I first learned about the British Museum’s Out of Hours tours while doing a general sweep of kid-friendly tour options for kids in London. I’ve had great luck in the past with family tours, since it takes some of the pressure off parents and lets everyone have fun and learn things. These tours are run by the museum and take place when it’s closed to the general public (hence the “out of hours” part, which is British English for outside of opening hours). 

Out of Hours tours run from 8:50 to 10 in the morning, and all enter through the main entrance (since the museum is closed, you wait and then someone comes out to collect you). The cost is £33 for adults (about $42) and £16.50 (about $21) for kids ages five to 15. 

BRING THE KIDS: 11 best tour companies for family vacations around the world

These guided tours are led by expert guides and focus on specific collections at a time of day when the only crowd is your group (on the tour I went on, the group was probably about 30 people). It feels like a private tour without the private tour pricing. 

There were a few tour options to choose among, including introductions to ancient Egypt, the ancient Greek world, China, and the British Museum along with a deep dive on life and death in ancient Egypt. You can book about a year out, and booking well in advance gives you the best chance at getting the tour you’re most interested in.

BEST TRIP EVER: 50 best family vacation ideas for all ages

Why pay for an out-of-hours tour?

While these British Museum tours aren’t particularly expensive, since the museum is free, any amount is necessarily a lot more than you need to pay. These tours also tend to book up in advance, so you’ll need to decide and book a few months ahead of time.

I have been to the British Museum dozens of times, but this was hands down my favorite visit. Getting to enter the museum before it’s open felt fun and exciting. And it was so memorable to be able to be in the museum when it was quiet and crowd-free. 

TEEN-FRIENDLY TRIPS: 10 best vacation ideas for families with teenagers

It was my kids’ first visit, and honestly and in the best possible way, I think it ruined them a little bit for future visits when they’re going to have to peer over people and deal with the standard jockeying for position to see the Rosetta Stone, mummies, and manuscripts.

What else to know about out-of-hours tours

These tours require a fair amount of standing around and listening, so that has to be a good fit for your family to work well. I took my kids and my nieces on the tour, and the older ones were rapt the whole time while the younger ones tried their hardest but were definitely getting bored by the end.

ISLAND LIFE: 8 Caribbean islands you can safely visit during hurricane season

The lesson I learned the hard way is that it’s nice to be able to stick around after the tour. As the tour ends, the general public starts to filter in but since you’ll be deep into the museum when the tour wraps up, you can pretty easily find uncrowded rooms and exhibits to enjoy before it gets crowded. I had planned an activity right after the tour, so we missed making the most of our time in the museum at this less crowded time.

I took my kids on a British Museum out-of-hours tour and it was even better than I expected originally appeared on

More from FamilyVacationist:

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY. and are owned and operated by Vacationist Media LLC. Using the FamilyVacationist travel recommendation methodology, we review and select family vacation ideas, family vacation spots, all-inclusive family resorts, and classic family vacations for all ages. TourScoop covers guided group tours and tour operators, tour operator reviews, tour itinerary reviews and travel gear recommendations.

Source link