Planning a day out, with or without the kids, means being spoilt for choice in London. According to data from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, London has most of the top sites in the UK.
But expect a crowd when you get there. 20 of the 31 visitor attractions in the UK that have more than 1 million visitors are in London and that includes 9 of the top 10.
The data for 2014 shows that the venerable British Museum is top once again with 6.7 million annual visitors. The top 5 are:
- British Museum
- National Gallery
- Southbank Centre
- Tate Modern
- Natural History Museum
The figures show that Tate Modern, the art gallery housed in the old Bankside power station on the Thames, has seen particularly strong growth in visitors year on year since 2013. High profile exhibitions like the Matisse show helped push up visitor numbers by 18%.
All the top five have free entrance, though there are charges for some special exhibitions. Museum and gallery spaces outscore simple sightseeing. The highest position for London’s landmark buildings is St Paul’s Cathedral in 12th place, but it has seen a drop in visitors of 17% since 2013.
The highest placed attraction outside London is the Library of Birmingham, opened in 2013, in 10th place. The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh is at 14. Chester Zoo, with a little over 1.4 million visitors is the top animal attraction and outscores London Zoo with 1.3 million.
The only site in the rankings attracting more than a million people that is outside a city is Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Stonehenge added a new visitor centre at the end of 2013 and 1.3 millon people trooped through last year.
The Associate of Leading Visitor Attractions includes museums, galleries, historic places and gardens but its list does not include theme parks such as Thorpe Park and Chessington, just outside London. Thorpe Park has annual numbers of around 2 million. Chessington has around 1.5 million thrill-seekers. The capital’s top paid for tourist attraction remains the London Eye with 3.75 million visitors.