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Getting ready for your Big Ben tour

Important information about your Big Ben tour. Please read the information below so you know what to expect on the day.

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What will I see on my Big Ben tour?  

On your visit, you’ll have the exciting opportunity to hear more about the recent conservation project and the history of the Tower, as you climb 334 steps from the bottom of the Tower to the belfry. Highlights of the tour include:   

  • the spiral staircase  
  • the exhibition spaces
  • the clock mechanism room  
  • the four clock dials  
  • the belfry (including the world famous “Big Ben” bell)   

You’ll also be able to see medieval Westminster Hall before and after your visit to the Elizabeth Tower.  

Can I take photos on my tour?   

In line with other areas of the Palace, photography is not permitted inside the Elizabeth Tower due to security, health and safety and copyright reasons. You will be required to leave all belongings in a secure locker before the tour begins. You are welcome to take photographs inside Westminster Hall before or after your Big Ben tour.   

Are there toilet facilities in the Tower?   

Guests are encouraged to use the toilet facilities in Westminster Hall prior to the tour departing as there are no toilet facilities inside the Tower. The tour duration is 90 minutes. Visitors are advised to arrive 30 minutes in advance of their tour. 

Can I bring my own food and drink?  

Please note that eating and drinking is not permitted inside the Elizabeth Tower and we advise guests to hydrate before their tour begins. The Jubilee Café located just off Westminster Hall offers a selection of light meals, and hot and cold drinks.  

What should I wear on my visit to the Tower?   

As the visit involves climbing narrow spiral steps, you will need to wear comfortable clothing and flat-soled shoes ideally with a rubber sole to provide the necessary grip when climbing. Footwear should fully enclose the foot, i.e. no open toes or heels. Sandals, flip-flops, backless footwear, high-heeled footwear and bare or stocking feet are not permitted in the Elizabeth Tower. 

You will be provided with earplugs to wear in the mechanism room and belfry. Depending on the weather, it may be windy at the top of the Tower, so a windbreaker jacket or warm top is advised. 

What should I bring with me? 

Please bring any essential medication with you (for example, asthma inhalers, diabetic medication etc.). Please also bring a a windbreaker jacket or warm top in case of poor weather conditions. Bags and belongings (including mobile phones, cameras, and changes of footwear) will be stored in a secure area within Westminster Hall before the tour and can be collected afterwards.   

What security procedures can I expect when I visit?   

All visitors are required to go through “airport style” security before entering the Palace of Westminster and leave their belongings in a secure locker before climbing the Elizabeth Tower. The queue starts outside the building so dress for the weather. Further information will be provided in your pre-visit email.  

When should I arrive, and how long does the experience last?  

Your tour start time must be strictly adhered to and it will not be possible to join the tour if you arrive late. Visitors should arrive at the Cromwell Green entrance no later than 30 minutes before the start of their tour, and we are unable to provide a refund or exchange if you arrive after this time.

Your visit will last 1 hour and 45 minutes. This includes the 90-minute tour and time at the start and end of the tour to lock away and retrieve your belongings.

Big Ben guide book

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

Big Ben guide book