Things To Do During The Day In Westminster

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 9 months ago
Things To Do During The Day In Westminster

Westminster's one of the first places tourists flock to — but what is there to actually do there, once you've gawked at the Houses of Parliament? Plenty.

Note: we're focusing on the smaller area of Westminster rather than the City of Westminster - because let's face it, there's not a lot you can't do in the entire City of Westminster.

Westminster Abbey

You've probably been past many times, but have you ever been inside? Photo: Gordon Calder

... is the obvious tourist attraction in the area, but how many Londoners have ever been inside? If you can dodge the selfie sticks outside, stump up the £22* (unless you happen to live in Westminster, in which case, it's free) to see where generations of royalty have been crowned and married, and where some of the country's greatest minds are laid to rest. For an extra £5, take a 90 minute, private tour.

Don't want to fork out all that money? Visit the Chapter House in the shadow of the Abbey for free. It dates back to the 13th century and was used by Benedictine monks. Medieval sculptures and the original glazed floor tiles can still be seen today.

*You can get in for half this price if you've got a Gold Card.

Westminster Cathedral Bell Tower

One of the views from the Bell Tower

It's free to enter Westminster Cathedral, but well worth shelling out £6 to go up the bell tower. The views from up here are pretty spectacular, the four balconies meaning you can gaze out in all directions. Thankfully, there's a lift up to the 7th floor too — we highly recommend it.

Visit a secret bunker

Inside the Cabinet War Rooms. Photo: Richard Parmiter

Visit the Churchill War Rooms, a secret second world war bunker beneath the streets of Westminster, where Winston Churchill and co.spent much of the war, plotting how to save the country. There's also a small museum telling the story of Churchill's rather incredible life.

Eat in a former swimming pool

The Wash House Cafe inside the Abbey Centre on Great Smith Street gets its name from the swimming pool that the building used to house — you can still see the 'public baths' sign above the door.

Visit the hidden jewel of Westminster

It stands directly opposite the Houses of Parliament, but not many people visit Westminster's Jewel Tower. It survives from the 14th century, part of the original Palace of Westminster, and was used to store all sorts of royal treasures. We went to have a poke around ourselves.

Drink on a boat

Photo: richardbw9

Head north up the river from Westminster and just before you reach the Hungerford Bridge, you'll find HMS Hispaniola and Tattershall Castle. Both permanently moored boats operate as bars and restaurants, meaning you can tuck into cocktails, coffee or crab cake while looking across the river towards the London Eye. Look out for special events too — Tattershall has a resident comedy club, while HMS Hispaniola does occasional jazz evenings.

Go to a concert

A concert at St John Smith's Square. Photo: Treble2309

Many of St John's Smith Square's concerts take place in the evening, but there are occasional lunchtime concerts, usually on Thursdays and Sundays. Opera and symphony orchestras are the sort of music you can expect. See the upcoming schedule here. While you're in the area, check out some of London's last remaining gas lamps, right outside the venue.

ICE

Tunnels were a theme of a 2017 ICE exhibition.

Most Londoners haven't heard of the Institution of Civil Engineers, let alone know it's open to the public. But free exhibitions are regularly held here on engineering themes — recent examples include tunnels, bridges, and the River Thames. Check out what's on at the moment.

Join the cavalry

A guard guarding the Household Cavalry Museum. Photo: John Kumar

...or at least learn about them at the Household Cavalry Museum. See inside the working stables of the Queen's Mounted Bodyguards, try on their uniforms, and take a guided tour of their base. Coming in at £7 for an adult ticket, it's not a bank-breaking way to spend a couple of hours.

Visit a little-known museum

The Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards collectively make up the Foot Guards (aka, the ones with the bearksin hats), which is the focus of The Guards Museum in Wellington Barracks. See artefacts from these regiments. Although the museum is intended as a way for young Guardsmen to learn about the history of their regiment, it is also open to the public.

Go to court

Inside the Supreme Court. Photo: Matt Brown

While most people crowd around the sides of Parliament Square with Parliament and the Abbey on them, the west side is home to the less-snapped Supreme Court. Members of the public can sit in on cases, take a guided tour and ogle the art collection and dazzling stained glass.

Last Updated 26 May 2017