Ultimate Guide to the British Museum for Visitors (2024)

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When people ask me, “Hey, Kalyn, if I had to see one museum in London, which one should it be?” I never hesitate with my answer – the British Museum.

In this guide to the British Museum and British Museum review, you’ll learn why this is my #1 recommended museum in London (unless you have small kids – I’ll explain that later) and how to make the most of your visit to the British Museum.

Nestled in the adorable streets surrounding Russell Square tube station and conveniently located near many of London’s higher education buildings, the British Museum is iconic both in its famous pieces and in the stunning architecture inside.

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Where is the British Museum?

The British Museum is located on Great Russell Street, walking distance from many places in central London but particularly easy from Holborn Station, Goodge Street Station, Tottenham Court Road Station and Russell Square Station.

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How to Get to the British Museum

There are a variety of buses that go past the museum, but the most convenient way is to get here by tube.

Simply take the tube to any of the 4 major tube stations surrounding the museum (Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road) and then walk to the museum.

This is a very centrally located museum – leave the car or rental car at home.

Opening Hours

The museum is opened from 10am to 5pm every single day, except December 24th, December 25th, or December 26th.

They also have late opening hours on a Friday until 8:30pm.

Is the British Museum Free?


While the British Museum does accept donations when you walk in (not handed to a person, but in a large donation case), it is officially completely free to the public so this is a great thing to do in London on a budget.

What’s at the British Museum?

In general, with a vague name like “The British Museum,” it’s important to know what’s actually here.

The official line is that the museum is all about “cultures around the globe from the dawn of human history to the present.”

So, funnily enough, despite the British in the name, it is a collection of incredible artifacts that (controversially or not) currently belong to Britain, NOT a museum about the history of Britain itself (though of course that is a part of it).

So we’re talking everything from Egyptian mummies to Greek acropolis ruins to paintings to pottery to ancient currency and more.

Also, the interior of this museum has to be seen to be believed.

Sometimes I just go into the museum to do some work at one of the long tables here or to bring a book – that’s how relaxing I find it!

What to See at the British Museum: Highlights of the British Museum

Want some tips for visiting the British Museum?

There are more than 60 galleries at the British Museum, featuring everything from scrolls to Roman ruins to African pottery to Mexican sculptures, but for your average London visitor, there are two main famous pieces at the British Museum that you cannot miss.

The first is Cleopatra – she’s not “the” Cleopatra, but she is a Cleopatra and she is a real, actual, right-there-in-front-of-you Egyptian mummy and while there are other mummies within the British Museum, this one is a big draw for visitors due to the incredible coloring and in tact nature of it.

The second is the Rosetta Stone – yes, the real one. It’s been on display in the British Museum since 1802 and is one of the main featured pieces as you first walk in.

Of course, it’s completely behind glass so there’s no chance of touching or rubbing out any of the history-changing inscriptions in it! But you can get very close and you can take photos without flash.

This piece of slab was instrumental in helping historians to read Egyptian hieroglyphics and you can see it in person at the British Museum!

British Museum with Kids

Despite the fact that I think the British Museum is an absolute must-do in London, I would caution that it doesn’t have the same type of interactive exhibits that you might find in places like the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

If you have kids that are old enough to appreciate the history and marvel at the mummies and the Greek ruins and all of the cool, larger-than-life stuff, you’ll still have a great time.

But if you have very young kids who are going to want more of that interactive experience or lots of bright colors or moving images, then I would skip the British Museum.

If you do visit as a family, the British Museum has a fantastic collection of family activities here and “Museum Missions” to take part in to keep them engaged.

British Museum Map

Want a map of the British Museum? Find it here.

Eating at the British Museum

The British Museum has a couple of options for food and drinks, both of them highly recommended.

The first one is the Court Cafes, located on the ground floor with lots of long table seating and plenty of options like sandwiches, salads, snack cakes and ready-to-eat cold pastas.

This is my favorite go-to because of the incredible atmosphere while inside the main floor.

When the sun streams in, it’s just an absolutely gorgeous atmosphere to eat some lunch.

Then there’s a pizza place, as well as a coffee lounge (see the map for locations), but most importantly if you’re looking for something a bit different is the Great Court Restaurant.

This restaurant, at the top of the British Museum, is a full sit-down restaurant for breakfast and lunch and afternoon tea, with waiters and regular restaurant etiquette (ie, not a casual café).

I would highly recommend trying the afternoon tea here – you get to sit under the beautiful glass tiles of the roof of the British Museum and the price for the afternoon tea beats a lot of the very expensive afternoon teas in London while still ensuring you get an authentic experience with good service.

Audio App

There is an audio app that you can use to help you explore the museum on your own if you want to check out one of the best things to do in London with an app.

It’s a small fee per download, and you can find it here.

This is great if you’re interested in an audio guide, but don’t want to pay the cost of a live tour.

Expert commentary on over 250 objects in the museum will make you feel like you’ve truly explored it rather than just walking around and nodding at old artifacts.

British Museum Live Tours and Tour Guide

Want to take a tour of the British Museum so you don’t miss out on experienced knowledge of the artifacts (or maybe you just are so overwhelmed by how big it all is that you’d rather have someone show you around?)

That’s not a problem!

The museum offers a variety of tours, both paid and free, that you can book onto in advance here.

These museum tours are relatively short in length, however, so if you’re looking for someone to really show you around the museum on a full-length tour, I would go with this British Museum exclusive guided tour.

>> Click here to check pricing and availability for the exclusive British Museum guided tour.

Attractions near the British Museum

The British Museum, being so centrally located, is really close to some of London’s other famous attractions and is a short walking distance from:

Other British Museum FAQs

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