British Library
British Library
4.5
11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
Open to all visitors seven-days-a-week, this superb building by Sir Colin St John Wilson offers events, special exhibitions and a Treasures Gallery that displays over 200 items, including Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible and lyrics by the Beatles.
Duration: 1-2 hours
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Top ways to experience British Library and nearby attractions

The area
Address
Neighbourhood: Euston / Kings Cross /St Pancras
How to get there
  • King's Cross St. Pancras • 5 min walk
  • Euston • 6 min walk
Reach out directly
See what travellers are saying
  • haley t
    Princeton, New Jersey7 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Wonderful!
    Having a free couple of hours before catching a flight, I visited the British Library this past Sunday with no expectations. What a relaxing and delightful experience! From the Magna Carta and Lindisfarne Gospels to song lyrics scrawled by John Lennon on his son’s first birthday card, the museum holds many treasures. The environment is calm and peaceful, and the staff member I interacted with was very kind and helpful. I didn’t purchase anything to eat or drink, but a couple of different options were on the premises. Take advantage of this free opportunity if you find yourself near the St. Pancras station.
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 17 July 2023
  • JTJD
    United Kingdom1,028 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fascinating place….
    Wow! What an interesting place to spend a couple of hours…do check out the Magna Carta room! Also of major interest is the actual Enigma Machine which is available to view close to the Alan Turing Institute. We had lunch at one of the museum restaurants & the food was really very nice. Free entry…a fascinating place!
    Visited May 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 19 July 2023
  • Johntherunner
    London, United Kingdom293 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A must visit building if in London which is free entry and also free standing exhibition
    An superb exhibition which is a paid facility but the regular exhibition of wonderful manuscripts and books is worth a visit on its own. Good cafe for food,snacks and drinks on both floors and the building itself is worth a visit alone. Free entry and outside seating as well and the booked talks it offers are first class.
    Visited May 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 22 July 2023
  • Jay B
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    An excellent place to eat
    My friend and I met up at Kings Cross station and headed for the short walk to the library. We have mobility issues so it was important for us to have lift access to the higher floors. We only had a couple of hours to spend so we headed straight away to the Terrace Restaurant on the first floor to have a light snack. In the end I bought a tomato soup tasting of real tomatoes with a rich stock base and herbs together with a couple of rolls and a generous number of butter packs. I then selected a salad from the superb selection of plates displayed on the central station. They were comprehensive and anyone would have found something they liked. I topped it off with a cup of tea and we settled to eat in the pleasant terrace area (it was a little too windy to eat outside). Water was available and the whole thing cost £14.50 - a bargain! We were then treated to a memorable taste of what was on offer at the library in the 'Exhibitions section' where we saw the Magna Carta alongside exquisite illuminated books from all the major religions and many music manuscripts. A truly excellent experience.......and it's free!!!
    Visited July 2023
    Written 25 July 2023
  • Ruby Rowallan
    38 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A parallel universe
    I have visited the BL a few times in the last month or so as I have a reader ticket for a research project. I've used the reading rooms, cafe and visited the Treasures exhibition. I have never met so many lovely, polite, helpful, knowledgable staff at any establishement anywhere in the world in the past 50 years. I'm not sure if they are wildly overpaid or hypnotised but it's the sort of professional service that you don't get anywhere else. It's the six-star hotel of libraries; a parallel universe or a trip back in time. Even the loo cleaner lady says "good afternoon" with a smile. Everyone knows what they are doing, goes the extra mile to get your reader ticket issued when you arrive with two minutes left before closing, checks your bag without looking at you like you are a terrorist and serves food, drinks, shop gifts etc. in a professional manner. Food and drink is very good value. Coffee is very good. There are drinking fountains at various points and lockers if you have a reader ticket. The service to order books from the collection to one of the readng rooms is efficient and this can be done online and usually only takes 48 hours to get books brought up from the extensive underground storage. I am looking forward to the opportunity to go on a backstage tour at some point. You can sit in one of the very many public seating areas without a reader ticket. There are various kinds including bench eting, small tables, individual lecture-style chairs with fold out desks and power sockets, larger four-seater booths, again wiht power and free internet access for general use and to acess the digital collections. Depending on the time of your visit you may not get your first choice of places to sit so go early if you want something specific. The building is clean, easy to navigate and has plenty of accessible options such as lifts and excalators as well as stairs. The central artium is a stunning display of rare books donated by Geroge III in a multi floor bookcase in glass. Wonderous! I only regret living 30 minutes away and not going sooner.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 10 September 2023
  • HardDiskDrive
    Oxford, United Kingdom15 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Some nice events and exhibitions/probably the best accessible public library
    Haven't been back for a while, there's always some exhibits and things to see near the inside cafe. Note that security checks your bags. Worth a visit as a tourist if you're in the area. Great to work in if you get a reader pass for the reading rooms.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 30 September 2023
  • scouse1941
    807 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
    AMAZING! This is the second largest Library in the World - I think the Library of Congress is the first but when the GOP get into their stride banning books, the British Library will be the first! I focused my visit on the Treasures - and saw the original Magna Carta, the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, the Venerable Bede, music scores by Mozart, drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. It also showcases the handwritten "roughs" of Beatles songs like "In My Life" and the Monty Python - Spanish Inquisition sketch. Absolutely brilliant. Loved it. There as far more to see but my time was limited. Demands another visit.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 8 October 2023
  • Thomas Preinl
    141 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great museum, manuscripts, atmosphere
    We had the privilege of a private visit, where the librarians prepared and presented the unique manuscript collection of the writer Stefan Zweig. Real letters of Robbespierre, Marie Antoinette, music scores by Bach, Brahms, Händel or a handwritten poem by Goethe - everything was presented in a perfect way, questions anwered and backgrounds given. The public exhibition of "old papers" is extraordinary and free of charge. Also recommendable is the selection of bank notes and stamps (including the famous blue mauritius). Good-Quality Internet, cloakroom service and a pleasent café atmosphere contribute to a perfect visit.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 12 October 2023
  • mj
    Maryland94 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Be prepared to spend some time here
    Could easily spend an entire day here! So many amazing objects in the collection. There’s something here for everyone to enjoy. There’s lovely book and gift shops and lots of light and open space to comfortably sit and read. Wish I. Had more time here to make full use of the reading rooms but will definitely plan for that next trip over!
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 18 October 2023
  • Misty C
    Oolitic, Indiana40 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    London October 2023
    Visited the British Library on Sunday October 29 and was so glad we did. They have an excellent archive room that is free to the public with amazing archives! Well worth seeking out and very close to the St. Pancreas train/underground stop and just up the road from the Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes) stop. So glad we stopped in!
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 9 November 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles4,020 reviews
Excellent
2,654
Very good
1,049
Average
221
Poor
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Terrible
35

