National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
4.5
10:30 AM - 9:00 PM
Monday
10:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday
10:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday
10:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
10:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
10:30 AM - 9:00 PM
Saturday
10:30 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday
10:30 AM - 6:00 PM
About
The Gallery is filled with the people, portraits and the life stories of a nation. Home to the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, visitors can explore over 220,000 works, from the 8th century to the present day.
Duration: 2-3 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Trafalgar Square / Embankment
With its iconic Nelson’s Column, majestic oversized lions and brightly-lit fountains, Trafalgar Square is not just considered the heart of this bustling London hub, but the very core of the city itself. Beyond this esteemed gathering place are more famous icons, as well as a disproportionate numbers of the city’s most popular cultural attractions including the National Gallery and many West End theaters. Along the way to these major sites are quiet lanes and antiquated pubs to discover, as well as riverside vistas to enjoy on the embankment. With a calendar full of celebratory events, any time of year is a fine time to visit.
How to get there
  • Charing Cross • 3 min walk
  • Leicester Square • 3 min walk
Reach out directly
See what travelers are saying
  • Jeffry b
    Essendon, Australia14,030 contributions
    First gallery dedicated to British portraits
    The National Portrait Gallery opened in 1856, making it the first gallery dedicated to portraits. There are a variety of genres represented. but the selection is based in the significance of the sitter, not the artist. The portraits are of people who are important to the British people and their history. The artistic merit of some of the paintings is not great, but some of them, for example the Bronte sisters, are all we have. This is one of London's most fascinating galleries, it will reopen in June 2023.
    Visited April 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written April 23, 2023
  • Clark
    10 contributions
    Excellent
    The Tudor gallery is superb . Great exhibits which are well curated . Hayter's painting of the House of Commons in the 1830s is stunning . At first glance it almost looks like the real thing. My only complaint is that the Gallery has adopted unisex toilets. I don't know anyone who likes these . They infringe on dignity and privacy. It's very disappointing that the NPG has decided to go with this fad.
    Hi Clark, I’m glad to hear that you so enjoyed the Tudor Galleries. The Gallery has both separate male and female toilet facilities (floor 4) and universal toilets (floor -2 and -3), which are dedicated, self-contained toilets, which maintain privacy for the single user. We appreciate your feedback on this matter and have shared your comments with the relevant team. Best wishes, Emily
    Written September 6, 2023
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 4, 2023
  • Pamgraham1
    211 contributions
    Worth a visit
    Visited not long after the reopening. It was very busy in certain areas. The Tudors seemed to be the busiest section. Obviously very clean and bright as you would expect. Plenty of wonderful pictures to view. Little disappointed with the size of the new café. It was extremely busy with queues most of the day. Thought they might have made it slightly bigger as it was always popular and still is.
    Hi @Pamgraham1, I’m glad you enjoyed viewing the portraits on display in our new Gallery. I’m sorry to hear about your disappointment with the café though. In addition to our ground-floor café we also have a table service café and bar in the basement and a restaurant on the fourth floor. We hope you can come back to check them out soon. Best wishes, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written July 8, 2023
  • Gizmo311
    Boston, Massachusetts495 contributions
    McCartney Exhibit
    We went to the Portrait Gallery mainly to see the Paul McCartney exhibit "Eye of the Storm". As long time Beatles fans, it was nice to see photos that we had never had the opportunity to view before.....most of the photos were taken by Sir Paul himself. The color photos from their 1964 visit to Miami were probably our favorites....they were such high quality they look as though they were taken yesterday! It was very busy when we were there (reminded us of our trip to the Louvre), I would recommend getting there as early as possible to avoid the crowds if at all possible.
    Hi Gizmo, thank you for sharing your review of the Paul McCartney exhibition. I’m so glad that you had a wonderful time and enjoyed seeing 1964 Miami series of photographs. We hope to welcome you back to the Gallery in the future! Best wishes, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited June 2023
    Written July 8, 2023
  • Alexandra K
    London, United Kingdom316 contributions
    Welcome back
    Always a great gallery and the recent revamp has made it even better. The entrance is more open, the shop is a huge improvement and the layout works much better. The cafes are so much inicer. We saw the Paul McCartney photographs and that is huge - allow a lot of time just to go round that. A history lesson and an art exhibition rolled into one. Well, well worth a bisit.
    Hi Alexandra, I’m so pleased that you found your trip to the Gallery well worth the visit. I have shared your kind praise of the renovated Gallery with the relevant colleagues. Thank you again, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 12, 2023
  • HBW
    2 contributions
    Do visit the galleries and exhibitions.. Give the cafe a miss.
