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Are the Houses of Parliament just for tourists?

Big Ben, Westminster and the home of the UK parliament are London must-sees, but is venturing inside a must-do?

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Abigail Lelliott

We look at London’s most popular landmarks and decide if they’re worth the cost and the crowds. This time, we went to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. 

They say
‘Discover where history is still being made on an audio tour of the Houses of Parliament.’

We say
Follow in the footsteps of Churchill, Thatcher, Blair and Corbyn, and gawp at lots of OTT Victoriana.

The setup
Starting in Westminster Hall, you trail through the bowels of the British establishment, including the Commons and Lords Chambers.

What’s the sweetest spot?
The Commons Chamber is smaller and cosier than it looks on TV, with fascinating details like the touching Jo Cox memorial.

Did you learn anything?
When MPs have to vote on a motion, ‘division bells’ are rung all over the Palace of Westminster. They also ring them in a few local pubs and restaurants, in case anyone has popped out.

Is it worth the money?
It’s £18.50 for the audio tour if booked in advance – £7 less than a guided one, and you can move at your own pace. For extra swank, a luxurious afternoon tea overlooking the Thames is £29.

Insider’s tip
Don’t miss the gift shop full of hilarious political knick-knacks.

Just for tourists?
Absolutely not: if anything, Londoners will get more out of this than anyone. As well as gaining some genuine insight into our weird constitutional setup, you can’t beat that feeling of being right at the centre of things.

Tours run all week during parliamentary recesses, and on Saturdays throughout the year.

Find out more about Houses of Parliament

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