Best Museums in North London – Arts, Culture and Spitfires

Most of us know about and absolutely love the museums of South Kensington, art galleries of Mayfair and theatres in the West End, but that’s not all there is North of the river. There are plenty of lesser known, but equally cool cultural highlights that are off the beaten track for tourists. Read on for our guide to North London’s best museums and art galleries.

What are the most popular museums of North London?

A dense cluster of world-class museums in North London are often overlooked by Londoners — when it’s on your doorstep, it’s so easy to take for granted. When looking for a culture boost in London, do not miss the best museums in the North:

  • Keats House
  • Jewish Museum
  • Sherlock Holmes Museum
  • Markfield Beam Engine Museum
  • Freud Museum London
  • Royal Air Force Museum
  • London Canal Museum

Keats House

Keats House Hampstead was the home of John Keats from December 1818 until he left for Rome in August 1820. Built circa 1815 and originally named Wentworth Place, the house reflected the gradual sub-urbanisation of Hampstead village. Discover the beauty of poetry and place in the home of the Romantic poet John Keats, now a museum and literary centre.
You can now explore the life and work of Keats through new exhibits of his original manuscripts and artefacts which tell the story of how the young poet found inspiration, friendship, and love in this stunning Regency villa.
The house comes alive with special events throughout the year, from poetry performances to family fun days. There’s always something to do in the house whenever you visit – listen to Keats’ world-famous poetry, watch a film about his busy life in Hampstead, or create your own poem.

Admission prices
Adults: £7.50
Concessions (seniors, students and jobseekers): £4.50
Community ticket (residents of LB Camden and City of London): £2.00
Children / 18 and under: free
National Trust Members: £3.75
National Art Pass holders: free

Jewish Museum London

The Jewish Museum was founded in 1932 by Professor Cecil Roth, Alfred Ru-bens and Wilfred Samuel. Originally located in Woburn House in Bloomsbury, it moved to an elegant early Victorian listed building in Camden Town in 1994.
Uncover the history, culture and identity of British Judaism at the Jewish Mu-seum London, less than a five-minute walk from Camden Town station and near Regent’s Park and London Zoo. Visitors can learn about the Holocaust, discover a range of historical artefacts and explore the Jewish experience in Britain since 1066.

Admission prices
Adult £7.50
Concession – 60+ yrs, student, unemployed, disabled £5.50
Children 5-16 yrs (under 5’s are free) £3.50
Family (up to 2 adults and 4 children) £18.00
Carers, Friends of Jewish Museum, National Art Pass, London Pass and Museum Association – Free of charge

Opening Hours
Monday 10am – 5pm
Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 5pm
Friday 10am – 2pm
Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 10am – 5pm

Sherlock Holmes Museum

The World famous fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes lived at 221b Baker Street between 1881-1904, in the stories written by Sir Arthur Co-nan Doyle. According to the stories Mr Holmes shared his rooms with his loy-al friend and colleague Dr Watson. The house is protected by the govern-ment due to its “special architectural and historical interest” and the 1st floor study overlooking Baker Street is faithfully maintained for posterity, just as it was kept by Mrs Hudson in Victorian times. Step back in time and visit The World’s Most Famous Address – 221b Baker Street – the Official Home of Sherlock Holmes!

Open daily 9 am to 6 pm (last admission 5:30)
Admission: Adults £15, Kids (under 16) £10

Markfield Beam Engine and Museum

The Markfield Beam Engine and Museum features a Grade 2 listed engine hall housing a restored, working steam-powered beam engine dating from 1888 – a masterpiece of Victorian engineering and an example of industrial heritage of social and engineering importance. This remarkable engine was built by Wood Brothers, of Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire, between 1886 and 1888. It saw continuous duty from that time to around 1905, when it was relegated to standby duty for storm water pumping.
The engine is a rotary beam engine believed to be the last engine produced by Wood Bros., and the only surviving eight column engine in situ. The twin cylinders are capable of being harnessed in serial or compound modes and have an advanced ‘cut-off’ valve gear.
The building is set in Markfield Park, in the grounds of the former Tottenham Sewage Works which provided a vital public health facility serving this north London area from the 1850’s to 1964.

Opening hours

November to February – 2nd Sunday of each month
March to October – 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month
Opening hours: 11am to 5pm
Admission free

Freud Museum London

(Freudian) slip on some shoes and head to Finchley, where Sigmund Freud, pioneer of psychoanalysis, and his family had their home from 1938 until the 1980s. The Freud Museum London, just a short walk from Finchley Road station, contains Sigmund’s psychoanalytic couch, as well as a range of an-tiques and books.