    Just visited the newly reopened NPG and it is still one of the best and most interesting galleries in London. Here you'll find the familar traditional portraits of kings and queens, the great and the good (and not so good) as well as more modern portraits ina variety of styles and media (paintings, photographs and bronzes) all beautifully curated. Staff are on hand to point you in the right direction. We went to the Paul McCartney exhibition which was absolutely brilliant. Definitely a must-see. The new cafe on the ground floor is probably best avoided. Whilst high prices are to be expected, there is no excuse for the abysmally slow service which led to a long queue. It was also very crowded. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them that many of their customers may have been travelling for several hours and just want a quick cuppa.
    Hi Helen, it’s great to hear that you rate us as one of the most interesting galleries in London. I’ve shared your helpful comments with the café team so that we can continue to review and improve the services we offer. Best wishes, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 14, 2023
  • Sussexmum
    Pett, United Kingdom33 contributions
    Very busy
    Took my 15 year old daughter who is a massive Beatles fan to see the Eyes of the storm exhibition, well presented and was very good. Pre ordered tickets, very small queue, was busy in there but manageable. Gift shop, card only and very expensive. The Gallery itself was absolutely packed out, which spoilt things for us, so we didn’t stay long but would definitely go back at some point. The toilets on entry are unisex which wasn’t great but found some others by cafe later, cafe was busy.
    It’s great to hear that you and your daughter enjoyed our Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm exhibition. We accept cash at the Ticket Desk as well as all of our gift shops and have separate male and female toilet facilities on the fourth floor. I’m so sorry to hear that the high number of visitors detracted from your visit. I hope you will enjoy your future visits. Best wishes, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 15, 2023
  • Carol S
    Los Angeles, California232 contributions
    Stunning Display of Portraits
    On our last morning in London, we made a quick decision to visit the National Portrait Gallery. We only had a little over an hour, which we quickly realized was not enough time. We knew we wanted to see several portraits so immediately went to them upon entry. The Brontë sisters, Queen Charlotte and King George were at the top of our list. We had previously seen many images of the Brontë sisters, but all had been edited. Seeing it in its natural state with the paper folds was amazing. I applaud the museum for not restoring it. From one room to the next held beautiful portraits of people from every walk of life. Since our time was limited, I took photographs of the detailed text so that I could read later. At opening, there were no crowds. There were school children on field trips but the sound of children and knowing they were there to learn history and the beauty of art did not bother me. I know how crowds can be as I experienced it at another museum the same week. For us, arriving at opening worked well. Next time I visit London, the gallery will be at the top of my list and I will allow hours to take my time. Oh, and as we hurried out to find the exit, we happened upon a wall of modern portraits. From Ed Sheeran to the surprise we least expected. It was the William and Kate portrait. We had no idea it was in this gallery. No crowds at this point. We were free to take our time looking at the beautiful, stunning details. Wow! A true masterpiece. Plan accordingly but don’t miss this gallery.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience at the National Portrait Gallery! I'm glad you had a chance to see some of our most popular portraits, including the Brontë sisters, Queen Charlotte and King George, and the Prince and Princess of Wales. I agree, there’s so much to see and do, and it's worth taking your time to appreciate the many different portraits in our Collection. I hope that you’ll be able to visit us again soon to explore more of the Collection. Best wishes, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 20, 2023
  • Carole L
    Romford, United Kingdom241 contributions
    Visit to the refurbished NPG.
    Wanted to visit following the major refurbishment. Art over three floors with plenty of information regarding the person or persons painted which is sometimes not readily available in other galleries I have visited. Freindly and helpful staff and I would recommend you book a time slot for your visit online to avoid disappointment. They do apparently have walk in opportunities but I would suggest booking as the gallery was very busy during our time there. It's likely you would need more than one visit to fully appreciate the collection. But it's layout allows you to dip in if your time is limited.
    Hi @833carolel, it’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed your visit to the Gallery! I’m particularly pleased that you found our staff to be friendly and helpful. We look forward to welcoming you back soon. Best wishes, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 21, 2023
  • Dave G
    Cardiff, United Kingdom7 contributions
    Blown away by Eyes of the Storm
    I went to see the Sir Paul McCartney “Eyes of the Storm” exhibition. It was excellent. It was lovely to see ‘new’ pictures of The Beatles that were taken on such an intimate level. The space itself was excellent and the pictures were beautifully presented and the downloadable commentary by Sir Paul really gives it a personal feel. The shop is excellent too. I would also recommend the refreshments in the NPG cafe, excellent.
    I’m so glad that you enjoyed our Paul McCartney exhibition, along with our gift shop and café. I hope that you’ll return to see more of our exhibitions in the future. Best wishes, Emily
    Written January 10, 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written July 21, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

