One of the great things about London is the vast amount of arts and culture on offer. Whether you prefer work from the Old Masters such as Van Gogh and Botticelli or you have a passion for modern art, there is no shortage of places you can go in the capital city and best of all, many of the exhibitions and galleries are free to enter.
We have gathered together some top places to visit if you want to spend the day, or a couple of days in London, visiting the various galleries and attractions. Whilst some may view a weekend of art as a high brow activity to indulge in, if you stick to the exhibitions which are free, and book a discount hotel in London, it needn’t cost you very much at all to get an injection of culture into your life.
Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is home to over 2,000 Western European paintings which date from the Middle Ages through to the 20th century. Here you can discover works by artists such as da Vinci, Van Gogh, Renoir and Botticelli. Entry is free although you may need to purchase tickets for any special exhibitions. Take a look at the website before you visit to see whether there are any events taking place on the weekend of your visit as these may make the Gallery busy and you might want to plan your time around this.
National Portrait Gallery
If you’ve made the journey out to Trafalgar Square to visit the National Gallery then make sure to check out its neighbour, the National Portrait Gallery. This gallery is home to the world’s largest collections of portraits and features prominent and leading figures from throughout British history including the likes of William Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth I and Germaine Greer. Entry is free as with the National Gallery, but there is a fantastic rooftop restaurant which is well worth stopping off at for a bite to eat and to experience a view of London from 90 feet up.
The Saatchi Gallery is situated in Chelsea and is the ideal place to visit if you like contemporary art. The sole focus of this gallery is to display works of art created by young artists or international artists who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to display their creations in the UK. Entry is free to all exhibitions as part of the gallery’s dedication to bringing a love of contemporary art to the masses.
There are a number of wonderful discount hotels in London situated in and around this area; approximately 15-20 minutes walk away is the Shaftesbury Premier London Kensington hotel which offers great value accommodation. Staying overnight here would also put you within a short distance of some of the other great galleries in the city of London.
London Street Art
Another great one for those who have an interest in modern art is the London Street Art walking tours. You can see how street and graffiti art first began, viewing some early work by the likes of Banksy before going on to see more recent pieces by artists such as Space Invader and Roa. There are even now some street art galleries which can be included in the tour and which show how street art has become globally recognised and appreciated. This is a great tour to include in your visit to London if you have older children who may not particularly enjoy being cooped up inside galleries for hours on end.
Not only can you appreciate the vibrant colours and styles which make up the street art and graffiti but you can also see parts of London you might otherwise miss whilst travelling directly from one attraction to the next.
Taking a step back through the ages again, no visit to London’s finest art galleries would be complete without some time in the Tate Modern. From Pre-Raphaelite paintings to pieces from the present day, this gallery is home to some of the finest British art in the world. Entry is free.
These are just some of our favourites in the city but others worth noting include the Whitechapel Gallery, the Tate Modern (well worth a visit just for the restaurant which offers beautiful views over the city), Somerset House and the Serpentine Gallery which is located in the centre of the picturesque Hyde Park.
There are also many museums which hold special art exhibitions so it is well worth having a look online in advance of your visit to see whether there are any events taking place during your stay. Certain events offer you the opportunity to see pieces of art which aren’t usually displayed to the public or which may be hosted elsewhere on a normal basis, which can bring a lovely added element to your trip, especially if you have a real love of the arts.