Once a Tudor palace, Somerset House was redesigned by Sir William Chambers in 1776 as part of the city’s infrastructural improvements. Now a creative and cultural hub offering shows and activities year-round, the building is also known to have appeared in the Sherlock Holmes and James Bond films, among others.
Follow in the footsteps of movie stars on a cinematic tour, or visit on a walking or hop-on hop-off tour, according to your schedule. Travelers with more time can explore the grounds on a historical tour and gain insight into the royal, governmental, and public uses of the building over the years, or check out one of the events held here for an immersive experience of culture in the capital.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entry to Somerset House is free, though there is a fee for some exhibitions and shows.
- The central courtyard is open-air, so remember to bring an umbrella or raincoat on rainy days.
- Somerset House is a must-see for history buffs, culture vultures, and creatives.
- Most of the site is wheelchair accessible; guests with access concerns are encouraged to call ahead.
How to Get There
Somerset House is a 5-minute walk from Temple underground station, and 10 to 15 minutes from Covent Garden, Charing Cross, or Waterloo. Many local and hop-on hop-off buses serve the Strand, Waterloo Bridge, or Aldwych, while river bus and hop-on hop-off cruises serve nearby Embankment Pier.
When to Get There
Special events at Somerset House are popular with residents and visitors alike. In winter, the outdoor ice skating rink and Christmas arcade provide festive fun in the city, while film screenings, concerts, and DJ sets are enjoyed during warmer months.
Stroll the South Bank
Conclude your visit to Somerset House with a walk across Waterloo Bridge and head into one of London’s cultural districts. Wander east along the river and discover prime Thameside views, as well as unique architecture, theatres, galleries, and English pubs to boot.