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
5,828 reviews
Excellent
3,676
Very good
1,655
Average
393
Poor
70
Terrible
34

Clare M
Lincoln, UK58 contributions
Feb 2020
A fascinating gallery.I'll never meet Henry VIII and his wives, Rossetti, Millais or Holman Hunt so seeing their portraits is the closest I can ever get to them. The Gallery is well laid out and the notes next to the painting are interesting , We did visit the restaurant on the top floor and asked if we could just have drinks, we had eaten a rather large breakfast in the hotel! We were sat at the bar and after waiting 25 mins to be served were told only alcoholic drinks were served at the bar. Despite coffee being evident at lots of tables they would not serve us a tea and coffee! we were directed to the cafe in the basement so we left and went elsewhere!
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.
Thank you for taking the time to visit the NPG and for leaving a review. I am so happy that you enjoyed your visit to our collection and offer my apologies that your experience in the restaurant did not live up to our high standards. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact us at feedback@npg.org.uk I hope we are able to see you again soon. Kindest regards,
Written February 22, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

101dot
Eastbourne150 contributions
Jan 2020
The NPG iis free to enter but welcomes donations and makes a small charge for some exhibitions. We went to see the Photographic portrait of the year today. Placed just off Trafagar Square it is centrally located and well worth a visit. I have often popped in when I have spare time in London and always enjoyed my visit.
Written January 24, 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.
Thank you for your time in leaving us a review. I am glad you enjoyed the Taylor Wessing Portrait Photography Prize exhibition, and was very happy to learn that your repeated visits have always been a positive. I do hope we are able to welcome you here again in the very near future. Kind regards,
Written January 26, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ginger L
London, UK40 contributions
Mar 2020
I'm not quite sure how many starts to give this - as it is review of a particular exhibit, and not of the whole museum. I love this museum and much of it is free. They are about to close for an extended period of time so good to visit now.
However, their latest exhibit, of Hockney's work is a disappointment. I love his work and will try to see it whenever I can. But this one? Rather small and none of his great works. It seems to me to be vastly overpriced if you have to pay full price, or even their (only slightly) reduced consessions price.
BUT - if you are over 60 and go on Monday Tuesday or Wednesday mornings between 10 and 11 then it is only 5 pounds. That seems to me about what it is worth!
Written March 14, 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.
Thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. I am glad that you enjoy the NPG, but am sorry to read that the exhibition did not live up to your expectations. That said, I hope you will visit us again soon. Kindest regards,
Written March 16, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Locutus
Zurich, Switzerland277 contributions
Feb 2020 • Family
An amazing gallery. We have visited the gallery many times over the years and there is always something new to see. Whilst the permanent Collection is excellent it is complemented by a wide range of temporary exhibitions. We usually don’t try see everything each time we go but think in advance what we want to focus on this time.
Written February 8, 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.
Thank you so much for your review and indeed for your loyalty over the years. I am so happy that you enjoy coming to see the collection and do so hope that we are able to welcome you through our doors again in the very near future. Best wishes,
Written February 22, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Richard B
Richmond, UK2 contributions
Aug 2023 • Couples
Our first visit following the already (in)famous rehang was most instructive, but caused us to react rather differently to the rehang itself relative to all the other concurrent changes made to the Gallery. In our eyes, the rehang worked reasonably well; the pictures are well-chosen, carefully hung and supported by laudably legible yet unintrusive labels that tell often interesting stories, each couched in a modern worldview that falls just short of outright proselytization. However, a few tips might help the unwary visitor. Firstly, if you arrive at the Gallery just before the (rather late) 10:30 opening time, there are two queues: one for ticket holders and members, the other for mere "walk-ins". The latter are held back until all of the former have entered, which can take some time. Secondly, the formerly popular "coffee and cake" cafe in the basement has been replaced by a pretentious bar where an order of two coffees incurs a service charge and a bottle of Lagavulin, once divided into 14 aliquots of 50 ml, costs £238! The cafe on the ground floor, installed in the space previously occupied by the gallery shop, is more affordable, but what is left of the relocated shop no longer sells its formerly significant range of art books. Mammon is evidently one benefactor of the refresh.
Written August 19, 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.
Hi @P2972QMrichardb, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback, it’s really helpful to hear. I’m pleased that you liked the rehang of the Collection and the accompanying image captions. Your feedback is incredibly helpful as we continue to review our visitor experience in the Gallery. Thank you again for your comments. Best wishes, Emily
Written January 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Jackie K
Nottinghamshire, UK1,158 contributions
Mar 2020 • Couples
Prebooked our tickets to see the latest David Hockney portraits exhibition and we were so excited to be there. The exhibition is quite small but the portraits are wonderful especially the ones of the artist’s mother. It was very hot inside the rooms and this made it uncomfortable to stay very long. We were through in 45minutes but perhaps this is the idea! David Hockney is a genius. The short film of him flipping through his sketch book from LA to Normandy was a highlight for me.
Written March 7, 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.
Thank you for taking the time to visit us and to leave a review. I am very happy that you enjoyed your visit to the David Hockney exhibition. It is very much a wonderful celebration of his works. I do hope that you will visit us again soon. Kindest regards,
Written March 10, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Rowlands
Gosport7 contributions
Sep 2023 • Couples
We bought tickets at £22 each to go and look at Paul McCartneys "Eye of The Storm" photograph exhibition. Unfortunately, the NPG allowed far too many in to the exhibition at one time so it was difficult to know where you were in the rooms, and difficult to have a good look because there were so many people in there. There was one smaller room where the staff were limiting access but this had the effect of creating a long queue in the adjacent larger room. This too had photographs on the walls and the queue made it very difficult to look at them and read the notes. So, for £22 each, it was a waste of money, caused entirely by the NPG allowing far too many in at one time.
Written October 4, 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.
Hi @Rowlands, I’m so sorry to hear about your experience in the Paul McCartney exhibition. We are extremely grateful for your feedback and have shared it with the relevant colleagues so that we can review our ticketing procedures. I do hope that you will consider revisiting us in the future. Best wishes, Emily
Written February 12, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

