Westminster Abbey is world famous and is known as "the church of the Royal Family" as it has been the pantheon of the monarchs and the site of their coronations since 1066.
I advise you to buy your ticket online and in advance or you will face terrible waits at the ticket office. There are three main ways to enter the Abbey, I'll summarise them and tell you the details so you can choose which one is best for you.
See Westminster Abbey and Big Ben with an expert guide
If you want to complete the experience with a guided tour and also see the Houses of Parliament - where Big Ben is located - this is your option.
The best thing to do when you visit Westminster Abbey is to take the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament. To do this, the best thing to do is to book a guided tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament in advance so you don't have to waste time in the long queues that form every day to get to two of the capital's major points of interest.
This guided tour entitles you to a 4-hour guided tour of the UK's history in capital letters. You'll enter the fascinating Westminster Abbey to see, among other wonders, its Coronation Chair, 900-year-old University Garden and Poets' Corner, and the Houses of Parliament, home to the famous Big Ben and the meeting place of the British government, with its famous House of Commons and House of Lords.
The tour starts at 9:15 a.m. at Westminster Abbey, the Westminster Abbey Shop, as the starting point and also the end of the tour.
Why I like this option: touring the main sights of a city with an expert guide always takes the experience to another level. With this tour you'll get to know the context, the details and much of British culture through two of its great religious and political icons.
Recommended if... you want to know a little more about the history and details of two of the great symbols of the British capital.
The city's best attractions, at a special price
If you're not only planning to visit Westminster Abbey, but you're also looking for an inside look at other London attractions, the London Pass will save you time and money during your trip.
As a major attraction, Westminster Abbey is included in several of the tourist passes you can buy to get to know London while saving time and money. If you are going to travel a minimum of 3 or 4 days to the British capital and want to see several of its points of interest, without a doubt, this is the option that I recommend the most.
Tickets, not only for Westminster Abbey, but for the vast majority of London's attractions, are expensive, and the long queues can wear you down. If you fancy considering this option, I've written a detailed article on London Pass with all the information you need to know.
The Explorer Pass is the ideal option to discover the essentials of London in a minimum of 4 days and add to your experience the visit to some of its most fun attractions, especially if you are travelling with children, such as the London Eye, the Madame Tussauds wax museum or the intriguing themed tours of the London Dungeon, among others. The price of this tourist pass varies depending on the number of attractions you want to visit.
In summary, we compare the options
Learn about Westminster Abbey and Big Ben from a specialised guide
If you want to complete the experience with a guided tour and also see the Houses of Parliament, this is your option.
The best attractions in the city, at a special price
If you want to visit Westminster Abbey and see other attractions in London, the London Pass will save you time and money during your trip
What you should know about Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey opening times
Westminster Abbey is generally open daily from 9.30am to 3.30pm, while on Wednesdays, for example, it is open until 6pm.
However, opening times for some of the interior areas vary and the opening times of the Abbey may change as it is a church in use.
A little bit of its history
As a key site for British royalty, the coronation of the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II, and the funeral of the Princess of Wales, for example, took place here. In addition to its original gardens and four cloisters, at the heart of this impressive church, its High Altar, lie the remains of medieval kings and queens such as Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, and monarchs such as Mary Queen of Scots and Henry VII.
Along its 31-metre nave, we find art treasures, the most important collection of monumental sculpture in the United Kingdom and the 'scientists' corner', where illustrious names such as Issac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried. Meanwhile, its South Aisle holds one of its most celebrated areas, 'poets' corner', with the tombs of unforgettable names such as Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling.
The history behind the walls of this Gothic-style religious building is truly fascinating. Located at the centre of England's political and religious power for over a thousand years, the Whitehall and Westminster district, the long queues are now part of the monumental ensemble of Westminster Abbey. Today, it is visited by more than a million tourists every year.
Vicky's Traveller Tip
Westminster Abbey is a working church, so remember to dress appropriately (or bring a scarf to cover shoulders and necklines).
How to get to Westminster Abbey
Located in the heart of London, there are many ways to get to Westminster Abbey, the most convenient of which is by public transport.
- Underground: The nearest underground stations to Westminster Abbey are Westminster (Jubilee, District and Circle Lines) and James's Park (District and Circle Lines).
- Bus: There are a multitude of bus routes to Westminster Abbey's doorstep. You can find them all on the useful official Transport Of London website. Also, all tour buses, which you can access with a London Pass, stop at Westminster Abbey.
- Train: London Victoria and London Waterloo are the best options for getting to Westminster Abbey by train.
- Cycle: There are several cycle routes that take you into central London. On the Transport for London website you will find the most comfortable and safest routes.
Some services available at Westminster Abbey
- Admission for wheelchair users and their companions is free as not all of the Abbey is accessible.
- Braille tours for the blind and visually impaired are available on request with prior booking.
- The Abbey is also adapted with a hearing loop system for the hearing impaired.
- It is possible to enter with a pushchair and there is even a tour for the little ones (in English).
- You can have a quick snack and a coffee in the 'Kiosk' or have lunch or even dinner in the 'Cellarium Café and Terrace'.
Vicky's Traveller Tip
Take the opportunity to get to know Abbey's surroundings: the River Thames and the London Eye.
Other points of interest in the area around Westminster Abbey
The important area in which the formidable Westminster Abbey is located is full of other must-see places to explore on your visit to London. Next to it, just 160 metres away, is the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament and the legendary Big Ben.
From there you can embark on one of the Thames river cruises, a good plan to rest after visiting the Abbey. This is the article I wrote about it: Thames River Cruises in London.
A little further on, about 450 metres away, you can take a break from your long visit to these two architectural wonders thanks to the wonderful gardens of London's oldest and most beloved park, St James's Park, ideal to enjoy with children.
You can also take in the London skyline from the heights of Europe's tallest Ferris wheel, the London Eye, less than 700 metres from Westminster Abbey, or take in centuries of the finest British art at the renowned Tate Britain Museum, less than a kilometre from the Abbey. Here is the guide I wrote about London Eye Tickets: how to buy, prices and schedules.
Frequently asked questions
Is there a dress code for access to Westminster Abbey?
Yes, bear in mind that this is a religious temple, so avoid short trousers or skirts and cover your shoulders.
How do I get free access to Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey is included in the London Pass, which gives you access to Westminster Abbey at no extra cost if you have the London Pass.
Is it worth taking a guided tour or can I visit on my own?
You can visit it on your own, but there is a guided tour that also takes you to the Houses of Parliament and reveals the history and most important events that took place at both sites. There is also the option of taking an audio guide.
What can I see near Westminster Abbey?
You can take advantage of the visit to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye and even take a cruise on the Thames.