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Every year, Visit Britain release the visitor numbers of the top attractions in the UK, and other than in 2020/21 (for obvious reasons), the numbers have shown a steady increase. The UK is the tenth most visited country in the world with over 36 million visitors (2018) which may be only a third that of the top country, France, but France is 126% bigger than the whole of the UK.

This constant increase in visitors means that our top tourist sites are becoming more and more crowded, with an increase in queues, noise, litter and people getting in the way of the site itself. Visiting these sites can become stressful and not the enjoyable experience it is meant to be, so how can you visit the sites without the crowds and get the most from your time spent there?

The Natural History Museum in London Photograph © Paul Albertella

England's Top Tourist Sites in order of Visitor Numbers 2019

*All costs given can vary depending on adult/child/peak/off-peak etc

1. The British Museum, London

Annual Visitors: 6,239,983

Location: London

Cost: Free

How to see the British Museum without the crowds:

  • Take an Out-of-Hours Tour before the museum opens.

  • Take a free Eye-Openers Tour

  • Visit on a weekday as soon as it opens or the hour before it closes. Avoid school holidays.

  • Visit on a sunny day - most people will be outside.

  • Visit on one of the Late Night Openings (usually a Friday).

  • The crowds all tend to be around the most popular artefacts while other galleries can be empty even at peak times. Go against the flow and visit those instead.

Want some fresh air and calm after a visit to the museum? Try Russell Square for trees, shady benches and places to eat - its just a couple of minutes walk away.

2. The Tate Modern, London

Annual Visitors: 6,098,340

Location: London

Cost: Free

Read about a visit to the Tate Modern >>

How to see the Tate Modern without the crowds:

  • Visit as soon as it opens as the crowds arrive around lunchtime.

  • Avoid school holidays and weekends.

  • Late night openings tend to be Fridays and Saturdays and have fewer visitors.

  • Visit on sunny days when everyone else is outside.

  • Take a private tour when the museum is closed to others.

Want some fresh air and calm after a visit to the museum? Try Bankside Beach (tides permitting) for a river view and a sandy seat - it is just a couple of minutes walk away.

3. The National Gallery, London

Annual Visitors: 6,011,007

Location: London

Cost: Free

How to see the National Gallery without the crowds:

  • The National Gallery is usually very busy but if you get there as soon as it opens and head straight to the most popular artworks you should be able to see them without too many people around (Rooms 45 and 46 have Van Gogh and the Impressionists which are the most popular).

  • Visit on a sunny day.

  • Late night openings are usually on a Friday and are quieter than normal times.

  • August has twice as many visitors as September so avoid the school holidays, especially the summer ones.

  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the quietest days of the week.

The nearest green space is Leicester Square, which is anything but peaceful. Instead try Victoria Embankment Gardens which are a 6 minute walk away and have shade, a play park, outside gym and countless statues to admire.

4. Natural History Museum, London

Annual Visitors: 5,423,932

Location: London

Cost: Free

How to see the Natural History Museum without the crowds:

  • Arrive at opening time or towards the end of the day to avoid the worst of the crowds - between 12-3 is the busiest time.

  • Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10am are the quietest.

  • There is always a queue so arriving at 9.30am will get you to the front of it

  • Avoid school holidays, particularly from April - August.

  • The dinosaurs section is the busiest and often has its own queue within the museum - get there first thing to minimise this.

  • The Museum has its own twitter account which will update you on queue times.