Though often confused with its grandiose neighbor Tower Bridge, London Bridge is, in reality, more functional than fancy. It does, however, have a long history, with its first iteration having been erected by the Romans way back in AD 50. No visible trace remains of the original bridge, nor of the handful of structures that replaced it, including the one that became the subject of that famous nursery rhyme. Though the current 1970s-built concrete version is not quite as eye-catching, the views it offers of Tower Bridge are hard to top.
Many visitors to the British capital see the bridge during London tours, whether on a guided evening cycling excursion, a cruise down the River Thames, or while traveling via hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. Some travelers also traverse the famous bridge on a walking tour or on their way to the London Bridge Experience and the London Tombs. The London Bridge Experience, situated within the still-standing vaults of the old 19th-century bridge, brings visitors on an interactive tour through time, with costumed actors enacting episodes from the bridge’s two-millennia-long history, while the London Tombs takes travelers to a former plague pit to relive some gruesome incidents from centuries past.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring a camera to take photos of Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the Shard, the HMS Belfast, and the City of London, all of which are visible from London Bridge.
- Visit at night to see the shimmering lights of London reflected on the Thames River.
- Bring raingear to protect yourself from London’s frequent downpours.
How to Get There
London Bridge is well-connected. Take the tube to Monument station (via the District or Circle line) at the north end of the bridge or to London Bridge station (via the Northern or Jubilee line) at the south end. London Bridge also serves as a rail station, with routes running across greater London and beyond.
When to Get There
Avoid visiting during the morning and evening rush hours, when commuting city workers crowd the sidewalks. Mid-mornings and mid-afternoons are quieter.
The Sale of London Bridge
Perhaps the most famous story associated with this icon is one of mistaken identity. In the 1960s, the rapidly deteriorating 1831-built London Bridge was purchased for a tidy sum by American businessman Robert P. McCulloch, who—according to rumor—believed he had purchased the much more magnificent Tower Bridge. Either way, McCulloch had the last laugh, relocating the 19th-century bridge to Arizona’s Lake Havasu, where it’s now a major tourist draw.