How safe is Westminster London
Our Westminster London Guide
The historic city center of London is characterized by imposing buildings and venerable monuments. The history of London is literally carved in stone here! In Westminster, London's government district, you can discover many of the well-known sights. But museums, galleries and many top restaurants and cafes are also located in this part of the city.
We took a closer look around Westminster and show you in our Westminster London Guide what this part of town is all about!
Top 5 things to do in Westminster London
- 1 - Trafalgar Square: The largest square in London, which is the venue for many events and markets. The well-known Nelson column is also located here (address: Trafalgar Sq., Bakerloo, Northern to Charing Cross).
- 2 - Big Ben & Houses of Parliament: Big Ben tells the time in London and the British Parliament meets in the Houses of Parliament. Together they form the symbol of the city (address: Palace of Westminster, Circle, District, Jubilee to Westminster).
- 3 - Westminster Abbey: The royal celebrations take place in the majestic church, already Queen Elizabeth II. was crowned here (address: 20 Deans Yd, Circle, District, Jubilee to Westminster).
- 4 - Buckingham Palace: The royal palace has been the official residence of the British monarchy since 1837. It is traditionally guarded by the guards (address: Buckingham Palace, Circle, District to St James’s Pk)
- 5 - St James’s Park: The royal park is beautifully maintained and offers a brilliant view of the surrounding sights (address: St James’s Pk, Circle, District to St James’s Pk).
The location of Westminster
Within the City of Westminster borough (London), is the historic part of the city: Westminster - surrounded by the boroughs of Nine Elms, Lambeth, St. James’s, Vauxhall, Belgravia, Covent Garden, Mayfair, The West End and Pimlico. In Westminster you will find Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tate Britain, lots of shopping opportunities, green spaces and much, much more!
To get to Westminster, take the tube to the station Westminster at. It's the lines Circle, District or Jubilee. You will then arrive at Big Ben, from where you have a great starting point for a stroll through the whole district.
The story of Westminster
"Once upon a time ..." - this is how we could begin the almost fairytale story of the important Westminster district. From the 7th century, the historic town center was built around a monastery. This fabulous monastery was the predecessor of the now famous Westminster Abbey, which was built in 1066 and is still the traditional coronation site of the British monarchy. The fact that the royal family is also at home in Westminster is immediately apparent from the manicured gardens and parks, the gilded gates and palatial buildings and much more. The name Westminster therefore refers to the area around Westminster Abbey.
Often mistakenly the Parliament and the political center of government of the United Kingdom is simply referred to as Westminster, as the Palace of Westminster (the Parliament) and all major government organs are located there. So when we talk about the government district, we mean Westminster. Nowadays Westminster is not only the government district and home of the Queen, but also a popular district with tourists, as there are so many well-known sights to be found here. The incomparable atmosphere of the venerable quarter, the high-quality restaurants and hotels as well as numerous shopping opportunities make Westminster one of THE hotspots in London!
The top 10 London attractions in Westminster
Who does not know the famous London sights like the Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace or the Westminster Abbey? And although you have seen the historic buildings a thousand times on pictures, postcards or on your last vacation in London, you sometimes know less about them, right? Here we show you the most beautiful and well-known sights and places in Westminster that you should definitely see on your trip.
1. Buckingham Palace
There is probably no historical residence more regal than Buckingham Palace in London! The story of the modest home of the Queen begins in 1703, when it was the town house of John Sheffield, the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby. When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 at the age of 18, Buckingham Palace was declared the official residence of the British monarchy. After some renovations and extensions to the residence, Buckingham Palace developed into the magnificent palace it is today. It serves the palace not only as the residence of Queen Elizabeth II and her prince, but also as a place for state receptions. Find out more about the famous seat of the British monarchy in our Buckingham Palace Guide.
You can only see the state rooms of Buckingham Palace in summer 2018!
To celebrate the 70th birthday of Charles, the Prince of Wales, Buckingham Palace is opening its State Rooms. Do not miss the unique opportunity to visit the impressive halls. The world-famous palace is much larger than it appears from the outside - it has a total of 775 rooms!
