National Portrait Gallery

Price guide: Free

St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Price guide: Free

National Portrait Gallery - Room 2
Save money and beat the queues by booking attractions, tours and things...

By Nigel Tisdall, your London expert

I write for Marie Claire, The Daily .... Read more
#5 of 30
expert-rated things to do in London
Expert overall rating:4.6 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Couples, Culture vultures, Families with teenagers, Mature travellers, Singles, Art, Celebrity spotting, Design and architecture

Best for Romance - Expert review of National Portrait Gallery

A lively and switched-on art gallery full of familiar faces.

Opened in 1896 to exhibit portraits of famous British men and women, this most welcoming of galleries has a deservedly popular reputation. There is plenty to see across its three levels where celebrities from the 16th century onwards are exhibited in chronological steps starting at the top with the early Tudors. It's interesting how some people don't look how you thought they would  - such as the visionary writer William Blake (level 2, room 18) - and to note the way modern artists now hold such wide and stimulating views on how a portrait can be created. While it's easy to get waylaid by the formal busts and stiff-faced paintings on the upper floors, make sure you save some time for the Contemporaries galleries at ground level, where you can see who's recently made it into this elite club. Forget Madame Tussauds - the NPG doesn't cost a penny to enter and it's just as much fun.

Price advice: 

Admission is free, charges apply to some special exhibitions. Audioguides cost £3.

Expert tips: 
Take advantage of the gallery's late opening on Thursday and Friday when you can enjoy talks, tours and live music.
On the third floor, the Portrait Restaurant (020 7312 2490) has enjoyable roof-top views towards Trafalgar Square.

More information on National Portrait Gallery:

Price guide:
Art gallery, Museum
St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE
020 7306 055
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
Mon-Wed, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm, Thu-Fri 10am-9pm.

Have you been to National Portrait Gallery? Would you recommended it?