Visiting big ben in london and the elizabeth tower

Where Time Stands Grand: Uncover London's Historic Clock

Are you visiting Big Ben in London on your visit to this marvellous city? Here is what to expect!

The Big Ben and The Elizabeth Tower stands majestically on the north end of the Palace of Westminster, an iconic symbol of London. Located in the centre of the city, the clock tower is a recognizable landmark.

The Big Ben clock tower is one of the most famous landmarks in England. This iconic landmark provides a unique insight into London's rich history and architectural splendour.

London's timeless spirit is embodied in Big Ben's resounding chimes and intricate clock face details. The heritage and beauty of London can be summed up by Big Ben, which embodies the city's history and culture.

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table of contents - visiting big ben in London

Big Ben Before, During and After Restoration.Big Ben Before, During and After Restoration

visiting big ben in london from the outside

If you are visiting London for the first time and want to see Big Ben as well as explore the surrounding area, it is recommended to stroll through the area, which is often buzzing with activity.

Westminster Bridge offers excellent views of Big Ben, and the area is densely packed with other attractions within easy walking distance. This makes it a great place for tourists to experience central London's rich culture and history.

For first-time visitors, the attractions around this area are the Palace of Westminster where the Houses of Parliament are found, Big Ben at its far end, Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey. The London Eye, Sea Life London Aquarium, The London Dungeons and Shrek's Adventure. Walking further around, you will find other attractions to visit.

  • Free to Admire: You don't have to pay anything to view Big Ben from the outside.
  • Nearest Underground Station: The closest tube station is Westminster Station, which is located just across the street. It provides service to the District, Circle, and Jubilee lines.
  • Best Views: Visit the south side of Westminster Bridge or the Thames River embankments for the greatest views of Big Ben. These locations provide fantastic photo and video opportunities, particularly at night when the clock faces are lit up.
  • Time for Photos: Less contrast from the frequently brilliant London sky can be achieved by taking photos in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Hearing the Chimes: Westminster is a historic place to record time, with Big Ben's bell resonating every hour, especially around noon and midnight. Visitors will remember being close to the tower as it chimes because it provides a unique connection to London's heritage.
  • Location: The official address when visiting Big Ben in London is the following:  Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, United Kingdom.
Westminster Bridge London With Big Ben in the Background.Big Ben Bridge London | Westminster Bridge London With Big Ben in the Background

big ben and the elizabeth tower tour

Big Ben welcomes guests throughout the year. 

A guided tour of the Elizabeth Tower takes visitors up 334 steps to the belfry, where Big Ben is suspended. Guides to describe the enormous restoration effort by over 500 UK specialists in stone masonry, glassmaking, and clock mechanics, which highlights the magnitude and complexity of the project.

This tour provides an up-close look at the clock mechanism, a chance to stroll behind Big Ben's enormous 6.9m diameter, and a chance to watch Big Ben strike.

The following are some essential facts regarding your visit to Big Ben:

  1. Pre-booking is a must: Please use this website to check when fresh tickets will be released, if there are currently no tickets available they will be marked in grey. For this reason, if you plan to visit, you will need to start planning well in advance.
  2. The UK Parliament website: Tickets are available through this link, which is the only place for purchasing tickets online.
  3. Tour Not For Everyone: It is not appropriate for everyone to take a tour of Big Ben. For admission, visitors must be at least 11 years old, be physically capable of climbing 334 stairs without assistance, and have moderate physical endurance for up to 90 minutes.
  4. Accessibility: As a result of the Tower's constraints, step-free access is not currently available.
  5. Duration of tour: The Big Ben Tour lasts approximately 90 minutes.
  6. Weather conditions: Since the tour will take place indoors, the weather won't affect it, but you should still dress appropriately for any weather conditions. It is important to be prepared for arrival and departure, depending on the weather conditions outside. See the current weather in London here.
  7. Daytime Tours: There are several tours available every day at different times.
  8. Dress code: It is always advised that visitors dress correctly, following the correct dress code.
  9. Photography: It is not permitted to take photographs or videos inside Big Ben.
  10. Toilet Facilities: Restrooms are only available at the beginning and the end of the tour.
  11. Noise Levels: You will be provided with ear defenders to protect against the noise of the clock mechanism and bells.
The Big Ben glamouring at night.Big Ben London at Night

10 Facts About Big Ben And Its History

Big Ben, the iconic bell within the Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, carries a rich history from its naming to its operations, including redesigns and renovations.

