Looking to visit the Tower of London? The Bumper Crew has it covered! We visited with The London Pass* and absolutely loved it! We hopped on a river boat after discovering the best things to do in Greenwich, which is a great way to arrive at the Tower, given the pier is right next door.
Visiting the Tower of London was part of our 2-day London Pass itinerary, and there is no doubt about it – it’s one of London‘s best attractions, which is confirmed by the number of people who visit – over three million per year! It has a gruesomely fascinating past (can we say that?) that’s brought to life by the famous Beefeaters, and there are plenty of things to do inside to occupy you for a few hours.
In this post, we shed some light on the Tower’s history and some of its highlights. So, read on to discover everything you need to know to visit the Tower of London!
Tower of London
When it comes to exploring London’s history, few landmarks are as iconic as the Tower of London. This ancient fortress has stood for over 900 years, serving as a royal palace, prison, and even a zoo. If you’re planning a trip to London, a visit to the Tower of London should be on your itinerary. The Tower of London is a must-see destination for anyone interested in British history, the monarchy or those seeking some gruesome stories.
Tower of London History
The Tower of London stands proudly along the banks of the River Thames, shrouded in centuries of history and mysteries. This iconic fortress has witnessed the rise and fall of kings, queens, and nobles and has played a pivotal role in shaping the destiny of England. From its humble beginnings as a simple fortification to its transformation into a grand palace and infamous prison, the Tower of London remains a living testament to England’s rich heritage.
The Tower was initially built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England. Construction began in 1078, took 20 years, and was originally intended to symbolise Norman power and as a fortress to protect the newly conquered city of London.
Over the centuries, the Tower served various purposes. It functioned as a royal palace, a treasury, and a prison. One of its most infamous uses was as a prison for high-profile individuals, including members of the British nobility, political figures, and even royalty. Notable prisoners held at the Tower include Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, and Elizabeth I before she became queen.
The Tower is perhaps best known for its role as a prison for those accused of treason and its use as an execution site. Many executions took place on Tower Hill, just outside the Tower’s walls, including those of three English queens: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey.
In addition to its prison function, the Tower of London also served as a secure repository for valuable treasures, including the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, which you can see on display.
Throughout its history, the Tower of London has been expanded and modified. Additional towers and fortifications were added, creating a complex structure with multiple layers of defence. The White Tower, the central keep of the Tower complex, is the fortress’s oldest and most iconic part.
In the 19th century, the Tower of London underwent significant restoration efforts. It was opened to the public as a historic site and museum, where it now serves as one of London’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting folk from all over the world.
Tower of London Highlights
There are plenty of things to do inside the Tower, but here are just a few highlights to look forward to during your visit. They are also the bits we enjoyed the most!
1 | Take a Tower of London Tour
We highly recommend getting on a Tower of London tour. They are free! And they are also really enjoyable; you’ll be glad to know. Guided by a Yeoman Warder, better known as a ‘Beefeater’, you’ll be taken to a few stops inside the Tower to hear about its fascinating and, in parts, gruesome history. The tours take around 45 minutes or so and are well worth getting on one during your visit. The Beefeaters bring the story of the Tower to life with all sorts of stories. The Beefeaters will tell you a little about their history, too and whether they have any links to the famous Beefeater Gin (you’ll have to get on the tour to find out!)
2 | See the Tower of London Crown Jewels
You can’t visit the Tower of London and not see the Crown Jewels. They are undoubtedly the most popular attraction within the Tower, so expect long queues to get in! These priceless treasures include crowns, sceptres, and other regalia used by British monarchs over the centuries.
Disappointingly, there’s no photography allowed inside the Crown Jewels exhibition. At all. You’ll be shouted at if you even attempt to take your phone out and take some pics, so save yourself the embarrassment and don’t bother. Ha!
3 | Find the Tower of London Ravens
The ravens at the Tower of London are an icon part of the Tower, and legend has it that should the ravens ever leave the Tower, the Tower and kingdom will fall. Believe that or not, King Charles II is thought to be the man to insist the ravens are protected after being told about the problem that will arise should they leave. But no one wants them to leave, either – the Yeoman Warders genuinely love them.
