Cultural things to do in London
When it comes to culture, it often feels like London leads the way. The sprawling British capital is home to over 170 museums, 857 galleries, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, countless theatres, and much more besides. While that may sound daunting, it’s precisely this scale and variety that makes London’s cultural landscape so rewarding. Whether it’s Old Masters or modern art, fine architecture or botanical horticulture, you’ll find it in London with the help of this two-day itinerary.
Start your first cultural day in London at Sir John Soane’s Museum, just 20 minutes from the hotel by taxi.
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Small but wonderfully eclectic, Sir John Soane’s Museum is one of London’s best-kept secrets. Named after the architect who resided here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, its interiors have been left largely unchanged throughout the subsequent centuries. A guided tour reveals Sir John’s collection of antiquities and artworks – including pieces by Turner and Canaletto – as well as some eccentric design touches.
To get to the Museum of London, hail a taxi for a 10-minute journey.
Museum of London
The Museum of London unravels the rich tapestry of London’s history from its prehistoric beginnings in the Lower Thames Valley through to the bustling metropolis we know today. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that explore various facets of the city’s character and the events that shaped it.
From the Museum of London, Whitechapel Gallery is a 10-minute drive.
An East End institution, the Whitechapel Gallery has historically held some of London’s most lively and agenda-setting art exhibitions since opening over 100 years ago. The likes of Picasso, Pollock, Kahlo and Rothko all premiered here in their time. Today, exhibitions continue to showcase vibrant contemporary works.
Hail a taxi for the 10-minute drive to White Cube Bermondsey.
White Cube Bermondsey
Set up by Jay Jopling in 1993, the original White Cube was – as the name suggests – a small white room. White Cube galleries have subsequently opened across London, Hong Kong and São Paulo. The Bermondsey site is the newest and largest addition, showcasing a broad range of contemporary artwork by an international roster of artists.
From White Cube Bermondsey, Dulwich Picture Gallery is just half an hour away by taxi.
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dulwich Picture Gallery was founded in 1811 as the first purpose-built public art gallery in the world. Its temporary exhibitions tempt many visitors south of the river, though it’s perhaps best known for its permanent collection of masterpieces by artists like Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Canaletto.
The hotel is a 40-minute taxi ride from the gallery.
Start your second cultural day in London with a visit to the Queen’s Gallery, a 20-minute walk or five minutes by taxi from the hotel.
The Queen’s Gallery
Located in the western wing of Buckingham Palace (itself one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations) The Queen’s Gallery hosts rotating exhibitions of treasures drawn from the Royal Collection Trust. Highlights include Old Master paintings, an extensive photography collection, decorative art pieces and rare furniture.
From The Queen’s Gallery, the Chelsea Physic Garden is a 10-minute journey by taxi.
Chelsea Physic Garden
The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in London in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, and is among the oldest botanical gardens in Europe. Hidden behind walls on the banks of the River Thames, today the space is a tranquil retreat, home to around 5,000 different medicinal, edible or otherwise useful plants – including many of tropical origin.
Then, hail a taxi for the 15-minute journey to the Serpentine Galleries.
Since opening in 1970, the Serpentine Galleries have exhibited the work of over 2,200 contemporary artists and architects, from internationally renowned icons to emerging talents. Located in the heart of leafy Kensington Gardens, right next to the Serpentine River, the two exhibition spaces are easily accessible to those exploring central London.
To get to the Wallace Collection, take a 10-minute taxi journey, or walk for half an hour through Hyde Park.
The Wallace Collection
Based in a historic Marylebone townhouse, this fascinating and unusual museum exhibits a vast collection of objects across 25 galleries. Visitors can discover seminal paintings by Old Masters, an impressive ceramics collection, opulent French furniture and almost 2,500 pieces of European and Oriental armoury.
The final stop of the day is Keats House in Hampstead, just 20 minutes away from the Wallace Collection by taxi.
This beautiful Regency villa is where John Keats lived for 17 months, wrote some of his best-known poems and fell in love with his neighbour, Fanny Brawne. Now a museum and literary centre, Keats House exhibits books and paintings belonging to the poet, his original manuscripts and letters, and the engagement ring he gave to his fiancée.
To get back to the hotel, take a 20-minute taxi ride.
All journey times are approximate and subject to variation.