Visiting London Tower Bridge
If you mistake it for London Bridge, don’t beat yourself up, because you are not alone. London Bridge is actually a comparatively underwhelming structure slightly up up the River Thames. The Victorian London Tower Bridge, along with Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, is an unmistakable icon of London, seen on many a postcard sold in shops nationwide. Constructed in 1894, Tower Bridge is a suspension bridge and a world heritage site measuring 244m (801 feet) long and 65m (264 feet) high and provides a roadway across the Thames for over 40,000 people both on foot and wheels. It’s free to walk across the bridge and to witness it’s opening and closing, but you will need to buy a ticket for the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Admission is included for free with the purchase of the London Pass.
How to Get to London Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge is located on the Thames River between the City of London and Southwark nearby the Tower of London, London Bridge, Monument and City Hall. You could reach Tower Bridge via the London Underground stations of Tower Hill, Monument and London Bridge. We recommend using this Google map for directions to Tower Bridge.
Planning a Visit to The Tower Bridge
There are several things to do when visiting Tower Bridge. First and foremost, it’s a beautiful bridge that is just begging for your camera to capture it day and night. It’s instantly obvious why it’s a great seller for postcards. Second, it is a bridge and you can use it to get across the Thames. Lastly, it’s a destination itself. The Tower Bridge Experience offers the visitor wonderful views of London 42m (130 feet) above the river as well as the opportunity to learn all about the bridge itself and how it works. The Exhibition also includes photos of over 20 great bridges of the world.
How much does it cost to visit Tower Bridge?
There is no cost to cross the bridge on the roadway. The road is public. However, you need to pay to enter the Tower Experience. The cost (at the time of writing) is £8 for adults, £3.40 for children (5-15) and £5.60 for students. Admission is included for free with the purchase of the London Pass. There are discounts for entry available. National Express coach service, National Rail and the London travel cards all offer 2 for 1 entry, when you purchase certain bus or rail passes. Read our blog post on the 2 for 1 offers. Vouchers are also available for 20% discounts for up to six people. You can obtain the vouchers at smartsave.com.
Which Tube stations are nearest to the bridge?
The closest Tube station is Tower Hill, which is serviced by both the Circle and District lines and just a few minutes walk around the Tower of London to Tower Bridge. London Bridge Tube station, which is serviced by both the Jubilee and Northern lines and is approximately a 12 minute walk to the foot of the bridge.
How often does the Tower Bridge open?
A good way to enhance you visit to the Tower Bridge is to schedule a visit when the bridge opens to allow a vessel to pass by. The scheduled lift times are posted on the Tower Bridge website. Ships have up to 24 hours before passing to notify bridge authorities that they will be passing through, so the schedule can change often. The bridge opens and closes approximately 1000 times per year or 3 times per day. The best place to view the lifting of the bridge is from the riverbanks, but it’s also possible to view it up close on the bridge itself. It takes approximately 1 min to open and 1 min to close plus the time it takes a vessel to pass through. They say it is good luck to see the bridge open because it’s not a regular occurrence.
Tip 1: If you plan to take photos, consider the time of day that the bridge opens and closes, so that you can be sure to be on the best side for light.
Tip 2: The bridge doesn’t always open at the posted time, as the vessel passing through may be early. Be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled raising.
What to do before or after visiting the London Tower Bridge?
The most obvious things to do before or after are to visit the Tower of London, the HMS Belfast or to head to the top of the Shard. However, there are some other options. Consider taking our free City of London Tour or our All-in-One Tour, which both end at the Tower of London, near the entry to the bridge. The Tower Bridge is a great place to start a free self-guided bus tour of London. The route from the Tower Bridge will take you through Southwark to Covent Garden, where you could transfer and continue your voyage into Westminster. Why not stop at the Mayflower Pub, especially interesting for Americans, as it stands near the landing point where the Pilgrims embarked for the New World. If you are visiting during a weekday, you could also stop in and visit City Hall.