Visiting the Tower of London soon? Lucky you! London’s a tourist’s paradise and the Tower of London a definite must. Check out the best tips for your visit and the best skip-the line Tower of London tickets and tours.
Ah, London– England’s main capital, a city with tremendous amounts of history and culture. The birthplace of many famous –loved and hated– characters of the old and contemporary world. London is a wonderful place to be experienced, and you’re a lucky traveler!
In this post, you’ll find all the information needed for visiting the Tower of London, an iconic landmark with almost a thousand years of history.
The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror, the first Norman monarch of England, after his victory over the English in 1078. This massive fortress was built to defend and proclaim his royal power, and since then has served many purposes; from prison to royal residence and guardian of royal possessions and family members in times of war.
The Tower of London is one of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a great place to visit if you enjoy either history, architecture, art or the stories of treason, prisoners, disputes, fraud and treasures that inhabit this place.
The castle gives all its visitors a very interesting insight into what used to happen behind the curtains of the royal families that got to decide the fate of the country until the beginning of the 20th century. Read on to find the best advice and Tower of London tickets to make your visit unforgettable!
Before Visiting the Tower of London
Tower of London Opening Times
The Tower of London visiting hours are from 10 AM to 4:30 PM, Wednesdays to Sundays. The last admissions are at 3:30 PM, coming from the slots of people that started queuing at 2:00. So, be mindful of punctual British time!
The opening times for the Tower of London vary monthly, so be sure to check them on their official website before visiting.
How to get to the Tower of London
If you were wondering how to get to London Tower, you’re in the right place. There are several mainline stations located within walking distance from the Tower of London, so it’s really easy to get there from anywhere in London.
▶ If you’re getting there by tube, the Tower Hill (Circle and District Lines) is the closest station to Tower of London.
London Bridge Station (Jubilee and Northern Lines) is close by too, though you’ll have to cross the London Bridge to get there. It’s an easy walk, but if you get confused you can always ask for directions to Tower of London; everyone will be able to point the way!
▶ If you’re taking the train, Fenchurch Street Station, London Bridge Station and London Cannon Street Station are within walking distance from the site.
▶ If you want to take a bus to Tower of London, routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1 stop nearby the Tower.
▶ In case you’re driving, the address of Tower of London is: London EC3N 4AB, UK
▶ You can always add a bit more adventure to your trip by traveling by riverboat. Tower Pier is served by riverboats traveling from various piers including Westminster and London Eye, and is located next to the Tower entrance. You can plan your trip with Uber Boats, riverboats or use the Transport of London’s official journey planner.
⚠️ If you’re planning to visit the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and other famous attractions, it might make sense to buy a London Pass with Free Entry to 80 attractions. The pass will help you save money and will give you fast-track entrance to many of these attractions
Best Tower of London Tickets & Tours
There are several ways to visit this landmark, either on your own or with a tour, and below I have selected the best options for you to avoid the long queuing hours and make the most of your Tower of London visit.
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➤ Tickets can be bought in advance to avoid the waiting queues. This Skip-the-Line Tower of London ticket allows you to visit London tower and roam its grounds, and it also grants you access to the Crown Jewels Exhibition. ➥ BUY IT HERE
➤ If you’d rather avoid all sorts of crowds, not just those from the ticket line, it’s possible! With this VIP Early-Access Tour of the Tower of London you’ll have the place (almost) to yourself. You’ll be there before anyone else, witness the 700-hundred-year-old opening ceremony and gain great insights from a local tour guide. Entrance to the Crown Jewels Exhibition and the Victorian Engine Room are included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ You don’t have enough seeing the Beefeaters at the Tower of London from up-close? If you choose the Tower of London Early Access Tour with Beefeater, you’ll have one of them as your guide. The perfect chance to get all your questions about the traditions, executions and history of the site answered by a Yeoman Warder himself! You’ll also enjoy early-access and entrance to the Crown Jewels Exhibition. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Best London Tours with Tower of London
If you’re in London for just a couple of days and you want to visit some other attractions besides the Tower of London, the tours listed below offer a great combo.
