Culture vultures: head to London's best museums and galleries

Way better than an evening in front of TOWIE

Museums and Galleries? Yawn.
Well that's where you're wrong, matie.

There will be no yawning at this list of London's best culture hot-spots; and not just because you're swatting up in a bid to impress someone who reads The Guardian.

It goes without saying that London has long been at the forefront of advances in science, thinking, the arts and everything which underpins and colours the incredible civilisation in which we live today (worthy, or what?); it's therefore right that we document our progress - enabling us to look back at our development and marvel at a history of which to be proud.

So stoke the furnaces of the grey matter and take in some of the world's most informative and awe-inspiring galleries and museums.

God bless us, every one. (In a Tiny Tim-type way.)

The British Museum image
The British Museum
Museums
Great Russell Street WC1B 3DG
Photos
Must Try
Best For

The British Museum might not quite have its foot in the present, but if it’s dusty old museums full of history and wonder you want then it will do just fine. There are mummies and they alone make this one of London’s best museums. It is home to Britain’s past treasures and secrets – who knew learning could be so fun!

London Canal Museum  image
London Canal Museum
Museums
12-13 New Wharf Road N1 9RT
Photos
Best For

This might sound about as fun as The Museum of Watching Paint Dry, but give it a chance and you’ll be won over. First of all, all canals are great – the Suez, the Panama, the Regent’s – there’re loads of them. Second, this museum is interesting. Who doesn’t want to hear about the history of the waterways, the lives of the workers and the horses that dragged the boats? Take a chance - heritage is huge right now.

National Portrait Gallery image
National Portrait Gallery
Galleries
St Martin's Place WC2H 0HE
Charing Cross 0.13 miles
Photos
Best For

Established in 1856, The National Portrait Gallery is one of London’s most historic museums. With a vast permanent collection backed by six or seven temporary shows a year, there is always something – or someone – new to see. You can also view the collection in the new multimedia room and enjoy the amazing views across Trafalgar Square from the Portrait restaurant on the top floor.

V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) image
V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum)
Museums
Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7 2RL
South Kensington 0.21 miles
Photos
Must Try
Best For
AIL
Users

The V&A Museum in South Kensington has a little bit of everything. Amazing architecture – in particular its domed roof, a beautiful courtyard (soon to be developed into an even more appealing public space) and a collection of art, fashion and antiquities from throughout the ages. From ball gowns to Bowie, and Raphael to Samurai, there is a something for everyone.

Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising (MOBPA) image
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising (MOBPA)
Museums
111-117 Lancaster Road, Notting Hill W11 1QT
Ladbroke Grove 0.09 miles
Photos
Must Try
Best For

Brands; they’re the choice of a new generation. What could be more natural than for a city like London to host such a place? Jocular, titillating copy aside; The Museum of Brands is an underrated treasure. Anybody interested in the history of design, graphics or advertising should be able to appreciate its cultural importance. For anybody else it’s worth a trip for branded mind bumps alone –courtesy of old packaging, ads, posters and slogans. Just do it.

Natural History Museum image
Natural History Museum
Museums
Cromwell Road SW7 5BD
South Kensington 0.21 miles
Photos
Must Try
Best For

The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum are so close that they are basically the same place. Fact. Okay, not a fact but a trip to one can quite simply be followed by a trip to the other. Blue whales, dinosaurs, biology and “earthquake games” are all part of the fun to be had at the South Kensington museums. There are even ice rinks in winter!

Science Museum image
Science Museum
Museums
Exhibition Road, South Kensington SW7 2DD
South Kensington 0.25 miles
Photos
Must Try
Best For

The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum are so close that they are basically the same place. Fact. Okay, not a fact but a trip to one can quite simply be followed by a trip to the other. Blue whales, dinosaurs, biology and “earthquake games” are all part of the fun to be had at the South Kensington museums. There are even ice rinks in winter!

The Sherlock Holmes Museum image
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Museums
221b Baker Street NW1 6XE
Baker Street 0.08 miles
Photos
Must Try
Best For

Located at 221b, Baker Street, The Sherlock Holmes Museum is a relic to the writing of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his most famous character. Anybody who has ever had even the most fleeting interest in the brainiac detective should visit this recreation of his abode just to say they’ve been there and done it.

The Photographers' Gallery image
The Photographers' Gallery
Art Galleries & Dealers
16-18 Ramillies Street W1F 7LW
Oxford Circus 0.11 miles
Photos
Must Try
Best For

Having closed and then re-opened after much needed refurbishment, the new Photographers' Gallery is a slick place to visit. Located on Ramillies Street, just off Oxford Street, you’ll find exhibitions, digital projects and – in the ground floor bookshop – one of the best place in London to find photography books.

The Magic Circle Museum image
The Magic Circle Museum
Museums
12 Stephenson Way NW1 2HD
Warren Street 0.17 miles
Photos
Best For

Take all you learned from your Paul Daniels Magic Kit and put it into practice at The Magic Circle Museum in Euston. It’s tiny – standing room for only 35 – and with exhibits like Harry Houdini’s handcuffs and rabbit in hat spoilers, who could resist? The website says “perfect for anniversaries…” and who can argue with that – after all, isn’t love just magic?! Da-daa!!

The Tate Modern image
The Tate Modern
Galleries
Bankside SE1 9TG
Waterloo East 0.29 miles
Opening Times
Photos
Best For

The best thing about most of London’s museums/galleries is that they are usually free and the Tate Modern is the biggest and cheapest of all. Sure, if you’ve visited before then by all means pay for the exhibition but if not there is enough to see at Tate Modern to keep you busy for hours. There’s also the added bonus of the Turbine Hall and its installations along with a great shop selling anything from art books to stationery.

Sign up for the latest
Sign up to our newsletter for the latest and greatest from London!
By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive email updates and newsletters from All In London. You can unsubscribe at any time.