British Library
British Library
4.5
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
Open to all visitors seven-days-a-week, this superb building by Sir Colin St John Wilson offers events, special exhibitions and a Treasures Gallery that displays over 200 items, including Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible and lyrics by the Beatles.
Duration: 1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Euston / Kings Cross /St Pancras
How to get there
  • King's Cross St. Pancras • 5 min walk
  • Euston • 6 min walk
Reach out directly
See what travelers are saying
  • Beaulieu C
    2 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Good
    We like going to the exhibitions and we enjoy our visits there. We went to the British Chinese Exhibition which was good, though I would have loved to see more photos. It was a very small exhibition. I like poking around in the shops. We noticed that the cafe had a custard doughnut for 3.50. We brought our own packed lunch which saved us money.
    Visited April 2023
    Written April 10, 2023
  • Hstevens282
    Leven, United Kingdom281 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Books, history and objects d’art.
    We went to the free exhibition in the library which displays a variety of documents from the very old like Chinese scripts from the days of the emperors, to the fairly contemporary like notebooks about the Beatles. For me the most fascinating item was a copy of the Magna Carter from 1225 and the description of why it remains a vital document even today. I also liked seeing the Declaration of Arbroath being a Scot. You can take photos of most things (I took them without a flash to preserve the books) but there are some items you are forbidden to photograph. It is an interesting way to while away an hour or two and there are cafes there too to visit.
    Visited April 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written April 27, 2023
  • Michael G
    Miami, Florida150 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Of great historical interest
    Our visit was confined to the rooms where they exhibit ancient documents of great significance, such as the Magna Carta. They were very well presented, and made for a very interesting visit. Depending on your degree of interest, and your available time, you could spend one or several hours viewing the exhibit.
    Visited May 2023
    Written May 25, 2023
  • pfefmeister
    San Francisco, California3,039 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Loved It
    This is not a vast museum of artifacts to look at - maybe an hour’s worth of time. But, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Great historical documents, some Beatles memorabilia, wonderfully illustrated religious items - it was great. And, you’re not overwhelmed by thousands of items to inspect.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 18, 2023
  • haley t
    Princeton, New Jersey7 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Wonderful!
    Having a free couple of hours before catching a flight, I visited the British Library this past Sunday with no expectations. What a relaxing and delightful experience! From the Magna Carta and Lindisfarne Gospels to song lyrics scrawled by John Lennon on his son’s first birthday card, the museum holds many treasures. The environment is calm and peaceful, and the staff member I interacted with was very kind and helpful. I didn’t purchase anything to eat or drink, but a couple of different options were on the premises. Take advantage of this free opportunity if you find yourself near the St. Pancras station.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written July 17, 2023
  • JTJD
    United Kingdom1,042 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fascinating place….
    Wow! What an interesting place to spend a couple of hours…do check out the Magna Carta room! Also of major interest is the actual Enigma Machine which is available to view close to the Alan Turing Institute. We had lunch at one of the museum restaurants & the food was really very nice. Free entry…a fascinating place!
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 19, 2023
  • Johntherunner
    London, United Kingdom294 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A must visit building if in London which is free entry and also free standing exhibition
    An superb exhibition which is a paid facility but the regular exhibition of wonderful manuscripts and books is worth a visit on its own. Good cafe for food,snacks and drinks on both floors and the building itself is worth a visit alone. Free entry and outside seating as well and the booked talks it offers are first class.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written July 22, 2023
  • Jay B
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    An excellent place to eat
    My friend and I met up at Kings Cross station and headed for the short walk to the library. We have mobility issues so it was important for us to have lift access to the higher floors. We only had a couple of hours to spend so we headed straight away to the Terrace Restaurant on the first floor to have a light snack. In the end I bought a tomato soup tasting of real tomatoes with a rich stock base and herbs together with a couple of rolls and a generous number of butter packs. I then selected a salad from the superb selection of plates displayed on the central station. They were comprehensive and anyone would have found something they liked. I topped it off with a cup of tea and we settled to eat in the pleasant terrace area (it was a little too windy to eat outside). Water was available and the whole thing cost £14.50 - a bargain! We were then treated to a memorable taste of what was on offer at the library in the 'Exhibitions section' where we saw the Magna Carta alongside exquisite illuminated books from all the major religions and many music manuscripts. A truly excellent experience.......and it's free!!!
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 25, 2023
  • Ruby Rowallan
    40 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A parallel universe
    I have visited the BL a few times in the last month or so as I have a reader ticket for a research project. I've used the reading rooms, cafe and visited the Treasures exhibition. I have never met so many lovely, polite, helpful, knowledgable staff at any establishement anywhere in the world in the past 50 years. I'm not sure if they are wildly overpaid or hypnotised but it's the sort of professional service that you don't get anywhere else. It's the six-star hotel of libraries; a parallel universe or a trip back in time. Even the loo cleaner lady says "good afternoon" with a smile. Everyone knows what they are doing, goes the extra mile to get your reader ticket issued when you arrive with two minutes left before closing, checks your bag without looking at you like you are a terrorist and serves food, drinks, shop gifts etc. in a professional manner. Food and drink is very good value. Coffee is very good. There are drinking fountains at various points and lockers if you have a reader ticket. The service to order books from the collection to one of the readng rooms is efficient and this can be done online and usually only takes 48 hours to get books brought up from the extensive underground storage. I am looking forward to the opportunity to go on a backstage tour at some point. You can sit in one of the very many public seating areas without a reader ticket. There are various kinds including bench eting, small tables, individual lecture-style chairs with fold out desks and power sockets, larger four-seater booths, again wiht power and free internet access for general use and to acess the digital collections. Depending on the time of your visit you may not get your first choice of places to sit so go early if you want something specific. The building is clean, easy to navigate and has plenty of accessible options such as lifts and excalators as well as stairs. The central artium is a stunning display of rare books donated by Geroge III in a multi floor bookcase in glass. Wonderous! I only regret living 30 minutes away and not going sooner.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written September 10, 2023
  • HardDiskDrive
    Oxford, United Kingdom17 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Some nice events and exhibitions/probably the best accessible public library
    Haven't been back for a while, there's always some exhibits and things to see near the inside cafe. Note that security checks your bags. Worth a visit as a tourist if you're in the area. Great to work in if you get a reader pass for the reading rooms.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written September 30, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles4,005 reviews
Excellent
2,648
Very good
1,047
Average
220
Poor
59
Terrible
31