  1. Name Origin: Sir Benjamin Hall is thought to be the inspiration behind Big Ben's name. During the bell casting and testing, he served as the First Commissioner for Works.
  2. Nickname: The bell that hangs in the clock tower is known as Big Ben.
  3. Common Misnomer: Due to its size, the tower is called “Big Ben” by most people, including those in London.
  4. Historical Predecessor: Constructed more than 700 years ago, the clock tower was the original clock tower on site. It had a single bell and the Big Ben clock dial. On October 16, 1834, it was destroyed in a fire.
  5. Fire Rebuild: After the ancient Palace of Westminster was mostly destroyed by fire on October 16, 1834, Charles Barry designed a new palace, including the tower and clock.
  6. The Tower of Today: Work started in 1834 and was finished in 1859 making the age of the tower more than 160 years old.
  7. Clock Design: Designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, the clock, took 13 years to construct and was finished in 1859.
  8. First Pealing: It was heard over London on 11th July 1859.
  9. Broken Down: Ever since then, it has rung every hour, except for a few months in 1976 when repairs were necessary due to a breakdown.
  10. Renaming Event: It was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in September 2012, in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The big ben tower and clock in numbers

  • It is 334 steps up to the belfry from the ground level, and the tower stands 316 feet, 96 meters tall.
  • The external masonry base measures 40 feet, 12 meters on each side.
  • In total, the turret clock mechanism weighs 5.08 tonnes.
  • It has four 9-foot or 2.7 metre diameter faces, making it one of the world's largest clocks with hourly chimes and strikes.
  • The figures on the clock face measure around 2 feet long or 0.61 metres, and the minute spaces are 1 foot or 0.30 meters long. In terms of weight, Big Ben is the biggest of the five bells, weighing 13 tonnes.
  • Big Ben rings every hour. A short melody is played every 15 minutes by the four smaller quarter bells, which chime on the quarter hours.
  • On 31 May 1859, Big Ben rang for the first time. It wasn't long before Big Ben cracked, in September 1859. The bell rotated to display an undamaged portion of the hammer when a lighter hammer was fitted.
  • The large bell weighs 13.7 tonnes and was cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. It is 2.2 meters (7 feet, 2 ½ inches) in height and has a diameter of 2.7 meters (8 feet, 10 inches).
  • At the time of its completion, the clock was the world's largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock. In addition to being reliable, the pendulum can be adjusted by adding or removing pre-decimal pennies.
  • The clock dials are 22.5 feet (6.9 m) in diameter. A clock mechanism strikes the bells with hammers. The mechanism is powered by large weights wound three times a week.
  • Electricity is only used to wind it and to illuminate the faces so that it can be seen in the dark.

renovations of the big ben clock

The clock tower renovation project by the UK Parliament combines traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. This renovation aims to keep the tower significant and functional in the modern era while connecting the past and present. The works were carried out between 2017 and 2022.

  • Evaluation: Specialists carefully inspected the clock and tower, noting any structural or aesthetic problems to fix.
  • Scaffolding: To keep one clock face visible to the public, scaffolding was carefully built around the tower.
  • External Work: To restore exterior masonry to its original appearance, broken stones were replaced, and the work was meticulously cleaned and repaired.
  • Clock Service: To improve its accuracy and lifespan, the clock mechanism was disassembled, cleaned, and refurbished with contemporary modifications.
  • Gilding: To restore the clock's antique splendour, a new gold leaf was applied to the hands and numbers.
  • Bell Fix: To guarantee Big Ben's recognisable chimes continued, the bell mechanism, including it, underwent extensive inspection and repair.
  • LED Lighting: By changing to LEDs for the lighting system, energy efficiency was increased, and clock faces were illuminated.
  • Safety Systems: To comply with modern safety regulations, fire safety, security, and communication systems were installed.
  • Accessibility: The tower is now more accessible as compared to traditional steps thanks to the construction of a lift.
  • Ayrton Light: Carefully restored and renovated, this lantern-like structure was erected in 1885 to indicate Parliament was in session.
  • Historical Preservation: The tower's panelling, ironwork, and stonework were among the historical elements to preserve.
  • Tourist Experience: To improve the overall tour experience, informative exhibits and improvements to tourist amenities have been implemented.
  • Current Technology: To speed up the restoration process, the project used current technology, such as BIM and PowerPack for Revit.
Big Ben London Renovation.Big Ben Photos | Ongoing Restoration of the Big Ben

