Unbeknown to many, you can go inside and climb one of London’s top landmark sites, the Wellington Arch. Its appearance looks deceptive from the outside as it looks like two small blocks adjoin together. But inside you are greeted with 3 levels of exhibitions, as well as two balconies that take in unique views of London and Buckingham private gardens.
If you are lucky enough, you can also see the Queen’s household cavalry go through after changing the guards.
I had been past Wellington Arch and through the Arches so many times before. It wasn’t until I attended the ANZAC dawn service held at Australian and New Zealand war memorials, that I realised that you could visit inside and climb the Arch.
1. Things to do at Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch is located in central London at the top of Constitution Hill on Hyde Park Corner. If you are looking for unique things to do in London, it is worth adding to your list. There is so much to see and it really is a lovely view from the top. You will only need 30mins to 1hour to visit all the exhibitions and the viewing balconies.
If you have the time then add on a visit to Apsley House, another English Heritage site linked to the Arch. It has been the home of the Dukes of Wellington since 1817 and has a wonderful collection of fine and decorative art.
Here is my information on things to do inside and how to climb Wellington Arch.
2. History of Wellington Arch
Like many London landmarks, Wellington Arch has had an interesting past, here is just a snippet of its history. The Arch’s original intent was supposed to be the outer entrance to Buckingham Palace. However, it ended up being stood facing Hyde Park before being moved to its current position in 1880s.
The statue on top of the Arch was once a giant statue of the Duke of Wellington, which is now located in Aldershot. Then in 1912, it was replaced with the quadriga sculpture that is there today.
At one point the Arch housed the city’s smallest police station until 1992. This is where the police were based when they would perform traffic duties around Hyde Park Corner.
3. Wellington Arch Today
Since being taken over by the English Heritage in 1999, the Arch has been opened up to the public. Today visitors can go inside, explore the exhibits and climb on Wellington Arch balconies.
The two top floors house temporary exhibitions and the first floor has a permanent one. I found the most interesting one for me was the permanent one that details the history and architecture of the Arch.
⇒ Here is the link to the English Heritage website for all types of memberships and costs.
4. Go inside the Wellington Arch London
There are 5 levels inside Wellington Arch including the balconies and ground Floor with exhibitions on three of them. The elevator will take you straight up to the third floor and then you will need to climb up 14 steps to the balconies. To see the displays make your way slowly down the spiral staircase to each floor. This should roughly take 30mins to an hour to visit and climb inside Wellington Arch.
You can access all the floors via an elevator if you want to avoid the heights of the spiral staircase and the balconies.
You will enter from the ground floor and check in with your ticket confirmation. On the ground floor, you have a small shop where you can buy a guidebook and other English Heritage products. The elevator is also here that takes you straight up to the third floor.
Currently, there is a one-way system is in place to meet Covid rules, so the shop is only accessible when you arrive. When you leave the first floor via the stairs you will not exit via the shop.
After you have climbed out on the Wellington Arch balconies, take some time to see the temporary exhibition. Currently, there is a Daniely Crews Chubb contemporary art exhibition called “The Consequences of Play”. Which is showing from 30 June 21 to 12th March 22. The series of paintings are inspired by Wellington Arch, Apsley House.
Head down the spiral staircase to the second floor to check out the exhibition on the War and horses. The exhibition highlights the role that the Royal Regiment of Artillery played in World War 1. It also covers the evolution from horse-drawn to heavy artillery and the cost of war.
On the first floor, there is a permanent exhibition on the history of the Wellington Arch. There is some interesting information and pictures on how it was built and its original origins. As well as the controversy that surrounded the Wellington statute which was originally on top of the Arch.
If want to see the Wellington Statue it is now located in Aldershot.
Once you finish here then go down the staircase which leads straight out the exit of the Arch.
5. How to climb the Wellington Arch to the balconies.
Once you have taken the elevator up to the third floor of the Arch, you will need to walk up an additional 14 steps to get outside. From here you will be able to take in the views across London’s Royal Parks and have a cheeky look into the Queen’s back gardens. During the summer period, you can even visit the Bucking gardens, which is a great addition to your trip.
You can also see Apsley house and the London Eye. If you’re lucky and time it right, you can even watch the Queen’s household cavalry go through the Arch.
6. Tickets to climb Wellington Arch
There are several different types of tickets that you can get to go inside and climb Wellington Arch London. The main one being English Heritage tickets, which offer Individual, family tickets and concessions.
If you are visiting the capital and wanting to go to other landmark sites in London, think about getting a London Pass or English Heritage overseas visitor’s pass. Both options save you money and include Wellington Arch London.
The Wellington Arch is not part of the National Trust.
London Pass Wellington Arch
There are 80 attractions you can visit with a London Pass with both Wellington Arch and Apsley House being included. They are flexible too and you can purchase a 1-10 day London Pass.
This is a great option if you are wanting to go to other sites that are not English Heritage, like Kensington Palace.
How to book your Wellington Arch tickets online
Ticket time slots for Wellington Arch will need to be booked online and in advance. They are allocated into 30 minute intervals but once inside you can spend as much time as you like. Don’t worry though as you don’t have to download an app to book tickets.
All you have to do is go on the English Heritage site, choose an allocated time, and get a confirmation. As an English Heritage member, your ticket will be free but you will still need to book an online time slot.
You will need to check-in and have a copy of your confirmation when you enter.
7. Opening Times
Welling Arch is opened Wednesday to Sunday every week and closed 24 -26 December & 1 January. Opening hours are from 10 am until 5 pm, with the last entry 30 minutes before closing time.
