Houses of Parliament

Attractions, Historic buildings and sites Westminster
5 out of 5 stars
(17user reviews)
Houses of Parliament

The centre of political life in the UK, housed in the Thames-side Palace of Westminster.

Tours of the Houses of Parliament offer a unique combination of one thousand years of history, modern day politics and stunning art and architecture. A highly recommended audio tour brings this to life through the House of Lords and House of Commons and takes around 60 to 75 minutes, featuring leading Parliamentary figures such as Mr Speaker and Black Rod.

Most of what is seen on the tour was built in the mid-19th century following a devastating fire in 1834, but the route also incorporates the magnificent Westminster Hall dating from 1097. Other highlights include the Queen’s Robing Room, Royal Gallery, Lords Chamber, Central Lobby and the Commons Chamber, scene of many lively debates. A family version of the audio tour, aimed at children aged 7 to 12, is in the style of a ‘live’ news broadcast with time travelling reporters ‘reporting from the scene’ on the many historical events associated with Parliament. 

For those not able to visit the Houses of Parliament in person, a new 360-degree virtual tour is now available on the website, allowing jazzy panoramic views into some of the most famous rooms, with clickable facts and historical stories as you virtually snoop around. 

These new virtual tours, the ticketed guide-led tours and solo-audio tours are all in addition to the free tours that continue to be available to UK residents via local MPs or members of the House of Lords.

See more of the capital's best attractions

Prices: 
Pre-booked audio tours: £18.50, £16.50 concs, £7.50 child (5-15), free under 5’s.
OTD audio tours: £20.50, £18 concs, £8.50 child (5 -15), free under 5’s.
Pre-booked guided tours £25.50, £21 concs, £11 child (5-15), free under 5’s.
OTD guided tours: £28, £23 concs, £12 child (5-15), free under 5’s.

Posted:

Venue name: Houses of Parliament
Contact:
Address: Palace of Westminster
London
SW1A 0AA
Opening hours: Saturdays throughout the year and most weekdays during holiday periods including Christmas, Easter and the summer. See venue website for full details.
Transport: Tube: Westminster
Price: Pre-booked audio tours: £18.50, £16.50 concs, £7.50 child (5-15), free under 5’s
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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:21
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
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LiveReviews|29
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tastemaker

After living in London for a few years, this for some reason wasn't high on my 'to do' list.


After doing the tour, I thoroughly recommend paying a visit - whether a tourist or a local. It's such an iconic building, with amazing history. The interior inside is simply stunning, and far surpassed how beautiful I expected it to be.


We had a guided tour with Daniella. She made the tour very enjoyable, had great knowledge, and engaged with the attendees well.


The Houses of Parliament has 1000 rooms! You don't get to explore them all, but definite highlight has to be being in the House of Commons. The detail by Augustus Pugin throughout is magnificent. Unfortunately you aren't allowed to take many photos, but you can in the main hall, and St Stephens Hall.



tastemaker

This is definitely a tour worth doing. As someone who grew up in Essex, regularly popping into (and now living in) London I thought I knew everything interesting about British history. Alas, like most locals, exploring your own history isn't something we often do. 


Whether you're British, grew up in London, or are a tourist/ traveller/holidaymaker this is a great tour. Not only do you get to step inside some of the most coveted buildings (including royal chambers) but you'll get to learn a wealth of history that's still alive and kicking today. 


The best aspect of this tour is definitely the amount of art that's cherished inside the walls, which simply adds to the tour as there's a strict no-photos policy - so only those who've been will know the beauty. 

tastemaker

I have to say I think this is one of the BEST TOURS IN LONDON! Particularly if you are international and/or have an interest in English history. 


Not only do you get to see the INSANELY beautiful interior of Westmister but you get a brilliant crash course in English history which I loved!!!! Our guide was Daniella and she was engaging and entertaining. We walked in the Monarchs shoes for the route they take each year when opening Parliament.


The art and architecture inside the building is simply awe-inspiring (the photographer in me was so sad no pics inside though). 


The actual political stuff was kind of a side note, surprisingly, but was still really interesting to learn how the parliament votes and the rules about royalty in the House of Commons. Finding out that anyone can turn up to Westminster and ask to speak to their representative was really interesting and I think a little know right! 


