Imperial War Museum outside view

Trains to Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum is a must-see for history buffs.

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Chart decades of history in human conflict with a trip to the Imperial War Museum. This thought-provoking attraction encourages guests to see war through the eyes of those who lived it, understanding how it has shaped lives and continues to impact our world today. 

Founded at the height of the First World War, the institution was intended as an archive of the civil and military effort of the United Kingdom and its Empire. It would go on to fulfill the same role for the nation following the Second World War, while today the museum explores a broader scope of conflict taking place around the globe. 

Planning a trip to Imperial War Museum London? You’ll find all your need-to-know information right here. 

How to get to the Imperial War Museum

Situated in the central Borough of Southwark, you could save time and money when travelling into the city by rail. After all, you can forget traffic, parking and congestion charges when you take a train to London and leave the car at home. 

By using the South Western Railway network, you can travel direct into London Waterloo from a wide variety of locations. The walk from Waterloo station to Imperial War Museum is then just a gentle 15 minute’ stroll. But if you’d rather save some energy for your day at the museum, hop on the tube at Waterloo and head southbound on the Bakerloo line. Once you get off at Lambeth North, your walk has been cut to just six minutes.

Travelling by train

Getting into this part of London by road has its challenges. But if you live close to transport hubs like Bournemouth, Southampton Central and Portsmouth, our services connect you direct to the heart of the capital. 

We provide a variety of ticket types to ensure you’re getting the right fare for your trip. Looking to save money on your train tickets? Then travel off-peak and remember to check if you could be eligible for certain Railcards and discounts. You could even pay less per head thanks to GroupSave, through which you’ll enjoy lower prices when you journey into London with friends and family. 

Travelling within London

It's not only towns and cities across the South West that benefit from our direct train services. Outer areas of London such as  Surbiton, Wimbledon and Richmond also lie on the South Western Railway network. So all you need to do is grab your London Travelcard, Oyster card or contactless to enjoy seamless travel as you hop across the city via public transport. 

Where is the Imperial War Museum?

London’s Imperial War Museum is south of the River Thames in the Borough of Southwark. It’s a stone’s throw from busy areas like Lambeth and Elephant & Castle. 

The Imperial War Museum address is: Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ


Things to do at Imperial War Museum

Offering unrivalled insight into the horrors and lasting legacies of conflict, the Imperial War Museum (often called IWM London) is moving and powerful. With a fascinating array of battlefield artefacts and interactive exhibits that tell stories of war from a personal, human level, this landmark London museum is sure to make an impression. 

Imperial War Museum galleries

Set across a modern and recently refurbished site, there’s plenty to see and do at the museum’s permanent galleries. Unmissable at its centre is a spectacular new atrium, in which you can see a Supermarine Spitfire, V-2 rocket, Harrier jump jet and more suspended from the ceiling. Branching off there is a network of galleries that cover everything from The First World War to British and Commonwealth military heroes. Particularly moving are The Holocaust Galleries, while the Peace and Security exhibit takes a look at warfare up to the present day. 

Imperial War Museum exhibitions

In addition to its permanent collections, the museum offers a busy schedule of temporary exhibitions that offer unique perspectives on the world of war. Some of these travelling galleries are free to visit, while others charge a small fee for tickets. Either way, it’s always worth seeing if there’s something that piques your interest in advance of your visit. Recent exhibitions have covered war in Ukraine, The Troubles, and conflict through the medium of video games. 

Tickets to Imperial War Museum

The good news is that, as a national museum, entry to the Imperial War Museum’s permanent galleries is entirely free. That said, you should still reserve tickets online to ensure speedy entry to the grounds. Walk ups are permitted, but by picking your timeslot in advance, you’ll avoid having to queue at the busiest times. Imperial War Museum bookings can be made via the official website. 

While the permanent exhibit is among the best free things to do in London in its own right, check what’s on in the temporary galleries too. Some of these come with a charge for tickets, which can be booked online in advance or bought on the day.

