National Gallery

One of the most relevant museums in London, the National Gallery, holds hundreds of major masterpieces of western painting.

The National Gallery is an art museum located in Central London’s Trafalgar Square. As opposed to other famous museums in London, the gallery focuses solely on western paintings and doesn’t hold any sculptures or other artistic media. Despite its highly specialised area of interest, the National Gallery is famous for the encyclopedic reach of its collections, which feature several important pieces by artists considered to be the masters of European art.

National Gallery in London
The National Gallery overlook’s London’s Trafalgar Square.

The National Gallery belongs to the government on behalf of the British public and was formed with the purchase of 38 paintings from a private collection in 1824. Since then, the National Gallery and its character have been shaped by the numerous private donations, that now make up the majority of the museum’s holdings.

Shortly after the purchase, the collections were placed in a former townhouse and opened to the public. However, this initial building soon proved inadequate to house the growing collection and the increasing number of daily visitors. In 1832 construction work for a new building was started, and in 1838 the collection could finally be moved to its new location.

Considering the museum’s fame, you might find it surprising that the National Gallery is not actually that big, especially when compared to other major London galleries and museums, like the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, or the Tate.

The National Gallery’s permanent collection holds about 2,300 paintings, focusing mostly on European works from the mid-13th century to the beginning of the 20th century. However, the quality, scope, and fame of the great majority of these pieces are unparalleled by other museums of the same size. The museum’s displays represent almost all major movements in Western painting.

To walk the entire National Gallery and see all the paintings, you will need about 2 or 3 hours. However, if you are visiting any of the temporary exhibits or if you are a particularly enthusiastic art lover, you might want to allow more time.


Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

The National Gallery is located just north of the River Thames, overlooking Trafalgar Square from its northern side. Nestled between Covent Garden and St. James’s, the gallery is in one of London’s most central and busiest areas.

Just behind the National Gallery is also the National Portrait Gallery, another major London museum. The museum is not far from several important landmarks, like Leicester Square, to its north, Piccadilly Circus (northeast) and Charing Cross station (just west of it).

Tickets and price

The National Gallery in London is free to enter. The museum advises its visitors to book their entries in advance, as the number of visitors per day is limited due to safety reasons. You can book your free National Gallery tickets on the museum’s website .


The National Gallery in London is open every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, except for Fridays, when it stays open until 9:00 pm. The National Gallery is only closed on the 24th-26th of December and on the 1st of January.

Day Opening time Closure
Mon-Sun 10:00 am 6:00 pm
Fri 10:00 am 9:00 pm


If you are taking the Underground, the closest stop to the National Gallery is Charing Cross, where the Bakerloo and Northern lines stop. On the Piccadilly line, the closest stop is Leicester Square (which is also on the Northern line), just a few minutes down the street from the National Gallery.

As for buses, lines 24, 29, and 176 all have stops in Trafalgar Square, right in front of the National Gallery. If none of these lines works for you, routes 11, 14, 87, 91, and 139 are also good options with nearby stops.

You can find a summary of the public transport options in the table below.

Method Underground Bus
Lines Bakerloo, Northern, Piccadilly 11, 14, 24, 29, 87, 91, 139, 176
Stops Charing Cross, Leicester Square -

It’s also possible to catch a cab to the National Gallery, but we don’t recommend it, considering heavy traffic in central London and high taxi fares.

Nearby sights

National Portrait Gallery - attached to the National Gallery.

Trafalgar Square - right in front of the National Gallery.

Leicester Square - just behind the National Gallery.

Chinatown - 400 m (0.3 miles) north, 5-minute walk.

Piccadilly Circus - 500 m (0.3 miles) west, 7-minute walk.

Covent Garden - 550 m (0.3 miles) northeast, 7-minute walk.

London Transport Museum - 700 m (0.4 miles) east, 9-minute walk.

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National Gallery