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Here in a nutshell what you can see and do at Buckingham Palace:
- The Buckingham Palace tour
Huge chandeliers on the hall ceilings, valuable paintings on the walls and pieces of furniture made with the finest fabrics, Buckingham Palace is quite impressive and can even be visited occasionally! Some Buckingham Palace sightseeing tours are available in German and include a tour of the Royal Mews (the court stables) or an English tea time. Buckingham Palace opening times are only limited to two months a year. in the August and September On the tours you can first enjoy the changing of the guard in front of the palace and then marvel at the state apartments and the lavishly decorated halls and rooms that are used for political festivities.
- The Queen’s Gallery
The Queen’s Gallery can be found within the walls of Buckingham Palace. The gallery shows some of the most exclusive paintings, sculptures, drawings, royal regalia and other symbols of power from the world famous collection of the capital of England. 450 works are on display, including masterpieces by Canaletto, Rembrandt and Da Vinci. Anyone interested in art or the royal history of England should definitely pay a visit to the Queens’s Gallery! By the way: The London Pass even includes this gallery 😉
- The spectacular changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
They protect the Queen's headquarters and although the military-trained guards were once trained to protect the royal family, they have become real tourist magnets. Nowadays the guards have found more of a symbolic meaning. Her appearance in a red uniform and a furry hat made of bearskin is particularly striking. The "Changing the Guard" ceremony takes place from April to July daily at 11:30 a.m. in front of Buckingham Palace and every other day from August to March. You will get the best place to watch and take photos if you are there about an hour in advance.
- Victoria Memorial in front of the palace
This large statue in honor of Queen Victoria can be found right in front of Buckingham Palace, at the end of "The Mall". You can take wonderful souvenir photos here. And if you want to watch the changing of the guard, the Victoria Memorial is a good vantage point!
2. St. James’s Quarter
Posh, prestigious and exclusive: these words best describe the centrally located, posh district in the City of Westminster. As the hub of modern world cuisine and big brands, St. James’s has quickly made a name for itself as one of the most beautiful hotspots in London. Only those who belong here live here - and who have the money! On a stroll through the small district you will find imposing villas, sophisticated tailoring studios and galleries, expensive cigars, luxurious cars and much more that makes the proximity to the royal park so clear.
Right next to the really worth seeing district the royal St. James’s Park. At just 23 acres, St. James’s Park is the second smallest of the eight royal parks. But what the park lacks in size, makes up for the well-kept appearance of the facility. It is the most manicured green space in London! You have a brilliant view of the London Eye, Westminster, St. James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace!
3. St. James’s Palace
While we're talking about St. James’s Palace, let's get to it right away. Because the stone palace in the middle of St. James’s is really worth seeing because of its history! Admittedly, it is not the most beautiful palace, as it is quite dark in appearance and the building is not particularly ostentatious either. But this is exactly where royal life used to take place. It was even the headquarters of the kings of England for several centuries. Nowadays the palace is used for royal ceremonies and celebrations. Unfortunately, the palace cannot be visited from the inside, but you can see the famous Household Cavalry guards here, who are also known from Buckingham Palace.
The palatial mansion is also located in the St. James’s district Lancaster House. It is rich in political history and offers a prestigious location and first-class facilities for all kinds of events. For example, it hosts conferences, international summits and even receptions and shows during London Fashion Week. You may also be familiar with the house from some films or series, as it is often used for filming. Recordings for Sherlock Holmes "A Game of Shadows", "The King's Speech" and Netflix's "The Crown" took place here.
4. Westminster Abbey
It is one of the most visited churches in the world and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the fabulous Westminster Abbey! Here you will find Coronations of kings and queens instead of. The solemn coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place here. Kate and William's dream wedding was also celebrated here, as was Lady Diana's funeral. A visit to the majestic church should not be missing on your London tour! And the grounds around Westminster Abbey are beautiful too! There are four very well-tended gardens to the complex: The monastery garden (The Garth), the small cloister (The Little Cloister), College Garden and St. Catherine’s Garden. So you have something to see here both in winter and in summer.
On a tour of Westminster Abbey, you can see the imposing building on your own. You will get an audio guide at the entrance, which gives you a lot of background information about the impressive story. You can book the tickets online in advance. You will then receive a voucher by email, which you have to print out and bring with you on the day of the viewing. For more information on the coronation site, check out our article on Westminster Abbey on the blog.
