Visiting the Churchill War Rooms
This post explains how to visit the Churchill War Rooms in London, with tips on tickets, discounts, what you will see and how to plan your visit.
TIP: For more of London during WW2, make sure to book yourself onto our World War II Walking Tour!
- Tickets + Discounts
- Plan Your Visit
- What to See
- Other Things to Do in London
- Free Tours By Foot
Preserved and looked after by the Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms are a must-see for lovers of history or those who are interested in learning more about our military past or the life and times of Mr. Churchill himself.
The War Rooms were initially created in the basement of the New Public Offices to be used in the event of war or aerial bombing.
Conversion of the basement into the War Rooms began in June 1938 and became operation 27th of August the following year – literally days before Britain’s declaration of war on Germany on September 3rd, 1939.
This is where Winston Churchill directed many battles and attended hundreds of meetings to ensure victory during WWII.
As soon as the end of World War II was declared, personnel switched off the lights, left the bunker, and closed the door. Totally abandoned, the War Rooms were available to view only by special appointment.
As a result of efforts by Margaret Thatcher, the Churchill War Rooms were eventually opened to the public in 1984.
To this day, anyone is welcome to visit and see where the fate of nations was once decided and learn about the history of Winston Churchill.
You can purchase your tickets in advance online or at the box office and the price is the same. Importantly, only tickets purchased online come with skip-the-line privileges, saving you valuable time.
When you purchase tickets online, you are asked to choose a time slot to arrive. Once inside you can stay as long as you like.
We highly recommended that you purchase your ticket in advance online.
Buying your tickets in advance online will guarantee you a time slot that you want (unless it is sold out).
Learn more about this option in our section about how to save money on tickets.
Ticket Prices as of 2019
- £22.00/Adults (ages 16-59)
- £11.00/Children (ages 5-15)
- £17.60/Seniors (60+), Students & Disabled
- £40.00/Family (1 Adult + up to 3 Children)
- £56.00/Family (2 Adults, up to 6 Children)
Admission to many nearby attractions is included with the passes, making it easier to enjoy the entire area rather than just going to one location.
Here is an example of an itinerary which would save money with a 1-Day London Pass:
- Churchill War Rooms | £22
- The Queen’s Gallery | £12
- The Royal Mews | £12
- Westminster Abbey | £21
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour | £34
- Total Value: £101
- 1-Day London Pass: £75
- You save £26!
This section will provide all the details you need to plan out a trip to the Churchill War Rooms.
We will include a variety of information such as how to get here, operating hours, best times to visit, and how much time to spend at the attraction.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The Churchill War Rooms have different operational hours depending on the season, with longer hours in the summer than in the winter.
Open every day of the year except 24, 25 & 26 December.
- Summer Hours (July 1-August 31): 9:30 am – 7 pm
- Last entry at 5:45 pm
- Winter Hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm
- Last entry at 5 pm
Unlike other attractions in London, the Churchill War Rooms are almost always busy. Crowds can be just as hectic on weekdays as they are on weekends, so it doesn’t really matter which day you choose to come.
Instead of trying to pick the right day, your best bet is to choose the right time of day. This location is far less crowded during the morning and in the evening.
We recommend planning for a visit from 9:30 am – 12 pm or 4 pm – 7 pm (6 pm in winter).
In addition to deciding when to come, we also recommend giving yourself enough time to get through the ticket queue.
Many visitors indicate that this line can get pretty long (sometimes more than an hour), so it will be important to consider how much time it takes to get in.
The best way to avoid this is to get a skip-the-queue ticket.
How to Get Tickets
There are three ways to get tickets for the Churchill War Rooms: from the ticket office, online or with a tourist pass.
If you purchase tickets online or buy a tourist pass, you’ll have the opportunity to skip-the-queue and head straight into the security checkpoint.
Everyone has to wait in line for this security check, but ordering online allows you to skip one of the two lines at this location, saving you valuable time.
For information about prices and opportunities to save money on this attraction, make sure to read our ticket details section.
How Much Time Do You Need?
There are a lot of things to see and do at the Churchill War Rooms. While some people will only visit for 60 – 90 minutes, others recommend setting aside at least 2 – 2 ½ hours for this activity.
Considering that you could spend an hour or more waiting in line before entering the building, it’s safe to say that anyone planning to spend at least 2 hours here should think about giving themselves a little more time to get through the ticket queue and security checkpoint.
If you want to avoid the ticket line, make sure to purchase a skip-the-queue ticket so that you can head straight to the security check.
Although the Imperial War Museums do not offer public guided tours of the Churchill War Rooms, they do provide an audio guide for free with every ticket.
This audio guide is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese and Mandarin, ensuring that visitors from around the world can enjoy their experience and learn a lot about Winston Churchill while they are here.
If your heart is set on a fully guided tour of the Churchill War Rooms, consider taking their private tour. You and a group of up to 10 people will enjoy an hour-long tour led by expert guides.
The only downside to this option is that it will run you at least £500 or more. For more information, visit the description of the Churchill War Rooms private tour.
Although we do not provide any guided trips through the museum, these walking tours will allow you to learn more about the history of the area.
What to Expect
This location is actually a combination of two separate pieces: The Churchill Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms.
While the museum explores the life of Winston Churchill, the war rooms will give you a look at the underground complex where Churchill directed the forces during World War II.
Additionally, there is also a permanent installation focusing on what life was like in Churchill’s bunkers.
We will go into further detail about these exhibits and other notable things to see at the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms in our What to See section.
How to Get Here
The Churchill War Rooms are located right across the road from St. James’s Park on King Charles Street.
There are several ways to get here, but regardless of how you choose to get here, we recommend using this Google Maps link for specific directions to the Churchill War Rooms.
London Underground: Westminster Station is one block away from the Churchill War Rooms. If you are new to using the Underground see our post about using the London Underground.
Hop-on-Hop-off Bus: Several bus tour companies provide a stop nearby at Whitehall, approximately one block from this location.
If you’re already considering a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, you could save money by using the bus to get here.
The Churchill War Rooms are located right at the heart of Royal London. You’ll find Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey within 5-10 minutes of this museum, not to mention notable landmarks such as Big Ben and the London Eye.
With so many things to see and do in the area, you may want to consider combining your visit to the War Rooms with an outing at some of these locations.
WHAT TO SEE
There are a lot of historic things to see at the Churchill War Rooms. This section will provide information about some of the most notable and popular exhibits and attractions at this location.
The Churchill Museum
This museum covers the life and times of Winston Churchill, providing a lot of important information about the man and everything he did for his country. In addition to learning more about him, you’ll also have the opportunity to see some interesting artifacts related to both his life and military career.
Cabinet War Rooms
If you’ve ever wondered where Churchill and many others once planned out military actions during WWII, this is the place. Head underground and see what life was like beneath the streets of Westminster. While you’re learning about the historic war rooms, you’ll also have the chance to see a lot of interesting artifacts from that time period.
Undercover: Life in Churchill’s Bunker
In addition to the war rooms themselves, there is also a permanent exhibit detailing what life was like for staff members who once had to work and sleep in the underground bunkers you’ll find here. The exhibition includes historic objects, images, and other interesting details which provide an in-depth look at how these rooms were once used.
The Map Room
Although this is a part of the underground War Rooms exhibit, it is one of the more popular locations at the museum. The maps in this room remain untouched since 1945, making them one of the most significant historical artifacts from the era.
Even though he apparently didn’t spend much time here, it is pretty interesting to see Winston Churchill’s room beneath the streets of Westminster. Surprisingly, his family apparently got a lot more use out of the room than he ever did.