Trains to the National Gallery

Trains to the National Gallery

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Whether you’re looking for free things to do in London or want to see some of the city’s best exhibitions, why not spend a day exploring the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery? Situated in Trafalgar Square, these two galleries are among the top museums in London – and the entire UK for that matter – so you won’t want to miss them. 

While the National Gallery continues to draw crowds in the capital, the adjoining National Portrait Gallery has undergone a vast redevelopment, having closed its doors in spring 2020. Reopen from 22 June 2023, you can look forward to seeing this landmark museum at its dazzling new best. 

Ready to plan your visit to these two legendary institutions? Read on for all you need to know, from public transport routes to where you can fuel up on food nearby.

Where is the National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery?

The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery are in Trafalgar Square, at the heart of central London. The two galleries are adjoined, although the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery is on St. Martin’s Place.

The National Gallery address is: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

The National Portrait Gallery address is: St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE.

How to get to the National Gallery

Since they’re situated at the very centre of London, there’s good reason to travel to the galleries by train, not least that you could save time and money when doing so. Arriving at London Waterloo, it’s just 19 minutes’ walk towards the South Bank and across the Golden Jubilee Bridges to reach Trafalgar Square, which the museums face across.

If you’d rather save energy for the day ahead, there are plenty of public transport options. Hopping on the Northern line or Bakerloo line northbound at Waterloo will get you to Charing Cross in just a couple of minutes. Once you surface here, the galleries are less than 200 metres away. Alternatively, the number 139 or 176 bus services take you pretty much door to door, picking up from Stop J directly outside the station. 

Travelling by train

It’s no secret that road traffic in Central London can be a challenge. Add to that the cost of parking and congestion charges, and it’s easy to see why train travel makes so much sense. Using the South Western Railway network, you can reach London Waterloo from hubs like Bournemouth, Southampton Central and Portsmouth.

If you’re travelling to London by train to visit the National Gallery, discover the best way to get there on our network. Those travelling with kids or in a large group can explore our GroupSave offers to pay less for train tickets. With various ticket types available, you’ll find the best prices by booking in advance. Railcards and discounts could offer an even bigger saving, so check if you’re eligible when planning your journey. 

Travelling within London

It’s not only the South West region that can take advantage of our services into Central London. Make the most of fast and direct routes into London Waterloo from more suburban corners of the capital such as Surbiton, Wimbledon and Richmond. What’s more, you can use a London Travelcard, Oyster card or contactless to make travel across the city even more seamless. 


Things to do at the National Gallery

Established almost 200 years ago, the National Gallery is home to works by celebrated British and European artists, from Michelangelo to J.M.W Turner. The gallery also hosts a changing programme of special exhibitions and events, so there’s plenty to see and do here. 

Permanent collection

The National Gallery was founded in the early nineteenth century to celebrate British art, inspired by the nationalisation of royal art collections across Europe. Alongside many renowned British artists like Hogarth, J.M.W Turner, Constable and Gainsborough, the collection includes works by notable European artists such as Titian, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rubens, Vermeer, Cézanne and Monet.

National Gallery exhibitions

Alongside the permanent collection, the National Gallery hosts special exhibitions focused on specific artists, movements or themes. Often, this will complement the works on display in the collection, allowing visitors to dive deeper into a particular area of art history. To find out what’s on now or coming soon, visit the gallery’s exhibitions page.


Keen to learn more about a specific topic? Explore the National Gallery’s events, from guided tours to talks, plus courses, performances, and creative sessions. Find events suitable for adults, children and young people (aged 16-25) in particular.


The National Gallery’s collections are free to visit, but booking is advised. You may have to pay for some special exhibitions, but more details can be found on the gallery’s website

If you enjoy visiting the National Gallery, why not consider a membership? Members get exclusive discounts and are the first to hear about upcoming events and exhibitions.  Or if you find yourself visiting UK museums often, you’d be well served by a National Art Pass. These give you access to hundreds of galleries, historic houses and special exhibitions with up to 50% off any entry fees. 

Things to do at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery adjoins the National Gallery and is, as the name would suggest, dedicated to portraits. Visitors can see paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs of well-known Brits, from William Shakespeare to the Royal Family, alongside iconic musicians, fashion designers, actors and innovators.

Gallery history

Founded in 1856, the National Portrait Gallery was the first public collection dedicated to portraits. It moved around London numerous times until finding its permanent home at St. Martin’s Place, behind the National Gallery. Major refurbishments began in 2020, with the gallery reopening to the public in June 2023.


Alongside its vast collection of historical portraits, the National Portrait Gallery also champions contemporary artists, hosting the annual BP Portrait Award and many temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Visit the gallery’s website for more information about what’s on.

Tips for enjoying the National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery

Get the most out of your visit when you follow these top tips:

The National Gallery is open daily from 10am– 6pm and stays open until 9pm on Fridays.
Reopening on 22 June 2023 following an extensive refurbishment, the National Portrait Gallery opens daily from 10am – 6pm and closes at 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission is free for both galleries, but we recommend booking tickets in advance to avoid queuing on arrival. 

Things to do near the National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery

Once you’ve been to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, discover what else this vibrant part of London has to offer. From the shops, restaurants and theatres of Covent Garden to various museums, exploring this area is one of the best ways to spend 48 hours in London

Covent Garden has so much to offer, from some of the city’s best shops, restaurants and bars to its iconic market and theatres. Just seven minutes’ walk from the National Gallery, this is the perfect place to head after soaking up some culture. 

Can’t get enough of London’s art scene? Visit Tate Modern on the South Bank. This contemporary art gallery in a former power station is a must-see for any art lovers. It’s a 30-minute walk from the National Gallery, along the River Thames. Alternatively, Tate Modern is 19 minutes from the National Gallery by tube, heading eastbound on the District line. 

Another of London’s most popular museums, the British Museum is conveniently located just 15 minutes’ walk from the National Gallery. One of the vastest collections in the world, its artworks and artefacts spans many historical periods and geographical areas, from Ancient Egypt to the present day. 

Food and drinks

The National Gallery has a café of its own, Muriel’s Kitchen. Here you can enjoy light bites, tea, coffee, and soft drinks. Plus, if you like the thought of a delicious meal in a truly unique setting, Ochre is the gallery’s modern European restaurant.

If you don’t fancy the options at the gallery, there are plenty more places to refuel nearby. For lunch or dinner, head to Barrafina for tapas, Bancone for pasta, or Tandoor Chophouse for Indian cuisine. Want to stop for a coffee? Try Notes Coffee Shop or Noxy Brothers, both just a stone’s throw from the museum doors. 

After exploring the galleries, enjoy a well-deserved drink at a nearby pub like The Chandos, The Marquis or The Harp

Places to stay near the National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery 

Whatever your budget, there are plenty of great places to stay near the National Gallery. The Z Hotel Piccadilly, hub by Premier Inn Covent Garden and Zedwell are some of the most affordable hotels in this area. If you’re travelling with kids, Premier Inn London Leicester Square or Hotel Indigo London Leicester Square are top family-friendly options. If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, try The Clermont, Page 8 or Sofitel London St. James. 

With SWR Rewards, our customers can get discounts at some of the city’s best hotels and attractions. 

The National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery accessibility 

The National Gallery aims to provide access to its paintings to as many people as possible. From British Sign Language-interpreted talks to sessions for visitors who are blind and partially sighted, as well as badge-holder parking, there are lots of ways the museum accommodates specific needs. The National Gallery encourages those with access requirements to make contact by telephone in advance of their visit. 

For more information, visit the gallery’s access page

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