The Best Things To Do in Westminster

The Victoria Memorial is at the end of The Mall
The Victoria Memorial is at the end of The Mall | © Jennifer Cauli

Millions flock to Westminster in London to see the capital’s landmarks. Whether the day is spent posing for photos in front of the prime minister’s house or trying to get the Buckingham Palace guards to crack a smile, Westminster has plenty to offer visitors.

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Tour Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church,It is the traditional place of coronation and burial. The famous Westminster Abbey is among the oldest churches in London

At over 1,100 years old, there are more than a few reasons to visit Westminster Abbey. During its history, it has hosted many royal weddings and burials, and all coronations have been held here since that of William the Conqueror in 1066. Open from Monday to Saturday for touring – Sundays are reserved for worship services – there is something for the whole family to see here, but the best way to see the Gothic church is on a guided tour. For an additional £5 ($6.50) on top of the entry ticket price, visitors can learn about the abbey’s history from a verger and be taken to see parts of the site that are not open to the public. Be sure to check out the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, where artefacts from the abbey’s history are on display. Book tickets in advance as they sell out quickly.

Marvel at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Big Ben

The Elizabeth Tower is one of the most recognisable symbols of London. Commonly called Big Ben, which actually refers to the bell in the clock tower, it is not open to the public, but visitors can head inside the Houses of Parliament for a guided tour around the Royal Gallery and Chamber of Commons; there is also the option to add afternoon tea to the tour for a truly British experience. Specialised tours are also available for families, and tactile tours are offered to blind and partially sighted visitors.

Take a selfie outside Number 10

The British prime minister lives at 10 Downing Street

Perhaps one of the most famous houses in the world, 10 Downing Street is the official home of the British prime minister, and the government headquarters. Built over 330 years ago, the Georgian-style listed building has over 100 rooms, with some used for hosting meetings with national leaders and government officials. Located in the centre of Westminster, Number 10 is in prime position near St James’s Park, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. Although not open to the general public, and heavily patrolled by armed police, there’s no law against trying to grab that all-important selfie outside the famous shiny black door.

Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

The Changing of the Guard, officially known as the Guard Mounting, is popular with tourists

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British royal family. Although it’s used by the monarchy for most of the year, during August and September the Queen stays at her Balmoral residence and in her absence the palace is open for tours. Watching the Changing of the Guard, officially known as the Guard Mounting, is popular with tourists, who flock to the ceremony all year round. The exchange is carried out on the palace forecourt and lasts for around 45 minutes. It takes place every day in summer and every other day in winter, at 11.30am. The event is a real tradition in London, and it’s well worth a watch if you can get close enough to the palace gates.

Stroll through St James’s Park

St James’s Park is one of London’s finest green spaces

Opened to the public in 1887, St James’s Park is one of London’s finest green spaces and boasts a small lake with two islands. Visitors can watch the resident pelicans clamouring over fresh fish every afternoon from 2.30pm to 3pm near the Duck Island Cottage. In addition to the lively waterfowl, visitors in the spring will be dazzled by the brightly coloured flowers, making it the perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny day.

Not sorted your stay in Westminster yet? Book one of the best hotels near Big Ben now through Culture Trip and enjoy the history on your doorstep.

This article is an updated version of a story created by Jessica Buck.

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