Houses Of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

The houses of parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is the main meetings place of the British member of parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords). This is why it is commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after the two houses that occupy it. the Palace is situated on the north side of the River Thames in the City of Westminster.

The building gets its name from 2 different sources. The "Westminster" section from the building next door (Westminster Abbey), and the "Palace" from the Old Palace which stood in its place before it was destroyed by fire in the late 1800s. The palace is officially owned by the royal family which they use for ceremonies and other important events. Both houses that occupy the building are in charge of keeping the buildings maintenance reported regularly. The Houses of Parliament is not open for the public to stroll into. Residence of the UK can buy tickets from a Member of parliament for a apace in the gallery of the House of Commons, or from a Lord for a seat in the gallery of the House of Lords. Alternatively any visitor can queue entrance to these galleries at any time of the day or night when the House's are in session. Admission is free for the public to view a committee session and people cannot pre book or reserve spaces. If tourists would like to visit for research purposes they must contact the buildings committee and have a valid press ID.

Free guided tours are also available to tourists for UK residents who apply through their local Member of Parliament or Lords. The tour lasts and average of 80 Minutes and gives visitors a tour of the following; Westminster Hall, State rooms, and the House of Lords and House of Commons respective chambers. Overseas tourists may purchase tickets to tours however places fill very quickly and can be booked up far in advance.

Parliament Tours

There are different types of yours available for the houses of parliament.

Audio tours of the Houses of Parliament offer a unique combination of one thousand years of history, modern day politics and stunning art and architecture.

What does the audio tour cover?

The audio commentary brings to life this tour through the House of Lords and House of Commons. This self-guided tour takes around 60 to 75 minutes and features leading Parliamentary figures such as Mr Speaker and Black Rod. 

Tours are occasionally subject to variation or cancellation due to the State Opening of Parliament and other parliamentary business.

Audio tours are offered in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Mandarin, Brazilian Portuguese and Welsh.

A family version of the audio tour, aimed at children aged 7 to 12, is also available in English. The family commentary is in the style of a ‘live’ news broadcast with time travelling reporters 'reporting from the scene’ on stories associated with the Houses of Parliament.

For visitors who are deaf or who have a hearing loss a screen-based version of the audio tour is available in British Sign Language.

Fully guided tours of the Houses of Parliament offer a unique combination of one thousand years of history, modern day politics and stunning art and architecture.

What does the guided tour cover?

An expert 'Blue Badge' guide accompanies you throughout this 90 minute tour through the House of Lords and House of Commons.

View a two minute video preview of the tour

Tours are occasionally subject to variation or cancellation due to the State Opening of Parliament and other parliamentary business.

Guided tours in English are offered on all tour days.

Guided tours in French, German and Spanish are offered on most tour days.

Guided tours in over 25 languages (including Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and Welsh) can be arranged for groups on request.

Afternoon tea overlooking the River Thames is a popular add-on to the tours.