Europe's best free museums and galleries

Museum-mooching can be a pricey pursuit, but there’s no need to dust the cobwebs off your wallet to enjoy these esteemed collections.

See world-class art and ancient artefacts without spending a penny, with this excerpt from our new title, The Best Things in Life are Free.

The magnificent Great Hall of the British Museum © Chris Dorney / Shutterstock

The magnificent Great Hall of the British Museum © Chris Dorney / Shutterstock

British Museum – England

London’s full of famous freebies, but this mothership museum, packed with souvenirs pinched during Blighty’s globetrotting heyday, is tops. You’ll never get around in one day – just come back.

Britishmuseum.org; Great Russell St, London, England; 10am-5.30pm Sat-Thu, 10am-8.30pm Fri; free.

The Prado Museum is considered one of the world's finest collections of European art © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The Prado Museum is considered one of the world's finest collections of European art © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The Prado – Spain

Formerly a royal collection, this feast of fine art is now free every evening. One of the world’s greatest galleries, it boasts paintings by Goya, Raphael, Rubens and more.

Museodelprado.es; Paseo del Prado, Madrid, Spain; free 6-8pm Mon-Sat & 5-8pm Sun.

Gorky House-Museum – Russia

In the Ryabushinsky Mansion – a 1906 art-nouveau house designed by Fyodor Shekhtel and gifted to Maxim Gorky in 1931 – you can tiptoe through the life of one of Russia’s most famous writers.

Museum.ru/M402; Malaya Nikitskaya ul 6/2, Moscow, Russia; 11am-5.30pm Wed-Sun; free.

This open-air museum is a moving insight into the realities of life in war-time Germany © Dan Herrick / Getty Images

This open-air museum is a moving insight into the realities of life in war-time Berlin © Dan Herrick / Getty Images

Berlin Wall Memorial – Germany

This poignant museum preserves the last surviving piece of the wall, tells the story of the ghost station of Nordbahnhof S-Bahn, and relates tales of horror, heroism and hope on Bernauer Strasse.

Berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de; Bernauer Strasse 119, Berlin, Germany; 8am-10pm; free.

Bristolian street art – England

Free-range chinstrokers can enjoy some of the world’s best modern street art in Bristol. In Banksy’s home town, the al-fresco scene is sensational, with public spaces splattered with murals and installations by guerrilla artists.

Bristol-street-art.co.uk; Bristol, England; 24hr; free.

Some of the nation’s most important documents, paintings and other objects from the French Revolution can be found at Musée Carnavalet © Rufus Cox / Getty Images

Some of the nation’s most important documents, paintings and other objects from the French Revolution can be found at Musée Carnavalet © Rufus Cox / Getty Images

Musée Carnavalet – France

History meets art in this peculiarly Parisian institution, where 100 Tardis-like rooms transport visitors through time, via paintings and artefacts from the City of Light’s illuminating past.

Carnavalet.paris.fr; 16 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Paris, France; 10am-6pm Tue-Sun; free.

Schuttersgalerij – Netherlands

One of the world’s only ‘museum streets’, this walk-through gallery mixes historic portraits with a sprinkling of Dutch Masters, some amusing modern artwork and a 350-year-old statue of Goliath.

Amsterdammuseum.nl; Kalverstraat 92, Amsterdam, Netherlands; 10am-5pm; free.

Copenhagen's Tøjhusmuseet houses a fascinating collection of historic weaponry © Kateryna Negoda / Getty Images

Copenhagen's Tøjhusmuseet houses a fascinating collection of historic weaponry © Kateryna Negoda / Getty Images

Royal Danish Arsenal Museum – Denmark

This ensemble ranges from samurai swords to a WWII German V-1 flying bomb, via various guns and spiky things. The cache was begun in 1604, by warlord King Christian IV.

Natmus.dk/museerne/toejhusmuseet; Tøjhusgade 3, 1220 Copenhagen, Denmark; free noon-4pm Tue-Sun.

Places from this story

Related content