Founded in 1753, the British Museum is London’s largest and most visited museum. Its gigantic permanent collection includes over 8 million historical artifacts, with everything from Egyptian mummies to Roman treasures. Highlights include sculptures from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, and the 12th-century Lewis chessmen.
Allow at least two hours for a British Museum tour, but don’t expect to see everything in one visit—it would take days to explore the entire museum and it’s easy to get lost. With so much to see, visiting with a tour guide is a convenient choice, and a small-group or private guided tour will ensure you maximize your time.
Things to Know Before You Go
There is no admission fee for the British Museum, although donations are welcome.
Visitors are required to pass security checks to enter, and large bags and suitcases are prohibited.
On-site facilities include museum shops, cafés, and restaurants.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the museum.
Audio guides are offered in several languages.
The British Museum is fully wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The British Museum is located on Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, in the heart of central London. The museum is easy to reach by bus or tube, and the Tottenham Court Road (Northern Line), Russell Square (Piccadilly Line), and Holborn (Piccadilly and Central lines) underground stations are all less than a 5-minute walk away.
When to Get There
The museum is open daily, year-round. The quietest time to visit is on a weekday either when the doors open or after 3pm—school groups often visit in the mornings. Morning visitors should plan to visit the most popular exhibits (such as the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon sculptures) right away, while afternoon visitors might save these until later, when the crowds have left. Friday evenings are also a good time to visit, when there are normally fewer tour groups and families. Look out for special exhibitions, events, and film screenings throughout the year, too.
Highlights of the British Museum
For first-time visitors, the most popular exhibits include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures from ancient Greece, the Persian Oxus Treasure, and the Ancient Egypt collection, which houses the Mummy of Katebet. Other must-see artifacts include the Portland Vase, which dates back to the 1st century BC; the Lewis chessmen, a collection of carved chess pieces dating back to the 12th century; and a statue from Easter Island, which is on display in the Living and Dying Gallery.