Make your own way to the Tower of London on the banks of the Thames River. With your entrance ticket, skip the long lines at the main ticket office, and head through the group entrance and security into this imposing palace-fortress.
Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, the Tower has a dark 1,000-year history as a royal palace, prison and execution place, as well as a royal mint and armoury. Today, it still stores the British monarch’s Crown Jewels, just as it has done since 1303.
Once inside, explore independently or choose to take an optional audio-guided tour (own expense) or complimentary tour led by a Yeoman Warder or ‘Beefeater’, one of the ceremonial guards. The 1-hour Yeoman-led tours leave from inside the entrance every 30 minutes until the mid-afternoon, and offer a compelling insight into the tower’s history and sites.
See the brooding ravens as you walk around and be swept up by the grim but fascinating stories of the turrets, chambers and buildings around you. Visit the main, White Tower, to see its Royal Armouries exhibits, and enter the Bloody Tower, reputed to be where the ‘Princes in the Tower’ were murdered by an unknown hand in around 1483.
See Traitors’ Gate, through which the arrested Anne Boleyn was brought by boat from the Thames River. Then, walk to Tower Green where she was beheaded in 1536 on the orders of Henry VII, and where a string of monarchs and traitors also met a grisly end.
Step back to Tudor times at the Medieval Palace, where recreated medieval interiors detail comfortable lifestyles of Tudor monarchs such as Henry VIII, and stretch your legs with a Wall Walk, strolling along the massive encircling walls to discover more sites.
Lastly, don’t miss the Crown Jewels, the royal regalia and gems that symbolize the British monarchy. Join the separate queue to gaze at these sparkling exhibits, including St Edward’s Crown, used at coronations since 1661, and the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond, the 105.6-carat diamond given to Queen Victoria in 1849.
Having explored as much as you wish, take your leave and make your own way back home or to your hotel.
Royal Palaces Pass Upgrade
Want to uncover more of London’s fascinating royal history? Then, upgrade to a Royal Palaces Pass that gives you a priority entrance ticket to the Tower of London together with admission to London’s Hampton Court Palace and gardens, and Kensington Palace, the former royal home of Queen Victoria and Princess Diana.
Your Royal Palaces Pass entitles you to one visit to each of the three attractions and is valid for two years, so you’ll have plenty of freedom to experience each site and discover its enthralling past at your leisure.