Adults: £10.00
Concessions: £8.00
Young Persons (12-16): £5.00
Children under 12: Free

Opening hours
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 12:00 – 17:00
Thursday: 12:00 – 17:00
Friday: 12:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 12:00 – 17:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 17:00

Royal Air Force Museum

Drop by the RAF Museum, just over a ten-minute walk from Colindale station, and give that aviation knowledge some lift. Real aircraft and interactive exhibits teach visitors about the history of the Royal Air Force, whose victory over the German Luftwaffe in the Second World War’s aerial Battle of Britain (1940-41) was paramount in preventing an invasion of the British Isles by sea.
Discover the second site of the Royal Air Force in Cosford in Shropshire. Both places are free to enter and offer a great day out for all. Explore the fascinating story of the Royal Air Force and of the thousands of ordinary Servicemen and women who have served in it and whose invaluable contribution has shaped the world that we live in today.
There are 100s of reasons to visit. Highlights include:

  • Three new innovative galleries explore the first 100 years of the Royal Air Force, its roles today and invite you to imagine its future contribution and technology
  • Perfect for picnicking – a new open, grassed landscape reflects the heritage of our site as The London Aerodrome and RAF Hendon
  • A new themed outdoor play area for under 11’s
  • A packed programme of family activities and events for all ages.
  • Opening hours: London 10:00am – 5:00pm, Cosford 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Admission free

London Canal Museum

At the London Canal Museum you can see inside a narrowboat cabin, learn about the history of London’s canals, about the cargoes carried, the people who lived and worked on the waterways, and the horses that pulled their boats. Peer down into the unique heritage of a huge Victorian ice well used to store ice imported from Norway and brought by ship and canal boat to be stored. This unique waterway museum is housed in a former ice ware-house built in about 1862-63 for Carlo Gatti, the famous ice cream maker, and features the history of the ice trade and ice cream as well as the canals.
There are two themes in this unusual London museum. London’s canals have a fascinating past and you will learn not only how they came to be built but about the lives of the workers, the cargoes, horses and how canals work. They are a waterways museum first and foremost, but also an industrial museum telling the story of the ice industry in London. It is the only London museum of inland waterways and is situated at King’s Cross, an accessible central location. It is suitable for adults and children and it is fully accessible to all visitors.
Opening hours from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 16:30 and until 19:30 on the first Thursday of each month.

Cultural Days out near Regents’ Park

Go west from the Wellcome Collection and you’ll brush the south side of Regent’s Park. During the summer months, the Open Air Theatre is a magical way to spend an evening. Surrounded by tree tops and fairy lights, the programme tends to-wards the classics with the season usually hosting at least one Shakespeare play. A museum dedicated to Sherlock Holmes sits southwest of the park at 221B Baker Street — a big hit with tourists but often forgotten by Londoners. A snoop around the house is worth it if you’re a fan, but make sure you always book in advance where possible during the peak tourist seasons.

The best Art Galleries in North London

Royal Academy of Arts

For 250 years, Britain’s first art school has been a hotbed of artistic talent. You name them, they were an Academician. But the Royal Academy’s also got serious pedigree when it comes to putting on big shows, like a couple of year’s ago 2016’s totally incredible ‘Abstract Expressionism’ show. Now, it’s got a big old extension, including its first free permanent collection display – and it’s just as important as it’s ever been.

Wallace Collection

Forget all that fancy modern art with its highfalutin conceptualism and performance shenanigans. Sometimes you just need a nice old painting of a lady on a swing. The Wallace Collection has a great one – by Fragonard – alongside tons of other lovely old paintings in its swanky townhouse just off Oxford Street.

Camden Arts Centre

Way up on Finchley Road, Camden Arts Centre has been quietly ploughing its own artistic furrow since 1965 (it was Hampstead Central Library before that). It used to provide arts and crafts classes to the local community; now it’s North London’s go-to for contemporary art by the likes of Haroon Mirza, Eva Hesse and Doris Salcedo.

The Photographers’ Gallery

Six storeys of nothing but photography: this Soho gallery is heaven for art fans who’ve had enough of paintings and sculptures, and want a bit of real-ity in their culture. Its programming is forward-thinking, its exhibitions are great, and there’s nowhere else like it in town.

Best museums for kids in North London

London Transport Museum

A visit to the London Transport Museum became even more fun recently with the opening of the All Aboard family play zone, easily putting it into the list of the best London museums for children. Children up to 7 can repair a mini Tube train, fly a cable car and sit in the driver’s seat of a bus. There are lots of activities for older children too as there’s lots of real buses and trains to play on, historical outfits to dress up in and the chance to drive Tube train simulators.
The museum tells the history of London and its transport and you’ll see everything from rowing boats and paddle steamers to double decker buses, horse-drawn carriages and electric trams. There are activities in the Family Station at weekends and holidays.
Opening hours: every day from 10:00 to 18:00 (last entry 17:15)
Top tip: If you are looking for a quieter time to visit, we recommend visiting the Museum in the afternoon.

General admission
Adult £18 (door) £16.50 (online)
Concession £17 (door) £15.50 (online)
Children and young people 17 and under Free
TfL staff and nominees (with blue or green passes) Free
British Military personnel £13

Royal Air Force Museum

Can you imagine what it’s like to take part in a World War I dogfight or ride in a tornado jet? At the Royal Air Force Museum you can do just that on one of their amazing flight simulators. In the children’s interactive science gallery you can take the controls of a helicopter and test your reaction times and vision to see if you could become a pilot.
The museum is a must-see for any child who dreams of flying as it houses over 100 historic aircraft including Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters as well as the English Electric Lightning, the first British plane to reach twice the speed of sound, and the incredible Eurofighter Typhoon.

Planning to stay in North London?

Danubius Hotel Regents Park is a central London hotel with a difference. Located minutes from iconic London landmarks such as Lord’s Cricket Ground or the romantic Regent’s Park with Primrose Hill and London Zoo. Conveniently located a casual 10-minute walk from St John’s Wood and Baker Street tube stations, this four-star London hotel offers easy access to all the West End attractions as well as Central London.

Pavilion Grill at Danubius Hotel Regent’s Park


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