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British Museum: Tickets and Tours

By far, one of the most popular museums to visit in the UK, the British Museum is a place of wonder, a playground of history, culture, and art throughout the ages and from around the world. British Museum tickets and tours allow visitors to discover one of the largest collections of antiquities and curiosities from a myriad of civilizations from human heritage.

With 8 galleries dedicated to specific regions of the world and other themes, the British Museum has become a home for artefacts gathered from all corners of the globe to tell the story of our ancestors. Allow the past to come alive with a tour of the British Museum and discover parts of history that you’ve never seen before.

How much do the British Museum tickets cost?

The British Museum is free for visitors of all ages. Advanced reservation is not needed.

Among the various exhibitions and events, there are some which are paid. Tickets can be purchased online or at the physical ticket office at the museum. Prices vary depending on the exhibition, but there are discounted prices for young adults, students, disabled visitors, jobseekers, and holders of the National Art Pass. Visitors below 16 years old, accompanied by a paying adult, go free.

How do you skip the line at the entrance?

There is no real line at the entrance, since it is free and it does not have to be reserved. However, there are some hours in which the museum is crowded inside.

How can you book tickets online?

As the galleries are free to visit, it is not necessary to get tickets in advance for general entrance to the museum.

However, exhibition tickets can be purchased online through the website, by selecting the specific exhibition, the date and time that you’d like to enter, and processing to pay online.

What kind of guided tours are available?

There is a vast selection of guided tours available in the British Museum from as little as £10. These include group tours, private tours, and combination tours.

  • Group tours are perfect for large groups of friends, schools, associations, clubs, etc. who visit the museum but also for individuals, families, or couples who do not wish to pay for a private tour.
  • A very special tour that is offered by volunteer guides is the unique experience to visit the British Museum in the morning before opening at 9am. These tours are focused on a specific part of the museum, last an hour, and booking in advance is a must.
  • On Friday evenings, the museum offers spotlight tours which also focus on a particular exhibit or artefact within the museum. These are 20-minute tours, also led by volunteers.
  • Audio guides are also available.

As the British Museum attracts tourists from all over the world, many of the different styles of tours are available in dozens of languages.

Are private tours worth it?

Private tours allow visitors to discover their favourite parts of the British Museum and get a truly tailored experience. Private tour guides offer informative, customized visits to the museum and can personalize the tour to match the client’s requests.

Some tours are themed while others focus on specific areas of the museum. This can turn a casual museum visit into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Especially family-friendly, private tours are available which cater to children and engage them in activities to make the day particularly eventful and memorable too.

How to get to the British Museum

The British Museum is located in North London, on Great Russell Street, and can be accessed through various entrances.

Groups should always use the entrance that can be found at Montague Place.

Visitors can get to the museum by different modes of transport. In London, public transportation offers access by subway and bus. The closest underground train stations are: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street.

The buses that stop near the museum are:

  • Stopping on Oxford Street: 1, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242
  • Stopping northbound on Tottenham Court Road and southbound on Gower Street: 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390
  • Stopping on Southampton Row: 59, 68, X68, 91, 168, 188

Cycling to the museum is also possible because bikes can be locked inside the Museum gates on the bike racks.

Driving to the museum is also possible, although within London it is important to know about and pay the Congestion Charge. The closest parking lot is located at Bloomsbury Square. There are no private parking facilities available at the museum.

What are the British Museum opening hours?

The British Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. On Fridays, the museum stays open until 8.30pm.

Certain galleries and exhibitions may have different closing times or periods where they are unavailable due to refurbishments, viewings by groups or schools, or maintenance.

The museum closes on the following holidays: January 1st, Good Friday, December 25th, December 26th. On other holidays, the museum remains open, but tours and talks are subject to availability.

Are photos allowed inside the museum?

Yes, unless otherwise stated in specific exhibitions or galleries, photography is allowed throughout the museum. Flash photography and video recording are also permitted.

Only hand-held devices are allowed.

What can you see inside the British Museum?

Originally consisting of books, manuscripts, specimens, and some antiquities, the collection at the British Museum now holds over 8 million objects. At any one time, only 1% of these items are on display.

The treasures housed in the museum cover over 2 million years of history on Earth, including some extremely high-profile acquisitions such as:

  • the Rosetta Stone – This world-renowned antiquity, discovered in 1799 in Egypt, has been key to the understanding and deciphering of hieroglyphics, and in many ways, has helped experts reach a more profound comprehension of Ancient Egyptian culture. The stone is engraved with a decree issued in 196 BC written with a translation in Ancient Greek.
  • the Parthenon Marbles Also known as the Elgin Marbles, this collection of sculptures from Ancient Greece were initially included in the Parthenon temple in Athens, as well as other constructions around the area of the Acropolis.
  • the Egyptian mummies The museum also houses various objects, sarcophagi, and mummified bodies, dating back to the Ancient Egyptian period, which has allowed experts to learn more about the complex afterlife traditions and beliefs held by people of the time.

What is the British Museum history?

Established in 1753, the British Museum is one of the main tourist attractions in London, receiving more than 6.5 million visitors annually.

The museum was founded when Sir Hans Sloane, who died in 1753, willed his collection of over 71,000 objects, amassed throughout his life as a physician and naturalist, to King George II. The King donated the Old Royal Library to the collection, which thus opened as the British Museum in January 1759.

The museum itself is now an architectural marvel with a glass ceiling in the Great Court and as one of the largest museums in the world, covering over 990,000 square feet.

Travel Tips

  • If you are visiting the museum with children, make sure to check out the website to find out which activities are organized for children and when. The British Museum is extremely family-friendly, and you will find a range of activities, events, and special occasions for kids.
  • Plan your visit! Check out the temporary exhibitions available at the time of your trip so you can take full advantage of what the museum has to offer and you don't miss out on something that really could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see.
  • Although it can be difficult, aim to arrive at a non-peak time. Get there early for the best opportunity to wander through the museum at a leisurely pace and avoid the biggest crowds.
  • Don't miss out on the smaller galleries, there are truly fascinating treasures all over the museum that are well-worth your attention.
  • Consider booking a guided tour if you want to understand better the history behind each artefact. Tours are rather cheap and well worth the money!