It’s hard to know where to begin when discussing Westminster. It’s home to some of London’s, or more accurately, the UK’s most treasured landmarks, possessions, sites and figures. But there’s more to Westminster than meets the eye.
As a result of this, Westminster offers an extensive amount of things to do and see. So many in fact you’ll have to let us help you narrow it down. In this guide, we’ll be giving you the skinny on where to go for great shopping trips, delicious eateries, and must-see attractions.
Places to Go in London: Westminster Remix
Let’s start with the obvious. If you’re coming to London for the first time, you need to try and cover as many of the classic tourist sites as possible.
The list is as long as our arm: the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street and Big Ben. It’s a task and a half we know, but if you’re coming to London you’ll want to take in as much of London’s amazing history as possible and cross these off your list.
If you’re short on time though, start off by visiting Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. They’re positioned right next to each other and you can enjoy viewing them in a short space of time. Gather the family or your travelling partner, get that perfect holiday snap in front of them and hey presto, you’ve covered two classic sites within 30 minutes.
Afterwards, you can head a little further towards Trafalgar Square and on your way, you’ll stumble across the Prime Minister's home at Downing Street. (Well...technically you won’t quite get in arms reach of it as it’s gated and heavily armed by police, but it’s a site you’ll want to try and snoop in on nonetheless.)
Top tip - to ensure it’s happening on the day, following the Changing Guard twitter account and there will be regular updates for timings.
The other important site is, obviously, Buckingham Palace. A great time of day to visit is around 10.45am (Mon-Sat) as you’ll get to see the changing of the guard which occurs at 11 am.
If you’re visiting around July to September, you’re in luck as you’re just in time for Buckingham Palace’s annual summer opening. It’s during these months that the palace opens its doors to tourists to view all the staterooms. This is a must see experience not solely aimed at tourists, but the British themselves too as the decor, history and sheer presence these rooms can’t
Oh, and did we mention you can end your tour with a cup of tea and a scone in the Queens garden cafe afterwards? Overlooking the palace grounds, it’s the perfect way to end a day of walking around bustling London.
Once you’ve ticked off all the sightseeing you can manage, consider some other attractions in the local area. For those who enjoy a gallery or two, Westminster has got you covered.
From the Tate Modern to The Serpentine Gallery to The National Portrait Gallery and Somerset House, it’s a hub for art lovers wanting to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s finest art.
The same goes for museum geeks. Westminster is home to The British Museum where you can get lost amongst the Egyptian mummies, and The National History Museum where you can walk with dinosaurs. The latter two are particularly great for families as you’ll find all sort of exhibitions and child-friendly activities going on here throughout the year.
Know your Westminster Beyond “Buckingham Palace Tube Station”
Once you’ve managed to do all the classics tourist spots central Westminster has to offer, why not explore some of the other areas that make up this renowned borough.
There are heaps of other places that are worth visiting but that aren’t as densely populated. Hyde Park, for instance, is a great space to stretch your legs. Sitting amongst 346 acres of land, it’s unsurprisingly one of the biggest parks in London (Green Park being the biggest) and generously offers you lots of activities to try.
If you need some suggestions, The Serpentine Lake is a great place to have a walk by as you do a spot of bird watching, you can visit Kensington Gardens & Palace and most importantly (arguably) head to the fountain where Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver - aka Hugh Grant & Colin Firth - fight in the classic rom-com Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Do watch out as well for ongoing events like festivals and concerts that happen throughout the year too - you might just catch something worth seeing!
If you feel as though a spot of shopping is in order, let us give you the lowdown on where’s good to go in Westminster. Well, it’s everywhere really. You see Westminster is home to Harrods, Liberty, Selfridges, Oxford Street & Covent Garden. So to put it bluntly, get your wallet out, as it’s undeniably retail heaven (or hell if you’re not a fan of crowds).
Once you’ve made enough of a dent in your wallet to realise it’s time to stop shopping, take a break and re-cooperate in Kingly Court. Nestled away, hidden between Liberty and Carnaby Street, it’s a bustling three storey court filled with bars and restaurants.
Whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back traditional Italian pizza at Pizza Pilgrims, mouth-watering Middle Eastern food at Le Bab, or Peruvian tapas from Senor Ceviche, there’s a place to suit all taste preferences. (Get there in good time though as it can get busy and most places won’t accept reservations for groups smaller than four or five.)
Westminster pubs & places to eat in Westminster
Food lover? Us too. Which is why we’ve got all you need to know on the best places to eat and drink in Westminster. From cocktail bars to cafes and good old fashioned English pubs, it’s a hotspot for tickling your tastebuds.
Black Lock has got to be up there as one of our favourite restaurants. Sorry vegetarians but this one isn’t for you. Black Lock endeavours to fill you up with incredibly moist cuts of meat, piled on top of each other, stacked precariously on a doughy bread base that slowly soaks up all the meat juices as you make your way through them. Get there early though as queues come part and parcel with this place.
If you’d prefer something a little less carnivorous, head to vegetarian heaven, Hemsley & Hemsley, run by the famous food blogger Hemsley sisters. Situated in Marylebone, it’s an eatery focused healthy eating where you can play ‘spot the superfood’ on the menu.
For typically traditional pub grub, The Cross Keys is a local go to in the Covent Garden area where you can pick up a pint and Sunday roast for £5.95!
But if you’d prefer something a little more upmarket, head to Belgravia and find the Grenadier. Built in 1720, this pub served as the local for the Palace’s guardsmen. Steeped in history, you might learn a thing or two about London’s historical past here whilst you sip on a pale ale.
As the sun sets over the big smog, a tipple or two may sound enticing. So let us tell you about one of London’s best-hidden gems - and this one really is top secret. Two words - The Mulwray.
This quaint cocktail bar sits hidden above an average looking pub, The Blue Posts on Rupert St. As you walk up the narrow staircase located inside the pub, at the back, you’ll be met by a finely dressed host ready to usher you to sit on a blue velvet booth below a luxurious gold art deco-esque interior. Expect table service and cocktails aplenty here. It’s perfect date night material where you can escape central London’s crowds for a moment until you depart and head back downstairs where you’ll return to the streets of Soho.