London museums: The best destinations for a cultural day in the capital


London has a lot to offer in the world of culture. Home to some of the most well-regarded museums and galleries in the world, few other cities offer the opportunity to revisit the Jurassic period and peruse dinosaur bones before immersing yourself in Coco Chanel’s Parisian fashion house in a single afternoon. Whether you’re a history buff, fashion aficionado or art enthusiast, here’s our edit of the best London museums to get lost in… 

London Transport Museum, Covent Garden

london transport museum

Image: Shutterstock/Nataliia Zhekova

Home to the world’s first underground railway network, London has pioneered some of the biggest developments in the world of transport. Delve into this illustrious history at the London Transport Museum, where you can hop aboard vintage buses, visit an abandoned tube station and see the only surviving 1860s steam engine. With the London Underground celebrates its 160th anniversary in 2023, the museum is hosting a number of specially-curated exhibitions throughout the year, such as Legacies: London Transport’s Caribbean Workforce — an exploration of the struggles and triumphs individuals and their families experienced as they moved from the Caribbean to the UK.

Address: Covent Garden, WC2E 7BB

Tickets: £18.50 for off-peak annual passes, £21 for unlimited adult annual passes


Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey

fashion and textile museum

Image: Shutterstock/Ron Ellis

Founded by Dame Zandra Rhodes — the fashion designer whose fans included Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan — this museum is dedicated to showcasing contemporary fashion and textiles. It does away with permanent exhibitions and, instead, is home to a roster of temporary exhibitions curated by innovative designers from around the world. Currently in residence is Kaffe Fassett: The Power of Pattern, displaying works from the American artist’s 50-year career, including knitting, mosaic, quilting, painting and drawing. The museum also hosts a number of workshops for budding designers, such as silk painting, drawing and sublimation printing and flocking. 

Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3XF

Tickets: £12.65 for adults, free for children under 12


Horniman Museums and Gardens, Forest Hill

horniman museum

Dedicated to anthropological findings and natural history, Frederick Horniman opened his namesake museum in 1901. After inheriting his father’s Horniman’s Tea business, which at the time was the world’s biggest tea trader, Horniman spent much of his time indulging in his lifelong passion for collecting and travelling, which saw him garner more than 30,000 items covering natural history, cultural artefacts and musical instruments — many of which are on display today.

The Horniman won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year in 2022 and is home to one of the biggest collections of taxidermied animals in the UK. If you’re looking to take youngsters, book tickets for the Brick Dinos exhibition — a collection of prehistoric giants built from Lego bricks — and discover striking illustrations from the much-loved children’s book in Elmer and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee

Address: 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ

Tickets: Free entry, exhibitions individually priced


Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington


Image: Shutterstock/Richie Chan

Likely the most famous museum in the capital (and for good reason), the V&A is the largest in London and eighth largest in the world. Art enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find an exhibition that doesn’t take their fancy, considering there are more than 100 galleries with displays ranging from photography to fashion. This hub of creativity has seen the likes of Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen become the subject of exhibitions in its ornate buildings; the show we have our eyes on now is Donatello: Sculpting The Renaissance — the first major collection to explore works of the iconic sculptor. 

Address: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL

Tickets: Free entry, exhibitions individually priced


Natural History Museum, South Kensington

If you’re a David Attenborough fan, the Natural History Museum is for you. The gothic building is home to an array of wildlife, ranging from thoughtfully-animated prehistoric creatures to taxidermied versions of the Big Five. Inside the huge Hintze Hall, which was refurbished in 2019 to show off its Victorian architecture, you’ll find Hope the blue whale skeleton nose diving from the ceiling. Perfect for all the family, the Natural History Museum is one of London’s must-see attractions. 

Address: Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD

Tickets: Free entry, exhibitions individually priced


London Mithraeum, The City

london mithraeum

Situated on the banks of one of the capital’s lost rivers, the Walbrook, the London Mithraeum is home to an ancient Roman temple and a selection of period artefacts from one of the UK’s most significant archaeological sites. On 18 September 1954, an excavation discovered the marble head of a statue of Mithras beneath the rubble of post-war London. This chance discovery led archaeologists to confirm one of the most significant events in British archaeological history which, at the time, was widely celebrated by Winston Churchill and saw thousands of visitors flock to the site to marvel at the Roman remains. So what did they uncover? We won’t spoil the surprise, you’ll have to visit yourself to find out. 