If you only do one touristy/cultural thing in London Town I would highly recommend this!!! 

Tastemaker

I was beyond excited when I got to go on this tour of Parliament. I have seen it countless times on television and now I get to see it myself! Our tour guide Daniella was absolutely brilliant, giving us facts and figures about every room, and even some funny stories about MPs hiding in the loo so their votes wouldn't count! We 'followed in the footsteps of The Queen', retracing her steps for the opening of Parliament. Wonder why she will never step foot in the House of Commons? This tour tells you why! (hint: It's not the 'because she is not a Commoner' answer!)


The tour is about £18 but you can get a self-guided one for a few quid cheaper. There is also a child-friendly version. A child NOT liking history and politics!? Crazy but true! Honestly the building is so beautiful its worth it for the architecture and art alone. I wish those MPs felt a bit more grateful to be there and acted as such... but thats a different conversation! :)

Tastemaker

I didn't know you could tour the Houses of Parliament! I was lucky enough to attend a guided tour, by the awesome Daniella, as a group of 20. I would highly recomment it but they also have a slightly cheaper alternative of a self guided tour. The tour follows the route of the Queen when she opens Parliament each year - from the Robing Room, to the House of Lords through to the House of Commons. Daniella provided tonnes of amazing facts throughout and explained each room in detail which was easily audible to the entire group. There is something for everyone - history, politics and architecture. There is also currently an exhibition on Women obtaining the Vote in England, which is really interesting and thought provoking. A truly awesome 2 hours which I would recommend to anyone.What

Tastemaker

As a politics student I came to the H.O.C with my class and watched parliament in session. I've also been into parliament a few times to shoot meetings and events, as part of my work as a professional photographer. So, I figured, maybe I've seen everything.....

Well, wasn't I wrong and so very pleasantly surprised. There is far more to The Palace of Westminster than I had been led to believe; when shooting a meeting for a charity, you don't get situated in the royal gallery, or the robing room. Odd that.

And being up close - standing by the very seats that MPs, Lords and Peers occupy - is quite a thrill. Especially when you see the debating table right in front of you and realise that history has been made right there, over and over again. 


The lavishness of the rooms and corridors of the more formal areas is more than impressive and far far different to the more functional meeting and event rooms in the rest of the building which are, not surprisingly, not featured in the tour. With a fantastic guide pointing out details all along the way, you really get a sense of what goes on here and how everything works.

Standing in the Commons being told about three-line whip, white and green papers and the role of the Lords brought me right back to my Politics A-levels, so if you are a student in this subject the tour will definitely be a really bonus to your learning. For those of you who love history and what to know more about British government, you'll be well informed by the knowledgeable guides. 

And for those, that simply love a beautiful building and want to enjoy great architecture and fun facts about the British government past and present, this will suit you just fine. The guides are full of facts and knowledge, but they keep it light and relatable too.

A wonderful experience to explore behind the scenes of, arguably, the most important building in this country and see how the system of UK democracy works; even if, when we follow the news, it appears to be entirely broken! 

Please note that the tours run all summer long, even though Parliament isn't working, the tour guides certainly are. You can also save a few quid and take a self-guided tour, you'll still get loads of information about each room, you'll just go at your own pace. Personally, I'd recommended the guided tour though if you can.

tastemaker

 I thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the UK Parliament. It affirms my belief that as long as you know about William the Conquerer, Henry the 8th and all of his wives, Queen Victoria and Elizabeth, you can relate to most iconic sites in Britain =P I was not expecting the parliament to be as lavish and ornate - what a beautiful palace that our elected officials get to work in. The house of commons and house of lords are open to visitors to listen in when they debate bills, I definitely want to do this for Brexit topics! And be prepared to stand most of the tour, as the chairs you will come across will be ones reserved for queens, lords and MPs.


Our guide also told us a lot of fun anecdotes as we travelled through the rooms (which also travels through time), my favorite is when Margaret Thatcher unveiled her own ore statue and said "it would have been better if it's made of iron."


tastemaker

Daniella, our fantastic tour guide made the 90 minutes tour flew by. There was a lot of listening and walking but the history was fascinating and the rooms were majestic, particularly the Queen's Robing Room and the Royal Gallery displaying gold plated statues and thrones and old portraits of the Royals. The House of Lords and the House of Commons were nice but felt rather small especially if you are thinking about accommodating all (hundreds of) Lords or MPs in each of the house. 