bsandrs
Portsmouth, UK23,078 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Solo
Free entry to such a treasure trove of literature although a modest donation is appreciated enables all to access the library and cafe. At the time I visited there was a free exhibition for children which was very popular. There are talks and special exhibitions throughout the year for which quite modest entry fees apply. The excellent website guides you to what might be of special interest to plan your visit
The building is accessible and the outside space can be enjoyed in good weather.
Written February 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Clive W
Orpington1,807 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
This exhibition at the British Library uses a diverse range of exhibits including contemporary letters, books, maps, portraits, artefacts and manuscripts. These have come from a wide range of sources. The exhibition uses the exhibits to illuminate and explain the relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth 1, based on the significant historical events and people of the time. A lot of concentration, excellent eyesight and thorough reading of explanatory notices are needed so this exhibition is only for those really interested in history and willing to spend time on the detail. I was there about 2 hours. I walked from Euston, which took about 5 minutes.

Particularly appealing were the book Elizabeth, as a young girl, translated for Katharine Parr, Elizabeth’s ring with Ann Boleyn’s image inside, the signatures on the letters and the portraits.

However amazing the exhibits, the ticket system is dreadful which explains my 4* rating.. I booked for 12.30 as this was one of the three permitted times showing when I booked. There was a long queue at 12.30 which didn’t seem to move. Upon investigation, I found out that everyone was waiting to view the first exhibit so I went to the end of the exhibition and worked backwards! After about 20 minutes the entrance exhibits were free of people. It would be much better to have 15 minute timed entry slots to disperse the visitors. I paid £8 as 60+, half of the full price £16. This now seems to have changed. Entry is £18, £9 for 60+ but with a £2 reduction Mon-Wed.

Also, it would have been helpful to have more of the manuscripts and letters transcribed for easy reading. Magnifying glasses would be useful and I saw a very sensible visitor had brought his own.

