Attraction Reviews,  Things to Do

London Science Museum Review: Nerdy or Nifty?

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I generally don’t consider myself a museum person, but I make exceptions for one type of museum: The Science Museum! (Imagine that in the voice of Bill Nye!) Science Museums are delightful because they involve topics I’m curious about and are almost always quite interactive and intriguing.

I’ve been to various science museums all over the world – from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California, to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Each one – despite covering the same basic concepts – is unique and interesting to me – and of course, the London Science Museum fits that bill.

London Science Museum Review Hero

Located in the heart of London’s best museum district, the Science Museum is well worth a visit if you love science (and science museums) as I do. I made my most recent visit during my August 2023 trip, and a friend tagged along for fun – he and I have very different interests within the umbrella of ‘science,’ so it was fascinating to explore exhibits I might not have otherwise stopped in.

If you’re planning your London trip and trying to decide whether to add the Science Museum to your itinerary, this post can help. In this London Science Museum review, I’ll cover the basics of visiting and share my personal experience in greater detail. I’ll end by trying to help you make the decision for yourself of whether this museum is worth a visit. Ready to dive in?

Bonus! While admission to the Science Museum is free, as part of the London Pass you can watch a free movie at the IMAX theatre (valued at £12pp in 2024). Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

Basics of Visiting the Science Museum

Before jumping into my experience, it’s helpful to cover the basics – this will let you know if you can make a visit to the Science Museum work in your planned itinerary, from a logistics perspective.

Location & Transport

If there were a catchy name for the corner of London where you can find so many of it’s top museums, the Science Museum sits right in the heart of it. (I’ve never heard that name, so let’s stick with “South Kensington.”) Nestled in between the Royal Albert Hall, V&A Museum, and Natural History Museum, the Science Museum is located on Exhibition Road and is an easy walk from several tube stations.

The closest options are Gloucester Road (Circle/District/Piccadilly), which is about a 10-minute walk from the entrance, and South Kensington (also Circle/District/Piccadilly). Now, if you search online, most maps say that it’s a 1-minute walk from South Ken station to the museum, but this is not really true. Yes, it’s a very short walk from the exit of the station, but you actually walk for about 10 minutes underground within the station to get to that exit. So, just be aware – it’s not strictly true that it’s only a one-minute walk!

There are, of course, also lots of buses that serve the area. There are stops on both Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road; use one of the transit apps I suggest in my list of the most helpful London apps if you want to try the bus instead of the Tube.

Hours, Admission & Tickets

The Science Museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm with last admission at 5:15pm. While as a general rule, the museum is open everyday, there are special closures that don’t follow a specific holiday or bank holiday schedule; there’s a handy section “Closures–Please Check Before Visiting” on this page which you can double-check to ensure the museum won’t be closed on the day you plan to visit.

Admission to the London Science Museum is the best price of all – free! However, you do need to pre-book tickets in advance if you want to visit; if you arrive on the day-of without tickets, the museum requires a £5 “donation” per person for admission. (I got caught out by this, so be sure to pick a day and book a ticket if you want to save that little bit for a pint or bite later.)

Food Options & Facilities

Feeling peckish, as the Brits say? I certainly was when I arrived at the Science Museum one morning during my trip; a friend and I decided to have lunch and a coffee before exploring the exhibits and galleries… luckily, there are lots of options!

  • Basement Cafe – A good casual spot for hot and cold snacks and drinks.
  • Energy Cafe (ground floor) – A great spot for breakfast with hot food and drink, where my friend and I ate during our visit.
  • The Diner (ground floor) – Near the IMAX theatre, you can find sourdough pizzas, salads, and desserts here.
  • Gallery Cafe (second floor) – Another casual take-away spot with cakes, coffees, sandwiches, and salads.
  • Shake Bar (third floor) – As the name suggests, milkshakes and ice cream – you can even design your own tub of ice cream to take back to your hotel or vacation rental.

For other facilities, there are restrooms on every floor, and the museum is fully accessible with elevators and step-free access throughout. The Science Museum is comfortable and welcoming for science fans of every ability and age.

Gift Shop & Souvenirs

What kind of science museum would the Science Museum be if it didn’t have an awesome gift shop?! Honestly, I love this part of these types of museums because these souvenirs are by far the best – the most interesting, educational, and worth spending money on!

So, as you can probably guess, the Science Museum has a fantastic gift shop, full of science-oriented gifts and goodies. From interactive kits to stuffed animals to clothes, games, and books, basically everything is both mentally stimulating and will teach you more about science long after you’ve left the museum. You can actually browse the entire catalog of items online, too, if you want to get a sense for what they have on the shelves.

My Experience at the London Science Museum

As I mentioned, I started my day at the London Science Museum when I visited; I was hungry so after paying to make day-of admission, my friend and I headed straight for the Energy Cafe on the first floor. In the process, we passed through the Atrium and I made sure to grab a map of the entire museum – it’s massive, so you’ll either spend a whole day here or can pick and choose which exhibits you want to visit for a shorter time.

In my case, it was the latter: I wanted to see the ‘Flight’ exhibit; my friend was keen on exploring one about computing called ‘Information Age;’ we wandered through another exhibit about ‘Mathematics;’ and we ended in ‘Exploring Space’ which is home to a crown jewel artifact from human space exploration: one of the Apollo Command Modules from NASA! (Apollo 10, to be specific.)

This was fewer than half of the total number of exhibits in the museum, but it took us a half-day even as adults; hopefully, that helps you get a sense of how much time you need to visit based on which exhibits you want to visit – or all of them! (Also, keep in mind that if you are visiting with children, it will likely take even longer per exhibit than it did for us.)

If you’re wondering then, is the London Science Museum worth it?, my answer is a strong yes… but only if you already have an interest in the scientific topics within the museum’s many wondrous galleries. Each gallery is quite detailed and signage is text-heavy; parts of the museum are far less interactive than other science museums I’ve visited, which may be boring for younger or less interested kids.

As I am an unabashed science nerd and love a number of topics in the STEM fields, I had a great time visiting, and I hope my own daughter will grow up with that same enthusiasm; my friend who visited with me really liked that there were exhibits on less conventional scientific topics like computing and math – there really is something for everyone who’s scientifically or technically inclined. Best of all, the Science Museum provides a welcome balance to many of London’s other major museums; most of them are art or natural history and so on – you can give your left brain a good jolt with a visit to this museum on your itinerary.

I hope that all helps you decide! Have any remaining questions after reading my London Science Museum review, or wondering how to fit it into your itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t forget! While admission to the Science Museum is free, as part of the London Pass you can watch a free movie at the IMAX theatre (valued at £12pp in 2024). Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

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Valerie fell in love with London on her first trip to the city way back in 2011. Since then, she spent a year living in London and visits as often as she can (you can find her recent trip recaps here!). She launched LOMM in 2021 to help other travelers fall in love with her favorite city on earth.

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