It’s said that the best things in life are free. Well, they certainly are in London. Out of all the cities I’ve traveled, London is probably my absolute favorite—the atmosphere, the culture, the rich and intriguing history. A worldwide standard in sophistication, few places can rival it for sheer elegance and grace. But I’ll save all that for another article. I’m here today to tell you about the greatest bargain the city has to offer, the budget traveler’s dream (especially if that vacationer also loves history), the British Museum.
Sometimes I still can’t believe this mass of world cultivation charges no admission. I museum hop all the time in my local area and have put in considerable effort to find free or even discounted events. Not so with the British Museum. With free entry every day of the week (10 a.m.– 5:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. on Fridays), it’s easy to pick whatever day is convenient from your travel plans and spend it here, soaking in the opulent history of nearly the entire planet.
I’m not joking when I say that. When you really explore this museum, an overwhelming sensation comes over you, a truly wonderful feeling. From ancient Egypt to Greece, from the plains of Africa to the mountains of the Orient, the Middle East, North and South America—this place has it all! And not just sad, broken remnants from some old woman’s collection, pieced haphazardly together, polished, and placed within display cases. These are some of the most famous, significant artifacts in the history of our world. I remember turning each new corner and beginning to wonder if it was okay that the United Kingdom had possession of all these marvelous relics. Surely their home countries missed them!
Personally, my favorite part of this museum is the enormous collection of Egyptian artifacts. They greet you almost immediately as you walk through the front door and fool you into imagining yourself spying an exhibition in Cairo rather than the heart of London. Stroll past titanic statues of the pharaohs, ancient tomb carvings, massive stone sarcophagi, and even the Rosetta Stone itself. Upstairs, shrouded mummies afford an up-close view of the Egyptian burial process and let you come within feet of actual men and women who lived within the entrancing culture, their bodies preserved for thousands of years.
If you prefer the art and society of western civilization, the rooms containing Greek and Roman sculpture will amaze you. They are located on the ground floor to the left, beyond the Egyptian and Assyrian (also to die for) assemblages. Marble figures from the Parthenon in Athens transport the viewer to a far removed time when aesthetic beauty and grace commanded artistic expressions of life. Follow the upstairs hallways to explore Greek and Roman history further, as well as to witness the unfolding of centuries in European history, from its earliest roots to the present day.
Whatever you do, give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this journey through human antiquity. I can’t stress this point enough. You can spend all day in the British Museum and still not see everything it has to present you. Take your time and relish each new discovery. You’ll feel as if you’ve traveled the whole world through when you’re finished. And you didn’t even spend a penny.
Next up: more awesome cheap or inexpensive things to do in London. There are many. Wonder why I love this city so much?