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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 20 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Sarah Barrell

A must-do on every London visitor’s itinerary, the imposing, colonnaded British Museum truly lives up to the hype. One of the oldest museums in the world (established 1753), its enormously rich collection of more than seven million artefacts, many collected and brought back to London from across the world by British explorers and archaeologists during the days of the British Empire.

The ethics may be questionable, but it has ensured thousands of ancient relics that may otherwise have been lost have been safeguarded. Discussions go on about the rights of returning many of these artefacts to their original countries, but for the moment they are still on display to be enjoyed and marvelled at.

The addition in 2000 of a soaring, glass-domed atrium – the Great Court, designed by Norman Foster – brought a dash of contemporary cool to a historic landmark.

Don’t miss

The Rosetta Stone

Dating back to 196 BC, this unique stelae (a slab or column bearing an inscription) gave the first possibility of deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, as the inscription repeated the same words in Ancient Greek, which scholars could understand.

The Elgin Marbles

A spectacular collection of Greek panels and sculptures dating back to 450 BC. Removed from the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens in 1801 by Scottish nobleman, Lord Elgin, ownership of the marbles remains a vexed issue between the UK and Greece.

The Egyptian Galleries

The seven galleries hold a selection of the Museum’s mummies and coffins – the largest collection outside of Cairo. Highlights include the colossal granite head of King Rameses II and the exquisite, gold-lined sarcophagi.

Sutton Hoo collection

Housed in room 41, the artefacts and remains of the Sutton Hoo ship burial date back to Anglo-Saxon times. The Sutton Hoo helmet is one of only four remaining in the world.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The nearest Underground station is Holborn (Central and Piccadilly Lines). Entry is free. The scale and variety of the collections can be overwhelming: see the museum website for suggested one-hour and three-hour routes around it, or highlights for children.

Interactive audio guides bring colour to the main exhibits and tell you the stories behind them. The museum is well equipped for making its exhibits fascinating to children and families, with activity trails, backpacks and multimedia guides.

The Great Court Restaurant, high up beneath the spectacular glass dome, is a treat for lunch or afternoon tea, with set menus inspired by the museum’s exhibitions.

When to do it

The museum is open all year round, daily, usually with later opening hours on Fridays. This is the most visited attraction in the UK, so go at the start of the day, or late on a weekday to avoid the crush.

Late openings on Fridays give you more breathing space. Christmas, Easter and July-August are especially crowded.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

The British Museum London Guided Museum Tour - Semi-Private 8ppl Max

London

The British Museum London Guided Museum Tour - Semi-Private 8ppl Max
On this 2.5 hour semi-private (8 Guest Maximum) guided museum tour visit one of the world’s largest collections of artifacts at the British Museum. Your engaging tour guide will take you through a curated selection of cultural and artistic works, sharing the history that will help you understand and appreciate a small portion of the 8 million items at the British Museum.

Price: €105

Min age: 0

Rating 4.96 / 5 [307 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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The British Museum London - Exclusive Guided Museum Tour

London

The British Museum London - Exclusive Guided Museum Tour
On this 2.5 hour exclusive guided museum tour, visit one of the world’s largest collections of artifacts at the British Museum. Our engaging tour guides will take you through a curated selection of cultural and artistic works, sharing the history that will help you understand and appreciate a small portion of the 8 million items at the British Museum.

Price: €105

Min age: 0

Rating 4.95 / 5 [287 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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British Museum Highlights Private Tour in London including the Rosetta Stone

London

British Museum Highlights Private Tour in London including the Rosetta Stone
See human history and culture brought to life on a 2.5-hour tour of the British Museum in London! With millions of artifacts spread over 70 galleries, the enthralling museum is vast and a visit to it without a guide can be overwhelming. So, follow a knowledgeable local guide around the exhibitions to discover its highlights while hearing historical facts and anecdotes. See mummies from Ancient Egypt, Anglo-Saxon treasures from England and the impressive Parthenon Frieze from the Acropolis of Athens, alongside other captivating relics.

Price: £134

Min age: 0

Rating 4.29 / 5 [100 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Kid-Friendly Private British Museum Highlights and Walk to Covent Garden London

London

Kid-Friendly Private British Museum Highlights and Walk to Covent Garden London
This 3-hours private British Museum highlights tour for kids and families is a must for those visiting London with children. With in excess of 8 million exhibits the British Museum has the largest collection in the world, tracing human life from its very beginnings. After visiting this amazing museum your guide will take you to the discovery of the heart of London in a fun walk towards Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. With our professional kid-friendly guide you will be sure to have a fun and engaging experience.

Price: €259

Min age: 0

Rating 4.94 / 5 [52 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Tour: Discovering the British Museum

London

Private Tour: Discovering the British Museum
The Museum presents not only British culture but it is a collection of World cultures such as the Egyptian, Assyrian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Pacific Ocean, the Americas and Eastern Cultures, etc. Everything is huge here, like the recently refurbished hall called the Great Court. The Museum owns over 9 million objects, of which 2 million are on display. You may not see them all!!! Some of the most important — starting from the very beginning — is the one million and six hundred thousand year old Hand Ax from Africa; to some of the rarest kept Egyptian statues, the Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian Mummies, the Assyrian Palace's Freezes with details of all their battles quoted in the Bible. Included is the Mesopotamian 2000 BC Standard of Ur - from the small but powerful Mesopotamian town where Abraham was born; the Parthenon Sculptures, as well as Roman sculptures like the Portland Vase; Caesar’s and Augustus’s Iate I century BC busts; and the Anglo Saxon Hoards recently discovered.

Price: €323

Min age: 6

Rating 4.13 / 5 [29 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

London

Greater London, United Kingdom (UK)

view of houses of parliament at night

World-class culture, fashion, music, food and history – and a mind-boggling array of bucket list experiences – packed into one extraordinary, incomparable destination.