Visitor's Guide to The National Gallery
On this page you find details on both permanent and temporary exhibitions and information on tour options and shops. There are practical details on how to get there, parking, ticket prices and opening times. There are also details on places to eat in the gallery and places to stay nearby.
What to expect at the National Gallery and what makes it special
The National Gallery building was constructed in 1831, after it was agreed by Parliament. This was following the purchase in 1824 of the private art collection of a wealthy banker, John Julius Angerstein. The government wanted to educate the people of London on fine art. The building finally opened in 1838. Since the beginning, the gallery has offered entrance free of charge. This teamed with its central location, ensures that it is a symbol of art for the people.
There are a range of different audio guides available at the National Gallery. This gives you the opportunity to see the gallery in a way that suits you and to find a logical route around the vast collection of paintings that are in the museum.
The following guides are available:
The Collections Tour: this is a way in which you can create your own tour, choosing between over 1200 paintings to learn about.
The 60 minute Tour: covers the highlights (including Van Gogh's Sunflowers) is a period of time that suits you.
Sounds of the Gallery: a conceptual tour, asking you to discover sounds in the paintings.
Manet to Picasso tour: a tour of the nineteenth century works that are at the gallery.
Art in the Making Tour: An interesting option for artists, allowing you to find out about the techniques used in some of the most important paintings.
Be Inspired Tour: Find out how paintings in the collection have inspired other areas of British life.
The Life of Christ Tour: See how Christ's life is depicted by different artists throughout the museum.
See the Official National Gallery Website Audio Tours page for more information on what language each tour is available in and how much each one costs.
There are three shops within the National Gallery. They offer souvenirs including jewellery, t-shirts, post cards, art books. There is a large collection of gifts for children, including pencils, rubbers and postcards.
In the National Gallery you will find over 2300 works of art. These include paintings by the likes of Velazquez, Turner and Van Gogh (Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting is housed here). The styles of paintings cover everything from Renaissance Italy to French impressionism.
The painting collections are split into the following categories:
- Thirteenth to Fifteenth Century
- Sixteenth Century
- Seventeenth Century
- Eighteenth to Early Twentieth Century
How to get there
The National Gallery is located on Trafalgar Square. The nearest tube stop is Leicester Square. On leaving Leicester Square tube station. Head left down Charing Cross Road. You arrive at Saint Martin's Place in less than two minutes. Carry on through Saint Marin's Place until you reach Trafalgar Square. You will see the National Gallery to your right.
The National Gallery is open at the following times:
Monday - Thursday: 10:00 - 18:00
Friday: 10:00 - 21:00
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
For the Operating hours of the places to eat in the National Gallery see the information below on places to eat in the National Gallery.
Ticket prices for the exhibitions
In general, entrance to the National Portrait Gallery is free. But if you want to see a temporary exhibition that is not part of the permanent collection you will need to buy a ticket. For more information on the prices for the different collections it is best to check the official National Gallery website (see link below).
Places to eat
There are three options for places to eat and drink in the National Gallery: an espresso bar for a quick drink or snack on the hop, the National Dining Rooms offering a more formal dining setting and the National Café for afternoon tea and brasserie style food.
National Dining Rooms
The National Dining Rooms restaurant is located on the ground floor of the National Gallery. It offers British cuisine and was designed by the famous restaurateur, Oliver Peyton. It is a good potion if you would like to enjoy a full dinner at an affordable price as there is a fixed price menu. This is also where you can get afternoon tea.
For details on how to book, menus and prices, see the National Gallery Website National Dining Rooms page.
Monday - Sunday: 10:00 - 17:00
Friday: 10:00 - 21:00
The National Café offers a cosy and laid back environment in which to enjoy treats such as eggs Benedict, porridge, French toast and sandwiched. There are cakes and pies from the popular company Peyton and Byrne. To see the full menu, check the National Gallery Website National Cafe page.
|January - December||Monday - Thursday||09:30 - 20:30|
|Friday||09:30 - 22:00|
|Saturday - Sunday||09:30 - 18:00|
A relaxed place to head for a coffee, cake or a light bite. For further details see the National Gallery Official Website Espresso Bar page.
Monday - Sunday: 10:00 - 17:45
The National Gallery
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 2885
Website: Official National Gallery Website
Closest tube stop
The nearest tube stop to the National Gallery is:
Tube: Leicester Square (Black Line / Northern Line and Blue Line / Piccadilly Line)
There is no car park directly at the National Gallery. However, there is orange/ blue badge holder parking (to get this you will need to call in advance on the following number.
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 2885
These are located on Orange Street.
There is a public car park on the corner of Whitcomb Street and Orange Street. The car park sits about 195 meters from the entrance to the National Gallery.
The National Gallery is a place where people from all walks of life can come to look at some of the world's best art without paying a penny. It is a large gallery containing no modern art, so if you are bringing youngsters it may help to hire an audio guide (see above) to keep them entertained. Before you embark on your tour of the gallery, pick up a guide and have a chat with the staff on the information desk, so that you have more knowledge of what is where (of course, you have find out where Van Gogh's Sunflowers is!).