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Inside the Tower of London

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The Tower of London is one of the world’s most visited attractions and is a must-see for anybody visiting London. 

When going to the Tower of London, there are a few different options on how to tour the building complex.

This post is a walkthrough of what you will see as well as a review of guided tours that you can take.

What follows is our guide to guided tours at the Tower of London.


Visiting the Tower - What Will You See?

The Tower of London is not just one tower, but a huge complex of towers, turrets, walls and buildings, all constructed over the last 1,000 years.

Once you’ve bought your ticket, you are free to roam the grounds.

The route we have laid out below follows our virtual tour of the Tower of London (see above).

Here is the route.

Route inside of the Tower of London

You’ll enter through what’s known as the Middle Tower, seen here on the right.

You’ll walk over the now filled in moat, into the complex itself.

You’ll then be near Mint Street, previously the site of the Royal Mint and now home to a number of Yeomen Warders and their families. 

There’s a small museum here detailing the history of the mint, as well as the harsh working conditions inside.

Then, around the corner you will find the infamous Traitor’s Gate.

Unlucky prisoners were sent to the Tower of London via the river, and this gate opened directly onto the water. 

Here is where many famous figures entered the tower, like Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Queen Elizabeth I. 

Of course many of the souls brought through ehre would never leave the Tower again…

A staircase to the side of the gate leads to a set of royal apartments.

These rooms were once part of the Mediaeval palace that was built into the Tower. 

First laid out by King Edward I in the 1270’s, the rooms feature an accurate recreation of a royal bed, fireplace, and private chapel.

Just a few steps away from this bedroom lies another royal chamber featuring a gilded throne and the royal family crest of the Plantagenets above the fireplace. 

This room was also reportedly the site of the murder of King Henry VI…

From these rooms, a one-way system leads guests up onto the battlements.

Walking along these walls of the Tower provides some magnificent views over the Thames and Tower Bridge.

From up here, there’s also a view onto Tower Green where the famous ravens of the Tower reside.

The Battlements lead to Lanthorn Tower, where a number of preserved medieval artefacts relating to life at the Tower are on display.

You’ll find things such as a chalice, wax stamps, and pottery.

The Battlements lead to Lanthorn Tower

The path then moves toward the Salt Tower, guarded by a Yeomen Warder made out of Iron. 

At one time, this tower was a prison, and the (often surprisingly detailed) carvings made by these doomed prisoners can still be seen scratched into the walls.

Carvings from prisoners inside the Tower of London

From here, the route returns to the Battlements.

But, this time they are displayed as they would be in times of warfare or siege - wooden ramparts with rooves structured here to defend the fortress and protect the soldiers inside.

This eastern part of the Tower also features a number of interesting animal sculptures.

For centuries there was a menagerie inside the Tower of London and guests would come here to see exotic creatures. 

This eastern part of the Tower also features a number of interesting animal sculptures.

It wasn’t until the 1800’s that London Zoo was established and the animals here were moved to Regent’s Park.

The building high up on the right of this photo was once part of the menagerie.

Further along the wall, there is access to the Bowyer Tower, Flint Tower and Deverux Towers.

These Towers all feature changing exhibition spaces, like miniature museums.

the front ‘garden’ of a Yeoman Warder

The wall walk runs East to West, and gives an excellent view of the Victorian Waterloo Block, built to house hundreds of soldiers, but today an administrative centre and home of the Crown Jewels.

Walking behind Waterloo Block also offers a sneak peek into the front ‘garden’ of a Yeoman Warder, housed behind the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

The chapel (still a working church) itself is the burial site of two English Queens: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

Although the exact location of their bodies is not known, there are memorial plaques to them located near the altar. 

A gold sign to the right of the doorway gives a (rather long) list of those interred inside.

The Chapel of St. Peter and Vincula

The Chapel of St. Peter and Vincula sits just on the edge of Tower Green.

The tudor buildings that surround the Green, to the right in this photo, are known as the Queen’s House. 

tudor buildings that surround the Green

This is lodging for Queen Elizabeth II - were she ever to stay!

These were built on top of the rooms where Anne Boleyn was kept during her time at the Tower.

Adjacent to the green is the stunning monument to those who were executed at the Tower of London.

A delicate glass cushion, representing the final resting place of many heads… separated from their bodies!

Also on the edge of Tower Green sits the Beauchamp Tower. 

This is another Tower that was used to hold prisoners, and still displays the carvings they left behind, like the one here that says ‘Jane.’ 

This is believed to have been carved by Robert Dudley, husband of the so-called ‘Seven Days Queen’ Jane Grey.

The Waterloo Block, seen early from the wall walk, is accessible from this area.

It is inside this building that the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom are held. 

The Crown Jewels have been on display inside the Tower of London for centuries. 

In fact, in the late 17th century, a man named ‘Colonel’ Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels.

And her nearly made it out of the Tower before he was caught!

The Crown Jewels Exhibit

Adjacent to the Waterloo Block sits the Fusilier Museum.

This museum details the story of the British infantry regiment that was first raised here in 1685 and is still based inside the Tower.

Fusilier Museum

Perhaps the most famous part of the Tower Complex, the White Tower, sits just opposite the Waterloo Block and Fusiliers Museum. 

This is the oldest part of the Tower, having been constructed in 1071 by William the Conquerer.

The White Tower

He had recently invaded England and, having decided London would be his main base, set to work building a castle on the edge of the River Thames.

It was intended as a status symbol and sign to Londoners - and those approaching the city from the river - that their new king was here to stay.