5. Big Ben
It is an indispensable part of London's cityscape and you will certainly see it more often in the collections of your holiday pictures. Big Ben tells the time in London and has been since 1859! When Big Ben is mentioned, the entire tower is usually meant. But did you know that he actually Elizabeth Tower called? The actual Big Ben is the heaviest bell of the carillon inside the tower, which sounds every full hour. Since there is so much to tell about the story of Big Ben, we have of course also written our own article:
Important Information: Unfortunately, the carillon is not taking place at the moment because the tower is being extensively restored. And the clock's digits are also hidden under a frame and a tarpaulin. The fact that Big Ben does not make a sound has so far only happened in exceptional cases. For example at the funeral of Winston Churchill or in the case of damage to the clockwork as was the case in 1977 for 26 days. The work is expected to continue until 2021.
6. Palace of Westminster
In addition to Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster (also Houses of Parliament called) on the banks of the Thames inseparable from London. The British Parliament meets in the impressive building in neo-Gothic architecture. The House of Commons and the House of Lords have been guiding British political decisions here since the 14th century. The three towers at the Palace of Westminster are particularly striking: the 99 meter high Victoria Tower, the Jewel Tower and of course the clock tower Big Ben. The historic building is one of the first port of call for tourists in London. If you want to see the building from the inside, you often have to expect long waiting times, this sight is so popular. Many visitors to London are therefore content with a photo of London's landmarks.
Tip: Westminster Bridge is the best photo spot for great souvenir pictures of the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben. For a fully guided tour of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, you can secure your tickets online:
Tickets for the Houses of Parliament & Westminster Abbey
7. Trafalgar Square
The largest square in the middle of London is generally considered to be the center of the city (although geographically it is not the central point of London). Here tourists and locals meet for special events, markets or just during the lunch break to soak up the indescribable atmosphere of the square. The place was named after the legendary Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. The British Navy defeated France and Spain off Cape Trafalgar and gained supremacy at sea for more than a century. There is a lot to see and marvel at in Trafalgar Square. Check out our Trafalgar Square article for full details.
Here in a nutshell what you can see and experience in Trafalgar Square:
- Probably the most famous monument is the Nelson column, commemorating the death of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who fell in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
- The Canada House is home to the Canadian Embassy in London. The historic building, together with the row of Canadian flags, forms a vivid ensemble and is therefore really worth seeing!
- The Arc de Triomphe Admiralty Arch is located on the famous street "The Mall" and is straight to Buckingham Palace.
- The Statues of Trafalgar symbolize, like the Nelson column, the military history of England. By the way, on the fourth pedestal there are always works of art by British artists.
- The largest art museum in the British capital, The National Gallery, is located on the highest point of Trafalgar Square and is not only worth seeing and visiting from the outside!
8. The National Gallery
The National Gallery is one of the most visited museums in the world and impresses with its imposing appearance, both inside and out! That's why the National Gallery deserves its own point on the Top 10 Westminster list! In the art museum you will find many works by world-famous artists such as Michelangelo, Veronese, Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet or Van Gogh. Entry to the museum is completely free. You may only have to pay admission for special exhibitions. You can find out which exhibition is currently taking place on the National Gallery's website.
9. Westminster Bridge
The Westminster Bridge is of course not to be confused with the Tower Bridge and connects the district of Westminster with Lambeth on the other side of the Thames. From Westminster Bridge you have a great view over the Thames, Westminster Palace and of course Big Ben. If you walk across the bridge, you'll come to the in no time at all London Eye. A ride on the Ferris wheel gives you the best view of London and a bird's eye view of the royal gardens and buildings in Westminster. Only then do you get an idea of the dimensions of the historic city center.
Useful information: If you take the London Underground to Westminster underground station, you will come under that Westminster Square Out. This is one of the deepest stations in the entire underground network. Because of its futuristic architecture, the underground station is really worth seeing.
10. The Guards Museum
The museum displays a wealth of information, artifacts and collections relating to the five military formations of the Foot Guards: grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards. Together with the two regiments of the Household Cavalry form Her Majesty's Guard Division and enjoy the valued privilege of guarding the Highness and the royal seats.
