London is a gorgeous city with tons of amazing museums. They’re all free (or at least most of them are), and they’re all fantastic. Whether you’re visiting one on a rainy day or are popping in for a few hours of peace and quiet, keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your visit.
1. Get there early
London’s museums are top-notch, and they have a ton of stuff packed inside. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and odds are you’ll need a break after a few hours. Getting to the museum early will keep your morning relaxed and come lunch time you’ll be ready to explore the rest of the city. I went to the Victoria and Albert right when it opened, which ended up being a great decision because the special Alexander McQueen display had just opened. By arriving early, I managed to snag a ticket for an awesome event I didn’t even know about, which brings me to my next point…
2. Research special exhibits ahead of time
The museums are free to the public, but their special exhibits are not. It’s better if you do you research on a few museums ahead of time and figure out where you’re willing to spend some extra money and which exhibits you’d be okay skipping. London is an expensive city, and there’s nothing worse than paying for something you end up not enjoying.
3. Visit your favorite section first
GRAB A MAP, I repeat, GRAB A MAP. The British Museum will literally eat you alive if you don’t know how to navigate your way out of it. Same goes for the Victoria and Albert and pretty much every other museum you go into. When you walk in, get a map and choose where you want to start. Like I said earlier, you’ll be pretty much “museumed-out” after a few hours, so starting with the exhibits you’re most excited to see will make them all the more enjoyable.
4. Don’t be afraid to take breaks
I actually took a lunch break when I visited the V&A, and it was such a good decision. Honestly, I think it’s a good idea to visit a few museums throughout your day when you’re absolutely exhausted from all the walking you’ve been doing. Just pop in and out whenever you feel like. Seriously, you can do that.
5. Enjoy displays firsthand, not through a camera lens
As a travel blogger, I take tons of pictures. But there’s something about taking a ton of pictures in museums that just takes away from the experience for me. I cannot tell you how many visitors I saw taking a photo of every single painting at the National Gallery. Don’t get me wrong, the paintings there are gorgeous, but stopping to take a photo of a billion pieces of art will not only take away from your visit, but from others as well.
6. Ask the staff for recommendations
This is so important to remember! The staff members I talked to at the museums were all extremely helpful in pointing me to their favorite spots. Never forget that the people who work in these institutions love what they’re doing and want you to have a great time.
Visiting one of the local museums in any city makes my visit feel more rounded out somehow; I honestly just love immersing myself in the culture in that way. What are some of your favorite museums to visit? Or do you prefer spending your time doing something else?