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Bucket list experience:

Exterior view of the theatre during the daytime
Last updated: 06 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Sarah Barrell

From classic drama to musical comedy, the National’s three stages (the Olivier, Lyttleton and Dorfman) epitomise the best of British theatre. Generations of renowned actors and directors have made their mark at this hulking, concrete riverside venue, which continues to surprise, provoke, and move audiences.

You can take a peek behind the scenes on one of the theatre’s Backstage Tours, which run most days of the week – contact the box office to find out more.

Recommended itineraries by our writers that include this experience

Price from: £45
Minimum age: 5
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

The nearest Underground station is Waterloo (Northern line, Bakerloo line, Jubilee line, overground). Arrive early for drinks on the waterfront terrace, or dinner at one of the clutch of restaurants on the river walk below the theatre.

When to do it

The theatre is open all year-round, with plays rotating on different days – check the theatre website for individual performance dates. The South Bank area, where the theatre is, tends to be busiest (and most atmospheric) on Friday nights and Saturdays.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

The Savoy Hotel

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.5 miles]

This opulent Art Deco hotel, right in the buzzing West End, is discreet, elegant, and full of A-list stories.

Official star rating:

Sea Containers London

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.5 miles]

Right on the Thames, with views of St Pauls across the water, this cleverly-converted former shipping office has become one of the capital’s grandest and most glam hotels.

Official star rating:

The Resident Covent Garden

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.7 miles]

Low prices without sacrificing style or comfort are the order of the day at The Resident’s smart Covent Garden address.

Official star rating:

Henrietta Hotel London

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.8 miles]

A stylish boutique hotel with a standout bar, superb London Eye views and Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House right outside the door.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Greater London, United Kingdom (UK)

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

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

The London Dungeon

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

A gallows humour romp through London’s most gruesome periods of history, encountering its shadiest characters, via live action, rides and special effects.

Best for ages: 12+ | £27

London Transport Museum

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.7 miles]

Fascinating museum offering an insight into the remarkable transport heritage of the city that pioneered the underground railway. Trains, iconic black cabs, scarlet double-decker buses and more.

Best for ages: 6+ | £20

Royal Opera House

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.8 miles]

This grand setting in Covent Garden is home to both the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet companies, and the place for lavish, spectacular performances by the world’s leading singers and dancers.

Best for ages: 18+ | £45 | 1-3 hours

Covent Garden

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.9 miles]

This iconic and atmospheric West End square has a historic Victorian market building, street performers, restaurants and boutiques.

Best for ages: Any | Free

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Exterior view of the grand building surrounding a large square

Somerset House

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.5 miles]

Famous for its picturesque alfresco ice rink in winter and the Edmund J Safra fountains in the summer, this elegant neoclassical building is also home to an art gallery and upscale restaurant.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Exterior view of front facade with people walking in front

SEA LIFE London Aquarium

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.7 miles]

London’s impressive aquarium, set on the South Bank, home to hundreds of species of fish and a selection of sharks.

Best for ages: Any | £27

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Royal Academy of Arts

London, United Kingdom (UK)[1.8 miles]

An 18th-century mansion of masterpieces sitting pretty on Piccadilly, home to one of Britain’s oldest collections of fine art and regular blockbuster exhibitions.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free