This post is about planning a visit to London's Tower Bridge and walking across it.
We include tips on opening and closing times, the Tower Bridge Experience, and lift schedules.
- Plan Your Visit
- How to Get There
- The Tower Experience
- Ticket Discounts
- When Does the Bridge Open?
- Nearby Attractions
- Things to Do in London
- Where to Stay in London
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.
TIP: We have a great view of the Bridge in our City of London Tour.
Second, it is a bridge and you can use it to get across the Thames. It is totally free to walk across the bridge.
You can also time your walk to coincide with the lifting of the drawbridge. Both are top free things to do in London.
Lastly, it's a destination itself. The Tower Bridge Experience (which has a cost) offers the visitor wonderful views of London 42m (130 feet) above the river.
It also offers the opportunity to learn all about the bridge itself and how it works.
Admission is included for free with the purchase of the London Pass as well as the Explorer 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.
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.
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 the River Thames.
Constructed in 1894, Tower Bridge is a suspension bridge and a world heritage site.
It measures 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 on wheels.
It's free to walk across the bridge and to witness its opening and closing, but you will need to buy a ticket for the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
THE TOWER BRIDGE EXPERIENCE
Pedestrian access to the Tower Bridge is available just about any time, but admission to the Tower Bridge Experience will cost extra.
This service allows you to enter the actual bridge itself, see the engines that are used to operate the attraction, and even watch the pedestrians below from glass floors above.
For more details, make sure to read our post covering how to get tickets and what expect from the Tower Bridge Experience.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Although you can visit this popular landmark year-round, it can get pretty crowded during popular seasons.
In particular, several travelers report that the Tower Bridge is especially popular during warm summer days.
In order to avoid long waits and lines, you might want to consider a trip during far less popular times.
Crowds also get pretty large during the middle of the day and during weekends, so either an early morning outing on a weekend or a weekday visit might be your best bet.
Several tourists try their best to visit Tower Bridge when the bridge is lifted for a boat to pass.
As a result, it can get pretty crowded while visiting during this event.
Thankfully, the Tower Bridge Experience has provided an app that will allow you to see what this event looks like even if you visit at the wrong time.
With their Raise Tower Bridge app, you can point your phone at the glass floor and simulate the experience of seeing the bridge lift up underneath.
HOW OFTEN DOES THE BRIDGE OPEN
A good way to enhance your visit to the Tower Bridge is to schedule a visit when the bridge opens to allow a vessel to pass by.
The bridge opens and closes approximately 1000 times per year or 3 times per day.
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.
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 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 or inside the Tower Bridge Experience.
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 passes through maybe early. Be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled raising.
For more tips, check our post about when the Tower Bridge lifts.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE OR AFTER YOUR VISIT
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. Of course, do check out our post on top things to do in London.
Consider taking our free City of London Tour or our All-in-One Tour, which both end at the Tower of London, near the entrance to the bridge.
The Tower Bridge is also 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.