Having moved from New York City to London recently, I heard from everyone that London's museums were so impressive. New York has beautiful museums, too. So, isn't it all the same? That was my thought at first. But I was very wrong.
You have to go in appreciating not just the installations and artifacts, but the architecture of the museum buildings themselves. Standing outside of each museum from across the street, they're absolutely breathtaking. There's history here with many of these having been built in the 1700 and 1800. There's beauty here in the timeless architecture.
There's so much to admire inside and outside of these places. The best thing of all, you can admire it all for free! (Donations are highly encouraged and the temporary exhibitions are often priced under £20 per ticket and may offer family discounts.)
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The first area I would recommend you take on is South Kensington because you can see three of the museums all within 2 blocks of each other on Exhibition Road. If you move relatively quickly through each museum (spending about 1.5-2 hours in each), you can visit all three in one afternoon.
There are also plenty of restaurants around to grab a quick bite during lunch hour. So there's no need to worry about getting back home or to your hotel early to find a meal. South Kensington has everything you need for your afternoon outing. I know walking around for hours can really get your appetite going. So where do we start?
You can take the Piccadilly line to the South Kensington station and follow the "museum" signs down a long tunnel. Exit at the V&A (Victoria & Alberts) exit and the entrance to the museum will be right across the street about halfway down the block. This is a frequented path by many visitors including school field trips, so everything is properly and obviously labeled with signs of where to go.
Named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Victoria & Albert Museum holds over 2 million historical objects. You can find delicate, beautiful ceramic artifacts on the fourth floor. Make your way down to the third floor and you'll find artifacts from the 1600s to the 1900s, including Japanese ceramics, Baroque period furniture, jewelry of royals, and much more.
The lower level houses beautiful, detailed, larger than life sculptures along the lower level, There are also rotating exhibitions that cost money, but are usually worth seeing, I'm personally waiting for an exhibition to start in about a week. Since there are new exhibitions regularly showing up, you can go back again and again and find something new to admire and learn about.
When you take a right out of the V&A museum, take a right at the end of the building, walk down a block, and you'll find the Science museum. It was founded in the 1850s and is one of the largest attractions in London. I walked in and noticed that the majority of visitors were elementary school children. It's absolutely family-friendly. Not to fear, adults.
There are plenty of interesting things for you to check out. Some of those things include the largest locomotive engine, the first jet engine, a reconstruction of Watson & Crick's DNA model, and much more. If you're a science buff like me, I know you'll appreciate this.
Out of these museums in Kensington, the most beautiful building hands-down has to be the Natural History Museum. It's on the same side of the block as the V&A museum, but just a few steps further west. With it's breathtakingly stunning architecture, the Natural History Museum is home to over 80 million life & earth science items separated into five categories: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology. As you could probably guess, it is very family-friendly.
While you're still in Kensington, pop over to the Design Museum which is just a little over 1 mile away (Northwest of Exhibition Road). It's right next to Holland Park. The architecture alone is reason to necessitate checking it out. It's futuristic in design and the installations cover fashion, graphic, industrial, and product design.
The artists are truly thinking ahead of their time with creating awareness about plastic usage and waste, designs of practical hospital furniture for birthing mothers, 3-dimensional printers, and so much more. It's family-friendly and has some exhibitions geared towards children such as they do currently. This museum even won the European Museum of the Year Award in 2018.
Last, but far from the least, is the magnificent British Museum. The museum has over eight million items in their permanent collection, which cover history, art, and culture. This is truly a one-stop shop to see a variety of historical artifacts and art. They also have rotating exhibitions to check out. Their collections range from historical artifacts from China, the Americas, Africa, Egypt, and much more. They even have 60 free galleries including artifacts from BC Greece, Athens, Korea, and India.
I challenge you to check out these iconic free museums in London. If you still feel a bit lost with how to cover all of this ground in your short trip, consider TripAdvisor. I've used TripAdvisor abroad to book several tours including market tours and food tours. For London, TripAdvisor provides you with guided tours around the British Museum, bus tours around the city, and even last minute hotel deals. TripAdvisor enhanced my travel experience exponentially in the past and I know they'll do the same for you.
You can also read more reviews from fellow TripAdvisor users about these London museums. Feel free to do your research here before you head on over. You c contact me for more information or to let me know about your experience by leaving acomment below. I would love to hear from you!
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