Jack the Ripper, the plague, torture and executions… London’s had its fair share of turbulent times. And nowhere brings the capital’s horrible history to life in more grisly detail than The London Dungeon. Although it’s just a tourist attraction and not an actual dungeon, you’ll find a trip here is both educational and entertaining - like a museum with no boring bits. Forget sitting down, you’ll be on your feet for pretty much all of this 110-minute walkthrough, which uses actors, special effects, amazing sets and interactive shows to make history vividly real. Even the smells of the time have been recreated in full, stinky detail. Combine all this with two heart-stopping rides and you get one educational attraction the kids will actually be glad to leave your London hotel for!
The London Dungeon is very popular and if you don’t buy tickets in advance, you’ll probably have to queue. It’s far better to book tickets in advance, and if you do you’ll get a 30% discount on the door price. If you have braved the queue, you won’t have much sitting-down time once inside - you’ll be stood up or walking for most of the 110-minutes.
The London Dungeon opens every day except Christmas Day. It opens on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 10am to 4pm, on Thursday from 11am to 5pm and on Friday from 10am to 4pm. At the weekends, the attraction opens at 10am and closes at 6pm.
There’s no gift shop, and toilets are only available at the start and end of the tour. Eating and drinking are not allowed on the tour, but your ticket does include a drink at The Tavern. Choose from beer, a gin cocktail or a traditional lemonade.
The London Dungeon is quite scary, so not recommended for children under 12 (or wimpy adults). The Drop Dead ride has a height restriction of 1.4m and is not recommended for people with back problems or heart conditions.
There is step-free access to the entrance, but you’ll have to ask a member of staff to escort you. Once inside, there are lifts and level pathways, but some uneven floors which can move as part of the show, so apply your brake whenever you’re stationary!
Things to see
Are you brave enough to face 110 minutes of London’s darkest past? Because when we say dark, we mean dark - lots of areas are virtually pitch black, a trick that will play havoc with your mind and increases the sense that something’s just round the corner, ready to jump out at you. But no matter how much you prepare yourself, there will be some horrible surprises as you wander through Whitechapel slums, plague-ravaged houses and horrible torture chambers. There are 19 themed rooms, plus two thrilling underground rides and they’re all included in your ticket. Here’s our pick of the highlights.
The Tyrant Boat Ride
Feel the wrath of Henry VIII (played by a 3D projection of Brian Blessed in full, booming voice) as you join Anne Boleyn on her last ride up the Thames to be executed. The fog, darkness and choppy waters are disorientating, and you will get wet.
Guy Fawkes - The Gunpowder Plot
History at its most explosive! Take a trip underneath the Houses of Parliament to find out what really went on that night on November 5th, 1605. Just try not to look at the fuse next to all the gunpowder… hmmm, wonder what might happen next?
Jack The Ripper
Walk into the Ten Bells pub where Jack the Ripper's victims once drank and let the landlady tell you the story of London’s most famous serial killer. Warning: this could be the night he strikes again so hold on tight to someone’s hand when the lights go out!
Drop Dead ride
Your heart (and stomach) will be in your mouth on this terrifying vertical drop ride into total darkness.The final part of the attraction takes you to Newgate Prison in 1783 where long drop hanging is used for the first time to execute people. Not for the fainthearted!
Eating and Drinking
If the spooky Tavern pub has left you thirsty (and hungry) for more, where are the best places to go to eat and drink? You’re in luck, because Southbank has lots of family-friendly options with Giraffe, Wahaca and Las Iguanas all a stroll away at the Southbank Centre.
If it’s a quick bite you’re after, try the Great British Fish and Chips restaurant - it couldn’t be much closer to the London Dungeon as it’s also in the County Hall building. It’s packed full of tourists eager to try some traditional British cuisine, but service is fast so you won’t have to wait long. Either sit inside for great riverside views, or take your fried delights away to enjoy them outdoors while you savour the full Southbank experience.
Getting to the London Dungeon
You’ll find The London Dungeon right next to the SEA LIFE Aquarium in the County Hall building on Southbank. We’ve listed the main ways to get there below, but to save yourself the schlep across London, rest assured that there are Premier Inn hotels near Southbank just waiting to get your city break off to the best start.
If you’re driving, you’ll need the postcode SE1 7PB for your satnav. There’s no car park at the attraction, but the Q-Park Westminster is close by and offers discounts for ticket holders if booked in advance.
All the London sightseeing buses pick up and drop off at Southbank. It’s also served by lots of local buses. Choose any bus that stops at Waterloo or Westminster Bridge Road for easy access to County Hall.
The London Dungeon is a five-minute walk from Waterloo Tube station, which is on the Northern, Jubilee and Bakerloo Lines. London Waterloo mainline station is also just a five-minute walk away.
By river boat
Why not arrive in style by taking a river bus to The London Dungeon? Operated by MBNA Thames Clipper, there’s a stop almost at the attraction’s doorstep - you just get off at the London Eye Pier.