London, UK

London’s Museums: A Complete and Honest Guide

London might just be one of my personal favourite cities in the world. London’s museums and galleries are beyond compare, there are so many markets to explore and there is always something going on in the city. I lived there for 2 years and still didn’t see it all.

One thing I did try to do was to visit as many of London’s museums as I could. Whether it was a rainy day or an excuse to explore a new corner of the city, I was always down to explore. And one of the best things about them is that most of them are free to visit. This is something you MUST take advantage of!!

Now, as a tourist, it can be hard to visit a lot of London’s museums because there is so much to do that you most likely don’t want to spend all of your time inside a museum. So I have put together this summary of some of the museums I got around to visiting during my time in London. I’ll go over what the focus is of the museum or gallery, what I liked and didn’t like about it and my own personal ranking.

Of course, this article is based on my own personal preferences and experiences so do keep that in mind. You might enjoy different things than me so don’t discount a museum entirely. But hopefully, you find this helpful in making your choice of which of London’s museums you should visit!


Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

A peek inside the main atrium in the V&A museum, one of London's museums!

The focus of the museum:

The V&A  was one of my personal favourites; I visited it several times. They are known as being a museum of art and design but I would say that their collections extend beyond that. I now see them classify themselves as the museum of ‘creativity’. In the past, they’ve had exhibitions on Alexander McQueen, shoes and even Winnie the Pooh.

What I liked:

The collections at the V&A were honestly super cool and interesting to explore. I was only able to visit the free collections but everything was super beautiful and engaging. I personally found it really interesting that you can find such a wide range of arts under one roof. There were ceramics, fashion items, paintings, performance-based pieces, jewelry, photography and so much more.

What I didn’t like:

There isn’t much that I don’t like about this museum. But if I were to list something, I would note that you do have to pay to enter the temporary exhibitions (like in most museums). So if you’re planning to visit for free, you will still miss out on some exhibitions. Of course, if there’s an exhibition that interests you, go for it and pay extra! (If I was there during the Winnie the Pooh exhibition, I would have DEFINITELY paid for it!).

Rating: 9/10


Natural History Museum

A girl walking towards the exterior of the Natural History Museum in London - one of London's museums.

The focus of the museum:

The Natural History Museum is another free museum in London. Its focus is in the title; it’s centred around Natural History. They cover topics including dinosaurs, space, oceans and wildlife – everything and all things about nature!

What I liked:

The building itself I found to be STUNNING. I love it. The main atrium where the whale skeleton hangs over the crowd is probably the most beautiful room in a museum I’ve come across. If you really pay attention, there are details everywhere. The columns, the staircases and the ceiling are covered in carvings and paintings. I would consider the building to be a piece of art in itself.

What I didn’t like:

The collection is actually quite dated. The information panels, videos and displays looked quite old and run down. The exhibitions are also VERY targeted to children. To me, this wasn’t a huge deal but it wasn’t the most adult-friendly museum to visit. I visited in the summer of 2021 and at the time it appeared to be that they were in the middle of an update. Perhaps the collection has been given a much-needed revamp!

Rating: 6/10


Imperial War Museum

Standing outside of the Imperial War Museum in London - One of London's museums that surprised me the most!

The focus of the museum:

The Imperial War Museum is often overlooked. Mainly because it is located away from many of the other museums in London which tend to be located in South Kensington. This museum is about wars. Specifically, WWI, WWII, the post-war eras and the Holocaust.

What I liked:

This is one of London’s museums that surprised me the most. I actually LOVED visiting this museum. The WWI exhibition is probably the coolest and most engaging exhibition I have ever seen. It is incredibly interactive and well-made. You are completely immersed in WWI with sights and sounds. You can feel what it was like to be there, be a soldier and really understand what it was like at the time. I don’t want to spoil anything because one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was that I was pleasantly surprised.

What I didn’t like:

I, of course, loved the WWI exhibit but the others weren’t as exciting to me. They were still very informative and well done, but in comparison to the first exhibit, the others are a little underwhelming. Perhaps in the future, they are planning to recreate the same energy of the WWI exhibit for the other exhibits.

Rating: 9.5/10


Tate Modern

A girl standing in front of one of the art pieces in the Tate Modern, London's museum of modern art

The focus of the museum:

As it says in the title, the Tate Modern is all about modern art. Specifically, this museum carries work from the early 1900s until the present day. You can find paintings, sculptures, performances and installations from artists from all over the world.

What I liked:

There was a lot to see in this gallery and it’s a really nice change of pace from seeing your traditional paintings and sculptures from other galleries. Prepare to be surprised and blown away by some of the most creative minds of our time. There were definitely some very memorable pieces – some you might even recognize!

What I didn’t like:

That being said, modern art isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I have seen a lot of modern art in my time and I sometimes love it and sometimes hate it. There were definitely moments when I was visiting that I felt a little out of my depth and confused by what was around me. Remember, this is to be expected when visiting a modern art museum, but as I said, not always my cup of tea.

