Can I go up Big Ben for free?
Apparently yes! I never knew that I could, but as a UK resident, I can go on a tour of Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower. These are free of charge, but must be sponsored by a Member of Parliament (MP) or a Member of the House of Lords, so I have written a letter to my local MP to get a tour sorted for me and my family.
What does the tour cover?
The Elizabeth Tower is the famous clock tower and more often referred to as ‘Big Ben’, which is in fact the nickname of the Great Bell housed within the Elizabeth Tower.
A guided tour up 334 stone spiral steps takes you to the top of Elizabeth Tower to hear Big Ben strike the hour. As well as seeing a spectacular view of London from 62 metres up, you can also go behind the clock dials and visit the mechanism room to learn about how the clock works.
But be warned, 334 steps are not an easy task to climb, so you’ll need to be fit, and I suggest reading these health and safety guidelines before applying.
Oh and children under 11 are not allowed on the tours.
When can you go up Big Ben
MPs can only take a limited in the number of applications for constituents to climb the tower each month. Tours are generally fully booked 6 months in advance, so plenty of time to get fit! Demand is high so early booking if you are wanting to do the tour as a surprise or in a special month and flexibility regarding dates and times is strongly recommended.
Tours take place at 9.00am, 11.00am or 2.00pm Monday-Friday (except Bank Holidays), and there is also a tour at 4.00pm from May to September. There are no tours over the Christmas holidays.
How to book a tour of Big Ben
UK residents should contact their local MP or a Member of the House of Lords they know to arrange a tour. There is no charge for guided tours booked in this way.