Inside and outside, the design and architecture make this House of Parliament one of the most beautiful parliament buildings in the world.


I would recommend the guided tour to those interested in the British history, be it visitors or UK residents. The admission price is good value given that one could learn so much about the British history in an interactive and entertaining way. 

tastemaker

What a fun and interesting tour! Highly recommended doing one of the guided tours here, our tour guide was brilliant and took us on the route the Queen would do! Was amazing, such beautiful architecture and history! The highlight for me was physically standing in the house of commons and of course seeing the Queen's robing room! Very lavish! Great place to visit this summer, and check out the voice and vote exhibition whilst you're there; all about womens place in parliament! 

tastemaker

Ok wow! Always considered the Houses Of Parliament to be one of my most favourite attractions of the city with all its history. There is no excuse for not having gone inside sooner and I urge all (locals and visitors) to make sure to go for a guided tour. 


Our tour guide was a delight, incredibly knowledgeable about not only the politics and history, but also the architecture of this magnificent building and the whole experience was absolutely worth every penny. Tours can be either audio tours or guided tours and the prices vary depending on which tours are booked. 


If you haven't been yet, by all means GO GO GO!!! 

tastemaker

For anyone for has any interest in british history this is a tour like no other.

Tells a story of our country from medieval times to modern day, while also sharing how accessible our government is.


Our tour guide was overflowing with information and kept a strong pass going from room to room.


Something I wasn't expecting is the true beauty of this building and combined with history just created true magic.


tastemaker

I really couldn't recommend visiting the Houses of Parliament more.


Our enthusiastic and knowledgable guide gave us a fascinating tour, leading us through both Houses and showing us the various voting chambers and lobbying halls. She provided so much insight into the history and inner workings of Parliament and I won't soon forget standing in the middle of the iconic House of Commons. 


A real treat for the summer and an experience not to be missed.

Tastemaker

For some reason, my friends and I looked at the Houses of Parliament as certainly a beautiful building but somehow closed to the public. Which is a bit silly considering you can often witness tourists queueing in front in summer months.


I’m sure glad we looked into going in because this was an incredible visit! The interiors are incredible with gorgeous gilding, flawless statues and unbelievable architecture. Just for that, it is absolutely worth the £25.


On top of that, you also get mountains of info about the ins and outs of British politics and the working of government. Eye-opening!


Tastemaker

It is very worthwhile booking yourself on to a free tour of the Houses of Parliament. 


The tour is only about 70 minutes but the amount of information in that time is astounding and demonstrates the impressive knowledge of the guides.


Unsurprisingly photos are not permitted for the majority of the tour but you will have access to both the house of Commons and the house of Lords as well as other areas.


At the end of the tour you are permitted to take pictures and can stand in the same spot as Nelson Mandela when he gave a speech to an attentive crowd. 


It's such an amazing place and we'll worth the visit.

tastemaker

A beautiful interior and incredibly informative tour makes this a must do for any local or tourist in London!


To be honest, it's never really crossed my mind that you can even enter the Houses of Parliament; in my mind, though I have admired the exterior a number of times over my years in London, I saw it as a very much 'them' and 'us' setup and as such, the place to be exclusive for politicians and their visitors. So when a fellow Tastemaker told me that this week, on the run up to the election, they were offering free tours, I was all over it. 


We were lucky to only have about 10 of us in our tour group and were led around by a wonderfully funny lady who kept things engaging throughout. We met and started in the incredibly enormous Westminster Hall, the oldest section of the palace having stood there for 900 years to date. The hall has a beautiful wooden roof and a series of floor plaques commemorating those lucky enough to have lay in state there over the years including Sir Winston Churchill. It is also the place that both Obama and Mandela have both been invited to make speeches, a very rare honour indeed.


