Are you simply a sucker for learning all you can about science, technology, our planet and the wonders that lie beyond the Earth’s atmosphere? If so, you’ll definitely be in luck on a visit to the UK capital; that’s because London can boast more than its fair share of attractions dedicated to celebrating and sating people’s curiosity of those very things – after all, this is the city that was once home to the likes of Newton, Darwin, Faraday and Fleming (and where they and the likes of them made a good number of their discoveries)…
The Science Museum
(Exhibition Road SW7 2DD/ open: 10am-6pm daily)
Pretty much the essential destination for discovering the fundamentals worth discovering about science, innovation and technology, the Science Museum – one of the mainstays of South Kensington’s ‘Albertopolis’ – features a comprehensive seven floors of entertaining educational displays and exhibits covering topics including flight, robotics, clocks and medicine; not to mention space exploration (there’s even a genuine Apollo 10 command module, a huge telescope that was used on British space missions and a Beagle 2 Mars Lander full-scale model, as well as a flight simulator). Moreover, the venue’s in-house IMAX theatre will thrill the curious of all ages, showing as it does scientific films in 3D that take audiences several times a day into deepest space and to the depths of the ocean in all their extraordinary detail and beauty.
Royal Observatory Greenwich
(Blackheath Avenue SE10 8XJ/ open: 10am-5pm)
How does the idea of exploring space and time sound to you? Well, pay the Peter Harrison Planetarium a visit and straddle the Meridian line (the actual geographic line that defines Greenwich Mean Time) and you’ll be able to do just that. Indeed, should you make the trek out to Greenwich Park (don’t worry it’s very easily reachable from central accommodation like The Montcalm London Marble Arch hotel – and the park itself is gorgeous on a bright, sunny day), you’ll also be able to check out Flamsteed House (otherwise known as the Royal Observatory building), John Harrison’s centuries-old but fascinating maritime timekeeping devices, London’s moving panorama ‘Camera Obscura’, the entirely free and totally interactive Weller Astronomy Galleries and, finally, the Altazimuth Pavilion, which is home to an exhibition on the sun and offers sundry historic instruments to examine and marvel. And, talking of marvelling at things, you might also be tempted to book a night-sky observation, which can be done between the months of November and March.
The Natural History Museum, Kensington
(Cromwell Road SW7 5BD/ open: 10am-5.50pm)
Finally, another of South Ken’s big Victorian-venue-opuses that are open and free to all and sundry, the gorgeous building (both indoor and out) that’s the Natural History Museum is where all the big questions of nature are posed and – attempt to be – answered. Here, if you wish, you can learn all about human evolution, the developments and realities of the world’s oceans and the rise and demise of the dinosaurs; or, alternatively, you can just marvel at all the perfectly preserved animal specimens (some of them sadly now extinct) or be scared silly by the giant dinosaur models at the awesome prehistoric-focused exhibit in the basement. Either way, it’s your call! Indeed, this museum is also home to one of the world’s foremost meteorite collections and its forecourt hosts a charming ice rink that’s fabulously family-friendly in the winter months.