Mj
Leuven, Belgium2 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
June 2024 • Solo
If you want to visit the library before taking the train (with suitcase) you are not allowed to go inside. There is also nothing foreseen where you can leave your suitcase behind. Just a not very friendly "you can not enter" at the door.
Written 13 June 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

haris
United Kingdom2 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
June 2024 • Family
British Library

London

terrible man working at the information desk.

I walked into the British Library with my 1 year old, having read the sign outside 'BL: all ages welcome'.
I go to the Front of House. A man at the information desk "greets me" (with a less than welcoming face).
Me: "Excuse me do you have any events for kids?"
FOH (curtly): no.
Me: Ermm...what about this event *points at the gallery exhibition 'Beyond the Bassline: a celebration of 500 years of Black British music', the sign says kids allowed?"
FOH: not for kids.
Me: wait so you tell me you have absolutely nothing for kids to do here?
FOH (almost insulted that I am not getting it): NO.
Me ( a bit confused, but still courteous): OK, thank you.
I walk out, and read some reviews on my phone, 'I went with my baby, they loved it." "my kids loved it" etc,
I walk back in.
Me: The reviews say kids can go to this show.
FOH: yeah but it's not for kids.
Me: but kids are allowed in?
FOH: well yeah.
Me: and people who've been to the show say their kids loved it?
FOH: yeah but it's not for kids.
Me: Well, can I get a ticket and take my kid?
FOH(obviously peeved, with ridiculous attitude): Well if you want.
Me: Sorry, but it is not down to you to decide what kids like.
someone else a tall boy with big arty blonde hair comes up to me (to protect his front of house): It's not for kids.
Me: Kids like exhibitions, I don't know if you realise that. Even if the exhibition is not designed for kids, they still react to colours and music.
the big arty blonde boy: don't get angry at me as well.
FOH: you're wrong man. This is not for kids.
Me: Can I have a ticket please. I have to say you're really poor at your job. You should be promoting events in your galleries, not saying 'not for kids'.
FOH: I'm checking out. *he gets up and leaves.
I go to another desk and get my ticket, not before asking for the FOH's name (which he mumbles: Leon, or Laurence I'm not sure, he then gives me a complaint card and says: 'go on knock yourself out' (as in make a complaint, I don't care).

I go to the exhibition, and of course my child loved it, full of interactive music, big peacocks, wide open spaces pumping 500 years of music.
Sorry, just to say that front of house is abysmal at his job. He should not be working at the information desk, or in any customer-facing role. The ticket to the gallery was £15, don't you think the people who put effort into making the exhibition would have liked the information desk person to sell the show, instead of turning away anyone with a baby? I'm sure it's not the first time he's done this.

