The British Museum has retaken its top spot as the UK’s most visited visitor attraction, boosted by last summer’s China history exhibition. The last time the museum was the UK’s most visited attraction was in 2019.

British Museum (c) ianVisits

According to figures from The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), visits to their reporting sites across the UK were up by 19% on the previous year to just under 150 million, but they are still down by 11% on pre-pandemic numbers.

Indoor attractions saw a 23% increase in visitors compared to a 2% increase in outdoor attractions.

The most-visited attraction in the UK was the British Museum, which saw 5.82 million visits – a 42% increase on 2022 numbers, which they attributed in part to the success of China’s Hidden Century exhibition that ran from May to October. The Natural History Museum was the second most visited attraction in the UK, and the Tate Modern was fourth, both increasing visitor numbers by 22% over the previous year.

Despite only being open for half the year from June 2023, the newly refurbished National Portrait Gallery welcomed 1.16 million visits.

The biggest jump in visitor numbers to London venues was at the City of London’s Guildhall Art Gallery, which more than doubled the number of people visiting the free gallery in 2023 compared to the previous year. That can be partially attributed to the recovery in the City of London’s commuter traffic, but the City has also been pushing hard with a marketing campaign to bring in visitors to the Square Mile.

Unsurprisingly, Westminster Abbey saw a surge in visitors during the Coronation year, despite having to close for several weeks for the Coronation itself. Buckingham Palace also saw a big jump in visitors, doubtless aided by the Coronation afterglow.

Commenting on the 2023 ALVA visitor numbers, Laura Citron, CEO of Visit London said: “2023 was a big year for London’s tourism sector, with attractions across the city reporting almost a quarter increase in visitors. Alongside the increase, we saw big milestone reopenings like the Young V&A and the iconic National Portrait Gallery, showing that London is truly back with a bang.” adding that “Our research shows that experiences are a key reason why visitors come to London. That’s why our Visitor Experience strategy prioritises building London’s offer of more innovative experiences to ensure that there is something for all visitors to enjoy.”

ALVA rankings for London venues:

UK rank Venue Total Visits in
2023 2022
1 The British Museum 5,820,860 4,097,253
2 Natural History Museum (South Kensington) 5,688,786 4,654,608
4 Tate Modern 4,742,038 3,883,160
5 Southbank Centre 3,193,966 2,947,155
6 V&A South Kensington 3,110,000 2,430,000
7 The National Gallery 3,096,508 2,727,119
8 Science Museum 2,956,886 2,334,113
9 Tower of London 2,790,280 2,181,707
10 Somerset House 2,727,677 2,346,580
11 Royal Museums Greenwich 2,547,821 1,628,580
13 Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1,974,295 1,963,885
16 Royal Albert Hall 1,605,924 1,401,200
17 Westminster Abbey 1,587,866 1,062,909
18 St Paul’s Cathedral 1,499,575 1,193,888
19 British Library 1,390,378 1,149,070
22 ZSL London Zoo 1,327,902 1,045,289
24 The Barbican Centre 1,313,528 1,131,102
27 National Portrait Gallery, London 1,164,018
28 Tate Britain 1,091,218 913,395
31 Tower Bridge 960,670 648,001
33 Horniman Museum and Gardens 924,480 790,067
38 Old Royal Naval College 843,175 731,344
40 IWM London 841,575 684,909
45 Shakespeare’s Globe 799,942 642,082
48 The Royal Opera House Covent Garden 750,851 696,974
50 Royal Academy of Arts 709,961 695,968
56 Design Museum 633,312 511,863
58 Hampton Court Palace 628,528 527,634
66 Churchill War Rooms 559,740 438,092
76 Buckingham Palace 501,499 286,458
80 The Royal Air Force Museum London 487,721 400,639
88 London Transport Museum 435,628 338,249
91 Kensington Palace 421,697 293,745
96 Wellcome Collection 414,957 298,657
98 Young V&A 405,000
123 Museum of London (Docklands) 321,024 206,337
154 The Courtauld Gallery 235,436 297,599
170 HMS Belfast 208,498 167,933
178 UK Parliament 189,481 140,585
197 Kew Palace 156,584 148,328
205 Eltham Palace and Gardens 140,903 128,986
209 WWT London 133,775 128,760
211 Kenwood 126,953 71,877
222 Guildhall Art Gallery 110,211 46,423
227 The Monument 100,897 81,305

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  1. Kim says:

    Why is there no third place

  2. Brian Butterworth says:

    That’ll be why you can’t just “pop in” in your day off anymore.

  3. Rob says:

    In third place, Windsor Great Park (The Crown Estate) with 5,487,856 visitors, which was a 3% decline on 2022 figures. See

  4. Ollie says:

    Living in Windsor I’d like to know how in the world you measure how many people visit Windsor great park ?? I’ve never seen someone standing at the multiple points of entry counting !

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