Visit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square has stood where the royal stables once were since the mid-19th century. London's famous square is adorned with a column commemorating the English victory over the French at Trafalgar in 1805. One side of the square is bordered by the National Gallery, a major painting museum with both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. It's a must-see in the British capital. Every year, it welcomes almost 6 million visitors, making it one of the most visited museums in the world. It exhibits world-famous paintings, including Velázquez's Venus in the Mirror, Brueghel's Adoration of the Magi and Van Eyck's Arnolfini. So if you want to admire paintings by Botticelli or Van Gogh, this is the place to go! We tell you all about the National Gallery in London...

© Andriy Kravchenko / 123RF

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The history of the National Gallery

While most of Europe's great museums have built up their collections by nationalising an existing lot of royal or princely art, this is not the case with London's National Gallery. It was created in 1824 when the UK government purchased 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein, an insurance broker and patron of the arts.

The Sackler Room at the National Gallery.

- © Chakrit Yenti / Shutterstock

The museum was then shaped by its first directors and by private donations, which today account for around two-thirds of the works. This is one of the reasons why the National Gallery's collection is still smaller than that of its European counterparts, with just 2,300 objects in its possession (compared with almost 500,000 for the Louvre).

What to see at the National Gallery

Despite its small collection, the National Gallery in London has nothing to envy the world's greatest museums, as its works are encyclopaedic in scope, rich in diversity of provenance and period. The main collection, which covers almost 700 years of art history from the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century, is free to visit.

Book your ticket for the National Gallery! London

Book your ticket for the National Gallery!

Immerse yourself in over 700 years of art history with a visit to one of London's most important museums.
£9 / person

Here you can admire some of the world's finest paintings, including works by the British painters Turner and Gainsborough, as well as the great French painters Paul Cézanne, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. There are also paintings from all over the world, including Gustav Klimt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Diego Velázquez and Leonardo da Vinci.

Des œuvres exposées dans la National Gallery.

- © Alex Segre / Shutterstock

If, unfortunately, you are unable to visit the National Gallery in person to admire its superb collection, you can also visit the museum in virtual reality. You can study the works of art and the unique architecture of this London landmark directly from your computer or phone.

But if you do get the chance to go there, don't hesitate for a second - there's no substitute for a real visit. It will also give you a taste of the effervescent atmosphere that reigns in Trafalgar Square. Known primarily as a place for social interaction and freedom of expression, it is very dear to the hearts of the British people.

Our favourite hotel near Trafalgar Square

Club Quarters Hotel Trafalgar Square 4* - London London

Club Quarters Hotel Trafalgar Square 4* - London

This 4-star hotel with bar and restaurant is just a stone's throw from Trafalgar Square, right in the centre of London!
£203 / night

Practical information for the National Gallery

The National Gallery in London is one of the most famous museums in the world, so don't miss it on your trip to England! Allow half a day's visit to have time to have a good look around, so it's perfect to occupy a rainy day (which is quite common in the region).

🚌 How do I get to Trafalgar Square?

London's nerve centre, Trafalgar Square is well served by public transport:

  • Charing Cross station: Northern (black) and Bakerloo (brown) lines.
  • Leicester Square station: Northern and Piccadilly lines (dark blue)
  • Embankment station: Bakerloo, Circle (red), District (green) and Northern lines
  • Piccadilly Circus station: Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines

Buses 3, 6, 12, 23, 88, 139, 159, 453, N3, N109, N113 and N136 also stop at Trafalgar Square.

👉 Hop-on hop-off buses also pass through Trafalgar Square.

La National Gallery sur Trafalgar Square.

- © FenlioQ / Shutterstock

⏰ National Gallery opening times

The National Gallery in London is open every day from 10am to 9pm. However, the museum is closed from 24 to 26 December and on 1 January.

👛 Prices of the National Gallery

Access to the collections of the National Gallery in London is completely free! To avoid queuing and save time, you can book your ticket online on the National Gallery's official website.

A few tips for your visit

  • The National Gallery is one of the most visited museums in the world! Book your ticket in advance to avoid the crowds.
  • Free Wi-Fi is available.
  • Click here to consult the virtual map of the National Gallery in London.
  • Cafés and restaurants are available within the museum.
  • Changing rooms cost £2 per item and pushchairs are permitted.
  • Photographs are generally permitted, although a sign indicates when this is not the case.
  • The National Gallery is fully accessible to PRMs.
by Jude JONES
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