The Natural History Museum is a real London highlight and you won’t want to miss it if you’re in town. To help make the most of your time in the city, I’ve pulled together our top tips for visiting Natural History Museum London so that you can get around all the best bits efficiently and stress-free.
The National History Museum is home to a fantastic range of world famous historical exhibits. From Dinosaurs to Volcanos, to Human Evolution, here you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy!
10 Top Tips For Visiting Natural History Museum London
There is absolutely tonnes of things to see at the museum. As a family our favourite exhibits are;
Blue Zone: Dinosaurs, Human Biology and Mammals
Green Zone: Investigate and Creepy Crawlies
Red Zone: Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Human Evolution
There’s plenty more to see beyond this but I’d recommend reviewing these areas first.
Top Tip 1: Visit off peak and arrive for opening
The first of our top tips for visiting the Natural History Museum London is to try and choose a quieter time to visit.
The quietest time to visit is usually term time midweek, despite school trips. Fridays can be pretty busy too so best avoided if you can.
If you need to visiting during weekends or school holidays then arrive a little before the museum opens to avoid the crowds. Alternatively, you can visit later on in the afternoon for the hours before closing time.
Top Tip 2: Use the Exhibition Street entrance
The queue here at the side entrance always moves quicker than the Cromwell Street main entrance. Exhibition Street also doesn’t have steps so is perfect for those with buggies and wheelchairs.
Top Tip 3: Head to the Dinosaurs First
The world famous Dinosaurs exhibit at NHM London is an absolute must see. As a result it’s usually the busiest area of the museum so its advisable to get there early.
Top Tip 4: Pass through the T-Rex quickly if you’re with young or sensitive visitors
The roaring life size T-Rex is the first exhibit you’ll pass through in the Dinosaurs exhibitions. Whilst it has a “wow” factor for some kids, it can be pretty scary for others.
The first time we visited, I didn’t realise quite how big/loud/frightening he was going to be for my 2 year old.
He was so scared by him – despite absolutely loving dinosaurs! – that any dinosaur skull or picture he saw for the rest of the day resulted in fearful tears.
I’d hate for anyone else to fall into this parenting faux pas!
Top Tip 5: If you have toddlers, use the free cloakroom storage
Great news! Children under three can leave items in the museum cloakroom for free.
You can also leave a pushchair here free of charge but it does need to be folded down.
Top Tip 6: Come prepared for queues
Unfortunately sometimes the museum is particularly busy and you may need to queue for certain exhibits.
If you do find yourselves queuing, Dippy’s Naturenauts game or the online Dinosaur quiz (both available on the Natural History Museum website) are great waiting-in-line-boredom-busters for kids.
Head to the Naturenauts section of the Natural History Museums website to access all this great free content.
Top Tip 7: Download the Museum Map before you visit
It’s worth downloading the museum map to your phone so you can easily navigate yourself around. If you don’t do this, you may have to pay for a paper map onsite.
You can download the museum map here.
Top Tip 8: Don’t miss Investigate!
This spot is tucked away in the museum basement and very easy to miss. It’s perfect for school age children, allowing budding scientist to get hands-on with hundreds of museum exhibits such as fossils, shells, bones and bugs!
The science educators are always on hand to help kids choose artefacts, operate the microscopes and help answer questions. It’s a popular family attraction and so opens for extended hours during weekends and school holidays. Arrive at 11am for opening to beat the queues (Opens at 4pm midweek).
Top Tip 9: Allow (at least) half a day to visit
Of course, you can wizz through a few exhibits in an hour or two. BUT chances are you won’t get to see and experience all the things you want to.
It’s not somewhere you need to be all day but allowing half a day should ensure you get around the best bits. You could use the other half of the day to visit the Science Museum which is just next door.
Top Tip 10: Visit the cursed Amethyst!
Since 2007, the curst amethyst has sat in The Vault of the Natural History Museum.
It’s believed that the Cursed Amethyst was stolen from an Indian temple in 1857 and passed through several unfortunate hands before being owned by Edward Heron-Allen whose daughter donated it to the museum after his death. During the time Heron-Allen owned the gem he had it kept in a bank vault within seven locked boxes. You can read the full story and history here.
I hope you found our top tips for visiting the Natural History Museum London useful! Please share your experience of the museum or any questions you have about visiting in our comments box below.
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