I feel sorry for other people that have to deal with this person. Can you please educate him and the other person, on how to properly work front of house.
Written 11 June 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MidwestKathM
Detroit, MI1,018 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
As a lover of books and libraries, a visit to the British Library during our most recent visit to London was in order. It is the largest public building in the United Kingdom, taking some 25 years to construct, from 1962 to 1997. As such, it houses more than 150 million items across its 14 floors amongst the various buildings. We went in just to admire the architecture and the art, see the rare book vaults, and visit the British Library Treasures Gallery to see some of the BL's most significant items such as ancient religious manuscripts, handwritten music by Mozart, lyrics to some of the Beatles' songs, a notebook maintained by Jane Austen, historical documents such as letters by the Kings and Queens of England, and even the Magna Carta. There is no admission fee to visit. Don't forget to walk about the outdoor plaza too.
Written 10 June 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Maria L
Skipton, UK5 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Business
The library is great and most of the tour was good, but I was shocked and offended when the tour guide (who had been good before this) let himself down about religious texts. I know many people don't share my faith and some don't like the Church, but it was inappropriate that outright lies were told during the tour.

He picked specific Bible verses to debunk (something which wouldn't have been done for any other religion) and said that with ancient texts nobody can translate them properly so we can't know what it actually means. This included saying 'love your neighbour' doesn't mean loving or being nice to them it just means charitable (the original text uses agapeseis, which means absolute unconditional love and is sometimes translated as charity).

He gave a heartfelt "Thank God someone finally stood up to the Catholic Church, someone needed to" and said nobody used to have any idea what was going on at Mass. He said the Bible was only available in Latin because the Catholic Church thought that if people could read it they would argue and know the Church was lying to them (the Church didn't forbid translations, it prevented incorrect translations - the Bible in Latin was itself a 4th century translation).

He also said the Bible says ‘respect your elders’ but it just meant priests, and 'that puts a whole new spin on it doesn’t it?'. He was talking about one of the many verses specifically saying younger people should respect older people and everyone should serve each other.

The rest of the tour was good and he was engaging (the fossils in the marble were great). I know anti-Catholic bias is common and normalised, but I wouldn't expect a tour to be bad-mouthing holy texts from Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism or Islam and it really shouldn't be that Christianity is considered fair game.
Written 26 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

violet339
London, UK407 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Friends
The coffee shop on the second floor has become a really hostile place operated by a member of staff who seems to think it's some kind of security checkpoint or militarised zone.
On entering the area one is immediately pounced upon and told "the rules". Thereafter, one observes this kind of guard on constant patrol, going table to table, interrogating people as to their purchases. On encountering any kind of resistance, the guard shouts, hands on hips, leaning forwards, seemingly ready to fight! She usually gets her way, as bullies sadly do, but if she doesn't, threats are made such as "you won't get away with it again" and "you'll need a receipt next time". Young people seem to be particularly targeted and repeatedly approached for completely random things that have nothing at all to do with this person who's obviously on a massive powertrip.
The food and drink on offer is mediocre and overpriced which is presumably why they have to resort to these kinds of tactics.
Written 26 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Carolyn B
Bloomingdale, NJ840 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Friends
Don't miss this! One of the best places we visited. You'll see the original Magna Carta, the Shakespeare first folio, original scores of Mozart, the Beatles, drawings of Da Vinci. It's pretty overwhelming.
Written 20 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ann C
Nashville, TN3,304 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Couples
In only two rooms you will find treasures of Western civilization, from early bibles (including one of the oldest complete bibles in existence-AD 350) to Shakespeare to Lewis Carroll to the Magna Carta. There are also historic maps, art and science documents as well as manuscripts by the likes of Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin.

Unfortunately, I could not see the Magna Carta because the day previous to my visit was an incident that caused them to close off the room. The staff was unsure when the Magna Carta room would be open for viewing again. That said, the rest of the literary treasures are well worth viewing.
Written 14 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lidia F
6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Couples
Ugly building, great collection. Good to see how many people visits it! The treasury is fantastic! So beautiful and unique books!
Written 4 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Fam4Long
Longmeadow, MA3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
Very interesting exhibit and great way to spend an hour with the family! The historical texts and art are amazing. Well worth the visit!
Written 21 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

liucy752
Taipei, Taiwan1,527 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
The Sir John Ritblat Gallery in the British Library displays many historical treasures.

There are original works of great writers, poets, musicians and artists, as well as precious manuscripts, original printed works and rare books.

It was so exciting to see Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks and the Beatles’ drafts.

I lingered in the gallery for a long time.
Written 16 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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British Library - All You MUST Know Before You Go (2024)

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