Did you know some of London’s most popular museums are FREE?! That’s right, The British Museum, The London Science Museum, the Tate Modern and The Natural History Museum are all free. They do charge for special exhibitions, but the permanent exhibitions in each one are enough to keep you busy all day!
London is one of our favorite cities and lucky for us we’ve had plenty of opportunities to take advantage of its world renowned museums! This collection of photos spans over the course of 11 years, which is why you’ll notice difference in quality and the ages of my boys.
Traveling with kids close to six years apart can be challenging since they have different interests and attention spans. Our solution is to switch off between museums, historic sites and attractions. This way everyone experiences something they love. We also do our best to stick to highlights in each place, so those of us who aren’t quite as interested in a particular place aren’t too tortured. I’ll never forget the time I took the boys to the British Museum by myself. Simon was learning about Egypt in school and was so fascinated he wanted to read/see everything! I looked over and poor little Elliot was licking the glass of the display case… oops! Time to go!!
The British Museum
The world-famous British Museum has a long and fascinating history and has been open since 1759! The building itself is stunning, especially the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court. The British Museum is home to the Rosetta Stone, ancient Greek sculptures originally part of the Parthenon, and 8 million other objects! Yes, 8 million! It is well worth a visit, after all the 6 million people who visit every year can’t all be wrong! If you’re taking my advice and just checking out the highlights you’re in luck because the museum has ideas for you! They offer suggestions for both 1 and 3 hour visits as well as guided tours and self guided audio tours. There are multiple food options ranging from the extremely casual to fancy. There are a number of gift shops and while a lot of museums just sell the same old junk I happen to think the gift shops here are worth a visit!
The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in London is a favorite for all of us. It’s been open since 1881 and the building itself is a site to see! The entire outside and the central entrance hall are just beautiful. The boys and I can easily spend an entire day here, leaving only when they close for the evening. Like most of the museums and castles we’ve visited the food in the cafes and restaurants is quite good, so there is no need to eat first before going. They offer both adult and kid friendly food items and adult beverages too! This is definitely a repeat destination, but extremely popular, it can get very crowded.
The London Science Museum
We visited the London Science Museum when Simon was just a little boy and haven’t had a chance to get back. Maybe we’ll give it another shot on our next visit? Like the other museums admission is free and there are nice places to eat.
The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern opened in 2000 and is located in Bankside in what used to be a Power Station This is one of our favorites and is definitely worth a visit! It’s just across the river from St. Paul’s Cathedral and is one of the United Kingdom’s top three tourist attractions. Like the history and science museums I mentioned above the Tate Modern is also free! It’s exhibitions are always changing so repeat visits are a must, just check the website before you go to see what’s on. Of special note at the museum is the Turbine Hall which has ever changing exhibitions of contemporary art. Here is what the official website has to say:
Since opening in 2000 over 60 million visitors have experienced the Turbine Hall and it has earned a unique place in the public imagination.
It has hosted some of the world’s most memorable and acclaimed works of contemporary art. And the way artists have interpreted this vast industrial space has revolutionised public perceptions of contemporary art in the twenty-first century.
An idea for an itinerary would be so start at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London and then cross the River Thames on the Millennium Bridge and see the Tate Modern. The bridge offers spectacular views of St. Paul’s north side and the Globe Theater is also nearby on the Tate Modern side.