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The Tower of London is a historically important London activity visited by thousands of locals, tourists, and school students every year.
While the experience of visiting London’s attractions has changed of late, there are still lots of fun things you can do in the Big Smoke, including a trip to see the UNESCO World Heritage White Tower and the exquisite Crown Jewels!
Here’s our Tower of London guide so you can prepare before visiting. As always, we packed in budget and time-saving tips so you can get the most out of your trip.
You may also like our guide to How to get to Harry Potter Studios in London.
1. The Tower Of London Is Not Tower Bridge
This is a huge mistake that people make!
Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London is a 1000-year-old living fortress located at St Katharine’s & Wapping.
Tower Bridge is a Bascule and suspension bridge over the River Thames.
An iconic image in London’s skyline but not where you’ll find the famous ravens.
2. You Can Visit By Boat
While there are three tube stations within walking distance, a unique thing to do in London is arrive at the Tower of London by boat!
Boats arrive at Tower Pier from Greenwich, Westminster and London Eye piers. Tower Pier is next to the main entrance.
The journey lasts around 30-40 minutes and takes in other London highlights too.
A great timesaver.
You can also get to the Tower by public bus, hop-on/off sightseeing bus or cycle, but there is no on-site parking.
3. Yeoman Warders, aka The Beefeaters
There are two different types of people in uniform you will want to visit during your trip to London.
Firstly, the foot guards who protect Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. These are the people in the redcoats and the big furry hats called bearskins.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll see them smile.
Secondly, the Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London, also known as Beefeaters.
Their uniform typically consists of a red watch coat, Tudor bonnet and a sometimes cheery disposition!
The Yeoman Warders are officially called Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary.
There has been talk that these guards may face redundancy as the Tower, run by Historic Royal Palaces, a self-funded charity, has been hit like much of the tourism industry in the UK.
Love London? Check out our London gift guide.
4. Meet The People Who Live INSIDE The Tower Of London
The Yeoman Warders aren’t just in the Tower to tell you about it. 37 live in the Tower with their families.
Men and women with over 22 years of experience from the Armed Forces can be sworn in as a Beefeater.
This tradition has taken place since 1485, and there is a Chief Warder too.
Previously, the Warders policed the prisoners at the Tower and also the famous crown jewels.
Today, they are there to act as ceremonial guards.
5. Yeoman Warders In Action
For over 700 years, the Warders have shouted ‘Halt! Who goes there?’ every night as the keys to the fortress close the Tower for the night. The Chief Warder carries the keys.
This performance is called the Ceremony of the Keys and has taken place since 1340 when Edward III was annoyed that he could simply walk into the Tower without any hassle. He instructed that security be improved.
Mary I was also paranoid about security and put pressure on Warders to man the fortress by foot, day and night.
Other ceremonies include The Constable’s Dues, where the Constable of the Tower receives dues (barrel of wine, brandy or rum) from ships mooring at Tower Wharf.
6. The Largest and Purest Diamond Lives Here
The Crown Jewels include a 530.2-carat diamond; security is tight around it as you can imagine!
Remember, the Tower guards are real, and they are armed.
The crown jewels collection also includes 23,578 gems.
Visitors can also see HRH The Prince of Wales’s Investiture Coronet, which is a 24-carat gold crown with the 4 Crosses Patées and the four fleur-de-Lys.
Head to the Jewel House to see the Royal Collection bling.
7. Tower Of London Executions And Imprisonment
The Tower Of London was not built as a prison.
However, hundreds of sorry souls who were seen as a threat to national security found themselves imprisoned here.
Edward I built a Traitors’ Gate for prisoners to pass through to avoid any security breach at the other entrances.
Some prisoners were sentenced to death at the Tower. If the axe was carried facing backwards during the convoy from Westminster, the prisoner was to meet his death.
Ten people were beheaded on Tower Green, three of whom were former queens of England!
Today at Tower Green, you will see this quote at the memorial.
Gentle visitor pause awhile: where you stand death cut away the light of many days: here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life: may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage : under there restless skies.
8. Ravens Rule The Roost
Legend has it that if the Tower of London ravens leave the Tower, then the building will crumble, and the monarchy will collapse.
King Charles II passed a law to say there must be six ravens at the Tower at all times.
Ravens aren’t the only animals at the Tower; this fortress was once home to the very first zoo in London (1200s to 1835).
Today, you can see installations of the poor animals who couldn’t survive the cramped conditions.
9. The Tower Of London Opening Times
- Mondays and Sundays: 10:00-16:30
- Last admission: 15:30
- Tuesday to Saturday: 09:00-16:30
- Last admission: 15:30
10. The Tower Of London Tickets
Now is the best time to visit the Tower of London.
For safety, there is a limited number of visitors allowed inside the Tower each day, so reserve a ticket before you travel.
Since the ticket office is not open at the time of writing, pre-booking online is essential.
While we’re talking about spending money, did you know that the country’s mint used to be made at the Tower?!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our Tower of London tips and facts. You may also find out London on a budget post useful.
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This post was created in partnership with GetYourGuide. We personally use GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. We have been partners with GetYourGuide since 2018. Many thanks to the company for looking out for content creators and treating them with the respect they deserve.