Westminster isn’t exactly under the radar. With Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, this London neighborhood is one of the most visited in the city. But there’s a lot going on in the area besides the main attractions, and today I want to share some of my favorite things to do in Westminster with you.
Things to Do in Westminster
I’ll start with the main events. No trip to London would be complete without seeing Big Ben, scaffolding or no. And did you know you can take a tour of the Houses of Parliament? It’s worth going inside to see the interiors and soak up the history.
Across Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey is also worth a visit. From tombs of monarchs to Poets’ Corner, there’s a lot to see between the hallowed walls.
But it’s easy to miss what’s outside them. Right by the entrance to Westminster Abbey is a little arch leading to Dean’s Yard. This hidden courtyard is lined with beautiful buildings and has great views of the church. When I’m in the neighborhood, I always take a lap to soak up the atmosphere.
Side Streets in Westminster
Out the other side of Dean’s Yard lie some of Westminster’s most atmospheric side streets. Exploring them is one of the most rewarding things to do in Westminster.
I love walking down Great College Street and taking in the brick facades on Barton Street and Cowley Street. Far from the grandiose style of the nearby government buildings, these streets feel straight out of a quiet London neighborhood.
Nearby Smith Square is another Westminster gem. St John’s Smith Square dominates the scene like a baroque behemoth, and the surrounding buildings bring a touch of this world to its otherworldly ambiance.
Museums in Westminster
From here it’s a short walk to the Thames, and I like meandering through Victoria Tower Gardens on my way to Tate Britain. One of London’s most famous art museums, it showcases the best of British art from past to present. Free entry means I can pop in for as little or long as I want to, but I always spend longer here than I intend.
And that’s to say nothing of going to the Churchill War Rooms, another of my favorite things to do in Westminster. Visiting can take all day, as this subterranean museum is vast and full of information about how Winston Churchill directed Britain’s activity in World War II.
Architecture in Westminster
If I visit Tate Britain, I like wandering up the tangle of streets that lead to Vincent Square afterwards. No matter what route I take, there’s great architecture to wow me along the way.
From here, candy-cane striped buildings lead me to Westminster Cathedral, it too sporting stripes. The unfinished interior has a haunting feel, but there are plenty of artistic gems to discover.
Pubs and Markets in Westminster
Back out on busy Victoria Street, I find The Albert Pub—it’s an eye-catching Victorian number nestled among contemporary buildings—and walk up Buckingham Gate.
The side streets here are as pleasing as the ones by Westminster Abbey, and I like walking down Caxton Street and through the alleys around it.
From here I might wander into St James’s Park, where birds and flowers abound. Or I might head over to Strutton Ground, where the weekday market has everything from fresh coffee to delicious falafel.
Wherever I end up, there’s something new to discover. Every time I’m here I find details and lanes I haven’t seen before. While Westminster itself will never be a London secret, there are a lot of under-the-radar places worth discovering away from the main attractions.
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