Exploring around Big Ben and london

The iconic Big Ben clock stands in the centre of bustling London, a point from where many other well-known sites radiate. Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and St. James' Park are just a few minutes away.

Even more allure to the region comes from the London Eye, which offers amazing views of the city, the Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.

London's culture can be experienced beyond these famous sites. As part of this, you will find a variety of things to do and lively markets, as well as museums filled with fascinating displays that entice visitors to investigate science, art, and history.

Also, one may tour well-known sites like Madame Tussauds, a globally recognized attraction, and the enchanted Harry Potter Studio Tour in London.

Get a taste of London's lively pulse by exploring the neighbourhood surrounding Big Ben. The vibrant environment of London provides a deeper understanding of the city.

Hustle and Bustle at Westminster London with Big Ben in the background.Visiting Big Ben in London at Westminster

How To Get To Big Ben Clock Tower

There are several ways to get to Big Ben: via rail, bus, car, ferry, and the underground.

getting here By tube/underground also called Metro

  • Westminster Station: (adjacent to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament) The underground station is around an 8-minute walk (0.3 miles). It is served by the Circle (yellow), District (green) and Jubilee (grey) Lines.
  • Waterloo Station: (conveniently located near the South Bank of the River Thames being across Westminster Bridge facing Big Ben) It is served with the Jubilee, Northern, Bakerloo, and Waterloo & City lines. It’s also a major railway terminus.
  • St James Park Station: (It is a bit further away, being approximately 1 kilometre, which will take about 12 to 15 minutes on foot.) It is served by the District and Circle lines.

by bus

The following bus numbers may be taken at the following bus stops to reach Big Ben:

  • Westminster Station Westminster Pier (Stop H) with bus numbers: 11, 148 and 211.

From here you can easily access Big Ben, which is located next to the Westminster Bridge and across from the Houses of Parliament. It is serviced by numerous tourist bus excursions, including the Original Tour, the Big Bus, and the Golden Tour.

  • Parliament Square / Westminster Abbey with bus numbers 11, 148 and 211.

There is no distance between this stop and Big Ben, which is located along Parliament Street. Besides the Houses of Parliament, it is convenient for tourists who wish to visit Westminster Abbey and other nearby sights.

  • St Thomas' Hospital / County Hall (Stop D) with bus numbers: 11, 12, 148, 159, 211, 453, 734, N53, N109, N155 and N381.

The station is located across from the St. Thomas' Hospital entrance, next to County Hall and Westminster Bridge Road. Located across from Big Ben and near the River Thames, it enjoys an advantageous location.

  • St Thomas' Hospital / County Hall (Stop E) with bus numbers: 11, 12, 148, 159, 211, 453, N53, N109, N155 and N381.

Situated on Westminster Bridge Road, across from Stop D, near the entrances to St. Thomas' Hospital and County Hall. This places it right in the heart of some of London's most visited tourist areas, on the south side of Westminster Bridge.

Hop-on Hop-off buses

  • The Big Ben can also be reached by stopping at the Westminster Pier (Stop H) which is very close by.

River Thames transportation

  • Westminster Pier Ferry Terminal is almost opposite the above pier on the north side of the River Thames. They are served by both commuter and sightseeing boat routes.
A close-up view of the majestic Big Ben and Houses of Parliament.Big Ben and Parliament

how many days in london?

There is so much to discover in London and its endless wonders can make getting to know it a challenge! Are you unsure how many days you will need? To ensure you make the most of your time exploring this dynamic city, we've developed multiple itineraries for your planning.

