London's most visited tourist attractions revealed - including British Museum and Natural History Museum

An aerial view of the British Museum on September 21 2008 in London.  An aerial view of the British Museum on September 21 2008 in London.
An aerial view of the British Museum on September 21 2008 in London. | Getty Images
The British Museum in London topped the country's list for the first time since before the pandemic.

The British Museum saw vistor numbers rise by 42% in 2023, according to new data.

Marking English Tourism Week, The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has released figures for last year, with the central London museum the most popular attraction in the country.

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The British Museum enjoyed 5,820,860 visits and the 42% increase on 2022 it put down in part to the success of the China’s Hidden Century exhibition, which ran from May to October. The attraction has not been the country's most visited since 2019, and in 2022 it ranked third.

The total number of visits to ALVA sites in 2023 was 146.6 million, which was a 19% increase on the previous year but still 11% down on pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

The Natural History Museum, the top attraction in 2022, came second in 2023, with 5,688,786 visitors, followed by the Crown Estate at Windsor Great Park (5,487,856) and the Tate Modern (4,742,038).

Bernard Donoghue OBE, director of ALVA, said: “Our members are not yet back to hosting the same number of visitors that they did in 2019, but they are really delighted that even in a challenging cost-of-living climate visitors are still prioritising spending special time with special people at special places.

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“Whilst the extension of tax relief for museums, theatres and galleries was a very welcome announcement in the recent Budget, there was a missed opportunity to reintroduce tax free shopping for overseas visitors, which would have improved the UK's international competitiveness, and reduce VAT for tourism and hospitality which would have helped businesses repair their balance sheets.”

An aerial view of the British Museum on September 21 2008 in London.  An aerial view of the British Museum on September 21 2008 in London.
An aerial view of the British Museum on September 21 2008 in London. | Getty Images

Top 10 most visited

Here are the top 10 most visited attractions in the country in 2023:

  1. The British Museum (5,820,860)
  2. Natural History Museum (5,688,786)
  3. The Crown Estate, Windsor Great Park (5,487,856)
  4. Tate Modern (4,742,038)
  5. Southbank Centre (3,193,966)
  6. V&A South Kensington (3,110,000)
  7. The National Gallery (3,096,508)
  8. Science Museum (2,956,886)
  9. Tower of London (2,790,280)

Visit London

Laura Citron, CEO of Visit London, said: “2023 was a big year for London’s tourism sector, with attractions across the city reporting almost a quarter increase in visitors. Alongside the increase, we saw big milestone reopenings like the Young V&A and the iconic National Portrait Gallery, showing that London is truly back with a bang.

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"The city has transformed its attractions offer in the past few years, with one-of-a-kind experiences like ABBA Voyage, digital art gallery Frameless and Monopoly Lifesized. And there’s more to come in 2024, with the Moco Museum set to arrive in the West End this summer. Plus, the new V&A Museum and Storehouse open next year at East Bank in East London, as well as Shoreditch’s Museum of Shakespeare, also in 2025.

"Our research shows that experiences are a key reason why visitors come to London. That’s why our Visitor Experience strategy prioritises building London’s offer of more innovative experiences to ensure that there is something for all visitors to enjoy.”

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