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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 10 March, 2024
Expert travel writer: Sarah Barrell

Host of the renowned Summer Exhibition, the Royal Academy has been promoting art and artists since the 1700s.

Its prestigious art school has turned out the likes of William Blake and has championed careers of such now-starry names as Norman Foster, David Hockney, Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid.

The original 17th-century mansion on Piccadilly is now linked with the Academy’s grand 19th-century former university building on Burlington Gardens, both abuzz during the annual Summer Exhibition.

Along with this egalitarian celebration of art (it’s the world’s largest open-entry exhibition, for professionals and amateurs alike), the Academy regularly hosts the world’s best-attended art shows.

Its permanent collection is one of Britain’s oldest. The 30,000-strong collection takes in such British greats as Reynolds, Turner and Constable, and masterpieces including Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Piccadilly Circus and Green Park Underground stations are within half a mile of the Burlington House entrance, Oxford Circus and Bond Street stations are within half a mile of the Burlington Gardens entrances.

It’s free to enter the Royal Academy and some of its peripheral exhibits, but the programmed exhibitions – the main event – have specific entrance fees. All tickets must be booked in advance.

Make a day of it and refuel in style at either the stately Senate Room restaurant or Courtyard Café, both headed up by Spanish chef, José Pizarro.

When to do it

The Royal Academy of Arts is open all year round, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday.

Go early mornings at the weekend, or early in the week to enjoy the galleries with less footfall.

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

London

Greater London, United Kingdom (UK)

view of houses of parliament at night

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