One of the best parts about being a tourist in London is the access to the free museums. Free museums everywhere! Get your $6 coffee, $8 scone and spend a few blissful hours out of the rain without paying a cent. To be clear for the skeptics out there, the museums are really and truly free. I know of one New York City museum that is officially ‘donation only’ but you must still go through the ticket line and be reminded that the recommended donation is $25 by an actual person. Then, even if you go in strong that you will refuse to pay it, you just can’t help but whip out your wallet with guilt. Not cool, NYC, not cool. In London, no worries. Show up, walk in.
The downside to the London museum scene, if there is one, is that because it’s free, you feel no obligation to ‘get your money’s worth’ by spending an hour or two wandering the halls. You can run in to the British Museum, get a look at the Rosetta Stone, and run out (I did this exact manoeuvre once and it was great). I find that this can be an interesting situation for families and friends who are out at a museum because with no pressure to linger, your ‘museum personality’ shines through.
A true museum fan will continue to walk slowly about, just like they always would, taking in the history and art. A less devoted museumphile will do what I do – walk briskly about for 30 minutes, get bored, sit down, slink out. If you’re not into museums at all, you might waltz in to grab a look at a mummy or two but will quickly get your fill. This is totally fine, of course, but you may want to have a little chat with your travel companions about which coffee shop to meet in when the fair weather fans need another $6 coffee.
A few of our favorite freebies so far the British Museum and the Natural History Museum, pictured below!