Art historians consider the Courtauld one of the most prestigious collections on Earth, yet the tourist masses don’t visit it, which makes for a very pleasant viewing experience. The small two-level selection is supreme, with several masterpieces you will instantly recognize. Among the winners are Manet’s scandalous Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, depicting a naked woman picnicking with two clothed men, and the artist’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, showing a melancholy barmaid standing in front of her disproportionate reflection. There are multiple Cézannes, Toulouse-Lautrecs, and Tahitian Gauguins. Degas’ Two Dancers on a Stage is iconic, as is Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Especially rare is a completed Seurat, Young Woman Powdering Herself, which depicts his mistress in the act of dressing and initially included his own face in the frame on the wall—he painted over it with a vase of flowers to avoid ridicule. Nearly every day at 1:15pm, there’s a free lunchtime talk focusing on one of the works. Somerset House, its home, was once a naval center and later was where Londoners came to settle taxes and research family history. The central courtyard, beneath which lie the foundations of a Tudor palace, has a grove of 55 ground-level fountains that delight small children, and it’s the scene of both popular summer concerts and a winter ice rink, plus a cafe by the popular charcuterie-bakery Fernandez & Wells. Check out the changing free exhibitions at the East Wing Galleries and see if anything interesting is showing at the Embankment Galleries, which charges £10 adults, £8 seniors/students, depending on what’s on display. The terrace overlooking the Thames (from across the street) can be enjoyed for free.