➤ The Magic of London Tour with Afternoon Tea at Harrods grants you access to the Tower of London, a cruise on the River Thames, a tour inside St. Paul’s Cathedral and the experience of watching the Changing of the Guard, all before enjoying a typical afternoon tea at Harrods, the world’s most famous department store. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤ If the London Eye is also on your must-do list, then the Full-Day London Tour & Flight on the London Eye is for you. Besides taking you on a private London tower tour, a cruise on the Thames, a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral and witnessing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, you’ll finish your day with an iconic view of London from the heights of the London Eye. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Save Money with the London Pass
Spending two days in London or more? Then you should check out the London Pass to save money and time. The London Pass is a discount card that grants you access to over 80 attractions in the city for a different number of days up to 10, to help you make the most of your time in the city and save money in the process.
The Tower of London prices are about £30 currently (41 dollars), but if you tackle several attractions with the London Pass, it gets considerably cheaper. ➥ CHECK IT OUT HERE
These are some of the most important attractions included in the London Pass:
• Tower of London
• Shakespeare’s Globe
• Westminster Abbey
• Tower Bridge
• Windsor Castle
• View from The Shard
• Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
What You’ll Find When Visiting the Tower of London
The White Tower
The Tower of London is a fortress that houses 9 towers, the most famous being the White Tower, the castle-looking building situated right in the center.
The White Tower was built to be a residential palace, but it ended up becoming a prison that functioned until the 20th century; hundreds of years of prisoners living in those cells and still to this day you can see graffiti and signs on the walls drawn by those waiting to be executed.
The visit to the prison is kind of spooky, and definitely the place to be if you enjoy ghost stories and eerie tales of past times, but it’s also filled with interesting facts about the Tower of London. For instance: did you know that, while she was still a Princess, Elizabeth I was imprisoned here by her half-sister Mary I, who feared that Elizabeth was plotting against her? Definitely one of the most famous inmates in the history of the site.
And if we’re talking about royals becoming prisoners…There were 22 executions at the Tower of London, and among the most remembered are that of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, and two other Queens; Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, and Lady Jane Grey, who reigned for nine days (hers was the shortest reign in British history)
The White Tower at the Tower of London has more to offer than creepy cells, though. There are on display dozens of suits of armor, weapons, and arms that have been there for over 300 years, as well as all of England’s medieval monarchs’ masks carved out of wood.
Some areas are recreated to look as they did in the 13th century, so it’s a fascinating experience to walk through that place, whether you’re a history buff or not.
The Crown Jewels
The Crown Jewels in the Tower of London is definitely the most popular visit within the fortress.
While the exhibition displays a one of a kind collection of sacred and ceremonial objects, including the Coronation Regalia; St. Edward’s Crown, only used at the moment of crowning itself; and the Sceptre and Rod that compose the Queen or King’s investiture in the crowning ceremony, the Imperial Crown stands out among them because of its jewels.
The Crown contains some of the most historic jewels in the collection, comprising 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, 269 pearls and 4 rubies. Yes, all those stones are neatly glued to one very special object, worn by the Queen on formal occasions, and you can check them out during your tour of Tower of London.
Fun fact: Though the jewels are real, they’re not the original ones from the 11th century. Those were destroyed by Oliver Cromwell after the English Civil War ended with the execution of Charles I.
Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula
If the Beefeater Tower of London Tour doesn’t appeal to you or is not within your budget, you can still get a Yeoman Warder to take you around the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, the parish church where those famous prisoners that were executed in the Tower of London are buried.
Here you’ll find buried Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey and her husband and Sir Thomas Moore, who was canonized 400 years after his death. Many legends say that their ghosts still wander the place, so watch out!
The Traitor’s Gate
“Remember, remember the 5th of November…”
If you watched the movie V for Vendetta, which gave trending to Anonymous masks, the name Guy Fawkes will probably ring a bell. Those well-known masks are actually a depiction of Fawkes’ face, the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot, a conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th of November, 1605.
Though the attempt was carried out, it failed, and Guy Fawkes was arrested guarding the explosives. Three days later he was brought in through the Traitor’s Gate to be tortured in the dungeon of Tower of London for his crimes.
The Traitor’s Gate is an entrance to the Tower of London facing the Thames River, built to provide a water gate access to the Tower. It is believed to have been used by the famous Tudors, mainly as an element to intimidate fierce prisoners from the get-go, as they could see the heads of the other executed prisoners on pikes along the river when they were brought in by barge.