Rating: 7/10


National Gallery

Inside the main atrium in the National Gallery in London - one of my favourite of London's museums

The focus of the museum:

In comparison to the Tate Modern, the National Gallery is what you come to expect a visit to an art gallery to be like. They carry works of art from some of the biggest names in art including Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Turner, Raphael, Da Vinci, Velazquez, Reubens and Monet. Fun fact; in May 2024, they are celebrating their 200th anniversary!

What I liked:

One of my favourite things about visiting art galleries, is seeing famous pieces in real life. So one of the things I loved most about this gallery was the number of recognizable names and art pieces it had in its collection. As I said above, they carry works from some of the most influential painters and artists in history and I find it so cool to be able to witness and appreciate them up close!

What I didn’t like:

There isn’t much to say that I didn’t like about this gallery. However, as I mentioned above, this is the most traditional art gallery I visited. So perhaps to some, you might find that boring or unoriginal. Unlike the Tate Modern, this gallery is very painting-heavy!

Rating: 8/10


Science Museum

A photo of one of the books on display in the Science Museum in London - my least favourite of London's museums

The focus of the museum:

This is London’s museum dedicated to Science. This museum doesn’t have one particular focus under the umbrella of science so you can find a lot of interesting stuff there such as learning about space and flight, seeing the evolution of the clock, feeling immersed in the gaming world or even discovering more about the race to get the covid vaccine.

What I liked:

It’s strange because the main exhibit that stands out in my mind is the clockmaker’s exhibition. I have no particular interest in clocks however it was quite cool to see such a wide collection of such a household object.

What I didn’t like:

This was probably my least favourite of London’s museums, but I’d like to repeat this is based on my own personal preferences. I visited because my brother has an interest in science, but science isn’t really my thing so it wasn’t the most interesting museum to me.

Rating: 5/10


British Museum

The main atrium of the British Museum , one of the most famous of London's museums

The focus of the museum:

This is probably the most iconic of London’s museums. The British Museum has been around since 1753 and was the first museum to “cover all fields of human knowledge”. That being said, I would say that the British Museum is most known for being an ancient history museum

What I liked:

There is SO much to see in this museum. They have acquired some really significant artifacts from around the world. The most well-known objects include the Rosetta Stone, the Book of the Dead and some remains from the Parthenon.

What I didn’t like:

In all honesty, there is TOO much to see in this museum. I found it very overwhelming. There were things to look at, read, and watch in every inch of this museum, I left feeling exhausted and like I missed half of the collection. It is really interesting to see however I personally felt like it was way too much even after spending over 3 hours there.

Rating: 6.5/10


Sherlock Holmes Museum

A girl standing outside of the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London on Baker Street - one of the most unique of London's museums

The focus of the museum:

This is a super fun and unique museum in London. The Sherlock Holmes Museum is located at 221b Baker Street and is all about London’s most famous detective.  The museum takes you through his house where you can see displays of this character’s life and some memorabilia from his cases.

What I liked:

I found this museum to be super cool and such a great idea. I think the name Sherlock Holmes is known to all and I think that dedicating a museum to this literary character is such a cool concept.

What I didn’t like:

Important thing to note about this museum is that it is in fact not free to visit. Unlike some of the other museums in London, this museum actually costs £16 to visit. The museum is also considerably small. It is 4 floors and a super fun concept, but for the price you pay, there isn’t that much to see.

Rating: 6/10


National Portrait Gallery

Elton John's Portrait in the National Portrait Gallery in London - my personal favourite of London's museums

The focus of the museum:

The National Portrait Gallery is dedicated to the famous people of Britain. There are over 12,000 portraits of the most significant people in British History. You can find painted portraits, photographs, sculptures, drawings and miniatures.

What I liked:

I must say, this is probably my favourite of London’s museums and galleries. I thought it was such a clever idea to learn about history through portraits. The museum was really well organized and was super easy to navigate. You go through the museum in a particular order as you progress through history and the different periods beginning from the Tudors to the modern day. I love a really well-organized museum!

What I didn’t like:

Honestly, this is my favourite museum in London so I don’t have much to say. I will mention that it has been closed for the past little while and is due to reopen in June 2023. I’m excited to go back one day and see how they’ve updated their collection!

Rating: 10/10

The ultimate goal of this article was to help give you an idea of what to expect from the various museums in London. As I said at the start of the article, when you’re crunched for time, you’re never quite sure which museum to visit that will be worth your time!

I hope you found this guide helpful in choosing your next museum visit to London. And even better, I hope it inspired you to explore a museum that wasn’t on your radar before!

If you’re interested in exploring OUTSIDE of London or are in need of some restaurant recommendations, I’ve got you covered!

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Caity Zagar

Travel Planner & Blogger

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