History lovers looking for WW2 sites in London will find a wealth of museums and sites at their disposal. It’s probably not the sole reason people will visit London, but if you enjoy learning about World War 2 you’ll find plenty there to keep you occupied.
Having a son who loves learning about World War 2 we’ve almost always sought out places to learn more about it and being in London was no different. Each time we go we find something else interesting to explore!
If you’re an enthusiast as well and you’re visiting London you’re in luck because there are a host of WW2 things to see in London. As well as museums you’ll find a number of memorials in the city centre dedicated to those who served.
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These are by no means just for the history buffs amongst us but they can be great for those with just a passing interest and for visitors of all ages.
Thinking about visiting as a family? all of these places tend to have child friendly sections so don’t worry too much about whether they are suitable – most will be. Obviously use your discretion if your child is sensitive to war stories though – mine were never particularly sensitive but I know some friend’s children were and would have struggled!
Our Top Pick
Winston Churchill Guided Tour
This WW2 and Winston Churchill tour will help you see some of London’s most interesting World War 2 sites alongside an enthusiastic guide!
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Walking tours of London’s WW2 sites
There are some great WW2 tours in London and they are really well worth the time for a number of reasons but the biggest one is enthusiastic guides!
Some walking tours cover the Blitz, some cover Winston Churchill and his time in Politics and sometimes they cover both.
If you want a knowledgeable guide to show you round London’s WW2 sites then take a look at these:
World War 2 Museums in London
You’re always spoilt for choice in London when it comes to museums but even more so when it comes to WW2 museums! Some of these are solely about WW2 and others might just have small sections dedicated to them
1. Churchill War Rooms
Number one on most people’s list to visit when coming to London is a visit to Churchill’s War Rooms. It’s one of the few sites in London that has been preserved from war time.
Inside you can see how Winston Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister for much of the war, ran the campaigns and strategised. As it lies beneath the streets of London it also provided shelter for him and the workers from incoming bombing raids. You cannot see the war rooms from street level, except from the entrance.
The museum contains:
- a maze of corridors and rooms that held top secret messages and plans
- rooms that looked just as they did during WW2 – the map room is as it was left when war ended in 1945
- exhibitions of artefacts from WW2
- an exhibition about the life of Winston Churchill – he lived to 90 and although is remembered mostly for his WW2 contribution, he also had a part to play in many other world events both before and after WW2
- an audio guide in included in the ticket price – definitely use this to get the most out of your visit
Leave a good couple of hours for looking round the museum and beware that it can get really busy in the summer months. If you can, head there early or late to avoid the crowds and definitely buy your ticket online in advance to skip the queue.
It’s open from 9.30am – 6pm with the last admission being 5pm.
The museum is located in Westminster and the nearest Tube stop is St James’s Park or Westminster
Buy tickets here: Churchill War Rooms
*you might also like: historic walking tour and cabinet war rooms entrance
2. Imperial War Museum London
Just south of the River Thames sees the Imperial War Museum London and as the name suggests, its focus is entirely on war.
So that means that it’s not specifically just about WW2, although there’s plenty there to satisfy that if that’s your sole interest.
The building is pretty impressive and can’t be missed as it has 2 large guns (from the ships HMS Ramillies and HMS Resolution – both WW1 ships) outside.
The history of the Imperial War Museum actually goes back before WW2 as it was set up after WW1 as a place to house the artefacts from the time. It originally was based in Crystal Palace but moved to its current home just 4 years before WW2. It had to be closed for most of the war and even sustained some damage from bombs as well.
In the museum there are some permanent World War 2 exhibitions and some temporary exhibitions too so do take a look at the website before going to check what’s on.
Don’t discount it if you have children, it’s a fantastic London Museum for kids and my children visited lots and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The museum is free to enter and it’s open every day except 24th, 25th and 26th December from 10am – 6pm.
Nearest Tube Stop is Lambeth North or Elephant & Castle
3. HMS Belfast
You can’t miss HMS Belfast, a WW2 naval ship moored on the River Thames and if you ever need to convince any travel companions to go with you on your WW2 museum trips just mention the amazing views of London you can get from here!
You have Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and The Shard as landmarks for your backdrop so perfect for some photo memories or Instagram pictures!
Of course, if you’re here to learn more about World War Two then none of that matters and what matters is what there is to see aboard!
