over.
A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for any budget. See more details about the tour here.
Free One-Hour Guided Tour. Offered Mon- Fri (excluding public holidays) from 2 pm -3 pm.
Individuals and small groups (of up to four people) are welcome.
There are several options for which audio guide you purchase. The prices are the same, but the focus is specialized.
- Adult: £5
- Concessions (senior citizens, students, under-12s, teachers, Members): £4.50
- Family ticket (2 adults + up to 2 children under 12): £10
- Groups of over 10 people: £3.50 per person
TIP: London Pass holders are entitled to a free audio guide! Find out more about London Tourist Discount Passes.
General Audio Tours
- Collection Tour - Guests can create their own tours by choosing works at random from over 1,2000 works.
- Essential Audio Tour - A tour featuring 80 highlights from the Gallery available in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, and Dutch.
Thematic Audio Tours
- Manet to Picasso - An in-depth tour focusing on 18th to 20th-century art.
- The Life of Christ - Moments of Christ’s life as depicted by artists through the ages.
- Art in the Making - Interviews with curators and conservation staff detailing the creation and curation of incredible works of art.
- Be Inspired - Interviewees from across a broad range of spectrums speak on the pieces that have inspired their own artwork.
Family-Friendly Audio Tours
- Art Detectives - Following in the footsteps of detectives, this guide helps families uncover clues hidden in the Gallery’s masterpieces.
- A Right Royal Tour - A focus on art depicting Kings and Queens, aimed at young visitors but fun for all ages!
- Teach Your Grown-Ups About Art - An interactive tour where adults are encouraged to take off their headphones and let the younger visitors tell them the information they’re receiving from their own guide!
British Sign Language Tours - free.
If you want to avoid crowds, consider going before lunchtime when it is less full. Also, keep in mind that on rainy days you can expect the museum to be very crowded.
There are cloakrooms that cost £2 to use. They accept bags up to 56 x 25 x 45 cm. If your bags are larger, you can find inexpensive luggage storage here.
If you are traveling with children, look into the family-friendly audio tours or other children’s activity guides offered by the museum. See what the museum has to offer for families.
The National Gallery is a classical art museum. If you are looking for modern art, try the Tate Modern.
Consider coupling your visit to the National Gallery with our Royal Westminster Tour.
The tour finishes just a short walk away from Trafalgar Square and gives you all the history of this wonderful area before you visit the museum!