Things to do in London

Exploring the Palace of Westminster: A Historic Landmark in London

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Visit the Palace of Westminster in London if you're searching for an interesting and engaging way to learn more about British politics. You'll learn everything about the history of Big Ben & Parliament House, while getting a sneak peek at how the UK government functions. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is packed with exquisite architecture and extraordinary characteristics to leave you in awe.

Palace of Westminster

Palace of Westminster - In A Nutshell

Handy information

⏰ Suggested Duration:2-3 hours
☀️ Best Time to Visit:Summer
💜 Must See:House of Commons


Royal Gallery
Central Lobby
Westminster Hall
St. Stephen’s Hall
House of Lords
House of Commons

Things to know

Location: London, England
Architect: Sir Charles Barry
Architectural style: Neo-Gothic architecture
Yearly Footfall: 1.1 million

Opening Hours And Address

Monday to Friday 9 AM to 5 PM
Wednesday: 1 PM to 4 PM

Address: Palace Of Westminster, London SW1A 1AA
Get Directions

Why is the Palace of Westminster Worth Visiting?

  • The Palace of Westminster is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Buckingham Palace neighborhood of London.
  • The building was reconstructed by Charles Barry in the Gothic Revival style and is an outstanding example of Neo-Gothic architecture.
  • The Palace of Westminster is home to Big Ben, the iconic clock tower that characterizes London's cityscape.
  • The Palace of Westminster was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
  • The Palace has been featured in many films and TV series, including V for Vendetta and Sherlock.

The Palace of Westminster Tickets

History of the Palace of Westminster

It all began in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1834, when the talented architect Charles Barry was tasked with reconstructing the building. Since then, the Palace has survived numerous challenges, including the devastation of World War II, to become the magnificent structure we see today.

Did you know that the Palace of Westminster was commissioned by William II, son of William the Conqueror, and has played a crucial role in establishing the Crown as the ruler of the United Kingdom? Despite narrowly escaping destruction during the Blitz, it remains an iconic symbol of British heritage and history, even hosting the late Queen Elizabeth II's lying-in-state.

If you're a history buff or interested in politics, a visit to the Palace of Westminster is an absolute must. You'll be surrounded by a wealth of stories and historical significance, and it's an experience you won't forget anytime soon!

Palace of Westminster

Architecture of the Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster is a massive complex that covers eight acres, boasting over 1100 rooms, 100 staircases, and an extensive network of 4.8 km of passageways. Spanning nearly 300 meters from the Victoria Tower in the south to the Clock Tower in the north, the Palace contains state apartments for the two houses' presiding officers, along with the official residence of the Speaker located at the northern end.

Four acres of grounds and lush lawns surround the Palace, including the public Victoria Tower grounds park along the river south of the building.

Westminster Abbey vs. Palace of Westminster

Westminster Abbey is a true marvel of English Gothic art and architecture, serving as a tangible representation of its many phases. It was also a key inspiration for the Palace of Westminster's own impressive design, created by the legendary duo of Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin.

Meanwhile, the Palace of Westminster was constructed to embody the grandeur of constitutional monarchy and the bicameral parliamentary system, drawing on English architectural traditions to showcase the national character.

Westminster Abbey has served as a place of worship for over a millennium, while also hosting major national celebrations and cultural events; while the Palace of Westminster continues to act as the seat of Parliament.

Palace of Westminster - Highlights

Palace of Westminster

1. House of Commons

The lower house of the British Parliament is called the House of Commons. To represent the views and worries of its citizens in the House of Commons, the UK picks 650 Members of Parliament (MPs). In addition to considering and putting forth new legislation, members of parliament can examine government actions by interrogating ministers in committee or in the Commons Chamber on current matters.

2. House of Lords

The House of Lords is the UK Parliament's second chamber. It is essential for reviewing bills, challenging governmental decisions, and researching public policy.

3. Westminster Hall

Dating back to 1097, Westminster Hall serves as a timeless testimony to the rich history of the Houses of Parliament. As one of Europe's largest medieval halls, it boasts an awe-inspiring hammer-beam roof and magnificent architecture that is sure to leave visitors breathless. Today, visitors can learn about the hall's remarkable legacy and gain a deeper appreciation for its enduring significance.

Palace of Westminster

4. St. Stephen's Hall

St Stephen's Hall hosted the House of Commons from 1945 to 1950 after the bombing of the Commons Chamber. The decorative hall showcases statues of famous parliamentarians and early Kings and Queens of England. Its ten stained glass windows display parliamentary cities' arms, while its walls feature paintings of pivotal moments in British history.

5. Central Lobby

The Central Lobby serves as a meeting place for Members of Parliament and their constituents. Its impressive features include a mosaic-covered vault and a tiled floor. The Central Tower is situated above the lobby, where the corridors from the Lords, Commons, and Westminster Halls converge.

6. Queen's Robing Room

The Robing Room primarily serves as a preparation room for the Sovereign during the State Opening of Parliament. Here, the Queen dons the Imperial State Crown and ceremonial robes before proceeding to the House of Lords.

Palace of Westminster

7. Victoria Tower

Piercing the London skyline, the Victoria Tower stands tall as the highest tower in the Palace of Westminster. A regal tribute to Queen Victoria, it once held the distinction of being the tallest and largest stone square tower globally, towering to a height of 98.5 meters (325 feet) above ground level.

