Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (Sat-Thu); 10 AM to 9 PM (Fri) – Cost: Free
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The National isn’t just the best gallery in London, it’s up there with the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York as maybe the greatest in the world.
The Sainsbury Wing displays Renaissance artists like Titian, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. The West Wing has French, Italian and Dutch paintings by Michelangelo, Correggio and El Greco. The North Wing showcases some works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Vermeer. And the East Wing has famous British painters like Constable and JW Turner.
If you only have time to visit one gallery during your holiday then make it this one.
Craig has written a review of the National Gallery to show you what it’s like inside.
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 45 mins before closing – Cost: Free
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Tate Britain focuses on British art from the 16th-century onwards, encompasses famous names like Bacon, Blake, Hogarth, Hockney, Gainsborough and Constable.
JMW Turner (maybe the greatest English painter of all-time) gets an entire wing all to himself. Contemporary artists include Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
Some of the most popular paintings in the gallery are John Millais’ Ophelia and John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott.
If you’re planning on visiting Tate Britain and Tate Modern together than you can take advantage of the high-speed boat that runs between the two.
Read Craig’s review of the Tate to see what it’s like.
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 30 mins before closing – Cost: Adults £8.00; Children free (under-19)
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Despite possessing one of the finest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist art in Europe, not many tourists ever think to visit the Courtauld – preferring to visit the more famous National Gallery and Tate Modern instead.
We think it’s worth a visit simply to see inside the courtyard of Somerset House with its pleasant pavement cafes and dancing fountains, but once inside the gallery you’ll be treated to works by artistic greats like Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin, Manet, Monet and Botticelli.
The most famous pieces are probably Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear and Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère.
The only downside is the entry cost. Unless you’re a real art lover you’re better off just visiting the National Gallery instead, which is free.
Read Craig’s review of the Courtauld to see what he thought.
Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Sun) – Cost: Free
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The Wallace Collection is more of a museum than an art gallery, but it does have a very nice collection of paintings inside. The reason we’ve put it so high up in our Top 10 list is because of the interior decorations – some of the rooms are truly sumptious.
There are around seventy paintings on display by famous painters like Reynolds, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, Titian and Delacroix.
The best-known pieces are probably Velázquez’s Lady With a Fan and Frans Hals’ The Laughing Cavalier. See Craig’s blog to see what he thought of the Wallace Collection.
Hours: 10 AM to 5.45 PM (Sat-Thu); 10 AM to 10 PM (Fri) – Cost: Free
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Okay, so strictly speaking this one isn’t an art gallery either (it’s another museum), but the quality of paintings inside the V&A surpasses most of the proper galleries.
The highlight is undoubtedly Raphael’s preparatory studies for his work in the Sistine Chapel, but they also have a collection of British art that rivals the one in Tate Britain. There is a huge number of pieces by Landseer, Reynolds, Constable, Gainsborough and JMW Turner. Check out Craig’s review before you go.
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (Sun-Thu); 10 AM to 10 PM (Fri-Sat); Last entry 45 mins before closing – Cost: Free
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The gallery specialises in modern and contemporary art by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon and more. Craig thinks that when they concentrate on these famous names then the paintings are great, but when they showcase modern-day painters then you’re either going to love it or hate it.
The building itself is monumental. It used to be an old power-station and when you walk inside the vast abandoned chasm of the Turbine Hall you feel like you’re standing in an empty cathedral… it’s colossal!
Hours: John Madejski Fine Rooms tour: Usually 12 noon to 1 PM (Thu-Sat) – Temporary exhibition: 10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun); 10 AM to 10 PM (Fri); Last entry 30 mins before closing – Cost: Adults £20.00
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The Royal Academy of Arts is housed inside a very impressive mansion on Piccadilly.
It’s permanent collection of art is only accessible on a tour of the John Madejski Fine Rooms, but includes works by Constable, Gainsborough, Reynolds and more. At all other times you’ll have to settle for one of their temporary art exhibitions.
The Royal Academy is probably best known for its annual Summer Exhibition, where they display pieces by famous names alongside works by talented members of the public, and then offer the whole lot for sale.
Read Craig’s review of the RA to see what he thought.
Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Sat); 12 noon to 4 PM (Sun) – Cost: Free
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The highlight of a visit to the Guildhall Art Gallery isn’t the art but what you’ll find hidden in the basement: the remains of London’s Roman amphitheatre.
The collection of art upstairs is particularly strong in Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite pieces, and depict scenes of London life and some of London’s most famous buildings. They also have a few portraits of famous faces from London’s past – it’s all about London.
Read Craig’s review of the Guildhall Art Gallery to see what it’s like inside, and to see a little video of the Roman remains down in the basement.
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (Sat-Wed); 10 AM to 9 PM (Thu-Fri); Last entry 15 mins before closing – Cost: Free
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The National Portrait Gallery is No.7 in the list of London’s most visited attractions, whilst the far-better National Gallery doesn’t even make the list. Don’t ask us to explain that because we can’t!
This gallery is a Who’s Who of famous names from British history, and the sitters are more important than the painters. You’re here to see portraits of famous kings, queens, politicians and celebrities.
They go from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, taking in Cromwell, Christoper Wren and Admiral Nelson along the way. They’ve got everyone from Shakespeare to The Beatles, via George Orwell and Charles Dickens. If you like British history then you’ll love it. but if you’re just here for the art, then maybe not.
Read Craig’s review of the National Portrait Gallery to see what he thought of it.
Hours: 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon-Sun, Oct to mid-Jul); 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon-Sun, mid-Jul to Sep); Last entry 1¼ hours before closing – Cost: Adults £11.00; Children £5.50 (5-16); Infants free (under-5); Family ticket £27.50Talk about the Queen’s Gallery and vote
The last gallery in our Top 10 list is the Queen’s Gallery. This is where they hold temporary exhibitions of works from the Royal Collection. It’s not the largest gallery in the world and only consists of a few rooms, but the quality of artworks is usually outstanding.
In the past they’ve had exhibitions about Canaletto and De Vinci, plus some fine porcelain and Fabergé eggs.
Read Craig’s review of the Queen’s Gallery on his blog.