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Saturdays are much busier than Sundays, prefer Sunday for the visit if you’re coming on a weekend.
During weekdays there are less people, though school groups are more common than on weekends.
Peak hours are in the morning, from 10am to 3pm. Come later in the afternoon, during the lunchtime or during Friday night.
Tuesday is the best day to visit, with a smaller number of visitors in general during the week. Monday and Wednesday are also good options to consider, as well as Friday night, when the museum has extended opening hours.
There is no real waiting line issue, the museum is free so you won’t need to queue to buy a ticket, but since it’s very popular there tend to be big crowds inside, especially in front of the main exhibits.
Avoid the UK school holiday periods, the British Museum is way more crowded at this time.
You can spread your visit over a series of mornings, or leave the Museum when crowds start to arrive and come back later in the day.
The entrance is free but donations can be given.
There are always less people inside on a sunny day compared to when it’s raining.
Some exhibitions at the British Museum tend to attract tons of visitors, check the current and upcoming ones in order to avoid visiting the museum on their opening and closing weeks.
The museum is closed on Good Friday.
Photo credits to Nic McPhee via Flickr
Plan your visit
There’s a number of very popular objects in the museum that attract crowds at all times:
- The Rosetta Stone (room 4)
- The Parthenon Sculptures (room 18)
- The Ancient Egypt collection, with its mummies (rooms 62-63)
- The “Living and Dying” gallery with an Easter Island statue (room 24)
- The Portland Vase (room 70)
- The Lewis Chessmen (room 40)
At the same time some galleries tend to be almost empty even during peak hours, like the Japanese or the Prints and Drawings Galleries.
Keep this in mind to prepare your visit: if you arrive at the opening time - see the big sights first, then explore the galleries that interest you more than others and head to the lesser-known ones when the British Museum becomes overcrowded. If you arrive in the afternoon - leave the big sights for the end of your visit when there will be less people.
Guided tours take place during different time slots, you can join the Highlights tour (on Friday and weekends) information is given on the most exciting parts of the museum in 90 minutes (book it here or free daily eye-opener tours that take place in different rooms during the day (check the timetable here).
Private guided tours can be booked here (around 2h, 23€).
Photo credits to insunlight via Flickr
Tips for a few days in London
This page will give you many tips to avoid crowds in London as well as crowd schedules for top tourist attractions in order to plan your visits.
Tottenham Court Road (500m)
Russell Square (800m)
Goodge Street (800m)
lines 1, 7, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242 (New Oxford Street stop)
lines 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390 (Stop northbound on Tottenham Court Road, southbound on Gower Street)
lines 59, 68, X68, 91, 168, 188 (Stop on Southampton Row)
The nearest car park to the Museum is located at Bloomsbury Square, WC1A 2RJ.
Photo credits to Wikipedia Commons