What to See and Do in London's West End

British Museum

Elgin Marbles at British Museum

This imposing neoclassical building houses one of the largest collections of ancient artifacts in the world. Among its many exhibits are the Rosetta Stone (which provided the key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics), the English Magna Carta, the Elgin Marbles (from the Parthenon in Greece), plus a vast array of ancient treasures from around the world. There is so much to see that it is best concentrate on the sections that are of interest to you. However, there are a several areas of exceptional interest, such as the Egyptian rooms, containing 5000 year old Egyptian mummies, and the grand statues and stone carved scenes from ancient Babylon and Persia.

Opening times: daily from 10am (closed Xmas & GF)
Free Entry (Admission charges for special exhibits)
Location: Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG - Website

Dickens House

Dickens House LondonThis modest Regency house in Doughty St, was Charles Dickens London home from 1837 to 1839. It was here that he wrote his first full-length novels; The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. First editions and original manuscripts are on display, together with some of the author's personal effects, family portraits and furniture; including his writing desk. The house was bought by the Dickens Fellowship in 1924 and is now open to the public.

A short distance away is The Lamb pub (in Lambs Conduit Street), where Dickens often socialised. Also The Old Curiosity Shop (in Portsmouth Street) is said to be the place Dickens had in mind when he wrote 'The Old Curiosity Shop'. An interesting relic of 16th-c London that still sells antiques and curiosities.

Opening times: all year, Mon-Sat 10am to 5pm, Sun 11am to 5pm - Admission Charge
Location: 48 Doughty St, London, WCIN 2LX - Tel: 02074052127 - Website

Dr Johnson's House

Samuel Johnson lived here in the 1750s, where he wrote his famous dictionary. The house is maintained as a memorial to him and some of his furniture, manuscripts and letters are on show.

Opening times: Mon to Sat from 11am (closed Sun & BH) - Admission Charge
Location: 17 Gough Square, London, EC4A 3DE - Tel: 020 7353 3745 - Website

London Transport Museum

London double decker busThe Museum tells the story of London's mechanised transport system since 1829. Exhibits include old trams, traditional London buses and the world's first Underground steam train. Youngsters can climb aboard a tube train and drive a tram. Film shows, photographs and old posters enhance the educational experience.


Opening times: all year, Sat-Thu 10am to 6pm, Fri 11am to 6pm
Admission Charge
Location: The Piazza, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BB
Tel: 020 7379 6344 - Website

London Zoo

Feeding Penguins at London ZooBritain's oldest zoological conservation park. Home to over 12,000 animals, insects, reptiles and fish. Originally laid-out in 1872 by Decimus Burton. Many famous architects have since added to its array of purpose built animal houses. In particular, Moonlight World, where day and night times have been reversed so that nocturnal creatures can be viewed. Daily animal feeding times, tours, events and demonstrations.


Opening times: all year, daily from 10, (closed Xmas)
Admission Charge
Location: Regents Park, London, NWl 4RY
Tel: 020 7449 6231 - Website

Madame Tussaud's

Madame Tussaud poster

Internationally famous waxworks collection, founded in 1884 by the talented wax sculptor Marie Tussaud.

Visitors are free to take photographs posing beside full size life-like effigies of famous historic figures and celebrities, including film stars, pop stars, sporting heroes, world leaders and the Royal Family. The Chamber of Horrors features models of many infamous rogues and murderers, with gruesome displays of historic execution methods and instruments of torture.

There is also a section on the history of waxworks and how the wax models are made.

Opening times: all year 9.30am to 5.30pm (closed Xmas). - Admission Charge
Location: Marylebone Rd, London, NWl 5LR - Tel: 0870 400 3000 - Website

National Gallery

National Gallery LondonContains the world's finest collection of Western European artworks, with over 2300 masterpieces on permanent display. Works dating from the 13th to the 20th century, include those by Constable, Hans Holbein, Leonardoda Vinci, Rembrandt, Seurat, Turner and Velazquez. The gallery is particularly strong in Italian and 17th-c Dutch, French and Flemish art.

Built in 1832-8 to a design by William Wilkins, on the site of a royal mews that once overlooked the square.

