Westminster Abbey is famous throughout the world 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.
1. How to visit Westminster Abbey
The best advice I can give you is to buy your ticket online and in advance or you will face terrible waits at the box office. There are three types of tickets:
- Guided tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, From $ 55
- London Pass, From $ 85
2. Skip the line entrance to Westminster Abbey with audio guide
Such is the amount of history that Westminster Abbey holds and so many visitors come to see it every day that getting a no-queue admission to Westminster Abbey with an audio guide in advance won't ever be a bad idea.
This is a very good option, because, honestly, it is not the same to walk around its corners simply admiring its beauty, than to do it while listening to its fascinating trajectory. The audio guide will tell you how it was, for example, the coronation of William the Conqueror or how one of the most famous weddings took place there, that of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
What does this visit consist of?
Buying this ticket will save you the long lines at the ticket office and the audio guide will explain various interesting facts about its architecture and history during the hour and a half of duration. The timetable is from Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm and Saturdays from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm.
Please note that Westminster Abbey is still a church, so they may give notice of closure at short notice. Check their opening times on the official website before your visit: Westminster Abbey.
What is included in the Westminster Abbey Walk-in Audio Tour?
- Fast-track entry to Westminster Abbey
- Audio guide and headphones available in 12 languages (to be picked up inside the Abbey after passing through security checkpoints)
What is not included in the Fast Track Entry to Westminster Abbey with Audio Guide?
- Guided tour
- Transfer to and from the attraction
- Food or beverages
Vicky's Traveller Tip
Westminster Abbey is still a church, so remember to dress appropriately (or wear a scarf to cover shoulders and necklines).
3. Guided Tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament of London
The most recommended when visiting Westminster Abbey is to take the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament. To do this, the best thing to do is to book in advance the guided tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and not have to waste time in the long lines that form daily to access two of the major points of interest of the capital.
What does this visit consist of?
This guided tour will entitle you to a guided tour of about 4 hours through the capitalized history of the United Kingdom. You will enter the fascinating Westminster Abbey to see, among other wonders, its Coronation Chair, the 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, specifically at its gift store, 'Westminster Abbey Shop', as the starting and ending point of the tour.
What is included in the Guided Tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament in London?
- Entrance to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament
- Professional guide with explanations inside Westminster Abbey
- Tour around the Parliament and audio guide inside it
What is not included in the Guided Tour of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament in London?
- Guided tour inside the Parliament (to learn more about its history you will have access to an audio guide during your tour)
- Transportation and transfer to and from the attraction
4. London Pass and other tourist cards with access to Westminster Abbey
As a fundamental attraction that is, Westminster Abbey is included in several of the tourist passes that you can buy to see 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 paid and quite expensive, and the long queues can exhaust your patience. If you feel like considering this option, I have written a detailed article on London Pass with all the information you need to know.
With access to Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and 80 other attractions, plus a day on tourist bus, the London Pass is the ideal card if you are interested in history and culture. The price depends on the number of days of use, having a maximum of 10 days of duration that you can customize paying only for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 days.
London Explorer Pass
The Explorer Pass is the ideal option to discover the must-see 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 traveling with children, such as the London Eye, the Madame Tussauds wax museum or the intriguing themed tours of the London Dungeon, among others. In the case of this tourist pass, the price varies according to the number of attractions you want to visit.
5. What you should know about Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey opening times
Westminster Abbey is generally open every day from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, while on Wednesdays, for example, it is open until 6 pm.
However, the opening hours to see some of its interior areas vary and the opening of the doors of the Abbey may change as it is a church where religious ceremonies still take place.
A little of its history
As a key place for the British Royalty, here took place, for example, the coronation of the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II, and the funeral of the Princess of Wales. In addition to its original gardens and its four cloisters, in the heart of this impressive temple, its High Altar, rest the remains of kings and queens of the Middle Ages such as Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, and monarchs such as Mary Queen of Scots and Henry VII.
Along its 100-feet nave, we find treasures of art, the most important collection of monumental sculptures in the United Kingdom, and the 'scientists' corner', where illustrious names such as Issac Newton or Charles Darwin are buried. Meanwhile, its south corridor keeps one of its most celebrated areas, 'the corner of the poets', with the tombs of unforgettable as Charles Dickens or Rudyard Kipling.
The history behind the walls of this religious building in Gothic style is truly fascinating. Located in the center of the political and religious power of England for over a thousand years, the district of Whitehall and Westminster, the long queues are already part of the monumental ensemble of Westminster Abbey. Today, it is visited by more than one million tourists every year.
How to get to Westminster Abbey
Located in the heart of London, there are many ways to get to Westminster Abbey, being the public transport of the city the most comfortable for it.
- Underground: The nearest subway stations to Westminster Abbey are Westminster (Jubilee, District and Circle Lines) and James's Park (District and Circle Lines).
- Buses: Many bus lines take you to the door of Westminster Abbey. In the useful official website Transport Of London you can find them all. Also, all the tourist buses, which you can access thanks to a London Pass, make stops at Westminster Abbey.
- Train: London Victoria and London Waterloo are the best options to reach Westminster Abbey by train.
- Bicycle: Several bicycle routes take you to the center of London. On the same website 'Transport for London' you will find the most comfortable and safe ones.
Some services available at Westminster Abbey
- Admission for wheelchair users and their companions is free of charge since not all of the Abbey is accessible.
- Tours adapted in Braille for the blind and visually impaired are available upon request.
- The Abbey is also adapted with a hearing loop system for the hearing impaired.
- It is possible to enter with a baby stroller and they even offer a route designed for the little ones.
- You can have a quick snack and a coffee at their 'Kiosk' or have lunch or even dinner at their '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.
6. Other points of interest in the vicinity of Westminster Abbey
The important area in which the formidable Westminster Abbey is located is full of other must-see places to explore during your visit to London. Next to it, just 524 feet away, is the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament and the legendary Big Ben.
From there you can board one of the cruises on the Thames, a good plan to rest after the visit to the Abbey. This is the article I wrote about it: Thames River Cruises.
A little further on, about 1,500 feet 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.
Also take the opportunity to see the London skyline from the heights of the highest Ferris wheel in Europe, the London Eye, less than a half-mile from Westminster Abbey, or to visit centuries of the best British art at the renowned Tate Britain Museum, less than a kilometer away from the Abbey. Here is the guide I wrote about London Eye Tickets.