After the Changing of the Guards, a visit to the museum is highly recommended. Here you will be told the story of the guards in an impressive way. The tour of the museum does not take long as it is quite small. But it's still very interesting. It begins with the early history of the guards and continues into modern times. You can also see many exhibits such as uniforms, rifles, musical instruments, sabers, rapiers, medals and much more. Before you leave the museum, you can leave a message on a board 😉 Our conclusion: Highly recommended for those who want to find out more about the guards!
- Address: Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ
- Website:The Guards Museum
Other important spots in Westminster in London
- Horse Guards Parade: The large parade ground is characterized by its pebbles and the adjacent historical buildings and is mainly used for events and ceremonies. Every year the military parade "Trooping the Color" takes place here.
- Banqueting House:It is the last fully preserved building in Whitehall Palace, which burned down in 1698. The Banqueting House is known for its Palladian-style architecture as well as being the place of execution of King Charles I.
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- 10 Downing Street:Together with the White House in Washington, house number 10 is one of the most important political buildings in the world. It is the official residence of the Prime Minister and is always guarded by the police. Unfortunately, you can only see it from the beginning of the street and certainly not see it from the inside, but it is still an important spot in London and therefore worth a detour on your Westminster tour!
- Clarence House:It is the official residence of the British heir to the throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. The term Clarence House is often used in connection with the personal office of the Prince of Wales. Together with St. James’s Palace, Clarence House forms a building complex that is located on The Mall, not far from Buckingham Palace.
- Churchill War Rooms:The formerly secret command center of British acts of war during World War II. The direct telephone connection between Churchill and the President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was also located here.
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- Jewel Tower:In the Middle Ages, the tower was used for the jewels of King Edward III. built and should therefore serve as a treasury for the personal riches of the king. Today the tower is home to the permanent exhibition “Parliament Past And Present”.
- Royal Mews:It is definitely one of the most beautiful and still intact historical stables in the world. The royal collections of noble carriages and bodies of the royal family are located here.
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Tip for entry: Steeped in history, Westminster is brimming with sights to see! Of course, there are some entrance fees. Fortunately, im London Pass almost all Westminster attractions included! This saves you a lot of money and, above all, you don't have to carry a lot of cash with you!
Almost all Westminster attractions are included in the London Pass - save on admission!
The London Pass includes, for example: Westminster Abbey, Jewel Tower, The Guards Museum, The Queen's Gallery, Royal Mews, The Household Cavalry Museum, Churchill War Rooms, Banqueting House, all museums and galleries around Trafalgar Square and many other attractions all over London! Learn more about the London Pass.
Buy the London Pass online
The new Loving London travel guide
Would you like to print out all of the information and take it with you to London? You can now find even more insider spots, pubs, restaurants & cafés in our Loving London travel guide!
- 27 insider guides for over 40 London districts
- 13 leaderboards for cafes, tea time, markets, tours and much more.
- WithDistrict maps and more officialSubway map
- our budget tips for the small travel budget
- With free app for iOS and Android
Museums & Galleries in Westminster
The Household Cavalry Museum
At the Household Cavalry Museum, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the royal equestrian ceremonies. Only a glass pane in the museum separates you from them Life Guard stables and their training and preparation with the horses. In the museum you will also find numerous exhibits with a rarity factor. The Household Cavalry Museum is located in the Horse Guards in Whitehall. The iconic building was built in 1750 and still serves as the headquarters of the Household Division, where the Changing of the guard of the Queen's bodyguard is carried out daily. The ceremony has been virtually unchanged for over 350 years.
The art museum is, so to speak, the home of British art from the 16th century to the present day. The Tate Britain - also known as the Tate Gallery - is not to be confused with the major Tate Modern, the museum that focuses on the modern art world. Discovered the at Tate Britain world's largest collection of British art in the impressive neoclassical building on the banks of the Thames. There are 3,500 paintings in the exhibition as well as prints and sculptures. Not only are the precious paintings interesting, but also the building itself. It was built on the site where London's largest prison once stood.
- Address: Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG
- Website:Tate Britain
National Portrait Gallery
Art lovers and culture fans will get their money's worth in Westminster, you have probably already noticed. The National Portrait Gallery should not be missing here, because it is really something very special! Next to the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery is a little less noticeable at first. But we recommend anyone interested in art to go in here. Only works that have a special meaning are shown. It is not primarily decisive who the artist was or is. As the name of the gallery suggests, there are many portraits to be seen here. The most famous picture is the so-called Chandos portrait by William Shakespeare, which, among all surviving images of the poet, is considered the most likely candidate for a real portrait.