8. Facilities at the Wellington Arch
A small gift shop is located on the ground floor of the Arch at the entrance. You can purchase souvenirs, a guidebook, or any other English Heritage products here. There is also a selection of specialist historical books here.
The Lodge Cafe
There is not a cafe inside Wellington Arch but there is one at Hyde Park corner called The Lodge Cafe. It is a great little spot before afterward if you want to sit in Hyde Park for a sandwich, cake, and ice cream.
There is a small grassy area that surrounds the Arch and the memorials on the roundabout. However, there are no benches or tables available. Best to head to Hyde Park or Green Park right near which is an ideal location for a picnic.
⇒ Here are some good suggestions for day backpacks for exploring, London.
9. Climb Wellington Arch and see the Queen’s guards
If you time it right, you can see Queens’s horse guards go through London’s Wellington Arch. How impressive would it be to see guards in their unique uniform? The Changing of the Guards is a ceremony where The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace. They also change at St. James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks.
Don’t worry if you don’t see them as there is Queens Horse Guards placed every day on Whitehall Road (next to Downing St). Which is only a short walk away from Wellington Arch. You can check dates and times on Changing of Guards site.
10. Additional Information about going inside Wellington Arch
- Dogs are not allowed inside unless they are assistance dogs.
- Face covering is required inside Wellington Arch
- Purchase your London Pass here that is valid from 1-10 days.
- You only need between 30-1hr here to see the exhibits and to go up on top of the triumphal arch.
- Toilets are available at Hyde Park Corner only 50 meters away next to the cafe or at Apsley House. There are disabled facilities available.
- The Arch is family friendly.
- Stay connected with a 4G SIM Card while visiting London to keep updated with maps and things to do.
11. Getting to the Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch is located in the heart of royal London, between the corners of Hyde Park and Green Park. It stands on a large traffic island with crossings for pedestrian access. You have various ways of getting to Wellington Arch from Tubes to even riding a hire bike.
If you walking from Buckingham Palace it should only take about 5-10mins.
Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Bus Tour route passes Wellington Arch and drops you off near there.
Closest Tube Hyde Park
The closest tubes are Hyde Park Corner and Green Park, both are in zone 1. Hyde Park Corner is a 2mins walk away and is on the Piccadilly line. Green Park is only a little further away but an easier tub to get to and should only be a 5-8 mins walk.
The closest overground is Victoria which is about 500 meters away.
⇒ Travelling by train to other parts of England or Wales? Think about getting an Interrail Great Britain Pass, a convenient way of catching a train.
There is a Santander Cycles docking spot right near Wellington Arch. Here you can drop off your bike hire or leave it while you go inside and climb Wellington Arch. This is a great idea if you are looking for a short journey and don’t feel like walking.
12. Things to do after you climb Wellington Arch London
If you have the time, head over to Apsley House which is only a few minute’s walks away from Wellington Arch. Apsley House used to claim the historical address of Number 1 London. Today though the address has changed. This lavish home is owned by the Duke of Wellington’s family and managed by English Heritage.
Inside you can see the fine art collection, grand rooms, and remarkable collection of silver and porcelain. While you can’t take pictures inside Apsley House like you can with Wellington Arch, it is worth a visit. Apsley House is free with both an English Heritage card and a London Attraction pass.
Jewel Tower London
Another gem managed by the English Heritage is the historical Jewel Tower London. It sits in the heart of Westminster, nestled between the House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. It is only a short distance from Wellington Arch to Jewel Tower by public transport. You can also walk it on a summer’s day, across Green Park to get there.
Jewel Tower is one of only a few remnants of the original medieval palace of Westminster that stands today. Like the Arch, you will only need 30mins to an hour here to visit inside. Here is a full review on discovering what’s inside Jewel Tower.
Related things you can book near Welling Arch London
- A 3 hour guided walking tour that visits places with Royal connections.
- A full-day tour designed for lovers of nature and gardens.
13. War Memorials near Wellington Arch to see
- Royal Artillery Memorial; Unveiled in 1925 it is dedicated to the 49,076 soldiers from the Royal Artillery killed in the First World War.
- Australian War Memorial; is dedicated in 2003 to the 102,000 Australian dead of the First and Second World Wars.
- New Zealand War Memorial; was dedicated in 2006 to the war dead of New Zealand in the First and Second World Wars.
- Machine Gun Corps Memorial; dedicated to the casualties of the Machine Gun Corps in the First World War.
- Bomber Command Memorial; to commemorate the crews of RAF Bomber Command who embarked on missions during the Second World War.
14. Consider getting an English Heritage Membership
Wellington Arch is managed by the English Heritage and members can visit free. Think about getting a membership if you are planning on visiting other English heritage sites, like Jewel Tower or Tintagel Castle. It could save you money in the long run.
Types of English Heritage Memberships
You can get an annual membership for individuals, couples, families, over 60’s, and life memberships. You can even get an overseas visitor’s pass. Please be aware that English Heritage is not the same as the National trust.
My husband and I have a joint English Heritage membership, which we have had for the last few years. It has definitely been worth it for us as we regularly use it.
Here is the link to the different types of English Heritage memberships and costs.
Thank you for reading
Thank you for reading my article on going inside and climbing up Wellington Arch London. It is a unique historical London landmark which visitors sometimes don’t realise that they can go inside.
⇒ Looking to discover other parts of London, please feel free to head to my England page.
Love History, pin it for later!!!!
Have you been inside and climb Wellington Arch London before? Is there anything else I need to add? How was your experience?
Disclaimer: English Heritage membership and views are based on my own personal experience.