Address: 12 Walbrook, EC4N 8AA

Tickets: Free entry


Queer Britain, King’s Cross

Image: Rahil Ahmad

One of the newest museums on the block, Queer Britain opened its doors in Granary Square in 2022, becoming the first dedicated national LGBTQ+ museum in the UK. The permanent exhibition, We Are Queer Britain, is a celebration of LGBTQ+ history and culture while being a powerful reminder of the suffering the LGBTQ+ community has endured to date. Discover moving log books showing records of the LGBT+ helpline switchboard and erotic fiction by Duncan Grant, as well as a letter Elton John wrote to his young self and the door from Oscar Wilde’s cell in Reading Prison, where he was held on charges of sodomy. 

Address: 2 Granary Square, N1C 4BH

Tickets: Free entry


The Design Museum, Kensington

the design museum

Image: Shutterstock/Eugene Regis

Devoted to contemporary design in every form, the Design Museum exhibits an array of cutting-edge fashion, architectural and graphic collections. One of the most popular current exhibitions, Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR, encourages visitors to experience ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) — a physical sensation triggered through sound, touch, and movement — in a shared space thought to be the first exhibition of its kind. As well as its plethora of unique exhibitions, the Design Museum is renowned for its educational workshops and insightful talks from key figures in the industry. 

Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG

Tickets: Free entry, exhibitions individually priced


Imperial War Museum, Lambeth 

Image: Shutterstock/Pajor Pawel

Take a deep dive into military history at the Imperial War Museum, which is housed in the Bethlem Royal Hospital — the former psychiatric unit also known as Bedlam. Many of the exhibitions are challenging (needless to say, war is a difficult subject), however, it also offers a carefully-curated, historical experience which is important beyond measure. From displays ranging from the First World War to the Holocaust, and more recently the conflict in Ukraine, the Imperial War Museum has a collection for every historical interest. 

Address: Lambeth Road, SE1 6HZ

Tickets: Free entry, exhibitions individually priced


The Jewish Museum, Camden 

the jewish museum

Image: Shutterstock/Chrispictures

Following the horrific crimes of the Second World War which saw many Jewish families make their home in London, two museums — the London Museum of Jewish Life and the Jewish Museum — emerged in the 1980s. Now collectively known as the Jewish Museum, immerse yourself in Judaism via ceremonial art and precious artefacts including Torah decorations and Passover plates. Permanent exhibitions include Judaism: A Living Faith, featuring an award-winning Judaica collection which explores Judaism as a living religious tradition, as well as The Holocaust Gallery which tells the story of Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman OBE.

Address: Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert Street, NW1 7NB

Tickets: Adults £7.50; children from £3.50


The Fan Museum, Greenwich

the fan museum

Born in 1991, the Fan Museum is the only organisation of its kind devoted to the unique history, culture and artistry of the fan. Housed within a Grade II*-listed Georgian townhouse, the museum’s small team of curators has staged more than 90 fan-themed exhibitions focusing on world cultures, classical history and art deco. Currently on display is Coronations & Celebrations, an exhibition commemorating the accession of King Charles III and displaying centuries of royal fans from across the continent, including a special English fan marking the restoration of Charles II almost 400 years ago.

Address: 12 Crooms Hill, SE10 8ER

Tickets: Adults £5, children from £3


The British Museum, Bloomsbury

the british museum

Image: Shutterstock/Alex Segre

Likely the city’s most visited attraction, the British Museum is home to a number of sprawling galleries and archival collections but is also an architectural masterpiece in itself. The Great Court, featuring domed sky-light ceilings and sweeping staircases, leads you to a number of grand rooms celebrating the history of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, with artefacts including the Rosetta Stone, Pantheon Marbles and 120 mummies. As the world’s first national museum, this is a must-see attraction in the capital. 

Address: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG

Tickets: Free entry, exhibitions individually priced


Museum of Brands, Notting Hill

Fancy a trip down memory lane? Visit the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill for a healthy dose of childhood nostalgia, where you can see how much-loved brands like Marmite and Cadbury have evolved over time. The permanent Time Tunnel exhibition examines the changes in product packaging, branding and advertising from the Victorian era to present day. Discover how technological and societal changes, from the expansion of digital advertising to the emancipation of women, have shaped the commercial world of today. Expect a fascinating insight into the impact of capitalism on culture and the way British brands influence the world we live in today.

Address: 111-117 Lancaster Road, W11 1QT

Tickets: Adults £9, children £5


The Postal Museum, Farringdon

the postal museum

Alongside London’s transport system, another highly-intricate network which became one of the country’s biggest innovations was the postal service. Connecting people from far and wide, the Postal Museum celebrates the art and history of letter-writing and communication via interactive displays and exhibitions. Discover one of the capital’s best-kept secrets, the Mail Rail — the postal service’s subterranean transport system beneath the streets of London — and an exhibition dedicated to The King’s Stamp, where avid stamp collectors can marvel at sheets of the new design before it’s released to the public. 

Address: 15-20 Phoenix Place, WC1X 0DA

Tickets: Adults £16, children £9 for children


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