The White Tower is home to a branch of the Royal Armouries, displaying armour, swords, guns, plate, canon, and all manner of protective gear and weaponry.

Royal Armouries

One of the highlights are three suits of armour belonging to King Henry VIII, one of which still has his initials intwined with those of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon.

Before the medieval palace rooms were built, the king would have based himself in the White Tower and there are two remnants of this still to be viewed. 

Firstly, the Norman fireplace, dating from the 11th century and still showing the blackening of the stone from the countless fires that blazed here.

Norman Fireplace

Secondly, is the stunning St. John’s Chapel.

This would have been the private chapel for the King and his family, while everybody else would have attended St. Peter ad Vincula.

On the top floor of the White Tower, keeping watch over all the treasures that lay inside sits Keeper.

A fire-breathing dragon built entirely out of arms and armour!

Near the exit of the Tower of London lies the Bloody Tower.

Perhaps the tower with the most famous name, the Bloody Tower today holds an exhibition relating to torture carried out at the Tower of London. 

Bloody Tower

It is worth noting, however, that a lot of torture - including that of Guy Fawkes, supposed leader of the Gunpowder Plot - was carried out in the basements of the White Tower. 

Guy Fawkes Signature Inside the Tower of London

Evidence of the success of this torture can be seen in the signatures of Guy Fawkes.

The Bloody Tower currently holds a few recreations of torture devices.

The Rack

These include the rack, used to stretch the body until every bone was released from its socket.

Also on display are manacles, used to hang prisoners by their arms, causing difficulties breathing and permanently destroying the use of their limbs.

When you leave the Tower of London, you exit over a drawbridge back out onto the edge of the River Thames, in the shadows of Tower Bridge.

It’s easy enough to do all of this on your own.

There are information panels throughout the Tower complex and all the exhibitions are well designed. 

However, if you’re like us, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about the Tower of London while you’re there.

To enhance your experience at the Tower, it’s worth considering taking a tour.

Read on to find out some of the options you’ll have…


Early Bird Tours

If you want to get inside the Tower of London before everybody else, consider taking an early bird tour.

These tours are provided by licensed tour companies with expert guides.

Visitors are allowed to enter this historic landmark before the gates officially open and experience one of the most popular sites in London before it gets busy.

You’ll skip the lines and be escorted inside to watch the Opening Ceremony, when the Yeomen Warders (Beefeaters) official open the Tower for the day.

Then, your guide will take you straight to the Jewel House to see the Crown Jewels before the crowds arrive. You’ll then be taken on a tour of the rest of the Tower complex.

NOTE: The ONLY way to see the Opening Ceremony is with a tour group.

Get Your Guide offers the early bird tour, as well as an early bird tour followed by a River Thames cruise and tour of Royal Westminster!

Early Bird Tour

  • Tickets: Adults - £69.00 / Children - £64.00
  • Duration: 2 Hours 45 Minutes
  • Book HERE

Early Bird Tour with Thames Cruise and Royal Westminster Tour

  • Tickets: Adults - £79 / Children - £74.00
  • Duration: 4 Hours
  • Book HERE

Audio Guide

As soon as you enter the Tower of London, you will have the opportunity to purchase an Audio Guide Tour.

The Audio Tour includes a 2 hour Highlights Tour, in multiple languages, as well as multiple additional tours you can take:

Imprisonment and Execution - Hear stories about prisoners like Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes

The Medieval Palace - Explore the medieval palace rooms and learn how royalty lived at the Tower.

The Crown Jewels - Discover the history and usage of these famous gems

The Tower’s Beginnings - Detailing the origins of the White Tower and the London of William the Conquerer 

Life at the Tower - Hear the Beefeaters talk about what it’s like to work and live inside the Tower of London

Family Tour - A tour for children led by two young ghosts! The route and timing of this tour corresponds to the Highlights Tour so families can tour together (only available in English)

Alternative Tales from the Tower - Poetry, stories and interviews relating to the Tower’s past and present (only available in English)


Languages:

  • English 
  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Chinese Mandarin
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Ukranian

Prices:

  • Adult - £5.00
  • Concessions - £4.00
  • Child - £4.00
  • Family (2 Adults and Up to 3 Children) - £14.00

Beefeater Tours

This one is a freebie! Starting from just inside the Tower entrance, the Yeomen Warders will take you on a fantastic tour of the Tower complex.

These tours are jam packed with not only the history of the Tower but intriguing tales of imprisonment and torture, ghostly happenings, and behind the scenes secrets.

You’re always guaranteed at least one laugh and you’ll definitely learn a lot and best of all, they are entirely FREE with your entry ticket.

When: These tours depart either every 30 minutes, or hourly, season dependent (tours may be cancelled in poor weather conditions) 

Note that these tours are not always suitable for young children!


Ticket Prices

  • Adult - £29.90
  • Child (5 - 15) - £14.90
  • Concession - £24.00
  • Children Under 15 - FREE
  • Family Ticket - £52.20 for one adult and up to three kids 
  • Family Ticket - £82.10 for two adults and up to three kids

Opening Hours

Note that the Tower of London is a working building.

Occasional changes to opening times and even full closures can occur so always check before you go.

Summer - 1st March to 31st October

  • Tuesday to Saturday: 9:00 - 17:30
  • Sunday and Monday: 10:00 - 17:30
  • Last Admission: 17:00

Winter - 1st November to 28th February

  • Tuesday to Saturday: 9:00 - 16:30
  • Sunday and Monday: 10:00 - 16:30
  • Last Admission: 16:00

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: January 25th, 2023
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