Planning a trip to London?
Westminster Abbey is at the top of many first-time visitors' lists, and we made sure to see it on our family trip to London last year. It's just as beautiful as I imagined it would be. It was an amazing feeling to walk through a place that has featured so prominently in British history.
Here's what you can expect, along with my top tips for visiting Westminster Abbey with kids.
Westminster Abbey is one of the most important and beautiful buildings in England. British monarchs have been crowned here for nearly 1,000 years. Seventeen of them are buried here. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Centuries of history are housed in this magnificent house of worship.
Westminster Abbey is open to visitors for a few hours each day, except Sundays and religious holidays. It is a working church, and visitors are welcome to attend services.
Westminster Abbey welcomes more than a million visitors per year. We arrived in the late morning on a weekday in early June and experienced no wait at all. However, the narrow spaces between the royal tombs still felt quite crowded. I've read that lines can get very long, with waits of 1+ hours during June and July.
What To See
I didn't realize that Westminster Abbey is as much a cemetery as a house of worship. Most of the floor is covered with memorial markers, in addition to the above-ground royal tombs. Please enter with respect and help your children to do the same.
Our top priorities were the Royal Tombs, Poet's Corner and Coronation Chair, plus to just soak up the atmosphere and architecture of this iconic structure. Many well-known poets and authors are buried in Poet's Corner. Keep a lookout for the grave of the Unknown Soldier as well.
Westminster Abbey welcomes children, but most children won't want to spend a long time inside. Once we had seen the Royal Tombs and Poet's Corner in the main area, we limited our exploration of other chapels and rooms to a quick walk-through.
Visitors may not take photos or video inside.
A complimentary multimedia guide is available. You can download the app to your own mobile device before you arrive, or borrow a device and headphones when you arrive. My family does not love audio guides, so we skipped this.
Guided Tours at scheduled times are available for about £7 extra per person. You can also book a family-focused private tour through Viator.com or another reputable source.
You can learn more about the most popular features for visitors in the Visit Us>What to See and Do section at westminster-abbey.org.
What to Wear
Westminster Abbey does not have a strict dress code, but the official website requests that visitors “show respect and sensitivity.” Men may not wear hats inside the building.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. The old stone floors are uneven, and you'll likely be doing a lot of walking.
We dressed up to visit Westminster Abbey. It wasn't full church attire, but a little better than shorts and tees. We were seeing two plays later, so it worked for us to schedule our “dressy” activities on the same day.
Related: How to Get Theatre Tickets in London
Especially for Families
Children of all ages are welcome at Westminster Abbey, and it offers some nice benefits and facilities especially for families. One child can get free admission and a free kids meal with each paid adult. There is no admission charge for children under age 6.
A Children's Trail map is available for families. Ask about it when you arrive. Special events are frequently scheduled during school holidays.
Breastfeeding and diaper changing facilities are available on-site.
We walked from our Covent Garden hotel, stopping at the Churchill War Rooms first. It was a little over a mile, and walking is definitely one of the best ways to see London.
Westminster Abbey is located nearest the St. James Park and Westminster Underground stations. It can also be reached by public bus, taxi or Uber.
Big Bus and other hop-on-hop-off bus tours stop nearby.
Shopping and Dining
The Cellarium Cafe and Terrace is open every day. It serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Families get a free meal from the Kids Menu with every meal purchased from the regular menu.
The Kiosk is a snack bar that sells sandwiches, snacks and drinks. We bought sodas here at the end of our visit.
Visitors are welcome to bring their own food and eat it in the Cloisters or College Garden.
Ways to Save
Westminster Abbey currently charges £23 per adult at the gate. There are several ways for families to avoid paying full price.
The London Pass – Westminster Abbey is included with The London Pass – a bundle-and-save pass that gets you access to many of London's top attractions. We used our 2-Day London Pass to enjoy Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Churchill War Rooms, St. Paul's Cathedral and a Big Bus Tour. Learn more at londonpass.com.
Buy Online – Save £2 per adult ticket and get fast track entry when you buy online from the official website in advance. Learn more at westminster-abbey.org.
Kids Get In Free – One child (up to age 16) may get in free with each paid adult. Look for the family ticket option. Children ages 0-5 get in free every day. Learn more at westminster-abbey.org.
Wednesday Lates – Half-price tickets are available from 4:30-6:00 PM on Wednesdays. Some areas will not be open during these times, but you'll save money and kids may do well with the shorter visit. Learn more at westminster-abbey.org.
Wheelchair users ages 60+ and their carers get free admission every day. Seniors receive a discount.
Attend a Service – It costs nothing to attend a church service at Westminster Abbey. You won't get to see as much as with a paid ticket, but you'll still get to go inside and experience the church's primary purpose. Learn more at westminster-abbey.org.
Westminster Abbey is a must-see on your first trip to London. It's a magnificent house of worship, representing 1,000 years of British history.
Westminster Abbey welcomes kids, and has family-friendly features like a Children's Map and free admission and meals for kids. However, most kids won't want to spend hours here, so prioritize what you see and do.
I hope that our experience helps your family plan the trip to Westminster Abbey that's right for you.
Good to Know
Where: 20 Dean's Yard, London. Westminster Abbey is located in the heart of London, across the street from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
When: Monday-Saturday from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Closes at 1 PM on Saturdays. Open later on Wednesdays. Hours may vary due to special services or events. Visit https://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/prices-entry-times for details.
How Much: £23 per adult. Discounts for children and seniors. Buy online to save £2 per adult. Included in The London Pass. See current prices at https://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/prices-entry-times
How Long: 1-3 hours
Amenities: gift shop, restrooms, restaurant, snack bar, breastfeeding and changing facilities