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If you are spending time in London, one of the things you want to make sure that you give yourself time for is the Tower of London. This medieval fortress has a rich history and you will be able to see things you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Wondering what you’ll see on a day trip to the Tower of London?
10 Things to See on a Day Trip to the Tower of London
- Beefeaters. The original duty of Beefeaters was to serve as the Tower guard. You will see Beefeaters while you are the Tower of London and they are not hard to miss with their formal outfits and tall hats. These days they are the Tower tour guides! There are FREE tours that begin every 30 minutes. It is a great way to hear facts about the Tower of London while also being entertained with some wit and cheekiness. There is also a Ceremony of the Keys each evening where the Chief Warder presents the keys of the Tower to the Resident Governor.
- The White Tower. Built by William the Conquerer, the tower was eventually painted white. Inside the enormous tower, you will find exhibits on the rather cruel history of the Tower of London. Along with with the execution tools, you will also find the Royal Armoury. There is a substantial collection of Royal armour, including those of Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.
- The Crown Jewels. You will need to queue up for this exhibit and it can be long. Be aware that there is no photography here. Inside you will find the Scepter and Orb, St Edward’s Crown, the Imperial State Crown made for the coronation of Queen Victoria, among other crowns and jeweled pieces.
- The Ravens. If you didn’t know before you arrived, you will learn that there is a steep history of Ravens at The Tower of London. During the time of King Charles II, it was forewarned that if the ravens left, the White Tower would fall and a great disaster would befall the kingdom. Thus, the ravens wings were clipped to keep them from leaving.
- Medieval Palace. While the Tower of London was a fortress, it was also a royal residence. Constructed by Henry III and his son Edward I, you will find the King’s bedroom and throne room in the St. Thomas Tower, the Wakefield Tower and the Lanthorn Tower.
- Traitor’s Gate. This is the famous entrance to the Tower for those brought to the Tower of London by the River Thames. Anne Boleyn, amongst others, would have been taken through this gate on her way to her stay in the Tower prior to her execution.
- The Bloody Tower. This tower is so named for being where 13 year old future King Edward V and his younger brother were murdered so that their uncle King Richard could usurp the throne. This is also where Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned for 13 years by King James. His cell remains as it did while he lived there and contains the first volume of History of the World that he penned while here.
- Tower Beasts. For nearly 600 years, the Tower has a menagerie of animals that were gifts from other dignitaries. Not just your typical cats and dogs, there were lions, elephants, grizzly bear, kangaroos, and even a polar bear. While gone today, you will find markers explaining facts about the animals that once were kept here.
- Tower Green. This green space was where men would have practiced jousting or just enjoyed some peace & quiet, that is unless there was an execution. While the actual block and ax are in the White Tower, they were once here at Tower Green. Amongst those executed on or near the site are the three Queens of England: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey.
- Wall Walk. Your day trip to the Tower of London isn’t complete without walking the walls of the fortress. There is no better view than from above. Not only can you appreciate the expansiveness of the fortress, you have beautiful views of the Tower Bridge.
What else you need to know about a day trip to the Tower of London
- Buy your tickets before you go. If you have purchased The London Pass (and I think you should) you will get entry for free. Otherwise you should purchase your tickets to the Tower of London before you arrive.
- Give yourself 2-3 hours to explore the Tower of London and exhibits thoroughly. Be aware that this is a popular place for school field trips. If you stumble upon them while in confined spaces like the White Tower, allow them to pass through before you try to walk the exhibition. I’d recommend going to see the Crown Jewels first thing and then heading to the White Tower.
- There is a lot of walking here. Be prepared for unleveled walkways, stone paths and stairs.
- Bring your lunch & you can picnic on the grounds. Otherwise, there is a cafe.
- Travelling with kids? Download the free Time Explorers app where they’ll have access to fun quizzes, activities, facts and illustrations. We also found that our kids loved this book about London.
Have you made a day trip to the Tower of London? What was your favorite part?