The British Museum is the UK’s no.1 visitor attraction and its exhibitions and events cover the earliest civilizations and later cultures. However, you no longer have to stress over the planning and research for your museum visit. I, a London expert, have prepared this guide on tickets, admission, time-budgeting, and a brief history, which will remove the hassle.
Pro Tip: You might want to bookmark this article in your browser so you can circle back to it when you are in or around the British Museum.
What We’ll Cover
- Opening Hours & Tickets/Admissions
- How Long to Budget for your Visit
- What to See in the British Museum
- Tour Options
- Places to Eat Nearby
- British Museum Facts & History
British Museum Opening Hours And Admissions
The museum is open every day from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm. However, on Fridays, it closes at 8.30 pm.
A booked time slot will get you guaranteed entry. As mentioned before, it is the UK’s top attraction and therefore has a massive amount of visitors. So despite this neoclassical building’s vast size, booking a ticket removes the admission hassle.
It’s free to get into the museum but there are also priced special exhibitions. Throughout the year, the museum presents fascinating special exhibitions which they feel will be popular with visitors. For example, Peru: a journey in time is on until February 2022 and priced £15.00 for Adults, £13 for Students, free for Under 16s, and £13 for the disabled and the unemployed.
How Much Time To Budget For The British Museum
Short Answer: 3 hours
The museum is a huge building and has a total collection of around eight million artefacts (obviously not all on display). However, you can budget in two hours if you already have a general idea of what exhibits you want to see.
But, in truth, three hours will enable you to absorb a considerable amount of the museum’s content just by wandering around. If you have a short break after your first 1.5 hours you will be refreshed and energized for the second and won’t lose desire or concentration.
Indeed, seeing all of its items and exhibits could easily take up a whole day. The advice we have given takes into account the practicalities of spending 6-8 hours in a museum. So it all depends on how much you want to see.
What To See In The British Museum
- The Parthenon Sculptures (Rooms 18a and 18b)
- Egypt/The Rosetta Stone (Rooms 4, 61-66)
- The Roman Empire (Room 70)
- Assyria (Rooms 6-10)
- Ancient Greece/Alexander the Great (Rooms 12-23)
- Africa (Room 25)
- Mexico: 2000 BC – 1521 AD (Room 27)
- China and South Asia (Room 33)
- Medieval Europe (Room 40)
- The Islamic World (Rooms 42-43)
British Museum Tour Options
If you are planning a trip to the British Museum, you should perhaps look beyond this brief guide and consider our more in-depth guided tours. Our expert guide will present the histories of the world and its earliest civilizations in an easily understood way.
We have already mentioned how it can take three hours to see the exhibits on your own but more likely 6-8 hours to see everything. A knowledgeable guide will remove the stress of you having to work out what to see and where. And they’ll cover the exhibits in a more reasonable time so that your interest is maintained.
Places To Eat Nearby
We have listed the museum’s restaurant below but there’s also the Court Café, the Montague Café, and a pizzeria in the museum. Also, there are other options not too far beyond the museum gates, in case you are seeking more inspired dining. Or you can read 10 places to eat near the British Museum for even more choices.
Great Court Restaurant
For a distinctly English treat, you can enjoy afternoon cream teas or other beverages. But there are also two and three-course lunches. However, if you’re looking for something lighter they have sandwiches, snacks and pastries.
Address: 2-5 Montague St, London WC1B 5BP | Hours: Mon – Fri, 11.30 am – 5.00 pm | €€
This Michelin star Chinese restaurant is a worthy treat if you want to complete your museum visit with a little pampering. Dishes such as Dim Sum and Hakkasan stir-fries are on the menu.
Address: 8 Hanway Place, W1T 1HD | Hours: Tue – Thurs 5.00 pm – 10.30 pm, Fri, 5.00 pm – 11.00 pm, Sat 12 noon – 11.00 pm, Sun 12 noon – 10.30 pm.| €€€€
Quality food at a reasonable price. The restaurant has a light, airy feel and a bit of a buzz about it. The Mediterranean cuisine is not tied to one nation and includes dishes such as lamb shank and also pan-fried salmon.
Address: 150 Southampton Row, London WC1B 5AN. | Hours: Daily 12 noon to 9.00 pm, Sat | €€
British Museum Facts & History
- Founded in 1753, it’s the world’s first national public museum with free admission for all.
- The museum has over eight million artifacts in its collection
- The collection spans two million years.
- In recent years it has competed with the Tate Modern as the UK’s most popular visitor attraction. But now it is the most popular, with 5.9 million visitors (before the pandemic).
- Egyptian exhibits are amongst the most popular. The Tutankamen Exhibition of 1972 drew record attendances. However, the Rosetta Stone, another Egyptian artefact, has proved the most popular over the centuries.
- In the Japanese Galleries you will find a full-size replica of a traditional Japanese tea house
- The Parthenon Marbles are a popular attraction today but also proved to be a hit with prominent individuals in centuries past. Mozart visited in the 1760s and 19th-century Romantic poets Lord Byron and John Keats wrote poems about it after visiting.