The beautiful parks in Westminster
St. James’s Park
St. James’s Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and covers an area of almost 57 hectares. It is associated with The Mall and the Horse Guards Parade. It is surrounded by attractions such as Clarence House and Whitehall. From St. James’s Park you have an extraordinary view of Buckingham Palace over the royal lake and the famous flower beds. Enjoy your classic tea time in St. James’s Café while the fountain splashes and watch the pelicans being fed.
Who would have thought? The native pelicans have been there for almost 400 years! They were originally a gift from the Russian ambassador to King Charles II.
The Green Park is also one of London's eight Royal Parks and covers an area of just over 40 hectares. Once a swampy burial ground for lepers, Green Park is now a peaceful green space made up of old trees, grassland and meadows and offers a quiet retreat from city life right next to Buckingham Palace. Here you will find monuments, fountains and statues. Be on the lookout for Royal Gun Salutes when ceremonial weapons are fired on special royal occasions!
Already knew? Rumor has it that in the 17th century King Charles II's wife asked that all flowers be removed from the park after she caught him picking flowers for another woman there? 😀 The park still has no flower beds, but in spring it shines a rich yellow when about a million daffodils bloom.
Buckingham Palace Gardens
The 40 hectare private garden for the royal family is exactly as you would imagine it with perfectly manicured lawns - very British. The well-tended garden is used for the Queen's garden parties and you can visit parts of it as part of the Buckingham Palace tour mentioned above in August and September. The site is also home to many rare species of flora and fauna, which can be seen in photos on one of the Royal Family official Instagram accounts (@queenscanopy). The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Project is a network of forest conservation projects across the Commonwealth.
Click the link in our bio to find out how you can get involved in the #CommonwealthCanopy! The @WoodlandTrust is providing 50,000 trees for the plant-a-tree campaign, where school & community groups can make their own contribution the #QCC. Each pack will contain five UK-sourced and native broadleaf trees - two silver birch, two rowan, and a hazel. The packs will be free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis. Successful applicants will first receive a special commemorative booklet which will be sent out in Spring to coincide with the #QueensGreenPlanet transmission. This will include information and photographs on the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project, and educational information about trees, and how to nurture them. The #trees will then be sent out in Autumn 2018, the best season in which to plant young trees, and packs will include guidance on how to plant and nurture them.
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You get the best view of the surrounding green spaces (Hyde Park, Green Park and Buckingham Palace Gardens) from the Wellington Arch viewing platform of London's Triumphal Arch. It's one of the most visited London attractions as Wellington Arch is right next to the busy transportation hub at Hyde Park Corner. Here you can wonderfully watch how the cavalry regiment rides under the majestic arch every day. Inside the monument there is an exhibition where you can learn a lot about the fascinating history of the triumphal arch. By the way, admission here is also included in the London Pass 😉
Tour tip: Take a relaxed look at all of Westminster's sights on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Experience Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and much more from the comfort of the spacious double-decker bus with an open upper deck. As a bonus, you can use the bus tickets for a range of additional activities, including a Thames boat tour and three guided walks around London!
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The best shopping spots in Westminster
Fortnum & Mason
You can find Fortnum & Mason twice in London - in King’s Cross and in St. James’s. It is known for its exquisite offerings, because over several floors you can find pretty much everything from delicacies to fashion and cosmetics. And only in the best quality. So it's no wonder that the royal family also like to go shopping here!
However, the beginnings of the shopping center were not all that exquisite and noble, because the founder William Fortnum was once a servant in Queen Anne's household. During his work he collected burned candle stubs from the palace, which he then sold on. With the money he saved, he started a grocery store and persuaded his friend Hugh Mason to join. Two generations later, grandson Charles Fortnum managed to establish himself in today's market. For your next visit to London we can only recommend the F&M to you. You can find so many delicious things here, such as jams, chutneys, nuts, shortbreads, wine, game specialties and the selection of teas is unique! After shopping you can enjoy your afternoon tea with piano music right there. Simply fantastic!
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