With its Gothic towers and central bascule flanked by dramatic suspension bridges, Tower Bridge is both a remarkable feat of engineering and one of London’s most instantly recognizable landmarks. The famous bridge is a popular subject of London postcards, leading many to mistake it for London Bridge, which is actually the next one upstream.
Whether taking a city walking tour, admiring the bridge from a River Thames cruise, or driving across the bridge on a hop-on hop-off city tour, a tour of London’s historic sights isn’t complete without a stop at Tower Bridge. A popular choice is to cross the bridge on a walking tour, perhaps including a visit to the Tower of London (which stands at the northern end of the bridge) or continuing along the Thames riverfront past landmarks such as Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the London Eye.
If you want to learn more about the 19th-century bridge and take in the views from the high walkways, visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition, housed in the bridge’s northwest tower. Entrance to the exhibition is free for London Pass holders, and combination tickets are available for the exhibition and the Monument—a tribute to the Great Fire of London.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tower Bridge is a must for architecture and engineering aficionados, and all first-time visitors to London.
- While you can walk, cycle, or drive across the bridge, the most spectacular views are from the top walkways—part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
- River traffic takes priority over road traffic, and vehicles and pedestrians have to wait when a boat wants to come through.
- The bridge is accessible to wheelchair users and strollers.
How to Get to There
Tower Bridge is the easternmost of central London’s main bridges. Entrance to the Tower Bridge Exhibition is from the Tower of London (north) side of the river. The closest Tube stations are Tower Hill (District and Circle lines) on the north side and London Bridge (Northern and Jubilee lines) on the south side. Riverboats stop at Tower Pier on the north bank and London Bridge City Pier on the south bank.
When to Get There
It’s almost impossible to avoid crowds along Tower Bridge, especially in peak season (July and August), but opting for an early morning or late evening stroll across the bridge offers the best chance. If you’re hoping to capture a dramatic photograph of the bridge, arrive in time for sunrise, when the lighting is perfect and the crowds are thin. If possible, time your arrival to coincide with the opening of the bascule bridge; times are listed on the Tower Bridge website.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition
At the Tower Bridge Exhibition, you can discover the tower’s fascinating history, peek into the Victorian engine rooms, and learn about its complex mechanics while watching a virtual bridge lift. The highlight is the chance to walk the 138-foot-high (42-meter) walkways at the very top of the towers. The East Walkway offers great views along the River Thames, including the HMS Belfast and London Bridge, while the Glass Walkway lets you look down through a glass floor to the cars and pedestrians on the bridge below. Guided tours also offer behind-the-scenes access to areas including the bridge control room, the machinery room, and the bascule chambers.