Hours: 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Sat-Thu); 10 AM to 8.30 PM (Fri); Last entry 15 mins before closing – Cost: Free
|Awful 0%||Poor 0%||Okay 14%||Good 29%||Great 57%|
Number of annual visitors: 6,420,395
So which do you think is the most visited attraction in London? Madame Tussauds? The London Eye? Well you might be surprised to discover that it’s actually the British Museum. Over six million tourists visit it every year.
If you only have time on your itinerary to squeeze in one museum then make it this one (unless you’re taking some kids with you, in which case you’ll probably prefer the Natural History Museum of Science Museum). It is particularly good when it comes to the ancient civilisations: the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Persians. They also have exhibitions about China, Japan, Africa and the South American Aztec empire.
Highlights include the famous Rosetta Stone, the Elgin marbles, and treasures from the Sutton Hoo burial ship. Check out Craig’s review of the British Museum on his blog.
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (Sun-Thu); 10 AM to 10 PM (Fri-Sat); Last entry 45 mins before closing – Cost: Free
|Awful 0%||Poor 11%||Okay 33%||Good 0%||Great 56%|
Number of annual visitors: 5,839,197
Don’t ask us why the Tate Modern is so popular with tourists because we haven’t got a clue! In our opinion the best art gallery in London is the National Gallery, or even Tate Britain, but those two don’t even appear in the top ten.
You really do have to be a big fan of modern and contemporary art to love this place because it’s modern art of the most curious kind: little blobs and spots that have drizzled onto a piece of paper. Fortunately they do have a lot of famous names to pad it out: artworks by Picasso, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and the like.
Read Craig’s review of the Tate Modern to see what you’re letting yourself in for.
Hours: 10 AM to 5.50 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 20 mins before closing – Cost: Free
|Awful 0%||Poor 0%||Okay 0%||Good 67%||Great 33%|
Number of annual visitors: 4,624,113
The next two places on the Top 10 list of most popular attractions are both good for kids. The Natural History Museum is a good choice if your child is into dinosaurs. They have a darkened hall full of dinosaur bones and re-assembled skeletons, plus a few animatronic monsters that swing their giant heads around to scare the life out of the toddlers. (If you hear a big roar then don’t worry – that’s just the life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex they’ve got stomping around a misty swamp.)
They’ve also got a ‘dead zoo’ of every animal you can think of, all stuffed and fluffed and posed on a pedestal. You can see elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos, monkeys, gorillas, fish, birds, creepy crawlies… it’s just like going to the zoo.
Read Craig’s review of the Natural History Museum to see some photos of the animals.
Hours: During school term: 10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun) – During school holidays: 10 AM to 7 PM (Mon-Sun); Last entry 45 mins before closing – Cost: Free
|Awful 17%||Poor 0%||Okay 33%||Good 33%||Great 17%|
Number of annual visitors: 3,245,750
If your kid is interested in space then take them to the Science Museum. They’ll be able to look at full-size replicas of famous space probes like the doomed Beagle, the Eagle lander that took Buzz Aldrin to the moon (let’s give Buzz some love for a change – Armstrong always gets the glory!), and the Huygens probe that descended through Titan’s thick atmosphere.
They’ve also got a great collection of historical vehicles like Stephenson’s Rocket, a Model T Ford and a Spitfire plane. And there’s an interesting display of early home computers which makes for a nice walk down memory lane if you were a child in the 80s. (It might also make you feel extremely old when you see all your childhood toys on display in a museum!)
Read Craig’s review of the Science Museum.
Hours: 10 AM to 5.45 PM (Sat-Thu); 10 AM to 10 PM (Fri) – Cost: Free
|Awful 0%||Poor 0%||Okay 0%||Good 25%||Great 75%|
Number of annual visitors: 3,022,086
The Victoria & Albert Museum is another surprising entry on the Top 10 list, but maybe everyone visits it when they go to the previous two – all three museums are within two minutes walk of each other.
The V&A is much more for adults than kids, and contains a huge collection of historical furniture, fashions, ceramics and art. You can see clothes that go back centuries, art that dates back 5,000 years, and religious treasures from all over the world. They’ve also got a collection of paintings that includes pieces by Rembrandt, Rubens and Turner.
Read Craig’s review of the V&A on his blog.
Hours: 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Sun-Mon, Mar-Oct); 9 AM to 5.30 PM (Tue-Sat, Mar-Oct); 10 AM to 4.30 PM (Sun-Mon, Nov-Feb); 9 AM to 4.30 PM (Tue-Sat, Nov-Feb); Last entry 30 mins before closing – Cost: Adults £28.00; Children £13.00 (5-15); Infants free (under-5); Family ticket £70.00
|Awful 0%||Poor 0%||Okay 0%||Good 11%||Great 89%|
Number of annual visitors: 2,741,126
You’d think the Tower of London would appear higher in the list but with 2.7 million visitors every year it only makes number six… but when you look at the gargantuan crowd outside then will probably seem like all 2.7 million have come on the same day!
