The capital city is a cultural metropolis, with so many galleries, theatres, and museums to keep you busy. But when money is tight (when isn’t it?), we start cutting back on some of the things we love to do. Thankfully, London is home to many free museums, and they’re actually some of best museums in the world. So grab your coats and leave the cash at home, with our list of the best free museums in London to visit now.

1. The British Museum

The British Museum showcases everything related to human history, art and culture. The collection of 8 million pieces chronicles human culture for over two million years, which you can see for free! It also had impressive exhibitions, which do come at a price. But luckily the museum runs 241 Fridays for students, which drastically brings down the price!

Address: Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG

2. Science Museum

science museum london
Source: Science Museum London

Find award-winning exhibitions and amazing achievements from the world of science. This museum is dedicated to scientific discoveries, and the brilliance of humans. As one of the best free museums in London, just under 3.5 million visitors flock here every year. If you’re luckily enough to be studying in London, you’re in a prime spot to see why it’s so popular. Entry is free, but you will need to pay if you want to go to the IMAX 3D cinema or other special exhibitions.

Address: Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD

3. Imperial War Museum

This London museum is one of five Imperial War Museums dotted about the UK, and they’re all free! The Imperial War Museum London allows you to discover what it was really like to be alive during the First World War. It recreates the smell of the Blitz and the depth of the trenches. If you’re a history student, you’ll no doubt of heard of this one. But not all students realise it’s another of London’s free museums you can visit.

Address: Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ

4. Bank of England Museum

The Bank of England Museum is definitely one for any students studying politics, history or economics. Or for anyone interested in the history of money, which is particularly topical right now (thanks cost-of-living crisis). You can find historical banknotes to the earliest Bank records, which is actually pretty impressive. The museum is free and so are many of its temporary exhibitions and events.

Address: Bartholomew Ln, London EC2R 8AH

5. Natural History Museum

natural history museum
Source: Natural History Museum

One of the most popular museums in London, the Natural History Museum is a favourites among families, students, and well…pretty much everyone. That’s not just because it’s free to enter the museum, but because it’s the story of our planet. You can everything on nature, including the huge skeleton of a blue whale. It also hosts the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, where stunning photos of animals are beautifully displayed.

Address: Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD

6. Museum of London

Not everyone studying in London is from London. And if you’re new here, this museum is a great snapshot into London life. It’s the history of the city, with a focus on the people and community. From the Great Fire of London to London’s Black history, it’s one of London’s best museums for culture, and it’s free! The Museum of London is currently closed until 2026, but its sister venue, the Museum of London Docklands is open.

Address: Museum of London, 150 London Wall · Barbican, London, EC2Y 5HN United Kingdom.

Address: Museum of London Docklands, No 1, West India Quay, Hertsmere Rd, London E14 4AL

7. National Portrait Gallery

Reopening in June 2023 following major works, the National Portrait Gallery is a must-see for art students. It claims to have the best collection of portraits in the world, which date back to the 16th century. There’s over 250,000 photographs and 80,000 prints and drawings to marvel at. There’s also 1,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures and so on in the primary collection too! Thank goodness it’s one of London’s free museums as you’ll no doubt need multiple visits to see it all! You can also stay in the relaxing Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard to work, which as free WiFi.

Address: St. Martin’s Pl, London WC2H 0HE

8. Design Museum

Design students – if you haven’t been here yet, what have you been doing? The Design Museum is London’s Mecca for contemporary design, from fashion and textiles to architecture and graphics. The main displays are free, but there’s also incredible pop up and touring exhibitions that require payment. You can also catch talks and workshops here from leading designers in the field, or take a course to boost your skills!

Address: 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG

9. National Maritime Museum

Natural Maritime Museum is one of the best free museums in London
Source: Canva

The National Maritime Museum is part of Greenwich’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark and the Queen’s House. You can find everything related to the sea, from nautical expeditions to wildlife and conservation. Make sure you grab that Instragram-worthy shot of the ship in a bottle outside the museum – you’ll know what we mean when you get there! You might also want to delve into your ancestry at the Caird Library or visit the stunning Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition. Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free, but they recommend pre-booking tickets to be sure.

Address: Romney Rd, London SE10 9NF

10. Victoria and Albert Museum

This has to be the most iconic museum in London, and it’s hard to believe that you can visit it for free! It’s the largest collection of applied and decorative art in the world, and there’s lots of impressive items to see! The Victoria and Albert Museum is home to metalwork, illustration and not to mention – The Great Bed of Ware. This is the huge 3-metre-bed that was cheekily carved to welcome four couples at a time! It was built in 1590 at the White Hart Inn, and guests of the inn marked their initials in the wooden four-poster frame, which can still be seen today! So it seems the V&A isn’t just one of the best free museums in London, it’s also among the kinkiest.

Address: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL

11. National Gallery

Another free museum for London art students to visit. The National Gallery is centrally-located in Trafalgar Square. It’s here you can see infamous works such as Jan van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini Portrait’ and Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. It can take up to eight hours to see everything, which, fortunately, you do through lots of short visits as it’s a free museum. But just make sure you see all the masterpieces it houses, as they’re well worth the time!

Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

12. Tate Britain and Tate Modern

tate modern free museum in london
Source: Canva

Formerly known as the National Gallery of British Art, Tate Britain and Modern are part of a series of Tate galleries in England. Tate Britain has a focus on historical British art, from 1500 to today. On the other hand, Tate Modern is, as the name alludes, focused on modern, contemporary art. Tate Modern also draws in on international art, whereas Tate Britain is very much…British. Both London museums are worth a visit, and as they’re free – you might as well!  However, you will be required to pay for some exhibitions.

Address: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG

13. Museum of the Home

The Museum of the Home aims to challenge us to rethink the way we live. It started off showcasing furniture, then moved on the the history of domestic life, the impact of the Second World War and more. It’s pretty amazing to see how ‘homes’ have changed in the last century, and really does make you think about the future. Be prepared to see your student home in a whole new light after a visit to this free London museum.

Address: 136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA

14. Wellcome Collection

Sitting right near Euston Station, the Wellcome Collection is both a free museum and library in central London. Although it aims to be welcoming, it’s actually named after Henry Wellcome, who collected all sorts of goods in the 19th century. You can see his collection for free, which includes medical antiques to stunning art. There’s also live events held here too, so make sure to check out what’s on!

Address: 183 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BE

So there’s a list of the best free museums in London for you to visit. They boast some of the world’s most famous items and most extensive collections, without costing a penny. Why not make a day out of it with our other guide to free things to do in London.