We then proceeded up through St Stephen's Hall that stands on the site of the royal Chapel of St Stephen's and was where the House of Commons sat until the Chapel was destroyed by the fire of 1834. It is in here that King Charles I stormed the Commons demanding that the 5 MP's that opposed his God-like claims stepped forwards for execution. Little did he know that it would be this action that would mark his demise as King and his own execution!


Then we visited the Royal Gallery where the Queen walks between the Robing Room and House of Lords to read out all new laws, the beautifully ornate and golden House of Lords itself and then finally the House of Commons and all of the halls and lobbies in between. Having only ever seen these rooms on television I felt overwhelmingly proud and honoured to walk the halls and learn more about our political and royal history!


A few more facts that I loved so much to mention:


1) It was once the Royal Palace and was last lived in by King Henry VIII himself until he got bored of having political meetings in his home and moved to Whitehall, leaving the Palace in the hands of the MPs and Lords.

2) William Pitt was the youngest serving PM at 24!

3) One of the statues in St Stephan's Hall remains damaged where one of the Suffragettes chained herself in defiance of the government not allowing women to vote

4) When the House of Commons was being rebuilt after the war, the UK was so poor that most of the central pieces or their materials were kindly donated to us by our Commonwealth allies

5) The entire interior was designed by Augustus Pugin, a job that culminated in his madness, sectioning and premature death


I could go on and on and on. Needless to say I loved every second of my visit and encourage everyone, whether you have a vested interest in politics or not, to try and get on one of these tours that I believe usually cost £25 and run at the weekends only. Worth every single penny.



tastemaker

After a superb free tour of Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben, booked through our local MP (would recommend, see review under "Big Ben" listing) we were invited by out tour guide to visit the Houses of Parliament and attend one of the live debates happening. I had no idea that anyone is welcome to come in and see the inner workings Governmental decisions, otherwise I'm sure I would have visited sooner! I'm never one to turn down a bit of London culture, especially when it's available free of charge so of course we of course took the advice and went inside. As you enter the interior was grand and the design was intricate and striking, it's the type of place that absorbs you completely as you find yourself doing a 360˚ to take it all in. As easy as it would be to get snap-happy, photography is only permitted in certain areas, to do look out for and abide by the signage. We found our way up to the public galleries and watched on whilst current issues were being debated, this was fascinating to me - the tempo and conflict meant it made for captivating viewing. This was a great way to end our visit, and ticked off another must do in London, I am now inclined to book a Parliament tour through our MP to get the full experience.

Tastemaker

If you a little lost on how UK's politics operates, this visit is for you. Besides being able to see the oldest part of the building that survived fires and wars to protect the remains of outrageously famous royalty (goose bumps just remembering) at the Westminster Hall, you can walk through history itself with FREE audioguides to explain the plots and twists of modern Britain. A glimpse of the very golden House of Lords with HRM throne, as well as the more democratic House of Commons should clear the skies on how power is divided but almost never shared in this never ending dispute for power. Of course, you could also wait for them to be in session and try to sneak in for free, but I found the paid visit to be quite enlightening, as well as allowing for broader exploration of the building.

tastemaker

I heard that you can book a tour of the Houses of Parliament by requesting this from your local MP (there is info about how to do this on the website for the Houses of Parliament) and it turns out that this is all true. You request a tour and your MP books you in and it's completely free. Amazing!

The tour was genuinely interesting and you get a really good look at all of the critical sites within the famous building including the Queens dressing room, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This is worth doing purely to see how beautiful the internal architecture of this building is. Literally breathe taking!

The tour guide we had was great too, light hearted yet very informative and you could tell he really loved his job.

The only down side to this attraction is that the tours only take place on weekdays so if you're a standard Monday to Friday 9 to 5er you'll need to get some time off work. I was booked on a 0940 tour and was done by about 1100 so a half day off work should cover things and trust me it's definitely worth taking the time off to do this. So interesting to see it up close and not just on TV. The House of Commons and the House of Lords both seem smaller than they look on TV but it's amazing to wonder around in those very rooms.

Tastemaker

The Houses of Parliament: we’ve all seen it from the outside and Instagrammed it, but did you know that you can actually go inside? Yes, really.


