Home to some of the most iconic landmarks in London, the City of Westminster is one of the liveliest boroughs and offers a wealth of attractions. From the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street shops and department stores to the colorful nightlife of Soho, Westminster certainly has it all. Here are the 5 best tourist sites to visit while in the area.
Tour Westminster Abbey
Explore the very place where a line of royal weddings have been held since the tradition first began in 1100, when King Henry married Matilda of Scotland, right up until the modern day fairytale wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. Westminster Abbey is a beautiful Gothic-style Church with over a thousand years of history, and is still a working building today. Open Monday-Saturday (Sundays are for worship only) the public is free to wander around at their leisure. The Abbey is definitely a sight worth seeing, although tickets are often snapped up quickly! Prices range from £6-£16 for adults, children and concessions.
Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London, UK, +44 20 7222 5152
Marvel at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
The world famous Elizabeth Tower, better known as Big Ben, is one of the most iconic symbols of London. After the Palace of Westminster burned down in 1834, it was decided that the new building should include a tower and a clock and, ten years later, Big Ben was formed. Although Big Ben itself is not open to the public, visitors can head inside the Houses of Parliament for a guided tour around the Royal Gallery, Chamber of Commons and other well known areas which are home to historic political debate. Prices are £25 per adult and £10 per child, and tours run every Saturday and on most weekdays throughout school holidays.
Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, UK, +44 20 7219 4114
Ride on the London Eye
The London Eye is a giant 135 meter tall Ferris wheel located on the River Thames’ Southbank. First opened at the turn of the millennium, The Eye attracts millions of people each year and is the second highest public viewing point of the city, behind The Shard’s observation deck which opened in 2013. Each of the 32 glass passenger capsules hold up to 25 people and offer incredible panoramic views of London. The Eye currently runs a Summer Lates promotion, with visitors being able to enjoy cocktails and rides up until midnight on Friday nights until August 21st for breathtaking views across a stunning lit-up London. Prices start from £19.35 per adult.
The London Eye, Lambeth, London, UK, +44 871 781 3000
Take a Selfie Outside Number 10
Perhaps one of the most famous houses in the world, 10 Downing Street is the official home to the British prime minister and the government headquarters. Built over 330 years ago, the Georgian style Listed Building has over 100 rooms split across different floors and is used for hosting meetings with national leaders and government officials. Located in the heart of Westminster, Number 10 is in prime position near to 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 – just try and take it through the guarded gates and hoards of tourists!
10 Downing Street, 10 Downing St., London, UK, +44 20 7925 0918
Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official London residency of the British royal family. Although used by the monarchy as their home, workplace and for hosting ceremonial occasions, the Palace is open to the public during the months of August and September each year while the queen stays at her Balmoral residence. Watching the changing of the guard, officially referred to as The Guard Mounting, is a traditional tourist attraction and thousands flock to see the historical ceremony. As the name suggests, the ritual involves new guards taking over from the old guards while the Guards Band plays music to entertain the crowds. The exchange is carried out on the Palace forecourt and lasts for around 45 minutes, occurring every day in summer and every other day in winter at 11.30 am. The event is something which has become a real tradition in London and it’s well worth a watch if you can get close enough to the Palace gates!