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Bucket list experience:

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

The world’s greatest collection of design objects and decorative arts has seven miles of galleries devoted to everything from ancient oriental rugs to Victorian fashion, rock’n’roll album art to iconic 1960s furnishings.

Its hallowed west London halls contain over four million items, running alongside which are some of the capital’s most cutting-edge temporary arts exhibitions – often celebrating the work and impact of a single artist or designer. The institution is also a major centre for study, home to the National Art Library and the RIBA Architecture Study room.

The V&A’s rich variety of exhibits includes the Great Bed of Ware, mentioned in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a Cold War era Egg Chair and an Ossie Clark jumpsuit worn by Mick Jagger. Temporary exhibitions might look at Sixties fashion, or the history of underwear.

Recommended itineraries by our writers that include this experience

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

Getting there & doing it

The nearest Underground station is South Kensington. It’s a short, signposted 5-minute walk from there.

Entry is free, though special exhibitions are charged. You can pay on the door, but it’s better to buy a ticket in advance from the website as capacities may be limited, and you can guarantee an entry time.

With so many galleries, it pays to choose what you want to see and map them with a museum plan (available from the information desk or online) before setting off. Pick a subject – photography, textiles, ceramics, fashion – or select an era, or artist. You can also sign up for guided tours.

There’s a nice section hidden on the website that lists the highlights of the collection. Worth a browse before you go.

When to do it

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

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

Number Sixteen

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.5 miles]

Dazzling design and local colour abound at this intimate, under-the-radar bolthole in a convenient, upmarket location.

Official star rating:

Sydney House

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

A value-for-money Georgian townhouse hotel that offers a pleasingly tranquil feel, set on a refined residential street in the heart of Chelsea.

Official star rating:

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

London, United Kingdom (UK)[1.1 miles]

A gloriously opulent Edwardian hotel, with Michelin-starred dining, a subterranean spa and a wonderful location overlooking Hyde Park – one of the capital’s most expensive, most luxurious addresses.

Official star rating:

Artists Residence London

London, United Kingdom (UK)[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.

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

Natural History Museum

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.3 miles]

Dinosaur skeletons, blue whales and chunks of meteorite set in a Romanesque, cathedral-like building – the world’s biggest and best such museum is a treasure trove of natural history.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free

Royal Albert Hall

London, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

London’s premier venue, this iconic circular Victorian concert hall hosts everything from circus acts to classical music, with perfectly-crafted acoustics.

Best for ages: 13+ | £15 | 1+ hours

Chelsea Flower Show

London, United Kingdom (UK)[1.4 miles]

The worlds’ most famous garden show, held for 5 days in May. Stunning modern garden designs, mind-boggling floral displays and visits by royalty.

Best for ages: 13+ | £107 | 5 days

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

Royal Academy of Arts

London, United Kingdom (UK)[2.6 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

Madame Tussauds

London, United Kingdom (UK)[3.2 miles]

Meet the queen, get a selfie with Stormzy and take the controls of the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca at the world’s leading and original wax museum.

Best for ages: 8+ | £30

Exterior view of front facade with people walking in front

SEA LIFE London Aquarium

London, United Kingdom (UK)[3.7 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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Overview >