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.
Tours suspended during Elizabeth Tower Refurbishment
Essential works needed to refurbish and repair the Elizabeth Tower and Great Clock were announced in April 2016. These large scale works will take place over three years, with an anticipated start in early 2017. Tours will be suspended during refurbishment, with the last tour taking place on 16 December 2016. Further information on the programme of works can be found on the Living Heritage Website
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.
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 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.