London is one of the most expensive cities to live in. This means that any tourist visiting the capital of England must have a fairly large budget. Traveling through London’s underground tubes can quickly burn your money; The city is famous for being home to extravagant bars and restaurants that cost a pretty penny, and tickets to the city’s top-notch attractions can put a significant dent in your wallet. That picture on the London Eye you need to show off your British holiday? It’s not exactly cheap.
Luckily, not everything in London has to cost money. In the spirit of open access to art and history, several museums and art galleries across the city are letting people through their doors for free. Regardless of the time of year or day of the week, these museums and art galleries are completely free to visit.
10 Saatchi Gallery
As well as being one of London’s most renowned art galleries, the Saatchi Gallery is a name that is well known around the world. The gallery operates as a registered charity, providing a platform for emerging artists to showcase their art to an audience that doesn’t have to shell out a few bucks to get in. Travelers can see what exhibits Saatchi has through their website and save their money on tickets to actually buy some artwork. Considering the art gallery has a reputation for showcasing the work of prominent artists before they ever became famous, you may very well bump into the next Andy Warhol here.
9 London Museum
For those who really want to learn the history of the city they are visiting, how they got here today and the famous people who called the city home, the Museum of London should be high on the list of places to visit. The museum chronicles London from prehistory to the present day, showcasing over 450,000 years of London’s history through a mix of permanent exhibitions and temporary exhibitions showcasing notable events in London’s history. The museum is open seven days a week and visitors can enter at any time during opening hours.
8th National Science Museum
The National Science Museum is located in South Kensington on a lane known as Exhibition Road, which is home to major museums and art galleries, some of which are free to enter. Considered one of the largest science and technology museums in the world, the National Science Museum showcases objects and exhibits related to chemistry, medicine, space, mathematics, technology, astronomy, and robotics, albeit in a fun and engaging way. Occasionally, visitors even come across staff conducting live experiments. Tickets are free, but the museum requires visitors to pre-book their timeslots online.
7 Imperial War Museum London
The Imperial War Museums are spread over five different locations in Great Britain and have three branches in London. Of these, the Imperial War Museum London serves as a memorial to World War I and World War II. The museum’s permanent exhibitions include a Holocaust gallery, a display of objects from both world wars, and separate galleries dedicated to World War I and World War II. The museum also regularly hosts events and temporary exhibitions that are completely free to visitors.
6 The National Gallery
For those who can never decide whether to spend the day in an art gallery or a history museum, the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is the ideal day trip. Established in 1824 with a collection of 38 paintings, The National Gallery is an art museum displaying the UK’s collection of European paintings. Anyone interested in art history will discover the outstanding works of Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Titian lining the gallery walls.
5 British Museum
Dedicated to documenting human history, art and culture, the British Museum houses an impressive collection of ancient manuscripts, sculptures, Egyptian hieroglyphs and archaeological objects. The museum also distributes an object paths map so visitors can jump to the most popular exhibits based on different themes. Although visiting the British Museum is free, you must book your timeslot in advance to guarantee entry. While walk-ins are permitted, they are subject to museum capacity.
4 National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum is housed in an impressive complex that formerly housed the Greenwich Royal Hospital School. Located on the banks of the River Thames, the museum showcases England’s maritime history through model ships, maritime instruments, photographs and artwork, as well as a library housing over 100,000 books dedicated to the country’s maritime history. A trip to the National Maritime Museum can always end with a short hike to Greenwich Park, which offers stunning views of the museum and the London skyline, and a stroll through Greenwich Market.
3 Tate Modern
Let’s face it: most would make a trip to the Tate Modern even if the art museum charged expensive tickets. The famous Tate Modern is one of London’s top attractions, and the fact that entry to their gallery is completely free is just a huge bonus! While the art museum houses paintings and sculptures by artists such as Pablo Picasso, the Tate Modern is particularly famous for its cutting-edge art installations. Although the museum charges entry to some select exhibitions (unless you’re a member), access to its galleries is free for everyone.
2 Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum, or V&A as it’s known locally, houses over 2.8 million works of art spanning over 5,000 years of history. The Art, Design and Performance Museum features some of the country’s largest collections of ceramics, textiles, furniture, jewellery, photography, books and paintings, among others. The museum charges a fee for its workshops and some select exhibitions, but access to most of its collections and events remains free for visitors.
1 Natural History Museum
For anyone who grew up watching Jurassic Park and dreamed of a world full of dinosaurs, the Natural History Museum is a wonderland. The building that houses the museum is not only an architectural marvel, but also houses an even more impressive collection in the botany, paleontology, mineralogy, entomology and zoology departments inside. Huge dinosaur skeletons dangle from high ceilings, collections feature fossils of extinct mammals, and several exhibits chronicle the history of human evolution. In winter, the Natural History Museum’s open gardens are transformed into a dazzling ice rink surrounded by Christmas trees.