The 8 Best Art Galleries in London
Whether you're into contemporary or classical art, the London creative scene will not disappoint.
Vibrant and ever-changing, London is home to an amazing range of art galleries and museums. As well as famous venues housing some of the world’s most iconic and valuable paintings, the capital is studded with contemporary spaces hosting displays of modern art, sculpture and photography too. Whatever your taste in art, we here at Plum Guide have curated this selection of the best art galleries in London to help you navigate the capital's creative scene like a true expert.
London's Most Famous Art Galleries
What better way to experience the London art scene than with the largest collection of British art in the world? Located in Millbank, Westminster, the Tate Britain is cousin to the edgier Tate Modern. Housed in an impressive building in its own right, it contains both classic British art as well as contemporary pieces. The permanent art collection takes you on a journey through British art history from 1500 to the present day.
The gallery’s convenient location and diverse mix of art make it one of the best art galleries in London for visitors looking to get a taste of British art history. Entry is free to the public, and you can access special exhibitions with the purchase of a yearly membership. After you’ve had your fill of the rich art collection, enjoy refreshments at the café or pick up a souvenir at the gift shop.
The National Gallery
Packed with the one of the world’s finest collections of European art, the National Gallery boasts over 2,300 paintings, with work spanning over 600 years of art history. The gallery is famed for its carefully curated collection of works by world-renowned artists: from Monet to da Vinci, Constable to Canaletto. Located on Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is free to the public and has a gift shop for picking up the perfect souvenir. Our home Centre Stage XII is the perfect base just moments away from the gallery.
The National Portrait Gallery
While travelling around London, it’s likely you’ll see posters and billboards advertising the latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Filled with both historic paintings and contemporary photography, the this Covent Garden-based space is undoubtedly one of the best art galleries in London.
The gorgeous gallery is home, as you may have guessed, to some of the world's finest portraits. At the time of its opening in 1856, it was the first of its kind in the world. The gallery also features a trendy rooftop restaurant from which you can enjoy stunning views of London’s skyline while enjoying delicious British food.
The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed until spring 2023 whilst the venue carries out essential works.
Contemporary Art Galleries and Quirky Creative Spaces
One of the trendiest galleries in East London, Whitechapel Gallery was the first space of its kind, displaying temporary installations with a regular turnaround of exhibitions. Open to the public, this all-encompassing gallery features several different exhibitions every year. Only a stone’s throw from the station, the gallery is easily accessed via the District Line and is surrounded by plenty of other exciting things to do in the area, such as the Jack the Ripper tour of London, as well as traditional East End shops and bars. Fancy staying in East London during your trip? Choose from one of our characterful homes in this part of the city like Principal Views.
The Old Police Station
Touring the best art galleries in London doesn't have to mean simply looking at art. The most immersive experience of any London art gallery, the Old Police Station is a self-proclaimed ‘DIY arts centre’. This New Cross-based establishment is an experience like no other. As the name suggests, this gallery is an ex-police station, and now boasts a varied mix of modern art installations, as well offering the opportunity for visitors to make their own art.
A thoroughly diverse and uniquely engaging experience, the Old Police station is one of the many reasons why London’s art scene is like no other. Thanks to its interactive offering, the Old Police Station is particularly popular among visitors with children – why not combine a visit here with a stay in one our family friendly homes? Be sure to read our guide to where to stay in London with family.
The Crypt Gallery
This unconventional gallery is located in an atmospheric underworld beneath St Pancras Church. A celebration of the human spirit, of imagination and emotions, this utterly eclectic gallery boasts a carefully curated selection of contemporary art installations. The Crypt is a trendy venue that hosts book signings, photoshoots and corporate events.
Located in Euston, the Crypt Gallery is easily accessed by train, tube and bus.NFor easy access to the Crypt Gallery, consider staying in the nearby Marylebone neighbourhood, which combines a convenient location with a village-like feel.
Art galleries with something for everyone
The Victoria & Albert Museum
It would be remiss to curate a list of the best art galleries in London and not mention the V&A. Named after one of the most famous couples in British history, the Victoria & Albert museum is home to a vast collection of decorative art and eclectic objects. The dynamic collection includes every kind of art medium you can imagine.
Founded by Queen Victoria in 1899, the gallery is home to the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture, as well as a vast array of all kinds of artistic media: metalwork, photography, pottery, glasswork, tiles, textiles, furniture, prints, woodwork, jewellery, clothing and medieval artefacts. With so much to see, you might want to dedicate a good few hours to this treasure trove of wonders. Stay close to the culture in one of our wonderful homes like Charming Chase, just a short walk away from Exhibition Road where the V&A is located.
Opened in 1985 by the designer Charles Saatchi, the Saatchi Gallery cuts an impressive architectural figure on the outside; just wait until you get inside! Located in Chelsea– one of the safest neighbourhoods in London – this is home to the some of the world’s finest contemporary art. Boasting edgy collections from Damien Hirst, Sol LeWitt, Lucian and Frank Auerbach, this is an ideal entry point into London's contemporary art scene. Stay in one of our art-filled homes like The Artist's Haven to truly immerse yourself in the city's art.
Now you know all about the best art galleries in London, it's time to choose where to stay during your trip. Our collection of London homes have been carefully vetted by our meticulous home critics to ensure that everything from the WiFi speed to the art on the walls is up to the (very high) standards you deserve.