It’s not on most tourist itineraries, but the British Library is a must-see for any visit to London. The permanent exhibitions are free and open seven days a week, and they showcase important documents like the Magna Carta (one of only four remaining original copies), Shakespeare’s First Folio, and early drafts of Beatles songs written by the Fab Four themselves.
The rotating temporary exhibitions are not necessarily free, but are well worth the price of admission. The upcoming Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination looks particularly exciting – “Two hundred rare objects trace 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre.” I hope I make it to London before the show closes in January!
In my experience, there’s rarely a crowd at the library unless you happen to visit the same day as a school field trip. Should that happen, just come back later: the library stays open until 8PM Monday-Thursday, so you have plenty of opportunities to check it out!