Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower tours

Clock dial

Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower tours are only available to UK residents. These are free of charge and must be sponsored by a Member of Parliament (MP) or a Member of the House of Lords. The tours are led by trained guides.

What does the tour cover?

The Elizabeth Tower is the name of the famous clock tower. Although often referred to as 'Big Ben', this is actually the nickname of the Great Bell housed within the Elizabeth Tower.

A guided tour will take you up the 334 stone spiral steps to the top of the 156 year old Elizabeth Tower to hear Big Ben strike the hour. As well as seeing a spectacular view of London from 62 metres up the tower, you will also go behind the clock dials and have the opportunity to visit the mechanism room to learn about how the clock works in the 21st Century.

Times and availability

Due to the unique layout of Elizabeth Tower, there is a very limited capacity for visitors each year. To manage demand for tours, MPs are limited in the number of applications they are able to make for constituents to climb the tower each month. Tours are generally fully booked 6 months in advance. Demand is high so early booking and flexibility regarding dates and times is strongly recommended.

Tours are at set times of 9.00am, 11.00am and 2.00pm Monday-Friday (except Bank Holidays).

There is also a tour at 4.00pm from May to September.

There are no Elizabeth Tower tours available from 24 December to 2 January.

Booking

UK residents should contact their local MP or a Member of the House of Lords whom they know to arrange a tour. There is no charge for guided tours booked in this way.

Children under 11 are not permitted on Elizabeth Tower tours. Groups of 14 students must be accompanied by two adults.

Arriving at Westminster

  • Visitors for Elizabeth Tower tours should enter by the main entrance to Portcullis House on the Victoria Embankment, facing the river.
  • Map of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament (PDF PDF 537 KB)
  • Visitors should allow at least 15 minutes to pass through security, and will be subject to an airport style search.
  • Visitors on Elizabeth Tower tours may not leave the tour once it has started (for security reasons) unless escorted by a member of staff.

Other tours available to UK and overseas visitors

UK residents and overseas visitors can book tickets for a number of other tours at the Houses of Parliament which take place on Saturdays throughout the year and on weekdays during Parliamentary recesses.

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or on the day from the Ticket Office. 

Find Your MP

Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower guide book

This book tells the story of the iconic tower, Great Clock and bell which became known as 'Big Ben'. Contains over 130 images and illustrations.

Related links and information

Big Ben: Tour, video, images

Fast details

  • No children aged under 11 years
  • Open to UK permanent residents only
  • Tours must be arranged through your local MP or a Member of the House of Lords
  • Tours are free of charge
  • Currently booking for January 2016