There are any number of places where a visitor can start a tour of Westminster, but I’ve chosen Parliament Square, not least because of its proximity to two of London’s most famous landmarks – the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
To visit both landmarks will involve some planning and a considerable amount of time to do them justice, but visit them you must (check out my page on Visiting the Houses of Parliament).
The location of Parliament Square is busy with traffic as well as an obvious magnet for tourists, and if that doesn’t make it busy enough, it’s also a magnet for demonstrators who come here to protest outside parliament about anything and everything.
Traffic, tourists, and protestors can make for a less than peaceful introduction to the capital, so it’s a good idea to find a quiet corner of the square to get your bearings before taking a look around.
‘Parliament Square Garden’ was included in Sir Charles Barry’s design for the new Palace of Westminster and was completed in 1868.
It has a total of eleven statues, most of them former British Prime Ministers, but there are also some foreign dignitaries as well, including Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela who was present at its unveiling in 2007.
Near to Westminster Abbey is St. Margaret’s Church which is also worth a visit, and at the Western end of the square is the Supreme Court which can also be visited free of charge, should you have either the time, inclination or both.
If you just want to chill out for a while instead, then you could do worse than buy some provisions in Tesco Express (at Portcullis House) and take them along to Victoria Tower Gardens for a picnic.
To get there walk along Abingdon St past the Houses of Parliament, and the gardens are on the left hand side near to the Victoria Tower.