HMS Belfast is one of only 3 surviving ships from the D-Day bombardment of Normandy shores and that period was the last time she fired a shot and is one of very few ships from WW2 left.
When visiting you can explore all the decks of HMS Belfast and get a feel of what life was like aboard. There are also some exhibitions about the history of the ship and what she went through.
HMS Belfast is open every day (excepth the 24th, 25th and 26th December) from 10am – 6pm with the last admission beign at 5pm. You’ll want to allow a good couple of hours for your visit at least. Nearest Tube stop is London Bridge or Tower Hill (this one is the other side of the Thames though you can walk over Tower bridge to get there easily)
Get tickets here: HMS Belfast Tickets
4. National Army Museum
The National Army museum is a free attraction that is located in Chelsea. As you can imagine it covers solely the British Army and the history of it so we’re talking about a lot more than just the second world war.
If military history is something you find interested then I’d highly recommend a visit here. There have many changing exhibitions at the museum so even if you’ve been before you’ll likely see something new.
Check their website to see what’s on.
The National Army Museum is closed on Mondays and is open Tues-Sun 10am – 5.30pm with last entrance at 5pm.
The museum is based in Chelsea and the nearest Tube stop is Sloane Square.
While you’re there, why not visit the Royal Hospital Chelsea – home of the Chelsea Pensioners, veterans of the UK army – there’s a museum here also and it’s perfect if you’re interested in our Armed Forces.
5. The Guards Museum
A museum dedicated to the five regiments of foot guards that protect the monarchy and also that serve in the frontline of war, including WW2.
While no Guards served in the Far East they were quite active in the European battlefields. There’s lots of artefacts, uniforms and stories to uncover in the museum.
Located right in the centre of London this is a great one to add on to your day if you’re doing some sightseeing already. It would combine well with a trip to Buckingham Palace, to Churchill’s War Rooms or to the Horse Guards (see below too)
6. Household Cavalry Museum
Another museum about specific parts of the army, this time the Household Cavalry. You’ll have no doubt seen the modern members of this regiment on horseback in ceremonies involving royalty.
While Horse Guards can be visited as well (and it should part of any London itinerary) including the changing of the Life Guard (daily at 11am or Sundays at 10am), the museum can show a little bit more including how they were involved in warfare through the years, including WW2.
Great if you’re interested in animals in war and how the horses are trained.
Like the Guards Museum above this one is located in central London and so great for sightseeing days. Nearest tube stop is Embankment or Westminster.
Entrance is £10 for adults and £8 for children (included in the London Pass)
7. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Although much of the National Maritime Museum focuses on the general themes of life at sea and some more earlier history, it’s a must see museum if you’re interested in the Navy and battles at sea. You’ll find old uniforms, paintings and all sorts of artefacts on display.
The museum is free to visit which always bumps it up the list in my mind! It’s located in Greenwich and is a great place to spend quite a few hours, especially if you have kids with you as well.
8. RAF museum Hendon
Heading out of Central London and North we have the RAF museum in Hendon – another amazing free museum.
Like the National Army Museum it covers this branch of our Armed Forces and also covers times both pre and post WW2. It contains hangars of planes and aircrafts, exhibitions about the history of the Royal Air Force and different events as well (some have admission charges).
Check the website to see what’s on when you plan to visit. There are many planes on show from all countries, not just RAF aircraft. Some examples of World War 2 aircraft on display are:
- Supermarine Spitfire Vb
- Junkers Ju87G-2 “Stuka”
- Messerschmitt Bf-109E-3
- P51 Mustang
- Lancaster Bomber
- Bristol Beaufighter
- B17g Boeing Fortress
- Curtiss Kittyhawk IV
The museum is open every day from 10am -6pm (March – October) and 10am – 5pm in the winter (November – February). Last admission is 30 minutes before the closing time.
As it’s outside of central London it takes around 30 minutes by tube on the Northern Line – the station you need is Colindale (this is a Zone 4 station). There is also parking at the site if you’re coming from afar and want to take a car. There is a parking charge.
You might also like… 3 Day D-Day beaches Road Trip in Normandy
Other WW2 sites of interest in or near London
9. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral was a huge symbol of hope during WW2 for Londoners especially during the Blitz. It stayed standing, although was slightly damaged, even though many of the buildings around it had been bombed. Inside the cathedral there is an American Memorial Chapel which is dedicated to the soldiers of D-Day.
