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The Natural History Museum is very popular and often gets overcrowded.
The UK school holidays is the worst period to visit, especially half-terms. The waiting time can easily exceed an hour.
Weekends, the months of April and August are also to be avoided.
The entrance line usually moves fast (the entry is free, you don’t need to buy a ticket) though there can be an impressively long queue. Its average waiting time is about 30-45 minutes during the holidays, and about 15-25 minutes in off-peak season.
As the Dinosaurs part of the museum is far beyond the others in terms of popularity, it often gets too busy, and the number of visitors may be limited. That creates a separate waiting line inside to see the Dinosaurs, which can also take up to an hour on busy days! During peak periods the museum offers the possibility to book the entrance time for the Dinosaurs on the official website, this will guarantee a wait-free access to this part but will not let you skip the entrance queue!
However, with a pre-booked ticket for one of the temporary exhibitions you have priority access and will not need to wait in line outside. Worth checking before going!
The best way to skip the crowds is to arrive early, at the opening time (or even 15 minutes before). When the museum opens its doors - the line often looks quite long, but it gets inside quickly and spreads over different rooms and sections, so the first working hours are the best ones. Besides, there’s no waiting for the Dinosaurs in the early morning, it usually starts after about 12:00. The whole museum generally gets packed by noon. Another option is coming after 15:00-16:00, usually the queue gets smaller, though the museum can still be overcrowded! Coming at 13:00 is the worst option, as the lines are usually the longest.
Weekdays are better, particularly Wednesday and Thursday. You should know there could be lots of school groups in the Natural History Museum during the week, so try to be flexible on your itinerary inside the museum and change it if crossed with a loud group doing their visit with a similar path. You can also try coming either in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid school groups.
If you arrive at the opening time - go straight to the dinosaurs to see them before the crowds arrive.
Photo credits to Paul Albertella via Flickr
The Cromwell Road entrance leads to Dinosaurs, Creepy Crawlies, the Blue Whale, the Darwin Centre and the Wildlife Garden.
The Exhibition Road entrance is closer to Volcanoes and Earthquakes and the giant Earth model. This entrance is step-free.
While the Cromwell Road entrance is considered the main one, and often preferred by those who want to start their visit with the Dinosaurs, it is usually more crowded than the Exhibition Road entrance. Use the second entrance, as in the worst case the wait will be the same, but generally it takes half the time to enter the museum!
Check the waiting time
On busy days and holiday periods the Natural History Museum updates information about queues and waiting times on its special Twitter account. Check it on the day of your visit!
Check the after hours events, including evening gallery tours, night safari, late Fridays (extended hours, with snacks and drinks available - every last Friday of the month, excluding December) and even sleep-overs in the Natural History Museum! That’s a great option to enjoy the museum’s exhibits without crowds.
Photo credits to Son of Groucho via Flickr
By tube: South Kensington station.
By bus: lines 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430 and C1.
Photo credits to Umberto Rotundo via Flickr