A single day maneuvering through London’s museums will prove to be very enlightening and educational. With perhaps the world’s highest concentration of museums per square mile, the choices are as varied as the tastes of the visitors. An itinerary of one day, depending on energy levels, can prove to be absolutely packed to the brim with not a moment to spare.
This one-day guide will provide the most interesting options for a packed itinerary, and for those who want a calmer day, pick and choose what sounds best for your energy and speed levels. As everyone knows, London can be expensive; as not everyone knows, some of London’s best museums, like the British Museum, are free of charge. Thus, an itinerary is provided for those who want to spend the minimum of money seeing the maximum of London’s culture.
On the other hand, some of the best museums, like the Tower of London, are quite pricey. The London Pass can be an economical solution, giving free entry to countless London attractions for a set fee. Tourist-oriented museums, like Madame Tussauds wax museum, are a category in themselves, perfect for the day when the visitor seeks entertaining education rather than analytical thought in a museum visit. So, let this article be your guide through the best that London’s museums have to offer for minimal or free admission fees, through the benefits of the London Pass, and through the attraction museums that provide fun and fast-lane learning.
The museums in London whose permanent collections are free of admission are not too few in number, and will fill up your one day of London travel. To start, the British Museum is one of the world’s best-known museums, showcasing one of the widest collections of world cultural history. Some highlights are the Rosetta stone; the first known image of Christ; Lindow Man, whose well-preserved 2000-year-old body was found in a bog; and the Reading Room, where Lenin, among others, studied and wrote plans for his Revolution that would affect the whole world. After this contact with world heritage, promenade over to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, where you can see art by Europe’s best painters and sculptors. Nearby is the National Portrait Gallery, concentrating its collection on England’s most famous citizens throughout the centuries.
For a change of taste, follow up with the Tate, London’s best modern art museum, with paintings, photo exhibitions and installations. If you have time at the end of the day, conclude with the Museum of London, informing its visitors about London’s history and culture. If you’re interested in London, this museum is for you; and, presumably, you are interested in London if you’ve traveled all the way to get here!
When you think of the distance you’ve traveled to get to London, you may think it worth spending a few pounds while you are here. The one-day London Pass costs 27 pounds (it can be bought in combination with an Underground Travelcard for 32 pounds), gives you free access to countless museums, castles, and other places of interest, saving you a good sum of money at the end of the day. In this sample itinerary, you would save 30 pounds: start off at Kensington Palace, former home of Princess Diana, and enjoy the museum as well as the grounds and gardens. Next, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a stunning architectural achievement, offering stunning views of London from its cupola. Shakespeare’s renovated Globe Theatre will have the bard charm you “encore” with his wit as you learn more about him and his theater.
In the afternoon, climb up Tower Bridge and learn about the history and construction of this world famous bridge. Conclude the afternoon with a tour of the Tower of London, which will glitter your eyes with the Crown Jewels, and turn your stomach with the tortures and mystery surrounding the prisoners of this VIP prison, which definitely lacked in VIP treatment. Finally, wind the evening down with a discounted West End show, to give you a full and well-spent day discovering London’s culture.
For those seeking to discover London’s culture in a more interactive setting, attraction museums are ideal. The London Dungeon mixes history with a haunted house theme, with museum employees and wax figures unexpectedly frightening the visitors. In the north of London are the London Planetarium and the neighboring Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, which not only houses the world’s largest and most up to date collection of wax figures, but also the most life-like – you will likely take a double take to make sure Prince William isn’t really standing in front of you. For those who want to stand at the location where “time begins”, the nearby town of Greenwich, home of the Prime Meridian, will impress you. There you can visit the Royal Observatory, enjoy the beautiful park at the base of the Observatory’s hill, the National Maritime Museum, the famous Cutty Sark ship, and get a feel for an English village, so close to the metropolis of London.
Whether you choose to partake of the free collections of London’s museums, the countless options that the London Pass provides, or the attraction museums both in and near to London, you will be happy with the result. London’s museums are very well organized and are full of surprising facts about the city that jump out at you from paintings, photos, sculptures, documents, architecture, and wax figures! Any visitor is bound to be surprised and impressed by the London they see guided by its museums.