The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has released visitor figures from its members for 2022, with museums and galleries among those reporting an increase in numbers. 

Natural History Museum, London

London’s Natural History Museum was one of the most visited attractions in 2022.

In total there were more than 123 million visits in 2022, which saw a 69% increase on the previous year (73.1 million), but still a decline of 23% on the 161.2 million visits in 2019 prior to the height of the pandemic.

Museums and galleries reported a surge in visits, up by 158% compared with 2021. Visits to heritage and cathedral sites also increased (55%), as did zoo visits (15%).

ALVA’s most visited attraction in the UK continued to be Windsor Great Park, which is managed by the Crown Estate and saw more than five-and-a-half-million visitors.

This was followed by the Natural History Museum (South Kensington) in second spot and The British Museum which rose from sixth to third spot. 

In fourth place was Tate Modern which moved from seventh place with just under 3.9 million visitors, while the Southbank Centre moved up eight places to fifth with nearly three million visitors.

Windsor Great Park

Source: Windsor Great Park

Windsor Great Park topped the most-visited list for a second year running.

The National Gallery saw a 274% increase and returned as one of the top ten most-visited attractions and the Tower of London moved from 33rd place to 10th with more than two million visitors.

Bernard Donoghue, director of ALVA, said: “These figures show that visitors flocked back to their favourite places in 2022 to breathe, heal, repair and to enjoy special moments with special people in special places.

“The year ended strongly with attractions reporting a very busy Christmas, strong visitor numbers and strong retail sales. People clearly wanted to create special memories with their loved ones after two difficult years and a challenging economic climate.”

The top 20 most visited attractions in 2022

 2022 rankAttraction  Total visits in 2022
 1  The Crown Estate, Windsor Great Park  5,636,844
 2  Natural History Museum (South Kensington)  4,654,608
 3  The British Museum  4,097,253
 4  Tate Modern  3,883,160
 5  Southbank Centre  2,947,155
 6  The National Gallery  2,727,119
 7  V&A South Kensington  2,370,261
 8  Somerset House  2,346,580
 9  Science Museum 2,334,930 
 10  Tower of London  2,020,121
 11  National Museum of Scotland  1,973,751
 12  Royal Botanic Gardens Kew  1,963,885
 13  Royal Museums Greenwich  1,628,580
 14  RHS Garden Wisley  1,494,709
 15  Royal Albert Hall  1,449,486
 16  Edinburgh Castle  1,346,168
 17  Scottish National Gallery  1,277,230
 18  St Paul’s Cathedral  1,193,888
 19  Riverside Museum  1,173,242
 20  British Library  1,149,070

What else do the figures show?

In Scotland, the most popular free attraction was the National Museum of Scotland, which rose nine places overall to 11th. It was followed by Edinburgh Castle, which was the highest paid for attraction in Scotland. In the 2021 figures, the castle had been in 41st place, but in 2022, it saw an increase of 218% to 16th position (1,346,168 visits).

In Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast was the most visited attraction. It saw a 177% increase after welcoming 624,294 visitors.

Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast has reopened following a multi-million pound project.

Among the largest percentage increases was new ALVA member, the Design Museum which saw a 515% increase to 511,863 visitors. Also in London, Westminster Abbey rose 105 places to 21st and The Monument to The Great Fire of London had a 729% increase with more than 81,000 visitors. Another notable rise was The Royal Shakespeare Company that moved 116 places to 43rd, with over 672,000 visitors. 

The cost-of-living crisis was also reflected in the annual figures for 2022 with attractions offering free entry (except for special exhibitions and events) reporting the strongest year-on-year growth in visits with a 183% increase.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions’ members are some of the UK’s most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions. For the full list and more information, visit