National Maritime Museum

  • Museums
  • Military and maritime
Critics' choice
31 Love It
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
© National Maritime Museum, London

Union flag from the Battle of Trafalgar

© Simon Leigh
National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum
Matt Carr / Time Out
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out

The most important of the group of attractions known (since the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012) as the Royal Museums Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum is the world's largest maritime museum, a huge store of creatively organised maritime art, cartography, models, interactives and regalia. It was greatly enhanced in 2011 by the addition of the Sammy Ofer Wing, which provides a new entrance from Greenwich Park, presided over by Yinka Shonibare's Fourth Plinth sculpture 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle'. Centred on Voyagers: Britons and the Sea – a collection of 200 artefacts, accompanied by an impressive audio-visual installation called the Wave – this extension also has the Compass Lounge (with free Wi-Fi), where you can explore the collection using computers, and a brasserie, café and shop.

The museum's ground-level galleries include Explorers, which covers great sea expeditions back to medieval times, and Maritime London, which concentrates on the city as a port since 1700. Exhibits include wreckage from a Zeppelin shot down over the Thames estuary in 1916, the original model for Nelson's Column and early 19th-century plans for the Rotherhithe Tunnel. Upstairs is the Environment Gallery, which reveals our dependence on the health of the world’s oceans. Level two holds the interactives: the Bridge has a ship simulator, and All Hands lets children load cargo, and you can even try your hand as a ship’s gunner. The Ship of War: 1660-1815 is the museum’s superb collection of models, while the Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire gallery looks at the transport of goods and slaves between Britain, Africa and the Americas.

The 'Nelson, Navy, Nation' gallery contains Nelson's Trafalgar uniform, blood-stained and with fatal bullet-hole and a Union flag that was flown from the HMS Minotaur at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. 'Forgotten Fighters: The First World War at Sea' opened in 2014 as part of the museum's commemoration of World War I and tells the stories of those who fought at sea a century ago with exhibits such as weaponry, photographs and medals.

Venue name: National Maritime Museum
Address: Romney Rd
SE10 9NF
Opening hours: Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 10am-5pm; Thur 10am-8pm
Transport: Rail: Cutty Sark DLR/Greenwich rail
Price: Free
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  • Until Monday March 28 2016
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  • Saturday February 13 2016 Free
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  • Classical and opera Saturday February 27 2016
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  • Saturday March 19 2016 - Sunday March 20 2016
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  • Exhibitions Friday May 27 2016 - Monday August 29 2016
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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
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Tom Bruce

Expansive and impressive. Worth a trip on its own to explore the three floors and see whatever exhibitions may be on. The Samuel Pepys 'Plague, Fire, Revolution' is on right now and is immensely popular. You do have to shell out the cash, £12 per adult, although entry to the Maritime museum itself is free. Even if only passing through on the way to the Royal Observatory, you may as well have a glance at what's to see on the ground floor. The most striking display was a restored water speed record-breaking boat, Miss England III, a magnificent 007-alike construction of shiny chrome and a hundred thousand rivets which was built in 1937. 

Naval enthusiasts will be in paradise, as most of the museum's holdings relate to war on the high seas, tracking historical waves of technological progress from canoes up to the battle cruisers of modernia. The gift shop has some inventive items for sale, but as they are on the pricey side, you may want to wait for them to set sale...

Sarah D

The Ahoy! gallery is a really fun, imaginitive and immersive experience for kids, taking them straight to the heart of maritime life - my toddler loved it. With several different areas and loads to get involved in, from fishing in an arctic ice pool to shopping in the fish market and stoking the coal in the belly of a ship, kids can enjoy themselves in here for a good hour or more. Toddlers and babies were loving the cosy little enclave that makes up the sensory area too, with its lights, bubble machine and marine life soft toys, creating a feeling of being at the bottom of the sea. We visited on a Saturday and although it can get a little busy it is plenty big enough to accommodate everyone. For a free attraction we were really impressed with Ahoy! The museum has the added benefit of a lovely cafe, which we visited afterwards. We will defintiely be visiting again soon.

Kritt N

Another wonderful and free museum in Maritime Greenwich! Housed in a grand building and a lot quieter than it's sibling museums in central London, the Maritime Museum, as the name suggest, explores Britain's national maritime museum from medieval times all the way through to modern day. It's explore the might of the British navy, her trade with the rest of the world, artifact, models of ships and famous sea captains. There is also a an area for kids where maritime activities are regularly hosted. There are three floors to explore. Be sure to check out the stained glass of the baltic Exchange which is found on the 1st floor and the gift shop for maritime themed gifts and clothes. Perfect family day for the whole family and loads to learn from.