If you are asking yourself what to do in Westminster when you visit London, then I’ve got to tell you that it’s not only home to the British government, but it’s also a fantastic base from which to explore the capital. It’s home to the most concentrated number of attractions in the city, which makes this area incredibly popular with tourists but completely avoided by Londoners. If you are either politically inclined or a fan of magnificent architecture then you won’t have think too hard about what to do in Westminster; within just a short walk you’ll find Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Downing Street and also Buckingham Palace. If you don’t have much time to spend in London, read the perfect day trip plan and get more tips!
London has a fantastically generous amount of green space, in which you can muse about what to do in Westminster. St James’ park lies out front of Buckingham Palace and is a wonderful green space in the centre of London. In summer, the park fills up with people basking in the sun on their deck chairs and enjoying the weather. It’s also a popular park for runners, with views across the lakes and over to the Palace. A walk through St James’ Park will also take you to London’s biggest central park – Hyde Park.
If you walk along the River Thames you’ll see the spectacular views of the Big Ben clock tower and also the Houses of Parliament. Although a lot of the area has restricted access for government officials only, there’s still plenty to see and do in Westminster. Most of all, it’s one of the most photogenic spots in London!
What to do in Westminster: Prepare your visit
When to visit
With all the lovely green space in St James’ Park, visiting in the warmer months has its obvious advantages. However, due to the popularity of the area, it can get incredibly crowded and so early mornings or the colder months are advised if you want to avoid the big crowds.
How long is needed to visit
As there’s so much to see, it could take at least half a day to explore Westminster. While you can get around on buses and the tube, it’s nicer to walk on foot and take it all in (weather permitting). Allow a little additional time for walking.
What should I wear
You’ll be doing a lot of walking so it’s recommended that you wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Be sure to wear layers to allow for the change of weather, and always take an umbrella!
What to do in Westminster: Things to see
The Changing the Guard ceremony
The famous Changing the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace is not to be missed. It occurs every other day when the New Guard takes over from the Old Guard outside the Palace. Starting from 10:45am, Changing the Guard lasts about 45 minutes with the actual handover taking place at 11am. It’s free to watch and currently takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, weather permitting.
Westminster Abbey is a 700 year-old church steeped in some of London’s greatest history. From Royal Coronations and weddings, to the resting place of world-famous writers, it’s one of the UK’s most notable religious buildings. In more recent history, Westminster Abbey was where Princess Diana’s funeral was held in 1997, as was the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. Westminster Abbey is normally open to visitors from Monday to Saturday throughout the year.
The magnificent State Rooms of Buckingham Palace open up to visitors for just 10 weeks of the year, every summer. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience what it’s like inside the Palace itself. The Palace’s State Rooms are the public rooms where The Queen receives and entertains her guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions. There are 19 of them in total and can be viewed by booking tickets in advance.
Where to stay in Westminster London
Corinthia Hotel London
Corinthia Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in London. Found in London’s most prestigeous area, this elegant hotel with subterranean pools and a colossal Baccarat chandelier is the perfect stay for a glamorous London experience.
Sofitel London St. James
In the heart of London’s West End and an easy stroll to everything Westminster has to offer, Sofitel London St. James is found in a beautifully preserved Victorian building. The spacious rooms are complemented by the on-site spa and a popular brasserie restaurant.
The Nadler Victoria
The Nadler offers modern and reasonably priced rooms with the added bonus of a kitchenette. With a focus on value for money, The Nadler favours in-room Nespresso machines and nearby restaurant food deliveries (as no extra mark up) over the usual in-house bars and restaurants.
Things to do in Westminster London
Half-Day London Tour: Westminster Abbey & Houses of Parliament
If you want to squeeze as much of Westminster as possible into three hours, then this tour is for you. Learn all about the famous Westminster Abbey and its rich history, then enjoy an audio tour of the Houses of Parliament while you learn about British politics.
Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace & Changing the Guard
Your opportunity to see the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace – one of the finest working stables in existence, with an audio-guided visit. You’ll also get to explore St James’s Park and watch the famous Changing the Guard.
Take an audio guided tour of the world-famous Westminster Abbey. See where Prince William married Kate in 2011 and also the coronation site of England’s kings and queens – past and present. Learn about the Abbey’s amazing history at your own pace.
How to get to Westminster London
Access Westminster London by air
Westminster is easily accessible from London’s biggest airport – Heathrow, which you can reach by taxi in around 45 minutes, or on the tube in approximately 50 minutes.
Access Westminster London by car
Street parking aronud Westminster is limited to permit holders, however, there are some paid car parks in the vicinity. Try Abingdon Street Car Park, ParkBee Westminster or Q-Park Trafalgar.
Access Westminster London by Train & Bus
Westminster is easily reached by London’s Underground Network (the Tube). Westminster station on the Jubilee, Circle and District lines will take you right into the centre of Westminster, or St James’s Park station is just a short walk through the park, on the same lines.
What to eat in Westminster London
You’ll find the Cinnamon Club inside a beautiful Grade II-listed Victorian building in Westminster. Enjoy a magnificent fine dining menu of pan-Indian dishes in this grand space.
Experience a classic London caff at the Refency Café. This art-deco space has been serving classic British dishes like the English breakfast, baked potatoes and bangers and mash since 1946.