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Suppose you're starting from off somewhere near the Paddington Station (which is where I find myself at the current moment). From here on, you can either rely on the underground trains, buses or plain ole' walking (taxis being freaking expensive). Out of these options, which one would be the most optimal for visiting:

  1. British Museum
  2. Natural History Museum
  3. V&A
  4. Science Museum
  5. Tate Modern

It would be extremely helpful, if the answer would describe in as much as detail as possible the routes that one must take alternatively to reach the above-listed locations. All of it must be done in a span of 1-2 days and thus be maximally efficient.

(I'm a total newbie to the city and need a (virtual) guiding hand of the travel.stackexchange veterans/any London 'pundits'!)

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    This site is designed more for archiving useful information than for urgent responses, and so the "ASAP" may discourage people. I think many people also have something of a bias against questions that come across as too "needy". So, perhaps counterintuitively, I think you're more likely to get helpful and timely answers if you remove the all-caps "HELP ASAP". If you really do need immediate assistance, you might try calling Transport for London at 0343 222 1234. – Nate Eldredge May 24 '15 at 2:07
  • Thanks for your helpful suggestion, Nate. I will remove 'help asap' thingy – duskn May 24 '15 at 2:09
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    The Transport for London website has a good journey planner if you want to use public transport. tfl.gov.uk – Phil May 24 '15 at 8:16
  • If you're a fan of walking, and the weather's nice, you could walk it all and see a lot of London (eg Paddington via Hyde Park to the Kensington Museums, through some posh bits down to the river, along the river past Parliament to the Tate Modern, then up through the city to the British Museum), but it'll eat into your museum time and you'd already got a huge amount packed in... – Gagravarr May 24 '15 at 11:20
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*(first of all, I only recommend this if you're happy to quickly selectively skip around the top attractions in a museum before moving on to the next one. Each one of the 5 museums you've mentioned is huge, with enough for two or more full days' visits by someone very interested, and a full day each for someone moderately interested)*

If you really don't mind skipping to see the best stuff and then heading on, after your very busy day in South Kensington as DJClayworth suggests, you could:

  • Take the tube to the British Museum early in the morning, selectively walk around the bits you're most interested in
  • Either walk (20 mins, not much to see) or get a bus (any bus) down High Holborn to St Paul's
  • Take a quick look at St Paul's Cathedral while you're there, it's pretty spectacular, but probably don't go in today...
  • Continue with a short 10 minute walk south along the Millenium Bridge (pedestrians-only, good views of the river)...
  • ...which takes you right to the door of the Tate Modern.

It also works going the other way, Tate first; it's a question of where you want to be in the evening.

The British Museum and Tate Modern aren't as close to each other as the South Kensington museums, but they're still pretty close and it's rather nice that the route between them can go via St Paul's and the Millenium Bridge without really adding any time.

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    In addition to target location, consider the view of St. Paul's from the Millennium Bridge. For that reason, I prefer Tate Modern first, then St. Paul's. – Patricia Shanahan May 20 '16 at 23:20
  • That's a good point. Another advantage to Tate first then BM is, there are some very good restaurants not far from the British Museum (Abeno, a Japanese restaurant specialising in okonomiyaki, is one of my favourite anywhere in London). There's not so much for the evening near the Tate. – user568458 May 21 '16 at 15:25
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The Natural History Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and the Science Museum are all in Kensington, which means that the directions for getting there from Paddington station are "Walk across Hyde Park". Seriously it's about a kilometer, and you'll take in the Albert Memorial, the Albert Hall and one of London's best parks as you go. In more detail, walk south on West Carriage Drive (through the middle of the park) and continue south of the park on Exhibition Road. After you pass Imperial College Road look around. V&A will be on your left, Science Museum and Natural History on your right.

The British Museum and Tate Modern are further away. But frankly you would be insane to try and do five of these museums in one day. Spend a day at these three (you could easily spend several days at each) and then look up the directions to the other for yourself.

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    I walked from the V&A to Paddington station a couple of months ago, and agree it is a lovely walk. – Phil May 24 '15 at 8:16
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    +1 for "you would be insane to try and do five of these museums in one day", each one is huge! Even just doing two in a day would mean being very selective about what you go and see. – user568458 May 24 '15 at 16:50
  • @duskn, or if you don't feel like walking, take the Circle Line (part of the London Underground aka The Tube) from Paddington to South Kensington. Trains leave about every 5 minutes, journey time about 10 minutes. The Natural History Museum, Science Museum and V&A are all right there next to South Ken station. – A E May 25 '15 at 19:30
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I would google the transport for London site and if using a phone that does apps, see if they have an app. It has an walking option but I am more likely to just use an online map and check out their time compares to what I actually use, for which I use google maps.

Besides I usually have a paper map with the tube lines printed over the map as well as the streets, which you can buy out of a machine at some tube stations, and looks a bit like this. There are versions with the bus routes as well.

Armed with that I am ready to work out a route as well as be confident on walking in London and find my way around when underway.

I know that I would spend the whole day in each of these museums, and want to get back to get more the next time I have the option, I would not combine them myself, but if you only want a visit to see what all the talk is about, combining the Natural History Museum, V&A and the Science Museum is easy, as they are all in the same small area, the British Museum and Tate Modern are not as close together but they are certainly within walking distance for me. But I walk a lot when exploring London.

As I do not know what you find acceptable in walking, I would suggest to take the Circle line to South Kensington Underground Station, from there the route is well signposted to each of the museums in the area. Whether you want to walk on the way back may depend on how much you walk within the museums.

To the British Museum the planner shows several options (and if you only get one you can chose the fewest change option or the least walking option or the bus only option) so you can suit yourself.

But the best thing for you is to learn to use the underground and bus maps. One glance at a map may show you way more than several written out route schedules.

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