Whether you’re a lifelong art aficionado or looking for ways to entertain the kids on your next holiday, you’ll find museums for every age and interest in the UK. While London boasts some world-renowned institutions, we’re here to shine a light on some of the other lesser known museums scattered across England and Wales. From the rolling hills of the Cotswolds to the historic city of Cardiff, read on to discover 10 of the best museums in the UK.
1. The Jorvik Viking Centre – York
Step back in time and discover England’s fierce history at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. This immersive museum transports you to the 10th century and offers a unique chance to experience the Viking-age city of Jorvik. Walk around reconstructed buildings, discover ancient archaeological relics and admire life-size dioramas. Costumed interpreters tie the experience together and offer a unique glimpse of the Viking world.
2. The Roman Baths – Bath
Set in the picturesque city of Bath, this UNESCO World Heritage Site protects more than 2000 years of history. The site is one of the best-preserved ancient bathhouses in the world and features walkways that allow you to explore areas like the Sacred Spring and Roman Temple on foot.
Next to the site is an engaging museum filled with treasures from Roman Britain. Minerva’s head, a gilt bronze sculpture dedicated to the goddess of healing, is the museum showpiece. Pair your visit with afternoon tea at the beautifully restored Pump Room Restaurant. Don’t miss the chance to try mineral-rich water from the fountain, which has been coveted for its therapeutic properties for millennia.
3. The Natural History Museum – London
Okay, we said no London. But no roundup of the best museums in UK towns and cities would be complete without a nod to the Natural History Museum in the capital. From the towering Diplodocus skeleton in the main hall to the shimmering rocks, minerals, gemstones and geodes in the geology halls, the famous museum delights science enthusiasts of all ages.
4. The Ashmolean Museum – Oxford
Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum is one of the first public museums in the UK. It was founded in the 1600s and stands proudly on Beaumont Street, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Inside you can discover an extensive art and archaeology collection, ranging from Egyptian mummies to European masterpieces. The museum’s rooftop restaurant commands sweeping views over the Oxford skyline.
5. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – Great Missenden
For a family-friendly day out, head to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire, the hometown of beloved British author. The museum celebrates the life and legacy of Roald Dahl with interactive exhibits inspired by classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
6. The Big Pit National Coal Museum – Blaenavon, Wales
Descend deep underground at The Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, Wales. The former coal mine is reimagined as a unique attraction, complete with guided tours led by ex-miners. If you’re interested in the industrial heritage of Wales, it’s easily amongst the best museums in the UK.
Looking for more museum-hopping inspiration in Wales? Set in the grounds of a centuries-old castle, the St Fagans National Museum of History takes a deep dive into the Welsh narrative. It’s located in a village just outside Cardiff, making it a great way to break up a day of city sightseeing in the Welsh capital. The open-air style of this museum means it’s best visited in the sunshine.
7. The Imperial War Museum North – Manchester
Located in Manchester, the Imperial War Museum North is an architectural marvel designed by acclaimed Polish-American architect, Daniel Libeskind. Clad in gleaming aluminium and set on the waterfront, it’s impossible to miss. Thought-provoking exhibits explore how conflicts like WWI have affected society over the years.
8. The Royal Pavilion – Brighton
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is a true feast for the eyes. The former royal pleasure palace combines an eclectic mix of architectural and interior décor styles, drawing inspiration from Europe, India, China and beyond. The result is incredible and dazzles kids and adults alike. Speaking of little ones, there’s plenty to keep younger visitors entertained at the Royal Pavilion, whether it’s exploring the lavish rooms, running around the Regency-style gardens or taking part in hands-on workshops, activities and storytelling sessions.
9. The Royal Cornwall Museum – Truro
Lip-smacking cream teas aren’t the only draw in Cornwall. The region also boasts some fantastic cultural attractions, including the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. A celebration of Cornish history and culture, the museum showcases everything from fine art at ancient relics. It’s the perfect addition to any Cornish getaway.
10.Cotswold Motoring Museum – Bourton-on-the-Water
Tucked away in the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water, the Cotswold Motoring Museum is a paradise for petrol heads. Learn about the evolution of British motoring history and admire an impressive collection of vintage cars, including icons like the Mini Cooper. Interactive exhibits and plenty of hands-on activities make this museum a top pick for families. While you’re in the area, be sure to treat yourself to Cotswold treats like Gloucester Old Spot pork, Stinking Bishop cheese and lashings of Tewkesbury mustard.
Plan your museum-hopping adventure with kate & tom’s
Whether you’re dreaming of a seaside escape to Sussex or an adventure-packed trip to Wales, accommodation plays an important role in your holiday experience. At kate & tom’s, we specialise in luxurious holiday rentals in regions across the UK, making it easy to plan your museum-hopping adventure.
From stately mansions in Cornwall to elegant country estates near Bath, we have stunning options near all the best museums in the UK. Once you’re done marvelling at motors or embarking on Viking venture, you can retreat to the ultimate base with luxury facilities. We’re talking about spacious living areas, swimming pools, cinema rooms – everything you want and need.
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