You can see the Gate and its inscription, and walk over the bridge under which the entrance through the Gate lies.
Ceremony of the Keys
The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London is 700 years old, one of the oldest acts that still persists. The Ceremony is part of the traditional locking up of the Tower, from the time in which the Monarch resided there, and can only be witnessed by pre-booking your tickets online.
If you want a hint of what the Ceremony is about, read this passage taken from the Historic Royal Palaces website:
‘Footsteps echo in the darkness. The sentry cries out, ‘Halt, who comes there?’ The Yeoman Warder replies, ‘The keys.’ ‘Whose keys?’ ‘Queen Elizabeth’s keys.’ ‘Pass then, all’s well.’
Of course, the name of the Monarch has changed with the years, but the rest of the exchange is exactly as it has been spoken for centuries.
Finally, the Ravens! The Tower of London is full of them, and they are kept as a good luck charm; it is believed that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, the Kingdom of Britain will fall.
An omen like this should better be taken seriously, therefore a Ravenmaster acts as full time caretaker to keep them well fed, in good health…and from escaping!
There are seven ravens at the moment, all of them named, and while they are free to wander around during the day (always under the keen eye of the ravenmaster), they are put to bed at night.
Your visit to the Tower of London is not complete until you spot the ravens around the grounds of this fortress, and learn more about the legend and their importance to the tower.
Extra Tip: If this topic interests you, the current Raventmaster, Chris Skaife, has written a book about his profession called The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London.
There also used to be wild and exotic animals living in the Tower, a menagerie that resulted from the medieval custom of monarchs in exchanging rare animals as gifts. Lions, zebras, elephants and even a polar bear lived in what is now considered the first Zoo in London.
There are now sculptures of these animals scattered around to commemorate the former inhabitants of the Tower. There are some on the roof, too, so keep your eyes on the lookout for them!
Visiting the Tower of London: FAQ
Visiting the Tower of London will probably take you around 2 to 3 hours (without queuing). Time can vary depending on the tour or ticket you purchase; if you have early-access or skip-the-line tickets, your waiting time will be close to non-existent. If you buy directly from the ticket booth, then you should add at least an extra hour of waiting to your visit, to be on the safe side.
No, the visit is not free. Prices for the Tower of London vary a little depending on the season, but the average entrance fee for adults is around £30 (41 dollars) at the time of writing. There are discounts for full-time students and disabled people, and family passes if you visit with up to 3 children.
Yes, you can go inside the Tower of London. You can purchase your tickets online to avoid the queues at the entrance, or book a tour to visit the site and learn about the Tower of London history while you roam through its grounds and towers.
The Tower of London gets really crowded. Like, big time crowded. If you’re looking to avoid the masses, here are a few tips for visiting Tower of London:
• Be there early in the morning, as soon as they open (currently at 10 AM from Wednesday to Sunday).
• Head to the Crown Jewels Exhibition first, as queues form outside the room during peak hour, and then explore the rest of the fortress at your pace.
• Get an early-access ticket, so you’re there before anyone else.
Unfortunately, taking pictures of the Crown Jewels is not allowed. However, you can photograph the rest of the area; just make sure you turn off your camera’s flash!
Yes, the Crown Jewels are real! They are not the 11th-century originals (you’ll find about this on your visit!) but they are real gemstones. At the exhibition you’ll see about 23 thousand of them, and the Imperial Crown itself has more than 2,8 thousand diamonds, plus hundreds of other precious stones! The total value of the jewels is estimated to exceed £20 billion.
While the Tower of London is used for guarding valuable objects and being a tourist attraction, it’s also the home of many people. The Yeoman Warders (commonly known as Beefeaters) live on site at the Tower of London with their families.
Fun fact: Inside the Tower there’s a secret pub for these families and their guests, lavishly decorated with military tokens.
Since it is located in the center of London, there are many attractions near Tower of London for you to visit. The London Bridge is the closest one; you can either admire it from below and look for the perfect photo angle, or get tickets to climb the Bridge and learn about its history.
Jack the Ripper Museum is also close by, if you’re still thirsty for eerie content. Sky Garden, the second tallest viewpoint in London is within walking distance, and is free! You have to book your slot first, though.
If you want the tallest point, then cross the London Bridge and head to the View from The Shard, also within walking distance.