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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 06 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Sarah Barrell

This grand Portland stone building on the Thames, the original Tate Gallery, has lately been eclipsed by its edgier younger sibling, the Tate Modern. This is a pity – the Tate Britain houses an impressive collection of classical and modern British art that’s second only to the National Gallery.

Come here to see evocative landscapes and striking portraits by British greats such as Gainsborough, Freud, Bacon and Constable – who gets an entire room to himself – as well as Turner, whose works number into the thousands.

The gallery is best known for its works by deceased painters, but the always-controversial annual Turner Prize (October to January) is an exhibition of the best contemporary British art of that year – and a highlight of the London art calendar.

Don’t miss

Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman – a portrait of his lover, Dora Maar, as a representation of the tragic victims of the Spanish civil war. For fans of abstract art, Mark Rothko’s Seagram Murals are vast, brooding canvases that are utterly transfixing.

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

Getting there & doing it

The nearest Underground station is Pimlico (Victoria Line). Entry is free but you will need to book for special exhibitions – see the website for listings of what is currently on.

Download the Smartify app before you go. You can hold it up to the paintings for information on each one. You can even save the photo to your phone to create your own collection.

When to do it

It’s open all year round, seven days a week, with late opening hours on most Fridays.

Visit from October to early January and you may be able to see the five entries for the famous annual Turner Prize – one of the best-known visual arts prizes in the world. It’s only every other year at Tate Britain. On alternate years, it moves between different UK galleries.

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

Artists Residence London

London, United Kingdom (UK)[1.2 miles]

An agreeably-priced boutique hotel filled with a dizzying variety of artworks, tucked away in a quiet corner of charming Pimlico. Away from the rush, but with excellent transport into the city centre.

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Marriott County Hall

London, United Kingdom (UK)[1.3 miles]

Get a front-row seat for the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and a sparkling stretch of the River Thames, at this Grade-II listed Westminster waterfront address. Right in the city center, it’s walking distance to the major sites.

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The Hub Covent Garden

London, United Kingdom (UK)[2.1 miles]

A super-affordable, tech-savvy stay in very centre of the capital between The Strand and Covent Garden, with a buzzy café, popular with locals.

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The Resident Covent Garden

London, United Kingdom (UK)[2.1 miles]

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

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Greater London, United Kingdom (UK)

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British Pullman

London, United Kingdom (UK)[1.2 miles]

Step back to the golden age of rail travel, touring the British countryside on this glamorous 1920s vintage train while enjoying five-star food and drink.

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London, United Kingdom (UK)[1.2 miles]

A secret subterranean bunker from which Churchill directed operations during WWII – exactly as it was during the blitz of 1945 – offering a fascinating historical insight to the war and Churchill himself.

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Royal Academy of Arts

London, United Kingdom (UK)[2.2 miles]

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Somerset House

London, United Kingdom (UK)[2.3 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.

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