Tower Bridge

Things to do in London | Tower Bridge

A London landmark so synonymous with the capital, visiting this famous bridge is a must do on your trip. Not only will you marvel at the incredible architecture as you look up at it over the Thames, finding out how the bridge itself works and how it was made during the Tower Bridge Exhibition will blow you mind even more. Joining the towers are the now glass walkways and windows that provide you with stunning panoramic views across the city. Under your feet, all that separates you and the River Thames is more of the same glass so looking down is not for the faint-hearted! If the dizzy heights of the bridge all get a bit too much, head over to our Tower Bridge Premier Inn hotel just a few minutes walk away and rest up.

It all came about when a bridge was needed downstream from London Bridge, one that wouldn’t disrupt the river flow. To get creative juices flowing, a competition was created by the ‘Special Bridge or Subway Committee’ to the public to find a new and innovative design. In 1884, one of the city’s architects Horace Jones came up with this new invention and the wheels became in motion to get building. Taking eight years to build, this new bascule bridge (meaning see-saw in French) was the largest of its kind and steam power was used to operate the pumping hydraulic engines. Once enough energy was created, the two sides could be lifted, taking just under 90 seconds to reach their full 85 degree angles. Over the years, the famous bridge, apart from being the backdrop to famous films, posters and the like, it was once painted red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. And of course took centre stage during the London 2012 Olympics when the Olympic rings were suspended from the bridge and fireworks lit up the bridge in the most spectacularly British fashion.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge


Top tip

You might be surprised to know that Tower Bridge does actually still open (850 times a year to be exact!) so it’s worth timing your visit to see it do it’s business. They usually happen quite early in the morning, around 7-8am, so bear that in mind when you’re planning your trip.


Essential information

All of the Tower Bridge Exhibition is accessible with lifts, access doors and accessible toilets in both the towers, exhibition room and steam engine room. Ticket prices for adults cost £9, with a child’s ticket costing £3.90 but these may be subject to change so keep an eye on the website.


Things to do

Regardless if you want to admire this iconic bridge up close or just say you’ve walked across it, you can do either of these things quite easily. But, doing the Tower Bridge Exhibition is highly recommended for a memorable experience on the bridge, towers and walkway as a whole package - we promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Tour
You will soon realise that this was and is more than just a bridge. Explore the amazing structure of the bridge itself and how it was created before walking the bridge walkways made of glass. Yes, glass! Being 45 metres up from the River Thames, you can enjoy not only panoramic views of the city skyline but a unique view from above as you watch life go by under your feet.

The Exhibition and Steam Engine Room
At the end of the bridge and the north and south towers, and by way of the old Victorian staircases, here you can delve into the history of the bridge. Interactive displays, photos and videos take you all the way back to the 19th century. A visit to the Victorian Engine Room is a must where you’ll discover the old steam engines and accumulators that were once used to raise the bridge. A true hidden gem, the space is also often used as an exhibition space.


Nearby

After you’ve made it back down to ground level, you’ll find there are so many other places nearby to tick off.

The Shard

Not hard to miss, especially from the top of the bridge, The Shard is a 95-storey tall skyscraper with a unique shape that literally resembles a shard of glass. Just a 10 minute walk away, offices, bars, restaurants, homes and even a hotel reside inside The Shard’s walls and it has the accolade of being called the tallest building in the UK. If you can’t get your hands on a dinner reservation at one of the luxurious restaurants, don’t worry, it’s the views from the top of this knockout building that makes the experience. Buy a ticket to get unparalleled 360-degree views across the city for 40 miles wide.

The Tower of London
A trip to the Tower of London will be right up your street if you’re intrigued to know more about the capital’s gory history. This Norman architectural masterpiece on the Thames has had previous lives as a palace, an armoury, a Royal Mint, a zoo - and a vault for the Crown Jewels - a role it still plays today.  With Beefeaters acting as official tour guides and wandering actors recreating famous events, history is brought to life in a way that is educational and entertaining. Just pop over the bridge and you’re there.

The Globe
If there’s one theatre you have to visit on your trip to London, it’s Shakespeare’s Globe. Located on Bankside, the Soho of Elizabethan times, this was the place many of the famous writer’s plays were performed and still are to this day, every single day. An open-air playhouse dating back to 1599, it’s the distinctive thatched design takes you back in time. Take the exhibition to find out all about the iconic man himself, be told stories of the raucous going ons during the Elizabethan era and of course, how the theatre has been reconstructed to create the most stunning replica. Oh, and don’t forget to watch a play from Hamlet to Macbeth to Othello - you might even spot a star!


Getting to Tower Bridge

Even if you feel like you might be lost, look up and you’ll probably see the most iconic bridge in history in amongst the area of lots of other famous sights - so just head in that direction! For the more organised, there are tube stations, buses and the riverboat to get you in the right direction.

By bus
Buses 15, 42, 78,100 and RV1 will all take you to Tower Bridge and you’ll be sure to see lots of other London sights along the way.

By tube
You’ll find Tower Hill station on both the District and Circle lines. When you exit the station, you’ll come out at the north side of the bridge. Alternatively, London Bridge station on the Northern and Jubilee line will bring you out to the south of the bridge and from here just a short walk away.

By train
If you’re coming in by train, head to London Bridge or Fenchurch Street, all just a few steps away from the iconic bridge itself. DLR station Tower Gateway is also a few 100 metres away so whether you’re coming from further out east or centrally from Bank, you’ll get to the bridge in no time.

By riverboat
Riverboat anchors drop at St Katherine’s Pier and Tower Pier on the north bank and then at London Bridge Pier on the south bank. After you disembark, you’re just a short walk from the bridge.


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