The National Gallery of Art London

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. 

 

 


PLAN YOUR VISIT

Museum Hours

  • 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.

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.


Gift Shop

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.


Taking Photographs

You may take photographs with these exceptions: no flash, no tripods, and no selfie sticks. No photo-taking is permitted in special exhibitions.

 


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HIGHLIGHTS

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.

 

 


Special Exhibitions

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:

  • Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece  9 November 2019 – 12 January 2020 (ticket required)
  • Gauguin Portraits  7 October 2019 – 26 January 2020 (ticket required)
  • Young Bomberg and the Old Masters 27 November 2019 – 1 March 2020 (free) 
  • Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age  22 February – 31 May 2020 (free)
  • Titian: Love, Desire, Death  16 March – 14 June 2020 (ticket required)
  • Artemisia  4 April – 26 July 2020 (ticket required)
  • Raphael  3 October 2020 – 24 January 2021  (ticket required)
  • Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist  13 February – 16 May 2021 (ticket required)

 


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TOURS

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.

Guided Tour with Free Tours by Foot

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.


Official Museum Tours

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. 


Audio Tours

There are several options for which audio guide you purchase. The prices are the same, but the focus is specialized. 

Prices

  • 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

  • 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! 

Accessible Tours 

Audio Tours for the blind and partially-sighted – free.

British Sign Language Tours – free.

 


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TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT

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!

 

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