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition and found it mentally stimulating.
Written October 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Martyn S
London, United Kingdom60 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
My wife and I took our two naughtiest grandchildren to this (free but book a slot) exhibition. Both generations thoroughly enjoyed it. I was impressed by the author's handwritten manuscript of Jane Eyre and a panel form the Beano's Bash Street Kids. The grandchildren saw many of their favourites and were able to dress up and produce their own story. Well done to all involved.
Written February 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Daniel
12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
In my opinion, easily the best museum in London. The exhibits hold a wealth of treasures and really capture the imagination. It's also pleasant to not have the the overwhelming stench of colonialism - a rarity in London museums.
Unfortunately during my visit, general browsing and hanging around was discouraged due to Covid-19 safety measures, but you could really imagine this would be a great place to waste an afternoon!
Written September 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Paulina Nignol
Merida, Mexico76 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2022
This exhibit was more than I would hope for. If you are a Tudor fan it's a MUST!
The documents displayed have a great historical value and it's a privilege to get to see them in this kind of exhibit.
The information brochure is also very good, normally I just throw them away but this one I might keep just because it has a perfect resume of the Queens lives.
I just recommend to arrive either very early or 15-20 minutes after your ticket time just because the space is little and the line tends to be very long so it can be a little bit tedious waiting to see the displays.
Written January 31, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

FlyingScotsman150
Farnham, UK349 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
I was staying next door and had an hour to spare, so popped in to see their current exhibition: Art in Buddhism. The British Library's exhibitions are under rated and are always excellent. This was no exception. An amazing range of objects, mostly colourful manuscripts and paintings telling the stories of Buddha.
Written January 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DavidUK2010
York, UK331 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022
If you have a few hours to kill waiting for your train home or bad weather. It can be an interesting place to visit to kill time.

There is an expensive, typical London prices, cafe. You will see many dedicated readers and those doing work. But you can visit and see many old books and documents which are worth viewing.

It is free to enter but if an exhibition on, there is a fee to attend those.
Written April 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Andrew
Baltimore, MD692 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2019
The Treasures exhibit at the British Library is free, and it's astounding what's in the collection. My companion was super skeptical but it ended up as one of our favorite attractions. The items on display are amazing - Da Vinci notes, handwritten Beatles lyrics, copies of the Magna Carta, a letter from Michelangelo, religious texts from all over the world. You must visit
Written March 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ruby Rowallan
40 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Solo
I have visited the BL a few times in the last month or so as I have a reader ticket for a research project.

I've used the reading rooms, cafe and visited the Treasures exhibition.

I have never met so many lovely, polite, helpful, knowledgable staff at any establishement anywhere in the world in the past 50 years. I'm not sure if they are wildly overpaid or hypnotised but it's the sort of professional service that you don't get anywhere else. It's the six-star hotel of libraries; a parallel universe or a trip back in time.

Even the loo cleaner lady says "good afternoon" with a smile. Everyone knows what they are doing, goes the extra mile to get your reader ticket issued when you arrive with two minutes left before closing, checks your bag without looking at you like you are a terrorist and serves food, drinks, shop gifts etc. in a professional manner.

Food and drink is very good value. Coffee is very good. There are drinking fountains at various points and lockers if you have a reader ticket.

The service to order books from the collection to one of the readng rooms is efficient and this can be done online and usually only takes 48 hours to get books brought up from the extensive underground storage. I am looking forward to the opportunity to go on a backstage tour at some point.

You can sit in one of the very many public seating areas without a reader ticket. There are various kinds including bench eting, small tables, individual lecture-style chairs with fold out desks and power sockets, larger four-seater booths, again wiht power and free internet access for general use and to acess the digital collections.

Depending on the time of your visit you may not get your first choice of places to sit so go early if you want something specific.

The building is clean, easy to navigate and has plenty of accessible options such as lifts and excalators as well as stairs.

The central artium is a stunning display of rare books donated by Geroge III in a multi floor bookcase in glass. Wonderous!

I only regret living 30 minutes away and not going sooner.
Written September 10, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

panda
Burton upon Trent, UK10 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Friends
This was a real find - so well laid out and so much to see, including the Magna Carta as well as original scripts from the likes of Jane Austin, Shakespeare and the Beatles. Plus a fabulous range of religious texts from a range of faiths. Plus it’s absolutely free!
Written February 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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