Opening times: daily, 10am to 6pm, (Fri to 9pm) - Free Entry
Location: Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
Tel: 020 7747 2885 - Website

National Portrait Gallery

Located just behind the National Gallery (in St Martins Place). It contains over 9,000 portraits of famous British people, covering some 500 years of British history. The gallery is unique in that the artworks owe their presence in the gallery to the fame of the subjects, rather than that of the artist. Portraits of Captain Cook (by John Webber), Joseph Banks (by Joshua Reynolds), Beatrix Potter, Charles Darwin, Chaucer, Florence Nightingale and Oliver Cromwell are among them.

Opening times: Mon-Wed & Sat-Sun 10am to 6pm (Thu & Fri 9pm) closed Xmas & GF - Free Entry
Location: St Martin's Place, London, WC2H OHE - Tel: 020 7306 0055 - Website

Pollock's Toy Museum

This compact museum contains a surprisingly large and comprehensive collection of antique toys, dolls and miniature theatres, dating from the Victorian period to the present day.

Opening times: all year, Mon-Sat from 10am (closed Xmas & BH) - Admission Charge
Location: 1 Scala St, London, W1T 2HL - Tel: 020 7636 3452 - Website

Royal Academy of Arts

Set in a Renaissance style mansion built by the Earl of Burlington in 1664. The RA was founded in 1768 and moved to Burlington house in 1869. The academy consist of a small body of academic and associate members, who select works of art submitted by the public for exhibition in its galleries. A series of both free and paid-entry exhibitions are provided all year round, with works in a wide range of media.

Opening times: all year, daily 10am to 6pm (Fri to 10pm) closed Xmas
Location: Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J OBD - Tel: 020 7300 5729 - Website

Somerset House & The Courtauld Gallery

Somerset HouseThis elegant 18th-c Palladian style mansion, located on the banks of the Thames, was designed by William Chambers and commissioned by the textile magnate Samuel Courtauld. The Courtauld Institute Gallery houses an important collection of Impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, with artworks by Botticelli, Cranach, Gauguin, Monet, Rubens and Van Gogh. Plus a regular programme of changing exhibitions throughout the year.

Opening times: all year, daily 10am to 6pm (closed Xmas) - Admission Charge
Location: Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R ORN - Tel: 020 7848 2526 - Website

Sir John Soane's Museum

This fascinating museum celebrates the life and works of Sir John Soane, one of London's most prestigious architects. During his time here, from 1812 to 1837, he filled every room and hallway with artifacts, sculpture, paintings and drawings. Which he then bequeathed it to the nation, requesting that the house and its contents be preserved just as he left it.

Opening times: all year, Tue-Sat 10am to 5pm (closed Xmas & BH - Free Entry
Location: 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3BP - Tel: 0207405 2107 - Website

Theatre Museum

Located in the old flower market in Covent Garden, this amazing little museum houses a fine collection of theatrical memorabilia. With displays of costumes, props, puppets and photographs portraying the history of the theatre in London.

Opening times: Tues to Sun 10am - 6pm - Free Entry
Location: Russell Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7PA - Tel: 020 7943 4700 - Website

Wallace Collection

Art in the Wallace CollectionThis intimate little museum, set in a lovely old mansion house overlooking Manchester Square, contains a highly valuable collection of 18th-c French paintings and furniture, bequeathed by Lady Wallace in 1897.

Franz Hals' The Laughing Cavalier and Rembrandt's The Artist's Son Titus are two of the better-known works here. Canalettos, Sevres porcelain, Renaissance armour and grandfather clocks are also on display. The collection is small enough to be appreciated in a single visit. The building was constructed by the 4th Duke of Manchester in 1776, and remodeled by Sir Richard Wallace in 1872.

Opening times: all year, daily 10am to 5pm (closed Xmas) - Free Entry
Location: Hertford House, Manchester Square W1U 3BN Tel: 020 7563 9500 - Website

Next Page >> Theatres, Parks & Shops in London's West End

Please note that the above information was accurate at the time this page was last updated. This information is subject to change at any time (opening times in particular), therefore if you plan on visiting any of the above attractions, please check the owner's website first or phone them for the latest details.


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