Considering the crowds, a visit to the historic Tower of London seems to be a “must do” for anyone visiting London. This building complex which dates back to 1066 has been used as an armoury, the Royal Mint, a dungeon, a menagerie, the home of the Crown Jewels and the site of a number of executions. Amongst the executions are some of the wives of King Henry VIII. Here are my tips for a good visit.
Are you a Tower Hamlets resident?
The entry fee for adults is £33.60. For those lucky enough to live in the borough of Tower Hamlets, you can get into this attraction for a mere £1. Go to the ticket booth with your Ideas Card (i.e. your library card), proof of address and your identification.
Go at opening time.
This is a major tourist attraction for London and is always inundated with visitors. The queue for tickets is long, the queue to get into the complex is long and the queue to see the Crown Jewels is ridiculously long. Get there at or before opening to reduce the wait times. Pre-purchase your tickets online to avoid the ticket office line.
Bee-line for the Crown Jewels.
If you have heeded my tip to go at opening time, make a bee-line upon entry to the Crown Jewels. You might be able to get in at this point without waiting. Dilly-dally and the queue will build and build and build! By midday, the queue can be 2 hours long! It’s quite crazy that the queue is so long considering that a conveyor belt has been installed inside to move tourists past the Crown Jewels at pace to avoid any loitering.
Don’t miss seeing the Crown Jewels. Photos are not allowed so I cannot show you how ostentatious and priceless these pieces are but it is definitely worth looking at. It’s not everyday you see this many precious gemstones of such prodigious sizes!
Go on a Yeoman Warder Tour
The Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower of London since Tudor times. They are also called Beefeaters. These days, to even apply for a job as a Yeoman Warder, you need to have completed at least 22 years of military service and be of good character. There is a Yeoman Warder tour every half hour from 10am. They are very entertaining and informative. It’s always interesting to know where the two princes were buried and where Anne Boleyn was executed!
The other interesting fact about the Yeoman Warders is that they live at the Tower of London with their families. This means that there are children who grow up playing in the grounds of the Tower of London and popping in to see the Crown Jewels after school.
There is quite a lot to see once inside the Tower of London complex, especially if you are a history buff. Plus, it does cost a fair bit to get in. It took me 5 hours to see everything. Pack some water and snacks to keep yourself going so you can enjoy the visit.