Tips for Visiting the Natural History Museum in London: a Full Guide (2024)

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The Natural History Museum is one of London’s most iconic museums, and as someone who absolutely loves this museum more than life itself (okay that’s a bit far, but I love it a lot), I’ve got the full rundown of what to expect as a visitor to the Natural History Museum, including my Natural History Museum London review.

Nestled in the museum area of South Kensington, it’s one of the “Big 3” in this area (including the Science Museum and V&A), one of the best things to do in London, and it is a huge hit with families with children – possibly because of the dinos, but also because of the fun and colorful exhibits featuring everything from earthquakes to gemstones.

exterior of Natural History Museum

It’s one of the best museums in London and can get incredibly packed during school vacation time and the summer months, so make sure you know your plan of action to make the most of your visit.

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The Absolute Must-Knows (from a Londoner)

Tips for Visiting the Natural History Museum

  • The museum has some wonderful self-guided tour maps on their website to help you explore the museum at your own pace while still hitting the highlights – as with many London museums, you won’t see it all, so this is a great option.
  • Peak hours at the cafes are from around 12-2pm – get a little creative and plan your lunchtime around that if you’re visiting during busy season.
  • Want lower crowds? Get there at opening time and head straight to the dinos.
  • The closest tube stop is South Kensington Station, and the museum is a short walk away (there are plenty of signs with directions because it’s one of the most popular things to do in the area).
Click here to check out my custom itinerary planning service with local suggestions to make sure you have the trip of a lifetime!

Exhibits at the Natural History Museum

There are quite a few different galleries spread across different colored zones, but some of the most popular are:

Take a look at some of my pictures of the exhibits to get a feel for what’s in store!

Natural History Museum Opening Times

The museum is open every day of the week from 10am to 5:50pm, with the exception of December 24th, December 25th, or December 26th when it is completely closed.

Natural History Museum London Tickets

You have the option to book your slot to enter the Natural History Museum online in advance.

This is a very good idea during the busy season (again, summer and major school vacations).

However, it’s not really needed during other times of the year and you will likely still get in during the busy season, but you may need to wait a bit.

So to be on the safe side – book a ticket. You have nothing to lose, it’s free, but if you find yourself in the area and want to just randomly stroll up, go for it – you’ll likely get in just fine.

How Much Does the Natural History Museum Cost?

Entry to the Natural History Museum is completely free to the main exhibits for all visitors.

You can access special exhibits or traveling exhibits at an additional charge, but there is plenty to do at the museum that doesn’t cost, so these aren’t worth it unless you’re specifically interested in visiting for a traveling exhibit that’s on.

Cafe and Dining Options

As far as museum dining goes, the Natural History Museum actually has some great options.

If you’re just looking for the basic museum café for the whole family, the Central Café is your best bet with plenty of options including vegetarian and vegan food. It also kind of looks like a Hogwarts dining hall with the surrounding walls so that’s a bonus.

Then there are additional eateries that offer similar sandwiches and crisps and salads and hot and cold options, just with shorter opening hours.

But if you’ve got kids with you, you’ve got to try the T. rex Resturant.

It’s super fun and dinosaur themed and has plenty of kid-friendly food like pizzas, sandwiches, desserts and special kid’s meals.

You can also bring your lunch with you!

How long does it take to walk around the Natural History Museum London?

This is such a subjective question and the answer is, if you wanted to see everything and every room and actually read things and have lunch, you could totally spend a whole day here.

But you probably don’t want to, and just want to know how long you need to spend to feel like you’ve “done the museum.”

In my experience, 2-3 hours is sufficient depending on how fast you go through the rooms and whether you really want to stop and see all of the fossils or you’re more in it for the interactive exhibits and earthquake simulator (me, that’s me).

London Natural History Museum Map

To find the map of all of the museum zones, click here.

Natural History Museum London Events

One of the great things about this museum is they’re always holding cool events – from Silent Discos to Valentine’s at the Museum to Yoga at the Museum and DinoSnores museum sleepovers, there’s a good chance there’s something interesting on while you’re in London so check our their Events Page to make sure you don’t miss an off-the-beaten path kind of London experience.

Tours of the Natural History Museum

There are regular Natural History Museum tours, but these are paid-for and can be booked through the website, including a Highlights Tour and a Science of the Museum tour.

There are also the free self-guided tours that you can find that are discussed above in the “Tips for Visiting” section.

And finally, you can book through a private company to do a tour (like this one) of the museum which is a good idea if you are really interested in all of the exhibits and want an expert to guide you around and make sure you don’t miss anything worth seeing – as well as giving you plenty of additional information, of course.

>> Click here to check out pricing and availability for my favorite private tour of the Natural History Museum

That being said, you don’t need a tour to see the museum – it’s just a fun additional, optional extra and can be a great idea if you only have a few hours and want a guide to help you maximize your time.

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