A trip to London would not be complete without diving into the history of this amazing city. Conveniently, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London (both a must see) are located right next to each other on the River Thames.
The closest tube stop is Tower Hill, you could also get off at London Bridge or Bermondsey.
The famous iconic bridge in London is known as Tower Bridge, not London Bridge, which is a common misconception. London Bridge is about 1/2 mile upstream. Tower bridge was built between 1886-1894, and it was recently restored in 2010. You can admire the bridge for free, or you can purchase a ticket to the exhibition which includes access to the lower engine rooms, twin towers, and high-level walkway.
- $12.93 (Tip: If you buy tickets in advance from the website below they are slightly cheaper.)
- Summer Opening Hours: April – September 10:00 – 17:30 (last admission)
- Winter Opening Hours: October – March 09:30 – 17:00 (last admission)
- Tower Bridge Exhibition is closed December 24-26 and open from 10:00 on January 1.
Tower of London
Walk across Tower Bridge and directly on your left is the historic castle known as the Tower of London. It served many purposes over the years, and today is considered one of the most popular tourist attractions as it displays the crown jewels. It was the Royal residence until the 17th century, housed the royal collection of exotic animals and also served as a prison/torture chamber.
Free guided tour:
Yeoman Warders aka. Beefeaters have served as Royal Bodyguards at the Tower since 1509. Their nickname came from the fact that they could eat as much beef as they wanted from the king’s table. Nowadays they give free one-hour tours (departing every 30 minutes) from the castle entrance.
- $28.37 (Tip: If you buy tickets in advance from the website below they are slightly cheaper.)
- Tuesday-Saturday: 9.00-17.30
- Sunday-Monday: 10.00-17.30
Legend has it that the monarchy will fall if the 6 ravens guarding the fortress ever leave the complex. (They even keep an extra one just in case!) They are looked after by the Raven Master and fed raw meat and bird biscuits soaked in blood. I can vouch for this because I saw them being fed while I was there. They have one wing clipped so they are unable to fly.
Notice the fake monkey in the bottom right corner of the photo below. For over 600 years, exotic animals were held captive in the Tower. They were kept by the Royals as symbols of power, entertainment and just out of sheer curiosity.
View of Tower Bridge from the Tower of London. One of my favorite views!
Yeoman Warders and their families actually reside inside the Tower. They have the responsibility of guarding the Tower and everything that resides within. Below are some pictures of their living quarters.
Since we’re on the topic of history I decided to include Shakespeare’s Globe in this post. The original theatre was built in 1599, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1613. It was rebuilt the next year and then demolished for good in 1644. The modern reconstruction is built at the original site and is based on available evidence of what they believe the original looked like. It opened to the public in 1997. I bought a standing ticket that was super cheap and caught the second half of Romeo and Juliet while I was there. It was amazing and I highly recommend if that’s something you enjoy.
- Via tube, the local stations are Blackfriars (10-minute walk), Mansion House (10-minute walk), London Bridge (15-minute walk), Southwark (15-minute walk), and St Paul’s (15-minute walk).
- Yard tickets: standing room only: $6.60
- Lower, Middle and Upper Galleries: seats range from $26.40 – $60.00.
- Open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Tours of the globe depart every 30 minutes, but may not be available if a performance is going on. The price is $21.00/ticket.
Just like the original, the center of the reconstructed Globe Theatre does not have a roof. In the old days, the poor people used to stand in this area with no protection from rain or snow. The rich would pay extra to sit in the galleries that were covered.
*At the time of this post, the exchange rate was 1.00 USD to 0.76 GBP.