Looking for a painting by Vermeer? Find it with QUICK SEARCH!

The European Travel Companion to Vermeer: London

last updated January 9, 2024

The English Railway System

The English railway system has a rich history, being one of the world's oldest. It began with the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 and rapidly expanded during the Victorian era. The network covers a vast area, connecting major cities, towns, and many rural areas across England. Key hubs include London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Liverpool.

The railway system in England is operated by multiple private train operating companies. Each company serves specific routes and regions. Notable ones include Virgin Trains, Great Western Railway, and Southern Rail. National Rail promotes and facilitates passenger railway services. It is not a company but a system that encompasses the services provided by the various sytems.

The High Speed 1 (HS1) line connects London with the Channel Tunnel and is the only high-speed line currently in operation.

Ticket pricing can be complex, with a range of fares like Advance, Off-Peak, and Anytime. Railcards offering discounts are available for various groups of passengers. Various railcards are available offering discounts to seniors, youths, families, and disabled passengers. For tourists, passes like the BritRail pass offer unlimited travel for a set period.


Eurail Passes are designed for non-European residents and citizens. They offer extensive rail travel across many countries in Europe. The pass allows unlimited train travel within and between participating countries for a certain number of travel days. Passes often includes additional benefits like discounts on ferries, buses, and hotels.

The Global Pass is the most comprehensive pass, allowing travel in up to thirty-three countries. One Country Pass is for unlimited travel within a single country. Select Pass allows travel between two, three, or four neighboring countries.
Flexibility passes offer flexibility, with options for consecutive day travel or a set number of travel days within a longer period.

While the pass covers the cost of train travel, some high-speed and overnight trains require reservations and may have additional fees. There are discounts for youth (usually under twenty-seven), seniors (over sixty), and sometimes for groups or families. Eurail Passes can be purchased online and planning ahead is essential to maximize their value. It is also important to understand the train systems in the countries you plan to visit and to make reservations where necessary. The pass must be activated before use and is typically valid for eleven months from the date of purchase. Activation can be done at a train station in Europe or online.


Exploring London's rich art scene, especially its four Vermeer , is a journey through the city's vibrant cultural landscape. Starting with the National Gallery, nestled in the iconic Trafalgar Square, you'll find two of Vermeer's late works, A Lady Standing ta the Virginal and Lady Seated at the Virginal, among its vast collection. This gallery is easily accessible by the London Underground, with the nearest stations being Charing Cross and Leicester Square. While you're in the area, it's worth exploring the neighboring National Portrait Gallery or catching a show in one of the many theaters nearby.

Next on the Vermeer trail is the Kenwood House, located in the serene setting of Hampstead Heath. This stately home is where Vermeer's The Guitar Player is displayed. Although slightly off the beaten path compared to central London attractions, Kenwood House is a short bus ride or a scenic walk away from the Archway tube station. The house, set amidst the picturesque Heath, is perfect for a leisurely day out, combining art with the beauty of one of London's famous green spaces.

A visit to Buckingham Palace, the residence of the British monarch, might also be on your agenda. While Vermeer's The Music Lesson is part of the Royal Collection and occasionally displayed here, it is not, however, a permanent fixture for public viewing. To catch a glimpse, it is best to check the Royal Collection Trust's website page for exhibition schedules.

Getting around London

Ground transportation in and around London is renowned for its diversity and efficiency, catering to both the city's residents and its multitude of visitors. London is served by several major train stations (like Waterloo, King's Cross, and Victoria) that connect the city with the rest of the UK. These trains are ideal for longer journeys outside of London or for reaching suburbs not covered by the Tube.

The London Underground, commonly known as the Tube, is the city's rapid transit system and one of the most famous subway systems in the world. It covers central London and extends into the surrounding suburbs. The Tube is a quick and convenient way to get around the city, with well-connected lines and frequent services.

London's iconic red buses cover the entire city and its outskirts. They are a cost-effective way to travel, often offering scenic views of the streets and landmarks. Night buses operate when the Tube is closed, ensuring 24-hour transportation.

London has a public bicycle hire scheme, popularly known as "Boris Bikes" (officially called Santander Cycles). There are numerous bike hire stations across the city, and the scheme is a popular choice for short journeys.

London's black cabs are a traditional sight and can be hailed on the street. Minicabs, which must be booked in advance, are a common alternative.

Although vast, m any of London's attractions are within walking distance of each other, especially in central areas. Walking can often be a pleasant and direct way to explore the city.

When traveling in London, consider getting an Oyster Card for hassle-free use of public transport, including buses and the Underground. The city is also remarkably pedestrian-friendly, particularly in the central areas where a short stroll can take you from one landmark to another. Utilizing city maps or navigation apps on your phone is advisable for planning efficient routes across the city.

Remember to check the opening hours and visitor information for each location in advance. London's galleries and museums can have varying schedules, and some may require advance booking, especially for special exhibitions. With a bit of planning, your artistic journey through London, tracing the steps of Vermeer, will be both enriching and memorable.

A Lady Standing at a Virginal, Johannes Vermeer

A Lady Standing at a Virginal
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1670–1674
Oil on canvas, 51.7 x 45.2 cm.
National Gallery, London

A Lady Seated at a Virginal, Johannes Vermeer

A Lady Seated at a Virginal
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1670–1675
Oil on canvas, 51.5 x 45.5 cm.
National Gallery, London

The Music Lesson, Johannes Vermeer

The Music Lesson
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1662–1665
Oil on canvas, 73.3 x 64.5 cm.
The Royal Collection, The Windsor Castle

The Guitar Player, Johannes Vermeer

The Guitar Player
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1670–1673
Oil on canvas, 53 x 46.3 cm.
Iveagh Bequest, London

travel & public transport

HOTEL WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE to National Gallery and Buckingham Palace):



(visitor information)


The State Rooms with the Royal Collection, which includes Vermeer's Music Lesson is open to the public
in the Summer months.

(visitor information)


  • As one of the largest metropolis in the world, London offers cultural events for each and every taste.
    Those with some affection for Royal traditions and the glory of the past should not miss the daily
    Changing the Guards at Buckingham Palace http://www.changing-the-guard.com/
    or a visit to the legendary Tower. http://www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon/
  • Lovers of British and international modern and contemporary art will certainly spend also a visit
    to Tate-Gallery. <http://www.tate.org.uk/>
  • Theatre goers won't miss an evening in one of the renowned West End theatres (especially for top musicals) or in the world-known Opera Covent Garden.
  • Very special: a visit to the completely reconstructed Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

EV 3.0 Newsletter ✉

Latest Article

If you discover a or anything else that isn't working as it should be, I'd love to hear it! Please write me at: jonathanjanson@essentialvermeer.com