Tickets to climb the very many steps to the top of the Elizabeth Tower and stand next to Big Ben when it bongs the hours will go on sale next week.

Tours will start in the magnificent Westminster Hall, where you will be divested of your bags and cameras — no photos allowed — and then taken to a small insignificant looking wooden door, which is the entrance to the Elizabeth Tower.

Then there are a lot of stone stairs ahead of you, although there is a break about halfway up in a room, then again back to the climb. Although never intended for tours, the stairs are nonetheless quite easy to climb up, unlike say the terrifyingly narrow stairs you get in church towers.

The tour stops in the clock mechanism room, where you can see the famous clock in action and the old pennies used to keep the clock true, and they’ll time it so that you’re in there when the clock strikes the quarter hour bells and you get to watch the huge mechanism kick into gear.

Then the highlight – up more stairs to the top, and to stand next to Big Ben itself — and yes, to be standing right next to it when it strikes the hours. You’ll probably get a decent 10 minutes at the top to admire the views and stop your hands shaking from the combination of the climb and the vibrations from Big Ben.

The tour finishes off with a walk around the inside of the clock faces, and then back down the spiral staircase that’ll leave you just a little bit dizzy when you get back to ground level.

It’s one of those tours that is frankly unforgettable, as much for what you see and hear, as well as the personal sense of satisfaction from the long climb up to the top of the tower.

I’ve done it a few times over the years as tours used to be possible before the tower closed for the massive renovation job, but back then you needed to write to your MP and ask for a tour. It was actually a very simple process but could be offputting to some, and naturally only available to UK residents. In a way, the presumed complexity kept the tours very exclusive, which was fun for those of us who went on them, but also not really open and democratic, which is what Parliament should be.

So, the new method is a simple online booking website, and in their first release, tickets will be available for tours between July to September.

The first batches will go on sale on Wednesday 14th June at 10am from here.

(if you get a request for a voucher code, it means that date/time isn’t available to the public)

Tickets for the tour are £25 for adults and £10 for children aged 11-17. Visitors will be able to book a maximum of eight tickets per person, depending on availability.    

After that, they will release future tickets on the second Wednesday of each month, also at 10am.

A tip – It takes about an hour to ascend the tower, so buy tickets for the 10am or 11am tours, as you’ll get a lot more BONGS for your buck as Big Ben versus turning up at noon and getting just the solitary BONG.

The total tour duration is 90 minutes and toilet facilities are available at the beginning and end of the tour only. You are also welcome to explore the medieval Westminster Hall after your visit to the Elizabeth Tower.

There are also tours of Speakers House at the moment, and depending on dates, you might be able to book both on the same day if you want to make a day trip of it.

UPDATED 19:50 – clarified access to the tower.


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  1. Chris says:

    You go on this tour and are prohibited from taking photos? Thats lame….,

  2. Rishi says:

    I remember when these tours used to be free!

    • ianVisits says:

      They were also rare and you had to write to your MP to arrange them — the current method is much more accessible for the average person to attend.

  3. Juan says:

    I’ll be attending to the Big Ben tour, do you think that worth to make the palace tour too?

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