A royal residency, place of execution, and home to the dazzling Crown Jewels. Built in the 1070’s, the Tower of London is shrouded in history. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Tower of London.
I’ve visited the Tower of London three times, and each time has been a delight. The first time was with my family, the second time with my friends while studying abroad, and most recently with Kevin on our tour of the UK and Ireland.
A visit to the Tower of London is a definite must if you’re visiting London! In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting this impressive castle, including how to save money on Tower of London tickets, what to see while you’re there, and where to stay nearby.
Tower of London Overview
The Tower of London (officially called His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, but that’s a mouthful!), is a historic castle in central London set on the north bank of the River Thames.
The castle has seen hundreds of years of history, from the Norman Invasion to executions. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the home of the Crown Jewels, and London’s most popular tourist attraction.
History of the Tower of London
Following the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror built the Tower of London to defend his title from rebellion. It soon became the most secure castle in the country, and so it became the place to guard royal possessions like the Crown Jewels and the royal family during times of war.
William the Conqueror built the castle’s iconic keep, and the fortress took 20 years to build. Henry III and Edward I expanded the castle by adding curtain walls and by enlarging the moat.
Henry III painted the keep white, giving it the name the White Tower. These changes transformed the Tower of London into England’s largest and strongest concentric castle — a castle containing one ring of defenses inside another.
The Tower was where arms and armor were made until the 1800’s. The castle also controlled the nation’s supply of money by having all the country’s coins made at the Tower Mint until 1810.
The Tower has been an infamous prison and the site of royal murders, betrayals, and executions. Henry VI was murdered in the Tower during the War of the Roses, and the children of Edward IV were taken to the Tower never to be seen again. Henry VIII’s bride Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery and treason and was executed on Tower Green.
Touring the Tower of London: What to See
When you tour the Tower of London, you can wait for a guided tour led by a Yeoman Warder or you can storm the castle yourself. I’ve done both, and having the Yeoman-led tour is the best way to get the most information. But if you’re short on time, you’ll probably want to do a self-guided visit.
There is a lot to see and do on your visit.
At the Tower of London, you can see the ravens that effectively hold the whole of the United Kingdom together, based on a superstition that at least six ravens have to be on the grounds at all times or the kingdom will fall.
You can also meet the Beefeaters, the Yeoman Warders who have been in charge of guarding the Tower since the Tutors. I, of course, bought a Beefeater bear at the gift shop to commemorate the occasion.
Your tour includes entrance to see the Crown Jewels. You will also be able to learn about the Tower Mint, see the historic armor of past kings, walk the battlements, tour the medieval palace, unfold stories of torture, and learn about the British infantry regiment.
Visiting the Tower of London
Admission: Tickets to the Tower of London costs £33.60 for adults and £16.80 for children ages 5-15.
Admission to the Tower includes a tour with a Beefeater and entry to the Crown Jewels, the White Tower, the Chapel of St Peter, the Battlements, the Medieval Palace, the Bloody Tower, the Torture at the Tower Exhibition, the Fusiliers Museum, the Beauchamp Tower, and the Royal Mint Exhibition.
An audio guide can be purchased separately.
Hours: The Tower of London’s hours vary by season. You can view a list of opening and closing times here, along with planned closures. Last admission is typically an hour before closing.
Address: London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Where to Find Discount Tower of London Tickets
My favorite way of getting a discounted ticket to the Tower of London is by using an attraction pass (because that means you’re also getting discounted tickets on other London attractions!).
Here are a few London sightseeing passes that will get you a discount on your Tower of London ticket:
- London Pass
- GoCity London Explorer Pass
- London Sightseeing Pass
- London City Card
- London Big City Saver Pass
Top Tower of London Tours
There’s a lot to see in London! To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour. Check out this list of the top tours that include the Tower of London.
- Tower of London Early Access Tour with Beefeater
- VIP Early Access – Opening Ceremony Tower of London with Crown Jewels & Tower Bridge
- Best of Royal London including Tower of London, Changing of the Guard, and Cruise
Hotels Near the Tower of London
Find a place to stay near the Tower of London. Here are the closest hotels to this impressive fortress:
- DoubleTree by Hilton London – Tower of London
- citizenM Tower of London Hotel
- Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square
- The Tower Hotel
- Tower Suites by Blue Orchid
Tower of London FAQ
What is the Tower of London?
The Tower of London is a historical castle and fortress in London that has served throughout history as a Royal Palace, Mint, Zoo, and Prison. It currently houses the Crown Jewels, is a popular London Tourist attraction, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Who lives in the Tower of London?
The Yeomen Warders and their families, the Resident Governor, and a garrison of soldiers live in the Tower of London today. There is a doctor, a chaplain, and even a pub.
When was the Tower of London built?
William the Conqueror began building the Tower of London in 1066. The White Tower was built in 1078.
Where is the Tower of London?
The Tower of London is located in central London, England on the banks of the River Thames.
How long is the Tower of London tour?
The Yeoman-led tour takes about 1 hour. The audio guide tour can be taken at your own pace.
What was the Tower of London used for?
The Tower of London has been used as a fortress, a royal palace, a mint, a zoo, the home of the Crown Jewels, a tourist attraction, and more.
How long to spend at Tower of London?
You should plan to spend at least 2-3 hours at the Tower of London. This will allow you to see the highlights. If you plan to tour the castle in-depth, then you might end up spending much of the day here.
For another great castle to visit near London, check out Windsor Castle just a short day trip away in Windsor, England.
More London Resources
- A Self-Guided WWII London Tour: 8 Top WWII Sites in London
- King Arthur Tour from London: Top King Arthur Sites
- 37 Free Things To Do in London
- 2 Days in London: The Perfect Weekend Itinerary
- 10 Incredible Day Trips from London, England
- Getting Engaged in London: A Romantic London Itinerary
Ready to visit the Tower of London in London, England? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in London using Booking.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you visited the Tower of London in London, England? Tell me about your visit in the comments.