heather p
Epsom, UK105 contributions
Jan 2020
Visited the Pre-Raphaelite sisters exhibition. with adult family. It was a Christmas gift. Having been to the gallery before we were aware that the cafe serves excellent coffee in pleasant surrounding. We also find the cloakroom useful and attended by helpful staff. The exhibition itself was a little disappointing. ( only a miniature of the Ophelia painting)However the variety of paintings was enlightening.
It would however be helpful if the information cards were positioned next to the paintings not on adjacent walls as this leads to confusion and congestion. Written details on some walls were impossible to read for two in our party who are colour blind.
Written January 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.
Thank you so much for your review and for your visit. I was happy to read that you enjoyed your visit. Your constructive and helpful feedback will be passed on to the relevant department for consideration for future exhibitions. I do hope we will see you again soon. Kindest regards,
Written January 26, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Farwriter
London, UK92 contributions
Jul 2023
Very glad the NPG is open again, but perhaps a summer afternoon is not the best time to visit. In spite of the excellent contents, I have always found it quite a stressful building to walk around, with small rooms and narrow corridors. These aspects have not been improved, and it has been absolutely heaving with people on the couple of times I have tried to look round recently. The hall with the ticket desk in is particularly badly thought out - a queue forms at the ticket desk but this area is also the thoroughfare for people to reach every other part of the building so it gets impossibly crowded. The passageway at the rear of this room leads to the back staircase and the lifts, but has also become a display area for modern portraits, so you have to push through a crowd of people to access the stairs.

The cafe is now where the old shop used to be - a narrow and cramped space which is ALSO used as a thoroughfare for people trying to get out from the newly opened Weston Wing. The building feels like one big corridor full of people. I miss the darkness of the old Victorian corridor, which always reminded me of a 19th century gentlemen's club but now is a bright white corridor and has no atmosphere.

The website also needs to be altered with correct instructions for booking tickets to exhibitions. After booking a timeslot for a paid exhibition, both the website and the email confirmation tell you to collect your ticket from the desk on arrival. Very frustrating after queuing up for ages to be told by the woman on the desk that I could have just shown my booking reference number at the entrance of the exhibition and not queued up at all!!

In theory it would be possible to spend all day in here, but in practise I can only take it in small doses.
Written July 11, 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.
I’m sorry to hear that you found your experience stressful in the Gallery. The Gallery was extremely busy around reopening, and there are constraints of being housed in a Grade I listed historic building. We greatly appreciate your feedback and have made changes to our tickets to try and resolve the issues you raised. I do hope that you will not feel discouraged from visiting us again in the future. Best wishes, Emily
Written January 10, 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

zinear
Washington DC, DC280 contributions
Dec 2019
The National Portrait Gallery contains a large assortment of portraits - with a focus on British subjects and history (at least that's what I saw, anyway). In exploring the galleries, I got a brief lesson in the people behind periods of British history, which I enjoyed. I also found this museum less crowded than the neighboring National Gallery, so I felt I was able to enjoy and take in the works more.
Written March 1, 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.
Thank you so much for your review. I was happy to read that you enjoyed your visit. I hope you left inspired. Hoping that we are able to welcome you again in the near future. Kindest regards,
Written March 5, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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