Get tickets here – St Paul’s Cathedral Fast-Track Entrance
10. Mudchute Farm nr Canary Wharf
Ok, so you might be wondering why there’s a WW2 attraction in a random part of East London that’s now a children’s play area and city farm! Well, that’s because it contains an anti aircraft gun that was used to protect the docklands area of London during the war years.
The Ack Ack gun seems an unlikely addition to a children’s area but if you’re looking to get a bit of fresh air while in the city you could definitely head east to here for a bit of a different trip out! Plus you get to see pigs, sheep and a number of other animals – what’s not to love!
Nearest DLR station – Mudchute
You might be also interested in a trip to Dover Castle too which I included in my best castles around London article.
Many tours go from London, it’s not too far and is where the Dunkirk evacuation was managed from. We loved our trip there!
See tours here.
11. Bletchley Park
Although not in London itself it’s a short train journey from the city and so it’s worth including I think!
Bletchley Park is the location of where the codebreakers worked in WW2 and it had a huge impact on the course of the war. It helped to intercept messages from both sea, air and land battles. Unfortunately I’ve not made it to here first hand but I’m hoping to get ourselves there soon and I’ve heard some great things about the place.
There’s a lot to see in the museum and so well worth it for a slightly different story to be told of what went on in the war.
See their website here for more information. It’s open from 9.30am – 5pm and 4pm in winter (Nov-Feb). Trains go from Euston Station to Bletchley and take around 45 – 60 mins. I like Trainline for booking tickets and find it best to see what options are available.
WW2 Memorials and Statues in London
There are a number of memorials and statues in London dedicated to WW2. Most of them are located within walking distance of each other so it could make a nice afternoon stroll if you wanted to take in them all.
12. Animals in War memorial
Location – North East end of Hyde Park. Nearest tube stop – Marble Arch.
13. Bomber Command Memorial
Location – West side of Green Park along Piccadilly. Nearest Tube stop – Hyde Park Corner
14. The Women of World War II statue
Location – Whitehall. Nearest Tube stop – Westminster
15. Sir Winston Churchill Statue
Location – Parliament Square. Nearest Tube stop – Westminster
16. Monument to the RAF – Battle of Britain
Location – Next to River Thames just up from Big Ben. Nearest Tube stop – Westminster
17. Royal tank regiment Memorial Statue
Location – Whitehall Place, next to Horeseguards . Nearest Tube stop – Embankment
18. The Cenotaph
Location – Whitehall. Nearest Tube stop – Westminster
18. Allies Sculpture – Winston Churchill & Roosevelt
Location – New Bond Street. Nearest Tube stop – Green Park
Accommodation Options for London WW2 sites
If you want to stay close by to the majority of these sites then I’d definitely recommend the Central London area. It does come with a more higher price tag but you’ll be able to take in most of these sights really easily.
Top End – if your budget allows and you want to stay in one of the best areas of London then check out The Berkeley. Even their most basic rooms are simply stunning – check prices out here
Mid Range – The Park Plaza Riverbank is on the other side of the Thames to Big Ben but really close to all you’ll need. Some of the rooms have a view of the river and London’s Skyline too. Check the prices of this hotel here.
Budget – A little further away in Covent Garden but still very central is the Travelodge Covent Garden. I love Travelodge for no frills hotels and they are often my top choice when finding a London hotel! See the latest price and availability here
London is really easy to get around so don’t feel like you need to stay in the centre, although it is convenient.
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🇬🇧💂♀️ London Travel FAQ 💂♀️🇬🇧
Do I need insurance for traveling to London?
YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!
Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.
Do I need a car for visiting London?
NO – If you’re just visiting London then a car is not recommended and can be more of a hindrance than a help.
If you plan to explore more of the UK then I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices
How to book accommodation in London?
For hotels I recommend Booking.com
For apartments and cottages check out VRBO
Will my phone work in London?
Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.
If you need a SIM for use in the UK I recommend GiffGaff which you can get and set up before traveling.
What’s the best guidebook for London?
I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks
Where to get flights for London
Expedia is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to London.
Do I need a visa for London?
Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting England as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.
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