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Big Ben

Since first sounding in 1859, Big Ben has been one of the most treasured symbols of Britain.

Nothing lets you know you’re in London more than the sight of Big Ben. This iconic clock tower is used in many well-known British films such as Bridget Jones’ Diary, Notting Hill and Love Actually to set the scene of the action. Positioned on the bank of the River Thames, you’ll get the best view of it if you walk along the South bank of the river or cross over Westminster Bridge, heading toward the Houses of Parliament.

Although this magnificent clock tower is usually referred to as Big Ben, this is actually the nickname of the largest of the clock’s bells, the one that chimes on the hour – an unmistakable deep sound that resonates across the city.

The tower itself, previously named the Clock Tower, was designated as Elizabeth Tower in June 2012, in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. This, however, has not stopped the popular tradition of referring to it simply as Big Ben.

The construction of the classic Gothic Revivalist-style tower was completed in 1858 and it forms part of the Palace of Westminster, re-built on the site following destruction of the previous structure by a fire in 1834.

At 96 metres high, Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the British Isles. Each face is seven metres in diameter and consists of 312 pieces of opal glass held in an iron framework. The hour and minute hands are 2.7 and 4.3 metres long respectively. At sunset, the four clock faces are lit up so that they are visible across the city. Originally lit by gas-lamps, now replaced by electric lights installed behind each of the translucent clock faces, Big Ben appears to glow from within.

Despite being a world-famous tourist attraction, only British citizens are able to gain access to Big Ben, by scheduling a tour via their member of parliament. However, the thrill you’ll get when first set eyes on this magnificent building, and on hearing its majestic chime more than makes up for this.

Big Ben is located in central London, North of the River Thames. The nearest Underground station is Waterloo.

Get the most out of your visit to Big Ben. Here is a list of the best activities:

Do you want to make your visit a bit more special? A 1-hr Westminster Walk with Big Ben and Houses of Parliament and a The Great Game Treasure Hunt Westminster with real treasure! are both worth considering.

Have a look at our London things to do page to learn about many more activities in the area.


Guide to Exploring Big Ben


Map

Top Big Ben Hotel & Accommodation Deals

See all 15,047 properties near Big Ben
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London NZ$297
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London

200 Westminster Bridge Road, London, England
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. St. Thomas' Hospital and Sea Life London Aquarium are also within 5 minutes. Waterloo Underground Station is only a 4-minute walk and Lambeth North Underground Station is 6 minutes.

    The Strand Palace Hotel NZ$280
    The Strand Palace Hotel

    The Strand Palace Hotel

    372 The Strand, London, England
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in London City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Covent Garden Market, Piccadilly Circus and London Dungeon. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are also within 1 mi (2 km). Charing Cross Underground Station is 5 minutes by foot and Covent Garden Underground Station is 5 minutes.

      Park Plaza London Waterloo NZ$254
      Park Plaza London Waterloo

      Park Plaza London Waterloo

      6 Hercules Road, London, England
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Florence Nightingale Museum, Imperial War Museum and The Vaults. Southbank Centre Book Market and Lambeth Palace are also within 10 minutes. Lambeth North Underground Station is 6 minutes by foot and Waterloo Underground Station is 11 minutes.

        Marlin Waterloo NZ$238
        Marlin Waterloo

        Marlin Waterloo

        111 Westminster Bridge Road, London, England
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Imperial War Museum, Westminster Bridge and Sea Life London Aquarium. Coca-Cola London Eye and Big Ben are also within 15 minutes. Lambeth North Underground Station is only a 2-minute walk and Waterloo Underground Station is 8 minutes.

          Park Plaza County Hall London NZ$239
          Park Plaza County Hall London

          Park Plaza County Hall London

          1 Addington Street, London, England
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in London City Centre, this spa hotel is steps away from Southbank Centre Book Market and Florence Nightingale Museum. Jubilee Gardens and The Vaults are also within 5 minutes. Waterloo Underground Station and Lambeth North Underground Station are within a 5-minute walk.

            Park Plaza London Riverbank NZ$218
            Park Plaza London Riverbank

            Park Plaza London Riverbank

            18 Albert Embankment, London, England
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in London City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tate Britain, The Oval and Houses of Parliament. Sea Life London Aquarium and Parliament Square are also within 1 mile (2 km). Vauxhall Station is 8 minutes by foot and Lambeth North Underground Station is 16 minutes.

              Assembly Hotel London NZ$181
              Assembly Hotel London

              Assembly Hotel London

              27 - 31 Charing Cross Road, London, England
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in London City Centre, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of The British Museum, Coca-Cola London Eye and Big Ben. Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park are also within 1 mi (2 km). Leicester Square Underground Station is only a 2-minute walk and Charing Cross Underground Station is 4 minutes.

                Sea Containers London NZ$337
                Sea Containers London

                Sea Containers London

                20 Upper Ground, London, England
                   
                  5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in London City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Tate Modern and Coca-Cola London Eye. The Shard and Big Ben are also within 1 mi (2 km). Southwark Underground Station is 8 minutes by foot and Blackfriars Underground Station is 8 minutes.