12 Unmissable Artworks to See in London

| © Pixabay
Georgina Wilson-Powell

It’s pretty difficult to sum up all of London’s must-see art into a list. With galleries as diverse as they come, any list is going to have exceptions. Let’s not forget the art that’s not hanging on a wall, the amazing sculptures and street art in London, all of which have impacted and changed the city in various ways across the centuries. Consider this a starting point.

1. La Loge, Pierre Auguste Renoir

Art Gallery

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), La Loge (Theatre box), 1874
The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
One of the most famous examples of French Impressionism, this small Renoir is one of the highlights of The Courtauld Gallery’s collection on The Strand. La Loge – or The Theatrebox – is part of a series Renoir painted in connection to the theatre and to Parisian high society in the 1870s.

2. The Ambassadors, Hans Holbein the Younger


The Ambassadors
© Hans Holbein the Younger
The Ambassadors is one of the most famous Tudor paintings, as well as an exercise in still life and noble portraiture. It’s one of the best examples of anamorphosis, which is the inclusion of a distorted second image that can only be seen from a certain perspective. Stand to one side of the painting and you’ll see a skull on the floor.

See it at the National Gallery.

3. This is a graffiti area, Banksy


The street artist is perhaps the most famous graffiti guy in the world and in the early 2000s, London was awash with his illegal art. Spotting a new one felt victorious. Sadly a lot have been painted over or defaced, but this one in the beer garden at Shoreditch club Cargo is still pretty pristine and is from his earlier themes.

5. Trafalgar Square Lions, Edwin Landseer


At the end of the Strand, why not stop by the Trafalgar Square Lions. They’ve been here since the end of the 19th century and are the biggest commission for Edwin Landseeer, a famous animal painter of the day. They guard Nelson’s Column and each weighs seven tonnes.

6. A Conversation with Oscar Wilde, Maggi Hambling

Not all of London’s sculptures are historic and military based. Maggi Hambling’s half bench, half sculpture was erected in 1998 and the expressionist painter imagines a conversation with the famous Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. He is rising out of the bench halfway like you are sitting on his coffin for a chat.
Adelaide Street, London

7. ArcelorMittal Orbit, Anish Kapoor

Building, Park

Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit has divided critics and the public since its installation on the Olympic Park site near Stratford in 2012. The 115 metre sculpture twists and turns, it has a bar at the top and as of 2016, it’s also home to one of the longest slides in the world by Belgian artist Carsten Höller.

8. The Water Lily Pond, Claude Monet


Monet‘s water lilies are some of the most famous flowers in the world. He built a Japanese garden in his estate in France and he painted various different aspects and views of the lilies and the bridge.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London +44 020 7747 2885

9. A Bullet from a Shooting Star, Alex Chinneck

Building, Park

© Barney moss / Flickr
Alex Chinneck’s playful take on the industrial area of North Greenwich comes in the form of a 35 metre upside down pylon poking out of the ground. It was commissioned by the London Design Festival and has remained, drawing people to the south east of London like the electricity it was designed to carry.

10. Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh


Van Gogh painted four replicas of his famous Sunflowers, all intended for his friend Paul Gauguin’s house in Arles. You can see one in London with its thick brushstrokes and lashing of colour.

11. A Bigger Splash, David Hockney


One of the most influential British painters of all time, David Hockney lives out in LA, which inspired some of his most famous works – set around the house pools of the villas out there. A Bigger Splash captures the absent protagonist and the sun-drenched afternoons of possibilities in California.

12. William Shakespeare, John Taylor


Shakespeare portrait
© John Taylor
Considering how much the famous playwright has shaped London, there are curiously few details about him. At the National Portrait Gallery, you can see the one of the only portraits from his time. It’s thought to date from 1610.

13. Marilyn Diptych, Andy Warhol


London has its fair share of modern art thanks to the ongoing development of the Tate Modern. See one of Andy Warhol’s most famous pop art prints, the Marilyn Diptychhere. He takes the traditional religious format of the diptych and uses one of the most iconic women of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe, to comment on fame, death and mortality.
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article