1 Day | 2 Days | 3 Days | 4 Days | 5 Days | 6 Days | 7 Days | 10 Days | 4 Day Christmas Itinerary | Trip To London in December

videos of visiting big ben in london

A glimpse inside the Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower will give you a first-hand account of how the structures work from the inside including an informative explanation of how each is built.

This video will provide you with a virtual tour of what the surroundings of Big Ben look like. A walk along the Westminster Bridge and Southbank neighbourhood, always keeping the Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower in the forefront of your mind as you walk around.

Hotels Near Elizabeth Tower Big Ben

There is a wide range of hotels surrounding Big Ben, offering everything from luxurious 5-star accommodations to budget-friendly accommodations, ensuring a memorable stay in the heart of London.

See our guide about the best neighbourhoods to stay in London.

For the closest hotels we recommend that are in the vicinity of the Big Ben, check out our hotel guides around the London Eye, South Bank and Westminster.

For any traveller experiencing London, a visit to Big Ben is a must. It is a must-see monument that completes every holiday itinerary to the capital, representing the architectural magnificence and legacy of the city. Don't pass up the chance to see it in person and experience its magnificent architecture and historical significance.

Big Ben and London Eye in one photo.Visiting Big Ben In London | Big Ben and London Eye

common questions about visiting big ben in london

What is the Big Ben?

One of the most well-known sites in London and the United Kingdom is Big Ben. In fact, "Big Ben" refers to the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, not the entire clock tower.

How big is Big Ben? - The size of the Structural Tower

Big Ben is one of the biggest bells in the United Kingdom, measuring 2.2 metres tall and weighing over 13.5 tonnes. Its diameter is 2.7 metres.

How do I visit Big Ben in London? Is there a train station nearby?

The London tube will take you directly to Westminster Station, which is located across the road from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

What is the significance of Big Ben for the British people and London?

Big Ben is now more than simply a clock tower; it represents tenacity and perseverance, remaining steadfast through national tragedies, celebrations and world wars. It stands for the eternal charm of London and the steadfast determination of the British people.

What is the height of Big Ben, and is it the highest structure in London?

No, Big Ben is not the highest structure, standing at 96 metres or 315 feet tall. The Eiffel Tower is around 330 metres (1,083 feet) tall, yet the Shard is only 20.4 metres shorter at 309.6 metres (1016 feet) in height.

What motivated the most recent Big Ben renovations?

The UK Parliament's clock tower refurbishment project blends modern technology with traditional workmanship. By bridging the past and present, this refurbishment attempts to maintain the tower's significance and functionality in the contemporary day.

Where is the Big Ben? - The location of the Clock and Elizabeth Tower

Located at the northern end of the Palace of Westminster in London, England, Big Ben is a recognized symbol of the nation as well as for the City of London.

What is the name of Big Ben?

Big Ben was once known as the Clock Tower, but in 2012, in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, it was renamed the Elizabeth Tower.

What year was Big Ben completed and when did it chime for the first time?

Big Ben was completed in 1859, and on May 31 of that year, its first chimes were heard over the London Houses of Parliament.

What was the purpose of building Big Ben?

Big Ben was part of Charles Barry's plans for a new palace, which replaced the old Palace of Westminster destroyed by fire in 1834.

In what ways has Big Ben influenced media and culture?

It has become a global cultural phenomenon that captures the attention of viewers all over the world. As a result of its immense impact on domestic and global culture, it has been heavily featured in literature, art, television series, and films.

How precise is the clockwork mechanism of Big Ben?

Big Ben's clockwork mechanism is extremely accurate due to precise engineering and routine maintenance, with a small deviation of less than two seconds under ideal conditions.

What are the viewing options for Big Ben, and can the public visit it?

Tours of the Elizabeth Tower, where Big Ben is located, are available to the public. Bookings can be made only through this link on the UK Parliament website.

Is London Bridge by Big Ben?

No, the London Bridge is not near Big Ben, it is 3 kilometres (2 miles) away. The bridge beside the Big Ben is called Westminster Bridge.

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The Big Ben Clock in London.

photo and website sources

  • Viewing Big Ben From Parliament Square Garden - Image by Luca from Pixabay
  • Big Ben London at Night - Image by SNCR GROUP from Pixabay

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