Things to Do in Westminster

Home to some of London’s most famous sights, Westminster is one of the top tourist destinations in the U.K. This famous London borough has so much to see and do, tourists have a hard time doing it all in one trip.

Some of Westminster’s most famous sights include:

Big Ben

A must-see for anyone visiting London, Big Ben attracts millions of visitors each year. Located at the Houses of Parliament, the tower is one of London’s most famous sights.

The clock tower was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. Built in the Gothic style and standing 96 metres tall, the tower was built in 1855 and is a cultural icon.

Along with the large main bell, the Clock Tower features four quarter bells.

Big Ben should be at the top of your list of things to do when staying in Westminster.

Westminster Abbey

Located on Broad Sanctuary, Westminster Abbey is another one of London’s most famous sights. With more than a thousand years of history, the Abbey has been the site of every royal Coronation since 1066.

Benedictine monks first came to the site in the mid-tenth century.

The present-day church was formed by Henry III in 1245, and is considered one of the most important Gothic buildings in the United Kingdom.

Along with its breathtaking architecture, the Abbey houses a treasure trove of stained glass, paintings, textiles and an array of other artefacts. More than 3,000 people are buried at Westminster Abbey.

The Abbey is typically open from Monday through Saturday. Sundays are for worship only, but all are free to attend services.

Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament is open to the public for tours, and visitors can also attend debates or watch committee hearings.

A number of tours are available, including audio and guided. Visitors can also book afternoon tea along the River Thames along with their guided or audio tour.

Touring the Houses of Parliament gives you a first-hand look at where British law is made.

Churchill War Rooms

Step back into history at the Churchill War Rooms. Churchill’s secret WW2 bunker and museum is open to the public, and tells the story of the famous Prime Minister’s legacy and life.

The underground Cabinet War Rooms were built in 1938, and became operational just before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The War Rooms are open daily from 9:30am-6pm. An on-site café serves food from 10am to 5pm, with hot meals served until 3pm.

History buffs will want to put Churchill War Rooms at the top of their must-visit list.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is both the residence and the administrative headquarters of the royal family.

The palace was built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham on a site that had been privately owned for more than a century. King George III acquired the palace, which was just a large townhouse at the time, in 1761, and used the home as the residence for Queen Charlotte.

The townhouse would later be enlarged in the 19th century, and became the home of the British monarch in 1837.

The palace is open to the public in the summer months, and limited tours are offered in December, January and on Easter.

St. James’s Park

Located on Horse Guards Road, St. James’s Park attracts millions of visitors each year and is the oldest of the eight Royal Parks.

The park is the heart of ceremonial London, and includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade. The Trooping the Colour pageant is held here each year.

St. James’s Park is home to numerous statues and monuments – including the Queen Victoria Memorial – wildlife, landmarks and events.

The park is open daily from 5am until midnight all year long.

Westminster Cathedral

Located on Francis Street, Westminster Cathedral is regarded as the Mother Church for English and Welsh Roman Catholics.

Situated near the shops on Victoria Street, the cathedral is a wonderful sight for both worshippers and lovers of architecture.

The site of the church was purchased in 1885 by the Archdiocese of Westminster. It is now the largest Catholic church in England and Wales.

The church still holds services today, but visitors are welcome to attend and appreciate the beauty of the church’s interior.

Horse Guards Parade at Whitehall

The Horse Guards Parade at Whitehall is a parade ground located near Whitehall. Each morning, the Changing of the Guard ceremony is held here at 11am Monday-Saturday and 10am on Sunday.

The Changing of the Guard ceremony lasts about 30 minutes, but crowds tend to gather early.

The Trooping of the Colour, during which the troops are presented to The Queen, also takes place at the Horse Guards Parade.

At 16:00, the “4 O’Clock Parade,” formally known as the Dismounting Ceremony, takes place at the parade. During this time, the sentries dismount, and the horses are returned to their stables.