Clock Tower (Big Ben): Health and safety information

Touring the Clock Tower involves climbing 334 small, spiral steps and there are no lifts so, to get the most out of your visit, it is essential that you feel confident in your health and fitness.

All visitors must be physically capable of ascending and descending the 334 spiral steps by themselves, unaided and sensible footwear must be worn. It should be noted that the tour is not suitable for all visitors.

  • We regret that due to the historic design of the building, the clock tower tour is not suitable for some physically less able people.
  • Open toe sandals without heel straps, flip- flops, high-heeled footwear and bare or stocking feet are not permitted.
  • Climbing 334 spiral steps is strenuous and should not be attempted by anyone who has a health condition which can be negatively affected by exercise; anyone suffering from vertigo, heart or respiratory conditions is advised not to undertake the tour.
  • Visitors who have well controlled asthma may go on the tour. Please have your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you when you visit. If exercise triggers your asthma symptoms, you should not attempt the tour.
  • Anyone who has recently had a heart attack, heart surgery, suffers from angina or has palpitations or heart conditions such as a narrowed heart valve should not attempt to climb the stairs. Similarly, those with high blood pressure which is poorly controlled should also avoid the tour
  • Vertigo sufferers and people with conditions which may affect balance, e.g. labryinthitis and Ménière's disease are also advised not to take the tour.
  • It's difficult to come up with standardised, objective guidelines for pregnant women who wish to go on the tour as many factors need to be considered such as the weather, and general state of health. The tour is not recommended for those in the later stages of pregnancy. We ask that anyone in this situation considers the risk most carefully before proceeding.
  • People with hearing or visual impairments or with other special needs can be accommodated in most cases. It is helpful if you contact the Big Ben Office beforehand, so we can discuss you requirements and tailor a tour accordingly to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • Because of the number of stairs and the noise of the bells chiming, trained assistance dogs e.g. Guide Dogs are not able to go on the tour. They can be left with a member of staff at the base of the Clock Tower. Drinking water will be provided and dogs may be walked on the New Palace Yard.

The tour guide will give further advice on any of the above exclusions, but has absolute discretion in preventing access if it is felt that Health and Safety regulations or the safety of the visitor or other members of the public would be compromised.

These guidelines are in place to ensure that all our visitors have a safe educational and recreational trip to the Clock Tower.

Related information

Visit the Parliamentary Archives online or in person to view historical records.

Lost in the wilds of Westminster? Find your bearings with our maps of the parliamentary estate and the surrounding area.