8. Royal Gallery

Enormous works of art, including depictions of the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar and royal portraits, can be found in this room.

9. Norman Porch

The Royal Staircase, starting from the base of Victoria Tower, marks the beginning of the ceremonial path taken by the Monarch. The Norman Porch, originally meant to showcase statues of the Norman monarchs, is so named due to its architectural style.

10. Members' Lobby

The Members' Lobby is a gathering place for alll the members of the House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster. When they are not attending to their official duties, Members of Parliament use this hallway for informal discussions and meetings.

Best Time To Visit Palace of Westminster

To explore the Palace of Westminster, it's recommended to book your tour in advance and plan your visit during the summer recess when the Parliament is not in session. This allows for a complete tour of the building without any interruptions.

Additionally you can learn more about the Best Time to Visit London.

Palace of Westminster Opening Hours

  • The Westminster Palace is open from Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
  • The operating hours on Wednesdays are limited to 1 PM to 4 PM
  • The Palace remains closed every weekend.

Getting There

  • Railway stations: Charing Cross, Victoria, Waterloo, and Waterloo East
  • Underground: You can use Circle, District, or Jubilee lines and get off at Westminster.
  • Bus: Several lines available, including 3, 11, 12, 87, 88, 148, 159, 211, and 453

Note: To experience a distinct viewpoint, consider taking a river bus service from Westminster Pier, which is also a designated stop for City Cruises' sightseeing boat tours.

Insider Tips to Visiting Palace of Westminster

  • To visit the inside of Westminster Palace, you need to book a tour in advance.
  • You can watch a parliamentary debate, committee meeting or attend Prime Minister's Questions.
  • The Lords Chamber can be viewed for free or on a private tour on Saturdays when Parliament's not in session, and during the summer recess.
  • A highly rated walking tour includes the Houses of Commons, House of Lords, and Parliament, with an audio guide to help understand how Parliament works.
  • Book a guided tour for the building's history and architecture, with combined tours of Westminster Palace and Abbey available.

Interesting Facts about Palace of Westminster

  • The Houses of Parliament have been in operation here since 1265, making it one of the oldest parliaments houses in the world.
  • After more than thirty years of reconstruction, a new complex in the neo-Gothic design was finished in 1870, incorporating the buildings that had survived the fire.
  • The magnificent clock tower, which Charles Barry the architect designed, is the most well-known feature. After the tower's greatest bell, it was once known as St. Stephen's Tower but quickly adopted the appellation Big Ben.
  • The oldest edifice in Parliament, Westminster Hall is essentially the only piece of the historic Palace of Westminster to still exist in almost its original state.
  • The Chapel of St. Stephen, which was first recorded in 1184, was the King's private chapel at the Palace of Westminster, and it stood where St. Stephen's Hall presently stands.
  • The Palace of Westminster was created with sculptures, frescoes, murals, and paintings depicting the most illustrious members of Parliament and major events that have occurred there.

Restaurants near the Palace of Westminster

The Cinnamon Club
The Cinnamon Club

Since it is conveniently located across from the Houses of Parliament and is a timeless classic, politicians frequently stop by for a posh lunch at The Cinnamon Club. Not only that, but the fine Indian food is some of the best in the city.
Distance from Palace of Westminster - 0.4 mile

The Regency Cafe
The Regency Cafe

The Regency Cafe is the only place to go in Westminster for a typical English breakfast. The location is a well-known and very traditional London cafe that has become so well-known that it has been featured on television.
Distance from Palace of Westminster - 0.7 mile

St. Stephen's Tavern
St Stephen’s Tavern

St Stephen's Tavern, another Victorian-era bar that has survived to the present day largely undamaged, is constantly crowded as a result of its location near to Big Ben. It's a lovely area to have a drink, although it's not very quiet.
Distance from Palace of Westminster - 0.1 mile

The Albert Pub
The Albert Pub

The Albert, a Grade II listed pub with numerous original Victorian elements, is the epitome of a British boozer. Get some typical pub fare and cozy up with a few beers.
Distance from Palace of Westminster - 0.7 mile

The Sherlock Holmes
The Sherlock Holmes

The Sherlock Holmes manages to pull it off. Along with the typical pub memorabilia, there are also hints from well-known Holmes stories, and in a corner of the upper restaurant, there is even a complete Sherlock Holmes Room recreated.
Distance from Palace of Westminster - 0.8 mile

Things to do around Palace of Westminster

Hotels around Palace of Westminster


Is the Westminster Station wheelchair accessible?

Yes, Westminster Station can be accessed by wheelchairs.

Is photography allowed in the Westminster Palace?

Photos are allowed for personal, non-commercial purposes in Westminster Hall, St Stephen's Hall, and the visitor area of New Palace Yard. No photography is allowed in other parts of the tour routes or public galleries.


Can I get guided tours of the Westminster Palace?

Yes, guided tours are offered for the Palace of Westminster, along with audio guides.


What is the best time to visit Westminster Palace?

It's recommended to plan your visit during the summer recess when the Parliament is not in session.


When is the Palace of Westminster closed?

The Westminster Place remains closed during weekends.

Palace of Westminster Guide