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World-class art in London

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 12 March, 2024

With uncounted masterpieces created by the artist-filled centuries since the Renaissance, alongside priceless works plundered from across the former British Empire, London’s art collections are both staggering and unrivalled. These, plus a thriving art scene today that continues to add modern pieces to the classics, make London an art-lover’s paradise.

The capital’s art galleries range from vast, palatial buildings filled with classical paintings, to edgy white-cube galleries where up-and-coming artists show their work.

Huge riverside museums might take up half a day as you explore dozens of themed galleries, ticking off bucket list works and learning about the evolution of painting and sculpture.

Look out for smaller specialist venues, too, and a vibrant street art scene, especially around East London.

Who to go with: tour operators

10

Courtauld Gallery

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Courtauld Gallery

Experience

Located in the elegant surroundings of Somerset House, the Courtauld combines temporary exhibitions with a permanent collection including works by Manet and Van Gogh.

Adult price: £13

Good for age: 18+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

National Portrait Gallery

Bucket List Experience

National Portrait Gallery

Founded in 1856 as a visual hall of fame for the country’s great and good, today the National Portrait Gallery is still a vital part of British culture. The form may be traditional but the collection of 175,000 portraits range from stiff-upper-lipped royals and Victorian politicians to modern-day celebrities and Olympic heroes.

If you’re in London in summer, look out for the gallery’s prestigious BP Portrait Award; otherwise, the rotating exhibitions of portrait photography cover lively themes such as rock’n’roll, fashion and dance.

Good for age: 13+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior view of the front of the gallery during the daytime with queue pf people outside

Bucket List Experience

National Gallery

The hallowed galleries of the National are home to one of the greatest collections of Western European paintings in the world. There are more than 2,300 works on display here.

Step out of the bustle of Trafalgar Square into the palatial building to take a tour of the classics, from the Italian Renaissance to the French Impressionists.

Good for age: 18+

Photographers’ Gallery

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

exterior building of the Photographer's Gallery in london

Experience

This intriguing, under-the-radar gallery is close to Oxford Circus, its rooms devoted to the best in contemporary photography.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 18+

Queen’s Gallery

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

A bright red exhibition room with statues and furniture with gold accents

Experience

The main public art gallery of Buckingham Palace, the Queens Gallery exhibits works of art from the Royal collection on a rotating basis – there are usually around 450 works on show.

Adult price: £8.50

Good for age: 18+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior view of the building during the museum during the daytime

Bucket List Experience

Tate Britain

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.

Good for age: 18+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

External view of the art gallery - a big oblong brick building with glass roof and a single large square chimney

Bucket List Experience

Tate Modern

Like MoMA in New York or the Pompidou Centre in Paris, London’s Tate Modern is an energetic and uniquely site-specific art space. This former power station beside the Thames houses a permanent and rotating exhibition of contemporary art that gets London talking and walking around its inventive exhibition spaces.

From Damien Hirst to Monet, Rothko to Miro, Lichtenstein to Warhol, the treasures in this 1940s industrial construction are legendary. The main galleries feature a rotating selection of the 60,000-piece permanent collection.

But the big buzz is usually about its colossal Turbine Hall, which hosts temporary, site-specific installations from big names like Louise de Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor and Bruce Nauman.

Good for age: 18+

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Main display gallery in the Wallace Collection Museum displaying fine art paintings on the walls

Bucket List Experience

Wallace Collection

This prestigious art museum houses an extensive collection of European fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries, fittingly displayed in a historic townhouse in Manchester Square.

The art collection, brought together by the first four marquesses of Hertford, includes masterpieces by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Velazquez, and Titian.

Good for age: 18+

White Cube

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior front view, showing a single storey, square brown, modern-design brick building

Experience

Provocative and pricey works by modern British artists, displayed in one of London’s best commercial galleries.

Good for age: 18+

Whitechapel Gallery

  • London, United Kingdom (UK)

Exterior facade of the building, a former theatre

Experience

Elegant gallery that’s premiered world-class artists for over a century – from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, to British artists Lucian Freud and Gilbert & George.

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Who to go with: organised tours

4

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

  • London

Street artists from all over the World leave an ever changing kaleidoscope of energy and creativity on the walls of Shoreditch. Shoreditch Street Art Tours provides the best tours of London's street art. Explore the culture, the artists, the locations, the methods and the stories that have made Shoreditch being the greatest epicentre for street art in the world. Shoreditch Street Art Tours' principal guide Dave ran his first street art tours in 2008, no street art tours have been running that long. We are the top rated street art tour on Tripadvisor in London. Shoreditch Street Art Tour’s guide is a pure street art specialist who has spent nearly 20 years exploring, photographing, writing about and critiquing this exciting art scene. Shoreditch Street Art Tours will deliver an articulate and enthralling revelation of the best street art, whether it is huge murals, stencils, paste ups or small stickers.

Price £20

Min age 0

Rating 4.96 / 5 [302 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • London

Join this walking group tour to discover the London you won't find in the guidebooks. Travel to the heart of the vibrant East End with a local street artist or guide who is immersed in the local creative scene. On this 2-hour experience you'll discover some of the best street art in the world and understand the context of the art in in the capital's cultural and creative hub. Choose from one of two departure times when you book. We also offer a street art workshop after the tour if you like to try it yourself. Just check our profile to see our combined Street Art Tour & Workshop

Price £20

Min age 0

Rating 4.93 / 5 [154 ratings]

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  • London

You'll be taken off the-beaten-track to discover London's best street art, murals and hidden gems you won't find in the guide books! We'll walk the vibrant streets of Shoreditch and Hoxton, taking you into side streets and hidden alleyways to get under the skin of London's incredible street art scene. From huge murals and intricate stencils to finely crafted bronze sculptures and miniature masterpieces painted on discarded gum, you'll hear the stories behind dozens of works. The tour will finish at our creative warehouse space where your expert guide will teach you spray can techniques: How to spray paint free-hand, use stencils, and build up a final piece to take away with you.

Price £38

Min age 0

Rating 4.98 / 5 [73 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • London

Enjoy a 1.5-hour street art walking tour of some of the best street art in London, followed by a 2 hour street art workshop in which everyone is encouraged to make their own stencil and use spray paint to create their own street art masterpiece. The tour is led by a talented local street artist who will offer you a unique insight into this practice of art.

Price £45

Min age 12

Rating 4.97 / 5 [47 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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