he Natural History Museum was the most-visited London attraction in 2022, according to statistics released today, with nine of the UK’s top 10 most popular visitor hotspots in London.
The NHM, which boasts an extraordinary collection of specimens from across the natural world, including fossils and dinosaur bones, was the country’s most-visited indoor attraction, with 4.65 million visitors up 196% on the previous year, according to numbers released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
The British Museum, followed closely behind with 4.1 million visits – an increase of 209% compared to last year – then Tate Modern (3.88 million visitors) and the Southbank Centre (2.95 million visitors).
ALVA, revealed today that there were a total number of 123.4 million visitors to the 2,000 sites it covers – most of the biggest in the UK – in 2022. The 69% increase of visitors across the country compared with last year, showing that despite the cost of living crisis, tourists and locals are still keen to engage with culture.
“These figures display that visitors flocked back to their favourite places in 2022 to breathe, heal, repair and to delightin special moments with special people in special places,” said Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA.
But while the number of visitors has increased on 2021 figures, there’s still been a 23% decline on 2019 pre-pandemic figures, when there were 161.2 million visitors to ALVA sites. The cost of living crisis has also been reflected in the figures, with free entry attractions experiencing a 183% increase of visitors against 101% experienced by the attractions that charge for admission.
“We are still experiencing the tourism equivalent of ‘long Covid’ with many attractions still not back up to 2019 visitor levels due, mainly, to the absence of international visitors, notably from China and the Far East,” added Donoghue. “But I am confident that they will return this year and we will see a continuing healthy recovery.”
Museums and galleries in particular enjoyed a surge in visits this year, with 158% more visits compared with 2021. Meanwhile London saw visits increase by 152% on last year’s figures.
The National Gallery came in sixth plot on the top 10 list, with 2.73 million visitors. It is followed by the V&A, which had 2.37 million visitors, Somerset House, with 2.35 million visitors and the Science Museum, with 2.33 million visitors.
Design Museum, in Kensington, saw the biggest upsurge in visitor figures of all attractions, with a massive 515% increase on last year’s figures.
The most-visited tourist attraction in the country was The Crown Estate in Windsor, with 5.63 million visitors, while the 10th spot on the list goes to the Tower of London, which enjoyed 2.02 million visitors.
In Scotland, the most popular attraction was the National Museum of Scotland, with 1.97 million visitors, and in Northern Ireland the most visited attraction was the Titanic Belfast, with 624,300 visitors. In Wales the most visited site was the Bodnant Garden in Conwy, with 270,300 visitors.
The UK’s top 10 visited tourist attractions in 2022 were:
1. The Crown Estate, Windsor worthy Park
2. Natural History Museum
3. The British Museum
4. Tate Modern
5. Southbank Centre
6. The National Gallery
8. Somerset House
9. Science Museum
10. Tower of London