Today I’m continuing my themed itinerary series with an itinerary for London museums. If you love a world-class collection or have a niche interest, I hope this blog post gives you some inspiration for exploring.
This itinerary will take you to some of London’s best museums and galleries. From big names like the British Museum to small collections for special interests, it will allow you to discover a wide variety of the city’s cultural treasures.
The itinerary covers 2 days, but you can mix and match to tailor it to the length of time you’ll spend in London. As always, make sure to check opening hours before you visit.
London Museums: Day 1 – Morning
Begin the first day of your itinerary in South Kensington. This area has some of the biggest and best London museums, and they’re all right next to each other (and free to enter).
The Natural History Museum, V&A, and Science Museum are full of incredible feats wrought by both nature and humans.
I recommend starting at the V&A, where the stunning historic cafe is the perfect place for a morning coffee to fuel your day of museum-going.
From the cafe you can explore the V&A’s collection of decorative arts and design, and move on to the other two museums if you have time and interest (the Natural History Museum is worth a visit for its stunning entry hall alone).
London Museums: Day 1 – Afternoon
When you’ve had your fix of the big museums in South Kensington, head into Hyde Park to explore the Serpentine Gallery and neighboring Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
These free galleries have rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, and in the summer the former hosts a pavilion designed by a different architect every year.
From Hyde Park, make your way to Buckingham Palace, where The Queen’s Gallery hosts changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection throughout the year.
The art is always impressive, whether it focuses on British monarchs of old or foreign works collected by the Crown over the centuries.
London Museums: Day 1 – Evening
From Buckingham Palace, head over to Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery and neighboring National Portrait Gallery have miles of paintings to take in, and like most of the others on today’s itinerary, they’re free to enter.
From British artists to Dutch Masters, Impressionists, and more, there’s a wealth of art on display in both galleries. They’re open late on Fridays, too, so it’s a good day to go to maximize your evening.
The area around them is full of restaurants, bars, and theaters, so it’s an ideal place to end your day with a meal and entertainment.
London Museums: Day 2 – Morning
Start the second day of your London museums itinerary at the British Museum. This free museum is one of the most famous in the world for good reason: there are antiquities from across the globe within its walls.
Whether you want to see the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles, or the ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, you can do it here.
The Foster and Partners-designed Great Court is also one of the most beautiful works of contemporary architecture in London.
London Museums: Day 2 – Afternoon
You could spend all day at the British Museum, but if you stick to your interests you’ll have time left to explore more London museums.
There are cafes and a restaurant in the British Museum, but I recommend heading to Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia for lunch if you want something a bit more exciting. It’s one of the best places to eat near London’s top attractions.
Once you’ve eaten, continue your London itinerary at what I like to think of as a miniature version of the British Museum. Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn is located in the home of the neo-classical architect of the same name.
His three adjacent townhouses make up this free museum, which holds a trove of ancient treasures, paintings, and furniture in a maze of historic rooms.
And speaking of homes-turned-museums, Two Temple Place is close to Sir John Soane’s Museum and is one of London’s best-kept cultural secrets.
This late Victorian neo-Gothic mansion was built by William Waldorf Astor and is now a museum hosting free temporary exhibitions throughout the year. It’s not open all the time, so make sure to check before you visit. If it is, you’ll be in for a treat.
If it isn’t, head to nearby Somerset House instead. This Georgian behemoth hosts all kinds of exhibitions and is a great place to dig deeper into a special interest or learn about something new.
London Museums: Day 2 – Evening
In the evening, make your way to Tate Modern. This free museum is one of the most visited in the world for good reason.
It has everything from a great permanent collection to excellent exhibitions, stunning architecture, and unparalleled views across the Thames.
Tate Modern is open late on Friday and Saturday nights, so you’ll have extra time to explore if you time your visit accordingly.
The area around the museum is full of riverside restaurants and cafes, so it’s a good place to get dinner after your day of museum-going.
Museums in London
I hope you’ve enjoyed this itinerary for London museums. There are a lot more museums to explore in the city, so if you want to dig deeper, take a look at my blog posts about London’s secret museums and London’s hidden museums.
If you want to see more themed London itineraries, you can find the full list here.
Find this post helpful? Buy me a coffee!
New here? Join thousands of others and subscribe to the A Lady in London blog via email.