Find yourself at UK museums often? Then you could save money with a National Art Pass. These give you free entry to hundreds of galleries, historic houses and special exhibitions with up to 50% off each time. 

Tours of the museum

Want to hear insights from an expert, or have a particular area of interest you’d like to learn about? Then consider booking your place on an Imperial War Museum tour. 

There are both public and private tours available. The public tours are offered at a small fee and make use of a headset, which provides around 40 minutes’ worth of unique insights as you journey through one of the museum’s permanent galleries. Meanwhile, private tours are a more bespoke package guided by a specialist speaker. Available for up to 15 people at a time, private tours can be booked both inside and outside of usual museum opening hours, and will need to be arranged well in advance. 


Got a special occasion in mind? Then add some wow factor by making the Grade-II listed Imperial War Museum your venue. With its dramatic atrium, dazzling glass-topped roof terrace, sophisticated Park View Room and more, there’s a setting here to suit every kind of event. To discuss packages and venue hire, contact IWM London through the website as soon as possible. 

Imperial War Museum Shop

From vintage mementos to classic posters and educational materials to continue learning with, there’s plenty to browse at the Imperial War Museum shop. Available both inside the building and online, why not pick up something to remember your visit by? Since the IWM is a charity, the money you spend will be invested in retelling stories at the museum. 

Tips for enjoying the Imperial War Museum

Make sure your day goes without a hitch by following these tips:

- photos and videos are allowed in and around the building but refrain from using flash or tripods
- large items of luggage such as suitcases cannot be brought in or stored. Lockers are available for smaller bags and rucksacks. These require a returnable £1 coin to operate
- the information desk is located on Level 0. Staff throughout the museum will be happy to help and can be identified by their red uniforms

Things to do near the Imperial War Museum

Located in the colourful south-of-the-river spot Southwark, there’s plenty to do near IWM London. If you’d like to keep up the museum theme, London’s dedicated Cinema Museum is only a short walk away and is easily one of the best exhibitions in London. It charts the history of film from the 1890s all the way to the present day.

If you’re looking for more free things to do in London, why not take a stroll along the South Bank  ? From live events to pop-up fairs and festivals, there always seems to be something happening along this arty stretch of the capital. Cultural institutions like the Southbank Centre and National Theatre   are always worth a visit, whether you catch a show or book in on a building tour. And that’s before you happen upon the world-famous Tate Modern   gallery, easily among the places for art lovers in London.

Food and drinks

After hours exploring the galleries, you’re likely to work up an appetite. Thankfully the museum has an excellent on-site café, so you won’t need to go far to get your fill. It serves a range of handmade fresh food each day, including stone-baked pizzas, salads, sandwiches and puddings. 

Looking further afield, you’ll find plenty of good spots in the museum’s surrounds. Back up towards Waterloo station there are popular eateries like the colourful Cubana Restaurant, as well as flavoursome Rosa’s Thai. Rustic pub The Hercules is great for families, while The Steam Engine and The Tankard are much loved local watering holes.  

Places to stay near the Imperial War Museum

There’s plenty of places to stay in this part of London with some excellent prices available when you book in advance. Those on a budget should consider Travelodge London Central Elephant and Castle or H10 London Waterloo. Hampton by Hilton London Waterloo offers comfort at an excellent price, while the five-star London Marriott Hotel County Hall offers a truly memorable stay. Meanwhile, the larger rooms at Park Plaza London Riverbank are handy for families. 

Imperial War Museum accessibility 

The Imperial War Museum is committed to ensuring it’s accessible to all visitors. You can find step-free access at the site’s West Entrance, to the right-hand side of the building’s front. Manual wheelchairs are available to borrow when reserved in advance, while all lifts in the building are wheelchair accessible. One of two blue badge parking bays can be booked, plus guide and registered assistance dogs are always welcome. 

For more information, check the museum’s accessibility page

Buy train tickets to any destination in Britain – no booking fee