Ravens, beefeaters and bloody history – it’s easy to see why the Tower of London is such an iconic building, which attracts nearly three million visitors per year.
Officially called, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, this historic castle is a must-visit when in London.
Here are the best tips for visiting the Tower of London to help ensure that you make the most of your trip.
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Getting to the Tower of London
The nearest tube stop is Tower Bridge or the London Bridge train station. You can also take the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour which stops right at the Tower of London.
Getting your tickets
To skip the long lines at the Tower of London and make the most of your visit, I recommend purchasing your tickets online. You can click here to buy your Tower of London ticket.
If you’re planning on visiting more of London’s top attractions, consider getting the London Pass. The London Pass is a pre-paid sightseeing card which gives you FREE fast-track entry to the city’s top tourist attractions, including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour.
Plus, you can use the London Pass to get free entry to 80+ other attractions, museums and tours in the city, including an optional Oyster travelcard to cover all your transportation needs. I rode the London tube everyday during my trip. It was easy to use and the best way to get to each attraction.
Read my honest review of the London Pass here.
PRO TIP: Buy the pass online to save extra money off the retail price. To buy the London Pass, click here to go to the official website.
How to get your London Pass:
Step 1: Choose which pass duration you want to buy (1, 2, 3, 6, or 10 day). You can click here to purchase your London Pass from the official website.
Step 2: Download your mobile pass instantly using the London Pass App. If you prefer a physical pass, simply opt for delivery (they deliver worldwide) or collect on arrival in London.
Step 3: You now have FREE access to any of the 80+ top London attractions included for the duration of your pass. You can activate your pass anytime within 12 months from the date of purchase.
Step 4: Download the free guide book, which is included with your purchase. Use this book to help you easily plan your itinerary.
Best time to visit the Tower of London
To avoid the weekend crowds, aim to visit first thing in the morning on a weekday.
You may run into a school trip happening during the week, however I still recommend visiting first thing in the morning or during the lunch hour (early afternoon) as these are the quietest times.
I went to the Tower of London when it first opened on a weekday morning in November and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We headed straight to the Crown Jewels and were the only people inside (other than the security guards). I felt like a VIP!
My must-have London accessories:
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How long should you stay?
Plan to spend at least two hours at the Tower of London (or more if it’s busy). There is so much to see and learn about here that you should try and get as much value out of your ticket as you can.
The Yeoman Warders tour is included in the cost of your admission and begins every 30 minutes throughout the day. The tour lasts for approximately 60 minutes and provides visitors with entertaining and informative stories.
If you choose to tour the Tower of London on your own, the palace is well signposted which makes it easy to still learn about its history.
5 Tips for Visiting the Tower of London
1. Save money on tickets with the London Pass. To bypass the long lines and make the most of your visit, you may want to consider taking advantage of the London Pass. This includes FREE entry to The Tower of London, plus free entry to 80+ other top tourist attractions in the city.
Not sure if the London Pass is right for you? Consider purchasing the London Explorer Pass instead. You can to visit 3, 5, or 7 top attractions and tours as you go. Save over 40% off London’s top attractions. Once activated, the pass is valid for 30 days. You can click here to buy your London Explorer Pass from the official website.
2. Plan your visit in the early morning when the Tower of London opens (or during the lunch hour). This is when it’s least crowded, especially on weekdays.
It felt like we had the place to ourselves!
3. Head to the Crown Jewels first. This is usually the busiest spot in the Tower of London, which is why I recommend heading straight for the Crown Jewels when you arrive.
If there is a long queque, consider visiting another spot in the palace first, while keeping an eye on the queque until it gets a little quieter.
4. Learn as much as you can about the Tower of London before your visit. Not only will you appreciate your trip more, but you will also pick up on aspects about the Tower of London that your average visitor would miss, if they didn’t know more about the palace’s history.
I watched Secrets of the Tower of London which provided some interesting facts about the palace and its history.
5. Take your time and wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot to see when exploring the Tower of London, and with the high admission price, it would be a shame to rush your visit.
You don’t have to be one of those people that read each and every single posted sign or description, but I do recommend seeing all the highlights of the palace.
12 cool facts about the Tower of London
1. The Tower of London is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the few intact medieval buildings in the world.
2. At least six ravens are kept at the Tower of London at all times. Legend says, “If the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall…”. According to the stories, Charles II was the first one who insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected.
3. The tower was originally built as a royal palace and defense system. Founded by William the Conqueror in 1066, the tower was never supposed to be a prison. It was used a Prisoner of War Camp during World War II.
4. The total value of the jewels is said to exceed £20 billion. There are 23,500+ jewels there today and their actual value is priceless.
5. There are 37 Yeoman Warders (‘beefeaters’) at the tower. To qualify as a candidate, they must have completed at least 22 years in the Armed Forces and have received the “Long Service and Good Conduct” medal during their years of service.
6. Only 22 executions took place within the Tower of London. Lord Lovat was the last man to be beheaded on Tower Hill, in 1747 for treason.
7. During the 1200s, there was a royal zoo at the Tower of London. The zoo was filled with exotic animals before being transferred in 1835 to the London Zoo in Regent Park.
8. The tower is haunted by several ghosts. These include Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, the Princes in the Tower and even a grizzly bear!
9. Someone has a spare key. The key to the internal lock was stolen in November 2012. The locks however were immediately replaced.
10. The tower was damaged during World War II. The Tower of London was bombed in 1940 during the Blitz, which damaged several building in the castle grounds, but didn’t hit the White Tower.
11. The basement of the White Tower is where torture was practiced, especially during the 16th and 17th centuries in order to extract information about plots against the government. One of the methods used was the rack, where the victim was stretched using ropes and levers.
Reconstruction of Edward I’s private chambers
12. The sons of King Edward IV were sent to the Tower by their uncle, Duke of Gloucester, and were never seen again. The sons were declared illegitimate and the Duke was crowned King Richard III. He is considered the most likely culprit for their disappearance, and in 1674, two skeleton remains were found which were identified as the two Princes.
Over to you — what are your tips for visiting the Tower of London?