The ravens are surprisingly cute. We’ve read ravens are associated with death. However, these ravens will win you over if you get up close and personal with them. They are somewhat curious, and the one we met made this weird sound like the old error noise on Windows XP (if you’re old enough to know what that sounds like!) while it puffed up its feathers. There are seven ravens in the Tower (six by Royal Decree and one spare), each with its own name, and they are looked after by the Ravenmaster, who is one of the Yeoman Warders. Read more about the Tower of London ravens.
4 | Visit the White Tower
The famous tower in the middle is the White Tower. It’s also the oldest part of the Tower of London, and there’s almost no doubt you haven’t seen it if you’ve seen any pictures of the place. It’s had an interesting past, having served as a royal residence, armoury, and treasury. Some infamous prisoners, such as Anne Boleyn and Sir Walter Raleigh, were held within its walls, too!
Take the steps on the south side to the top and work your way down to the exit at the bottom, where you’ll also find the gift shop. On your way, you’ll pass through the Royal Armouries with a brilliant collection of arms and armour. Would you fancy running around in all that armour like the knights did back in the day? No? Nor us? Ha. It must have weighed a ton!
5 | Walk the Battlements
If you head up to the battlements above Traitor Gate, you’ll be guided through some of the Towers buildings and rooms and round to the northern side. You’ll head through the Medieval Palace, the Royal Beasts exhibition, before getting off the battlements in the corner by Chapel Royal of St Peter and Vincula.
The battlements also offer great views over the grounds and the River Thames, so don’t miss them!
Finally, you’ll find some other bits inside the Tower, such as the Fusilier Museum and Torture at the Tower, which is far less interesting than we expected. Ha!
Visiting the Tower of London
Here’s some helpful information to help you plan your visit to the Tower, including ticket prices, opening times, locations and maps.
Tickets & Prices
The prices below are the basic ticket prices. Tours with the Yeoman Warders are included, but other things, such as special events and audio guides, are not included in the price. There are alternative ways to visit, which might be better value for money. They are listed below the prices.
- Members: Free
- Adult: £33.60
- Child age 5-15: £16.80
The London Pass
You can visit the Tower with The London Pass. This is how we visited the Tower. It’s a great way to see it, plus a few other tourist attractions, all included in the Pass.
If you’d like to buy a Pass, you can do so through our London Pass affiliate link, where you’ll find the latest prices. Or, if you’d like to know more about the Pass, read our London Pass review, where we answer the question – is The London Pass worth it?
Historic Royal Palaces Membership
If you are interested in visiting some other historic palaces in London and want better value for money, you might be interested in the Historic Royal Palaces Membership. Getting a membership could help you save some money if you were to visit multiple sites, given you get inclusive and unlimited entry to the Tower of London Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, plus a few other things, such as 10% discount to Kew Gardens.
The opening times alter depending on the season and the day and are more complicated than they should be. It’s best to check the official website opening times to confirm, but below is a general overview.
- Sunday & Monday, 10 am – 5.30 pm
- Tuesday to Saturday, 9 am – 5.50 pm.
- Last admission – 3.30 pm
Tower of London Map & Location
Check out the official Tower visitor map to find out where everything is inside. As for everything else, it’s below, plus the link to Google Maps next to the pin.
Nearest tube: Tower Hill
Bus route: 15
Nearest DLR: Tower Gateway
Nearest pier: Tower Millennium Pier
Tower of London FAQs
What’s the Tower of London ravens myth?
The Tower of London ravens myth goes like this – King Charles II is thought to be the man to insist the ravens are protected after being told that should they ever leave, the Tower and kingdom will fall. Over the years, a few of the ravens have escaped, most of them being returned.
Is the Tower of London Worth Visiting?
Yes, it is! The Tower is one of the best attractions in London, without a doubt. It’s full of history and intrigue and is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. You’ll get lost in the stories by the Yeoman Warders and be dazzled by the Crown Jewels.
How long does it take to tour the Tower of London?
Touring the Tower generally takes around two to three hours, but you can spend more time there if you have a tour and visit every piece of the Tower. Plus, the Crown Jewels can have a long queue to get in. There is plenty to see and do inside, so allocate sufficient time to see everything.
Are guided tours available?
Yes, guided tours led by Yeoman Warders are available, providing detailed insights and captivating stories. They start in the moat, last about 45 minutes and are fascinating and entertaining. You should make the time to take a tour to get the most out of your visit to the Tower.
Can I get into the Tower of London with The London Pass?
Yes, you can. The London Pass is a great way to see some of London’s best sights; thankfully, the Tower of London is on The London Pass.
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