You can’t just walk-in, however, You must book yourself onto one of the tours run daily and believe me, it’s brilliant. With your incredibly knowledgeable tour guide, you’re taken through the many rooms in this maze of a building including The Queen’s Robing Room, Central Gallery, the House of Commons, the House of Lords (obvs) and so much more. Your guide will tell you all you need to know about the buildings history, tradition, and quirkiness. You’ll find out answers to questions like where did the world ‘parliament’ come from? Why a monarch cannot enter the House of Commons? Why the building is sometimes referred to as the Palace of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament? Why someone always checks the cellars of parliament at every state opening? Why the symbol for parliament is a portcullis. It’s absolutely fascinating.


Over one thousand years of history, stunning art and architecture all to be explored in this grandest of buildings. Every corner you turn, from the paintings of royal monarchs whom parliament has acted under, to paintings depicting pivotal moments in English parliamentary history, you can actually feel history and tradition everywhere you turn.


Sadly, no photography allowed but you can unapologetically snap the hell out of Westminster Hall and St. Stephen’s Hall, both mightily impressive and guaranteed to give you loads of ‘likes’.


The only downside? The guided tour is pricey. However, I feel it offers a lot more value than the other attractions say, The London Eye. 


If you have a must-do list when in London, then a trip to Parliament must be there. It's one of the best tours in London.


Top tip: if you’re UK citizen, you can book yourself on these tours completely free if you contact your local MP. Your welcome.

Tastemaker

I only went to Westminster Hall on Open House weekend but it was fantastic! I didn't realise you can take guided tours and I will be booking as soon as possible. It was easy to get into and so amazing to be close to such a historic and iconic building. Even if you decide not to take a tour, just looking at the architecture is so special!


Update 2018 - Ok so I made it back to Parliament for a Guided Tour and it is highly, highly recommended! you have a group of around 15 people and it is a well oiled machine! I wasn't allowed to take snaps inside but the Robing Room which the Queen uses is phenomenal and I don't think I will ever forget the magnificent golden throne in the Lords. The guides are knowledgable and professional so it is well worth the visit. I also recommend the Afternoon Tea which is served up next to The Thames which is a total treat. Apparently Parliament is due to close for a 6 year refurbishment in 2025 so visit now before it is too late!

Tastemaker

One of the best tours I have done ever, it was so fascinating learning about the history of the building and what acts of Parliament and legislation were passed. You gut a free audio tour as part of the package. I recommend it for all age groups, I would actually go again and take my friends and family

Tastemaker

I feel like the tour of the Houses of Parliament is very underrated, people seem to think it's not interesting but I'm here to recommend it with all my passion!


The first time I've been there I was fourteen, during a school trip, and I wasn't that enthusiastic with the idea of going. I was so wrong! I enjoyed my visit so much, our guide was super nice and the history - as well as the present - of the Houses of Parliament was so interesting to listen to. It's one of the best memories I have of my first time in London.


I have been a second time a couple of weeks ago with a friend who really wanted to go, and once again it was such a great tour. You are given a free audio guide and I promise you won't be bored at all. The building is beautiful and the history is amazing!

Tastemakertastemaker

Cannot recommend this tour enough! I'm not a huge fan of historical tours, but the guided tour was well worth the amount we paid!  I've actually been back with everybody that comes to visit me and always learn a new bit of information.  Leave yourself a couple of hours to see both past and present of British history in the making


Also, if you get a chance, it's worth going early for a VERY cheap full English breakfast and this spectacular view!

Tastemaker

One of the best tours you can have...Even if the tickets seem a bit expensive, it definitely worth it. You are given an audio guide (free of charge) that provides you all the useful information about the history of this impressive building. You will have the chance to wander around the parliament's halls (House of Lords and House of Commons) and see the place where all decisions for country's future are taken! Recommended!

tastemaker

I've done this tour 3 times and each time is different and enlightening.  Very interesting and well organised tour of our seat of government.  Last time I went they were trialling the  audio and though I was a bit apprehensive, it was actually very good.  If the news that the building is crumbling and Parliament may need to be moved to a new building, I suggest everyone books a tour of this historic building before it's too late!


I really enjoyed the tour. It was great fun to see the House of Lords and house of common. It was just wonderful to have a look on the inside of the Westminster.


If you get the chance, do it for all means. It is as british as it gets and lot`s of fun ;)