Updated on March 2, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

There are over 40 aviation museums in the United Kingdom. You will find aviation museums throughout England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales to commemorate the nation’s history.

Regardless of which part of history you’re interested in, you’ll find crafts through the ages. These aviation museums vary in size, but all have unique collections.

If you’re interested in visiting the UK to learn more about aviation, we’ve compiled a list of the nine best aviation museums to visit in the United Kingdom.

1. Imperial War Museum Duxford

The Imperial War Museum in Duxford is the biggest aviation museum in the UK. The museum focuses on the history of imperial war aircraft, which you can view in their historic hangars.

Volunteers focus on the restoration of each model, and you can also find each plane on their live airfield. While there are seven exhibitions to explore, it can be difficult for families to choose one.

To help you plan your trip, all visitors are brought to the Planning Point, where they can see what is taking place each day. You can stroll around the hangars and see how each aircraft is conserved and how they look during the flight.

They have different air shows organised annually, and you can arrange tours through the exhibitions.

If you want anything to commemorate your trip, you’ll be glad to know there’s a gift shop, and filming and photography are permitted in the museum. Snacks can also be provided at one of their many cafés.

If you’re interested in visiting, the Imperial War Museum Duxford is open from 10 am to 4 pm, with a last entry at 3 pm.

2. Aerospace Bristol

For a fun family day out, you could visit Aerospace Bristol. Aerospace Bristol is dedicated to teaching people of all ages about a century’s worth of aviation history. When you visit, you’ll find a wide range of exhibits available.

Many of these exhibits are interactive, so children can get involved in learning about history.

Among these interactive exhibits is the opportunity to step aboard the last Concorde that took flight in England, where you can see how people would travel at such high speeds.

Throughout Aerospace Bristol, you will find a collection of aircraft that the museum works to conserve for future generations.

If you have children, you will be pleased to know that there are indoor and outdoor play areas for them to enjoy.

Throughout the day, you can get snacks from the cafés available in the museum and finish the day with a stop at the gift shop.

While it is open seven days a week from 10 am to 4:30 pm, you may find it closed on certain days due to private event bookings. Before visiting, it’s recommended you check the date first.

3. Avro Heritage Museum

Avro was once a British aircraft manufacturer. It was one of the first aircraft manufacturers in the world. Throughout the years, they manufactured planes for different purposes during the First and Second World Wars.

The Avro Heritage Museum was born to preserve the heritage of Avro aircraft, as Avro merged with another company in the 1960s. 

Over the years, they produced legendary bombers, including the Lancaster, Vulcan, Nimrod, and BAe 146 aircraft. At the Avro Heritage Museum, you will find a selection of different models, including their all-white Vulcan Bomber.

Alongside the Vulcan Bomber are a Type F Replica and a Roe I Triplane Replica. You can even book to tour the cockpits for a small extra charge. There are plenty of all-age activities, including simulations for all ages.

In these simulations, you’ll be able to fly, experience a World War II raid, and hunt submarines in a Nimrod. The museum also includes a café for any hungry guests.

If you want to visit the Avro Heritage Museum, you can do so from 10:30 am. During the summer, they will be open until 4 pm, with an earlier closing time of 3 pm in the winter.

4. Shuttleworth Collection

The Shuttleworth Collection was established to commemorate Richard Shuttleworth. Richard Shuttleworth was passionate about racing cars and aeroplanes and maintaining his ancestral home.

He would rescue old aircraft and other vehicles to restore them so they would continue working. After he died in an accident while on a night RAF training exercise, his family continued his legacy with the Shuttleworth Collection.

When visiting the Shuttleworth collection, you’ll find six hangars of Edwardian aircraft that have been restored.

You’ll find that they often fly in air shows that take place from May to October, and you can see the restoration process in the museum’s workshop.

When visiting, you can see a host of vehicles that the museum has restored and explore the gardens. If you want to visit, you can do so from 10 am to 5 pm in the summer and a winter closing time of 4 pm.

5. National Museum Of Flight

The National Museum of Flight is a part of the National Museum of Scotland, joining the National War Museum and the National Museum of Rural Life.

The National Museum of Flight’s birth occurred when the Ministry of Defence donated a Supermarine Spitfire to the museum. To make a place for it, they purchased a hangar, which allowed the museum to begin its collection.

When visiting the National Museum of Flight, you can choose between two trails that focus on two exhibits. The first trail is “Flying into the future”, which focuses on sustainable air travel, and how air travel has changed over the years.

In this trail, you’ll find the home of Scotland’s only Concorde, which you can explore inside. Nearby, you’ll find the only place where you can see a Red Arrow Hawk up close.

The second trail is more historical, focusing on the life of the RAF during the second world war. There are many interactive exhibitions available at the National Museum of Flight.

If you want to visit, they’re open from 10 am until 4 pm, but only on weekends. However, they will open daily from April to the end of October from 10 am to 5 pm.

6. Newark Air Museum

Originally, Newark Air Museum was a training base during the Second World War. It opened in 1973 and opened its first aircraft display hall in the ‘90s.

Its second aircraft display hall was eventually opened in 2004 to make space for more models. At Newark Air Museum, you can explore a range of different aircraft which the museum has carefully restored.

Cockpit tours can also be arranged, as knowledgeable volunteers arrange all. Not only can you take a closer look at the planes available, but you can also take an even closer look at the engines of different aircraft.

Along with exhibitions and tours, there is also a collection of artefacts associated with the Lancaster Bomber. You’ll find that you can support the museum by buying from their gift shop or a snack from the museum’s café.

If you want to visit, Newark Air Museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm from March to October, while it closes earlier from November to February at 4 pm.

7. RAF Museum London

The Royal Air Force Museum in London is a part of the Royal Air Force Museum, which is dedicated to presenting the history of the Royal Air Force. In this museum, you’ll find six different hangars containing four exhibits.

These exhibits talk about the history of flight and the role of the RAF during conflicts. The museum has some fun interactive exhibitions that the whole family can enjoy, and they even have temporary exhibitions, such as art galleries.

If you’re stuck on where to travel, you can even go through one of the many family trails available.

These will ensure that your journey follows a specific theme on the day. If you want to visit, the RAF Museum London is open daily from 10 am until 5 pm.

8. RAF Museum Cosford

The Royal Air Force Museum’s second part is in Cosford in the Midlands. You’ll find a range of exhibits. Cosford focuses on exhibition tours about Cold War and war in the air. The London and Cosford RAF museums are different.

Alongside exhibitions, tours are a small collection of immersive experiences to enjoy. Among these experiences are a 4D flight with the Red Arrows that will let you feel what it’s like to fly alongside them.

You can also take your time to enjoy what it’s like to fly a Spitfire or a Typhoon Jet in virtual reality. You can even visit the museum gift shop. It is open from 10 am until 4 pm if you want to see it.

9. Yorkshire Air Museum

As one of the largest independent aviation museums in the United Kingdom, Yorkshire Air Museum has a large collection of aircraft and military vehicles.

Located on the former site of the RAF Elvington, you’ll find that they have aircraft from before and during the Second World War and as far into the Cold War. They’ve also restored and maintained their historic military vehicles.

The main hangar is the Canadian Hangar, where you will find a diverse range of exhibits. They also have an onsite control tower in the centre of the museum and an Edwardian-style theatre.

They have done well at preserving the history of the 77 Squadron, where you’ll still find their room. If you want to visit, they are open from 10 am until 4 pm in winter and have a later closing time of 5 pm in the summer.

Notably, they are closed on Wednesdays. We hope you found this list helpful, and hope that you enjoy your next aviation experience.

RAF Museum London - VIRTUAL TOUR