Westminster and St James, London

London Westminster is home to many of London's most iconic attractions, such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. It's also a great place for shopping and theatre shows.

Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) were originally built on an eyot – a small island – called Thorney Island and have existed, in one form or another, for around 1,000 years. Thorney Island has now been subsumed into the mainland, but the area's status as the centre of England's political life is unchanged. Westminster and St James is one of London's most traditional areas and is rich with the city's living history. St James in particular, with its private members' clubs and traditional shops, affords a glimpse of centuries-old customs. 

Travel to Westminster

Westminster Tube station is served by the Jubilee line, the Circle line and the District line. There are a number of bus routes that go through the area. Catch river bus services from Westminster Pier.

St James's Park also has a Tube station, which is connected to the Circle line and District line.

If you're going to be in London for more than a day, it's worth buying a Visitor Oyster Card in advance. The Visitor Oyster Card is delivered to your home before you arrive in London. It is one of the easiest ways to get around London.

If you do not have a Visitor Oyster Card, but still plan to travel around London for more than a day, buy an Oyster card at the Tube station. Learn more about Oyster Cards.


Things to see and do in Westminster

Not many places can match Westminster for its stunning range of attractions. The Palace of Westminster is one of London's four World Heritage Sites. Some of London's major galleries and iconic attractions are in Westminster, including:

It's not all sightseeing in Westminster. The area also houses the University of Westminster, with more than 22,000 students and a range of degrees, masters and short courses.

Head to the glamorous lights of London's West End in Westminster for a night to remember. Many of the big musicals are performed here. You can get a pre-theatre dinner at a delicious West End restaurant and get ready to sing your heart out at a musical.

Look out for the statue of famous dandy Beau Brummel on Jermyn Street

Not only will you find some fantastic shops in the West End, including Selfridges and Topshop's flagship Oxford Street store, but Piccadilly and St James contain a range of tempting, unique boutiques. Pick up delicious treats at Fortnum & Mason, buy traditional country clothes at Cordings or head to Jermyn Street for everything an elegant man requires. The Westminster and St James area contains many superb places to eat. Enjoy a contemporary British lunch at Petrichor, a delicious pastry at the National Café or contemporary Indian fare at Cinnamon Club.

If you need a break, why not take a walk in St James's Park? This huge Royal Park is just a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace. Here you can hire a deckchair and spot the wildlife (including a few pelicans which live in the park.) You can continue your walk up through Green Park and then straight across to Hyde Park – or stop off at Apsley House to see where the Duke of Wellington lived.

Westminster's central location makes it an ideal place to stay. There are several hotels in the area, with accommodation ranging from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Try the Royal Horseguards or The Goring as five-star options. Or for cheaper accommodation, you can't beat the YHA London Central. More accommodation in London.

Westminster and St James Map

Westminster Abbey
A wonderful 700-year-old building which is the coronation church of England. It was also the site of the 2011 Royal Wedding
Houses of Parliament
1000 Years of history which have shaped Britain can be discovered within one of the most iconic buildings in the world
National Gallery
You'll love seeing work by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Renoir, Cezanne and Van Gogh here
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery houses the world’s largest collection of personalities and faces, spanning centuries
Palace of Westminster with Big Ben. Photo: Jon ReidBig Ben
The famous bell, based in a tower at the Houses of Parliament. Its distinctive chime is caused by a crack in the surface!
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace serves as both the office and London residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Tour the state rooms in summer
Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts hosts some of the finest arts exhibitions in London. The annual Summer Exhibition is unmissable
Tate Britain
Tate Britain holds the largest collection of British art in the world. The gallery shows work from the last five centuries
Churchill Museum and Cabinet War RoomsChurchill War Rooms
Discover the original Cabinet War Rooms, the wartime bunker which sheltered Churchill and his staff from the Blitz
A world famous department store, at Selfridges you can deck out your home, your wardrobe or your jewellery box
Top Shop
This world famous store is a first for affordable fashion and will have you shopping till you drop
Fortnum and Mason
Find gourmet food and wine, gifts and treats at this 300-year-old shop. There's a great range of bars and restaurant
Petrichor at the Cavendish London
Petrichor serves a truly indulgent British breakfast, as well as informal a la carte lunch and dinner menus
This Oriental fusion restaurant boasts a pioneering interactive ordering system
Apsley House
The magnificent home of the first Duke of Wellington is known as Number 1 London, and is one of the city's finest mansions