London is one of the world’s greatest city’s, its also got some of the world’s best and most popular visitor attractions. From iconic greats like the Tower of London to more recent newcomers like the London Eye there’s something for everyone in this great city and best of all most of the attractions on this list are free to visit.
This top 10 list has been compiled in order of popularity using the latest available visitor numbers.
1. British Museum.
Entry – Free Web – britishmuseum.org Tube – Holborn / Tottenham Court Road / Russell Square.
The British Museum tops the list as the number one visitor attraction in the capital and for good reason. There’s lots to see and with such a vast and varied collection it can be a little overwhelming. My suggestion would be to take the 90 minute highlights tour (this does cost £12) you get a very knowledgeable guide and get to see a good selection of the museums more famous artifacts. Tours can be booked in advance online or on the day. There are also free daily eye opener tours in various galleries throughout each day, check the website for details. If you’d rather go it alone you can buy a multimedia guide for £5 which lets you choose from a selection of guided tours at your own pace.
2. National Gallery.
Entry – Free Web – nationalgallery.org.uk Tube – Leicester Square / Charing Cross.
In the heart of London and with free access to over 2300 paintings the National Gallery has something for everyone. If you’re like me and don’t know a lot about art then the gallery offers free tours daily, they last about 60 minutes and are led by gallery lecturers stopping off at some of the gallery’s most definitive works. There are also free 10 minute insight talks at selected paintings on weekdays at 4pm. Check the website to find out more details. There are also some free downloadable tours here to.
3. Natural History Museum.
Entry – Free Web – nhm.ac.uk Tube – South Kensington.
The Natural History Museum always appears in London’s top 10 and rightly so, as well as the ever popular dinosaur exhibition the museum boasts a collection of the biggest, tallest and rarest animals in the world. The museum offers several ways to see its collections including a free downloadable app for your smart phone which details galleries, what’s there to see, and how to get to them. There’s also a handheld multimedia guide priced at £4.95 which offers two touchscreen tours allowing you to choose where you want to explore. You can also take one of the free daily guided tours that take you behind the scenes of the Darwin Centre’s Zoology Spirit Building giving a fascinating glimpse of the building’s 27 kilometres of shelves and some of the 22 million specimens the museum looks after. Tours last 30 minutes and run 2 to 6 times a day.
4. Tate Modern.
Entry – Free Web – tate.org.uk Tube – Southwark / Blackfriars.
This unique building that was previously a power station is now the national museum for modern and contemporary art and sits on the south bank of the river Thames. The huge Turbine Hall runs the entire length of the building, you can see works for free by the likes of Cezanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Rothko, Warhol and others. The Tate offers several ways to see their collections but in my opinion the multimedia guide available for £4 is the best, it covers all the collection displays and includes content on more than 50 artworks. They also offer a family multimedia guide as well. There are also free guided tours daily which highlight different areas of the collection as chosen by the guide. Lastly there is a mobile app which can be downloaded free for your smart phone.
5. Coca Cola London Eye.
Entry – From £19.10 Web – londoneye.com Tube – Waterloo / Embankment / Westminster.
At 135 metres, the Coca Cola London Eye is the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world. You will get breathtaking 360 degree views of the capital, it’s famous landmarks and beyond. The gradual rotation in one of the 32 high tech glass capsules takes approximately 30 minutes. Inside each capsule there are interactive guides allowing you to explore the capital’s iconic landmarks in several languages. Various tickets and packages are available including fast track and champagne flights, for that extra special occasion you can even hire your very own private capsule. The price of your ticket also includes the London Eye 4D Experience, a four minute show using multi sensory special effects.
6. Science Museum.
Entry – Free Web – sciencemuseum.org.uk Tube – South Kensington.
The Science Museum is the most visited science and technology museum in Europe. It has over 15,000 objects on display including the Apollo 10 Command Capsule and Stephenson’s Rocket. There are interactive galleries, 3D and 4D simulators and a 3D IMAX cinema. The museum hosts various daily guided tours which highlight different parts of the collection, these are normally free. Some of the events such as those held at the IMAX cinema are chargeable and tickets need to be booked.
7. Victoria & Albert Museum.
Entry – Free Web – vam.ac.uk Tube – South Kensington.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is the world’s greatest museum dedicated to art and design, representing more than 3000 years of human creativity, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Highlights include the Medieval Renaissance galleries containing some of the greatest surviving treasures from the period, the breathtaking Jewellery gallery and the stunning British Galleries. Aside from its permanent collections, the V&A offers an extensive programme of temporary exhibitions. The museum is vast and because of this I would highly recommend taking one of the free daily tours, in particular the Daily Introductory Tour which describes the history of the V&A and introduces a selection of treasures from the outstanding collections, or the British Galleries Tour which takes you through the most comprehensive collection of British art and design on view anywhere in the world, both tours last approximately an hour.
8. Tower of London.
Entry – From £20 Web – hrp.org.uk Tube – Tower Hill.
The Tower of London is one of the most iconic buildings in the capital, if not the world, discover the priceless treasures of the Crown Jewels, see the Tower’s famous ravens, or join an iconic Beefeater on a tour and hear their bloody tales. One of the best and most popular ways to discover the Tower is on a free tour with one of the Beefeaters, they begin every 30 minutes and last for about an hour, they start near the main entrance. You’ll hear stories of intrigue, imprisonment, execution and torture, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it and you’ll get so much more out of your visit. If you plan to see the Crown Jewels – and you most definitely should – then the earlier you get there the better, it can get extremely busy here and the later you leave it the more likely you are to have to queue to get in. They are a stunning collection and you will not see anything like it anywhere else in the world.
9. Royal Museums Greenwich.
Entry – Free Web – rmg.co.uk DLR – Cutty Sark.
The Royal Museums Greenwich incorporates the National Maritime Museum, The Queen’s House, The Royal Observatory and The Cutty Sark all set within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Greenwich. The whole area around here is stunning and two highlights you should not miss are The Painted Hall and The Chapel both within the Old Royal Naval College and both free to enter. Free guided tours and talks are available at various sites, to find out more information visit the website. Some areas such as the Cutty Sark and The Royal Observatory charge for entry.
10. Madame Tussauds.
Entry – From £28 Web – madametussauds.com Tube – Baker Street.
At Madame Tussauds you’ll come face to face with some of the world’s most famous faces, One Direction, Shakespeare, The Queen, Lady Gaga, they’re all here. With 14 interactive zones and the amazing Marvel Super Heroes 4D Movie there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Madame Tussauds is an extremely popular attraction and always seems busiest earlier in the day, when you buy your tickets you will be allocated a time slot to return later, as it only takes one and a half to two hours to complete a visit I’d suggest getting a time slot for mid to late afternoon while obviously leaving enough time to see everything before closing.