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The National Gallery houses more than 2,300 paintings dating between the mid-13th and early 20th centuries. The museum’s collection includes selections from every important artistic style, showcasing many masterpieces of each genre. Look for notable works by artists ranging from Caravaggio and Cezanne to Gainsborough and Michelangelo.
The British government purchased 38 paintings from Russian banker John Julius Angerstein in 1824 and established the National Gallery. Begin your exploration with a free tour map. Choose a themed tour or select a few paintings from the museum’s collection that you would most like to see.
Don’t miss the popular East Wing, which features works by a number of prominent 18th-century British artists. Among the most recognizable pieces here are Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
You’ll find works by Rubens, Rembrandt and Caravaggio in the gallery’s North Wing. Look for two self-portraits by Rembrandt painted at ages 34 and 63. Check out Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus, which depicts Christ blessing bread.
See works by Titian, Raphael, Correggio and Bronzino in the West Wing, which also includes Michelangelo’s unfinished but masterful The Entombment. Other interesting pieces throughout the gallery include a 17th-century peepshow/perspective box by Samuel van Hoogstraten, as well as Holbein’s The Ambassadors, which takes on proper perspective only when viewed from the side.
Be sure to explore the Sainsbury Wing, where you’ll find paintings dating between the 13th and 16th centuries. Check out Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait, in which a fish-eye mirror creates an unusual perspective of a couple holding hands. You’ll also see Piero della Francesca’s The Baptism of Christ, which uses imaginative light and foreshortening techniques.
The National Gallery is located on the north side of Trafalgar Square. The gallery is open daily and admission is free, although a donation is suggested. Get here by taking the Tube to Charing Cross Station. Plan your day to include coffee, lunch or dinner at one of the gallery’s three restaurants.
There's no place anywhere quite like National Gallery. So you can make the most of your visit, we've created a list of the top activities:
If you'd like even more activities, have a look at our London things to do page.
Located in London City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Covent Garden Market, Piccadilly Circus, and London Dungeon. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are also within 1 mi (2 km). Charing Cross Underground Station is 5 minutes by foot and Covent Garden Underground Station is 5 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is steps from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. St. Thomas' Hospital and Sea Life London Aquarium are also within 5 minutes. Waterloo Underground Station is only a 4-minute walk and Lambeth North Underground Station is 6 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tate Modern and Coca-Cola London Eye. The Shard and Big Ben are also within 1 mi (2 km). Southwark Underground Station is 8 minutes by foot and Blackfriars Underground Station is 8 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this boutique hotel is steps from Nelson's Column and The Strand. St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Trafalgar Square are also within 5 minutes. Charing Cross Underground Station and Embankment Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in London City Centre, this aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Imperial War Museum, Westminster Bridge, and Sea Life London Aquarium. Coca-Cola London Eye and Big Ben are also within 15 minutes. Lambeth North Underground Station is only a 2-minute walk and Waterloo Underground Station is 8 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Tower Bridge, Tower of London, and HMS Belfast. Tower Gateway Station is 6 minutes by foot and Tower Hill Station is 7 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Tate Britain and Houses of Parliament. Westminster Abbey and Big Ben are also within 15 minutes. Pimlico Underground Station is 10 minutes by foot and Westminster Underground Station is 13 minutes.
Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Oxford Street and Queens Theatre. Piccadilly and Leicester Square are also within 10 minutes. Tottenham Court Road Underground Station is 5 minutes by foot and Leicester Square Underground Station is 6 minutes.