Things to do in Westminster

Westminster is home to many of London's most iconic attractions, such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Westminster Abbey on a sunny day with trees in the foreground.
Visit iconic Westminster Abbey. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Combining historic sites and some of the world’s oldest institutions with beautiful parks and cutting-edge restaurants, Westminster offers a fascinating mix of things to do in London.

Where is Westminster?

One of London’s 32 boroughs, the City of Westminster takes in a large area of central London. It lies to the west of the City of London, to the south of the borough of Camden, and to the east of the borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Within the borough are some of the city’s most famous and historic areas, such as Soho, the West End, Covent Garden and St James’s.

However, the neighbourhood most commonly thought of as “Westminster” sits between Victoria and Pimlico to the west, St James’s to the north and Trafalgar Square and the Strand to the east. It’s southern edge lines the Thames, roughly between Vauxhall Bridge and Waterloo Bridge.

Things to do in Westminster

Westminster attractions

London's Palace of Westminster viewed from Abingdon Street Gardens.
Join a tour of The Palace of Westminster. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Few places can match Westminster for its range of attractions. For example, Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) have existed, in one form or another, for around 1,000 years. 

  • Join a tour of The Palace of Westminster – more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament – one of London's four World Heritage Sites.
  • Gaze at world-class art at some of London's major galleries, including the National Gallery and Tate Britain.
  • Head up to Westminster Abbey’s The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries in the 13th century triforium which chart the 1,000-year history of the religious building.
  • Spot major attractions based in the area such as Big Ben (officially known as the Elizabeth Tower), ornate Westminster Cathedral and Trafalgar Square, home to the famous lion statues.
  • Find plenty of hidden gems: sit in on a case at The Supreme Court, see the inner-workings of Britain’s wartime bunker at the Churchill War Rooms or stop off at the Guards Museum to learn about special regiments.
  • Admire the statues in Parliament Square, including Suffragettes Milicent Fawcett, wartime leader Winston Churchill and South African icon Nelson Mandela.

Explore Royal Parks and quiet spots

View of Buckingham Palace from St James's Park in Westminster, London.
Explore St James's Park, just a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Take a break from a busy day of sightseeing to relax in one of the area’s leafy parks.

  • St James's Park is a Royal Park just a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace – visit at lunchtime to see the resident pelicans getting their daily feed.
  • Continue your walk up through Green Park, which is the perfect spot to unwind with a book.
  • Or head to sprawling Hyde Park, where you can hire deckchairs in warmer months or see seasonal concerts.
  • Near the Houses of Parliament, the riverside Victoria Tower Gardens are home to the striking Buxton Memorial marking the abolition of slavery.
  • Make sure to continue along the river to Victoria Embankment Gardens to marvel at seasonal flower beds and spot Robert Burns’ statue.

Westminster restaurants, pubs and bars

Spanning Michelin-starred hotspots and low-key cafes, there are plenty of places to eat in Westminster and some cosy watering holes too.

  • Splash out with fine dining at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill at The Corinthia.
  • Pick up a delicious pastry at the National Gallery’s National Café or feast on seasonal dishes at Tate Britain Restaurant between picture spotting.
  • Contemporary Indian fare can be found at Cinnamon Club, a former Victorian library, or Goan-inspired Quilon.
  • Start the day with an old-fashioned fry-up at Regency Café (17-19 Regency Street), used regularly as a TV and film location for the likes of Brighton Rock.
  • There are plenty of traditional pubs to explore. Rub shoulders with politicians at the Red Lion or enjoy cheap drinks at Sam Smith’s pub The Windsor Castle (23 Francis St).

Where to shop in and around Westminster

A cart topped with green plants in the middle of Covent Garden's Apple Market.
Covent Garden's Apple Market. Image courtesy of Brendan Bell.

Many of London’s top shopping destinations can be found in in the wider City of Westminster borough.

  • The nearest shopping area to central Westminster, St James’s boasts luxury department store Fortnum & Mason and men's fashion hotspot Jermyn Street.
  • In the wider borough, explore West End shopping streets such as Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street. Big names include John Lewis, Selfridges and Primark.
  • Seek out beauty products in Covent Garden from UK flagships and one-of-a-kind concept stores such as Charlotte Tilbury, Dior and Chanel.
  • Mayfair’s wealthy streets are home to high-end fashion, including Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

West End nightlife

Westminster events for your diary

Military parade of troops from the Household Division honouring the Queen's official birthday during Trooping the Colour in London.
Trooping the Colour. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Find plenty of pomp, pageantry and culture at these top events in Westminster.

  • Take a look inside Buckingham Palace each summer on a special tour of the State Rooms in the royal residence.
  • Celebrate the monarch’s official birthday with the colourful Trooping the Colour display each June.
  • See one of London’s most iconic events, Changing the Guard, outside Buckingham Palace.
  • Join fellow cyclists in free events as part of the Ford RideLondon festival of cycling – with some events finishing along The Mall.
  • Remember those lost in conflict during Remembrance Day each November, with a parade along Whitehall and services at Westminster Abbey.
  • Enjoy cultural events in Trafalgar Square throughout the year, from Pride in London to Chinese New Year celebrations. The square also hosts a Christmas tree and carol concerts each December.
  • Line the streets for a parade signaling the State Opening of Parliament, which ends at the Houses of Parliament.
  • Welcome the new year during the free New Year’s Day Parade featuring hundreds of floats, bands and performers.

How to get to Westminster

Westminster Tube Station sign and entrance.
Travel to Westminster Tube Station. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Westminster Underground Station is served by the Jubilee line, the Circle line and the District line. St James's Park and Embankment Underground stations are also nearby, both of which connect to the Circle line and District lines.

Charing Cross, Victoria, Waterloo and Waterloo East are the closest railway stations, with services to south, south-east and south-west of England. Apart from Waterloo East, these stations are also connected to various lines on the Tube network.

Numerous bus routes go through the area; particularly around Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and the Strand.

For a unique perspective, catch a river bus service from Westminster Pier, which is also a stop on City Cruises’ sightseeing boat tours.

Where to stay in Westminster

The impressive facade of The Royal Horseguards hotel in Westminster on a clear autumn day with blue skies.
Stay at The Royal Horseguards hotel, located in historic Whitehall. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Westminster's central location makes it an ideal place to stay. There are several hotels in the area, with accommodation ranging from budget hangouts to luxury hotels.

Find more accommodation in London.

Visit more London neighbourhoods

Where to next? Check out other top London areas, including St James's, Victoria, London's West End and South Bank.