National Portrait Gallery
As the world’s original portrait gallery, London’s beautiful National Portrait Gallery is also still the largest, with more than ten thousand works in its collection. Overlooking famous Trafalgar Square and attached to the National Gallery, it entices around two million visitors each year.
The gallery takes a unique perspective, and chooses its paintings not on the merit of the artist but rather the cultural and historical national significance of the subject. Where else could you find paintings of William Shakespeare and Sir Bobby Charlton in the same gallery?
We suggest following the chronological timeline of the gallery. Take the escalators to the top and start with the Tudors before making your way down to the more contemporary figures.
Recent exhibitions include portraits from Lucian Freud and British pop icons of the 1960s. Be sure to check the website for information on workshops, events and concerts and drop into the National Café on your way out – it’s one of London’s finest restaurants.
Make sure that you eat here, and make sure that you get a window seat. The views of Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and the London Eye are some of the best in London. The well-presented and delicious food is modern and British, and you can also sit at the long bar and enjoy some fantastic cocktails. It’s very popular so we recommend booking in advance.
Reservations: +44 (0) 20 7312 2490.
Monday – Sunday 10.00 – 11.00 and 15.30 – 17.00
Monday – Sunday 12.00 – 14.45
Thursday – Saturday 17.30 – 22.00
Connected to the bookshop, this café is the best place to look through your new acquisitions. It serves all the usual café food, but it’s all freshly prepared daily, and quite affordable. The décor is a stylish mix of old and new, with the original stonewalls against large planes of glass above, allowing in lots of natural light.
There are some really nice gifts and souvenirs here, and you can buy postcards, art gear, museum merchandise, and quintessentially British presents. You can also take your favourite artwork home with you from the ‘Print on Demand’ desk, where there are over 75,000 images from the permanent collection to choose from. You choose a frame and whether you’d like it delivered or ready for collection.
This bookshop holds nice selection of books that generally relate to the collection and exhibitions, with some general art historical publications.
National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place
+44 (0) 20 7306 0055
Monday – Wednesday 10.00 – 18.00
Thursday – Friday 10.00 – 21.00
Saturday – Sunday 10.00 – 18.00
Tube: Picadilly Circus (Picadilly Line, Bakerloo Line), Leicester Square (Northern Line, Picadilly Line), Charing Cross (Bakerloo Line, Northern Line)
Train: London Charing Cross