This World Heritage Site dates back 1,000 years to the reign of William the Conqueror and contains some of London’s most iconic landmarks: the White Tower, Bloody Tower, Traitor’s Gate and Tower Green. It’s also where you’ll find the Queen’s priceless Crown Jewels.
Craig has written a review of the Tower of London on his blog. If you’re interested in the Tower then e has written about two related events as well: the Ceremony of the Keys is one of the best free events in London, whilst the Yeoman Warder Tour is a great way to learn about some of its history.
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM (Sat-Wed); 10 AM to 9 PM (Thu-Fri); Last entry 15 mins before closing – Cost: Free
|Awful 0%||Poor 0%||Okay 20%||Good 40%||Great 40%|
Number of annual visitors: 1,949,330
How can the National Portrait Gallery make the top ten and not the National Gallery? It’s crazy! Two million tourists might like it, but if you take our advice then you’ll pick the one next-door instead.
The Portrait Gallery is like a Who’s Who of British history, and shows you the faces of famous (and infamous) kings and queens, politicians, writers, scientists, right up to our modern-day celebrities. If you’re coming from overseas then the chances are that you won’t have a clue who most of these people are, which is why we definitely recommend going to the National Gallery instead.
Read Craig’s review to see what it’s like inside.
Hours: Gardens: 10 AM to 5.45 PM (Mon-Sun, mid Feb-Mar); 10 AM to 6.30 PM (Mon-Fri, Apr-Aug); 10 AM to 7.30 PM (Sat-Sun, Apr-Aug); 10 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun, Sep-Oct); 10 AM to 4.15 PM (Mon-Sun, Oct-mid Feb) – Kew Palace: 10.30 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon-Fri, Apr-Aug); 10.30 AM to 6.30 PM (Sat-Sun, Apr-Aug); 10.30 AM to 5 PM (Mon-Sun, Sep); Closed (Oct-Mar); Last e – Cost: Adults £19.00; Children £5.00 (4-16); Infants free
|Awful 0%||Poor 0%||Okay 50%||Good 0%||Great 50%|
Number of annual visitors: 1,828,956
Kew Gardens might seem a bit dull if you’re not into gardening, but it actually has a lot of interesting attractions inside – it’s not all about the plants. Do you remember that movie about mad King George III? Well Kew Palace is where he used to live, and you can go and see what’s left if it: basically just the Dutch House and a few supplementary buildings. But our favourite building is the Palm House. It’s like a gigantic green house filled with tropical plants and ferns. They pump warm misty spray out of the pipes whilst you climb up spiral iron staircases to the roof. It seems like you’re walking through the treetops – even kids will love it.
Kids will also love the Treetop Walkway: a huge piece of scaffolding that rises 18 metres above the ground. Craig has written a review of this on his blog and he was too terrified to even climb the stairs. There’s another conservatory full of cacti and desert plants, a Japanese garden, an art gallery, land train, and enough trees and plants to keep even the most green-fingered of gardeners happy.
Hours: 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM (Mon-Sat); Closed (Sun, except for services); Last entry 30 mins before closing – Cost: Adults £18.00; Children £8.00 (6-17); Infants free (under-6); Family ticket £44.00
|Awful 17%||Poor 0%||Okay 0%||Good 50%||Great 33%|
Number of annual visitors: 1,519,018
St. Paul’s Cathedral made it to No.3 in our list of the Top 10 landmarks, but only sits at No.9 in this list of the most-visited attractions. Maybe that has got something to do with the steep entry price, because most of the tourist attractions on this list are free.
St. Paul’s is Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, built after the Great Fire of London levelled half the city in 1666. It used to have the second largest dome after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and still boasts the biggest bell in London (bigger even than Big Ben). The crypt contains famous names like Admiral Nelson and Wellington.
But it’s the view from the top that most tourists want to see. The first level is rather easy to complete, but you might struggle with the second. Only the bravest of climbers will make it all the way to the Golden Gallery at the very top of the dome. Craig has tried it many times but always chickened out at the last minute – read his review of St. Paul’s to discover why.
Hours: 9.30 AM to 6 PM (Mon, Wed-Fri); 9.30 AM to 8 PM (Tue); 9.30 AM to 5 PM (Sat); 11 AM to 5 PM (Sun) – Cost: Free
|Awful 0%||Poor 0%||Okay 0%||Good 60%||Great 40%|
Number of annual visitors: 1,496,685
The British Library is the most surprising entry on this list because there’s hardly anything for tourists to see. All they’ve got is a little exhibition of historical letters and manuscripts. Granted, most of the names on display are incredibly impressive – people like Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Henry VIII, Beethoven, Churchill and The Beatles – but you’ll be in and out inside an hour.
Read Craig’s review to see if you’ll like it.