From medieval torture to grim executions and infamous royal prisoners, the Tower of London has long found itself at the center of the city's dark history. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, the historic castle has served as a Royal Menagerie, Her Majesty's prison, an execution site, a royal observatory, a Royal Mint, and a military storehouse over the course of its existence.
Today, the tower famously displays the Crown Jewels (which include the Imperial State Crown) and holds centuries of history within its walls, drawing travelers from near and far. It remains guarded by members of the Royal Bodyguards, known as Beefeaters. Visitors can admire the Royal Armouries in the White Tower, walk along the battlements, and see where Anne Boleyn was executed by order of Henry VIII. The popular Torture at the Tower exhibit, the Coins and Kings exhibit at the Royal Mint, the Fusilier Museum, and the Line of Kings all shed light on the tower's history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is an incredibly popular London attraction, so it's recommended that you buy your ticket or book your tour in advance.
- Choose an early-access tour to beat the crowds, or combine your trip with visits to other top London sites.
- Special events, medieval reenactments, and family activities are held at the tower throughout the year.
How to Get to the Tower of London
The tower is located at the north end of the Tower Bridge on London's Thames River waterfront. The closest tube station is Tower Hill via the Circle and District lines.
When to Get There
The tower is open March to October from 9am to 5:30pm (Sunday and Monday from 10am) and November to February from 9am to 4:30pm (Sunday and Monday from 10am). Due to its popularity, queues can get long, especially in the afternoon—visiting first thing in the morning is your best bet to avoid crowds.
Unlocking the Tower's Secrets
The tower's wildly entertaining Beefeaters, or Yeoman Warders, share stories and secrets on the widely recommended Beefeater tour. Learn fun facts such as how six ravens are kept at the Tower of London at all times, and how legend has it that if they ever leave, the tower will fall. There's even a "raven master" tasked with looking after them and a seventh raven on hand just in case. Tours begin every 30 minutes.