Find out all about about visiting Tower Bridge in London, as well as recommendations for other great places to visit with a National Lottery Days Out voucher.
Despite being a Londoner, it’s taken me a while to get to all of the city’s major attractions. I spent my early twenties as a London tour guide, sharing the history of some of the capital’s most famous sites. Yet, I didn’t go inside many of them! In fact, I was 28 years old when I first stepped foot inside the Tower of London. Shockingly I still haven’t ventured inside St Paul’s Cathedral, despite looking up at its beautiful dome hundreds of times.
Then there’s Tower Bridge – London’s prettiest and most famous river crossing. I’ve walked over it hundreds of times, taken numerous snaps of it on sunny days, wintery days, snowy days, at sunset and even seen its bascules open for tall ships. But have I ever visited Tower Bridge’s walkways or stepped inside the Victorian engine rooms? No… well not until now!
I’ll tell you one thing… it was definitely worth the wait!
Every time I see Tower Bridge, I can’t quite believe how amazing it is. It really does look like something from a fairy-tale. I love how it’s always a hive of activity too, as tourists snap selfies by it, double decker buses cross over it, while passenger boats zoom under it.
National Lottery Days Out
There’s a great way to visit attractions such as Tower Bridge right now. Just purchase a National Lottery Lotto ticket and you’ll get the chance to claim £25 off hundreds of top days out across the UK. You can find out all about the amazing attractions taking part on the VisitBritain Shop.
I’ve had a good look and there are plenty of awesome options right across the UK, including Stonehenge, Cardiff Castle, London, Edinburgh and Belfast Zoos, Zip World, Windsor Castle, The Eden Project and The London Eye.
All you need to do is pop your 19-digit Lotto number into the website and you’ll receive your voucher code. If tickets are under £25 then you’ll basically get to visit a great attraction for free – how amazing is that?
Many of us have spent the last two years cooped up, but it’s finally time to start experiencing what the UK offers again. It’s also worth remembering that tourism has had a rough ride, so it’s lovely that we can support businesses that have suffered. It’s even better when you’re saving money at the same time too!
I’m going to start by telling you a little more about my visit to Tower Bridge, then I’ll give you some tips for a few of the other great places to visit on a National Lottery Day Out.
Why visit Tower Bridge?
This visit made me realise that there is so much more to Tower Bridge than you see on billboards advertising the city! Yes, it’s spectacular, but it’s also got an incredible history and is an incredibly sophisticated feat of engineering. When you visit Tower Bridge, you get to learn more about its ingenious design and construction, stories from over the years as well as how it fits into London life today.
What can you see at Tower Bridge?
Many popular attractions have had to adapt over the last few years. In general, I’ve found this to be a good thing as often you have timed tickets (meaning places aren’t so crowded) and there’s a one-way system so you can peruse safely without contact with others.
This is the case at Tower Bridge where you book a timed ticket and then follow a one-way route through the attraction.
You start by climbing the North Tower, then walk across the iconic walkways (with the glass floor!) before going down through the South Tower. Then you wander along the bridge to the Victorian Engine Rooms.
I got quite emotional walking along the glass walkways. I had a moment of reflection as I gazed out, taking in the views of boats cruising down the River Thames, the historic Tower of London and the modern London skyscrapers. It made me think about my love for London, how it really does feel like home, and how lucky I am to be able to explore a city like this. Maybe I’m getting soppier as I get older, but it really did feel so special!
What is the history of Tower Bridge?
I learned so much as I explored the bridge’s interior. A whopping 1,000 workers helped to build the bridge over 8 years between 1886 and 1894. I couldn’t believe it when I read that chief architect Sir Horace Jones died just one year into the bridge’s construction. Apparently, he only saw the foundations of his bridge – just imagine never seeing the finished result! How devastating.
I couldn’t quite believe that back in 1894 the bridge employed 80 people to maintain and open the bridge, whereas today it’s just a small team of 12. It’s also amazing to think that the bascules were raised 20-30 times a day back then, while these days it’ll only be around that per week, on a busy week in the summer!
It was also interesting to learn about the opening of the bridge on 30th June 1894. Of course, this was a huge occasion, so the Royal Family were out in force. The Prince and Princess of Wales officially opened the bridge and paraded across the bridge in carriages.
The big moment came when the bascules (the moving elements of the bridge) were officially opened for the first time. The Prince pulled the lever, and twelve steam-boats passed underneath. What an amazing day that must have been!
What are the highlights of a visit to Tower Bridge?
I really loved this experience! I just found it fascinating to read all the stories of the bridge throughout history and the people who made it what it is today. The highlight was walking along the glass section of the walkways. Buses and taxis passed beneath my feet. I couldn’t resist lying down and snapping some comedy photos there too!
Another highlight was seeing inside the engine rooms. Two of the old steam engines are still there, in lovely shiny green paint. They’re things of beauty, just like a vintage steam train!
The bridge wasn’t scheduled to lift on the day I visited, but the dates and times are listed here. I’ve seen the bascules raised before and it’s a very special sight!
How much are tickets for Tower Bridge?
At the moment, an adult ticket costs £10.60 and a child ticket (age 5-15) costs £5.30. There’s a great value family ticket available for £18, which works for two adults and up to four children. Obviously, you could go free if you’re using your £25 voucher as part of the National Lottery Days Out promotion.
What are the opening times at Tower Bridge?
The experience is open from 9.30am to 6pm each day, with the last admission at 5pm.
What else is there to do near Tower Bridge?
If you fancy a whole day out in London, I’d recommend combining a trip to Tower Bridge with a visit to the Tower of London. It’s moments away and is such a fascinating place to explore. I’ll tell you a little more about my experience in a moment.
If you’re looking for a vibrant spot for a coffee or lunch, I’d suggest visiting St Katherine’s Docks. This pretty marina is a few minutes’ walk from Tower Bridge and is home to lots of cafes and restaurants. If you’re keen on pasta, you simply have to visit Emilia’s. This small Italian restaurant serves indulgent carbonaras, tasty pappardelle ragu and oozing burratas! I was in heaven!
Tell me about other National Lottery Days Out
As mentioned, Tower Bridge is just one of hundreds of attractions taking part in the National Lottery Days Out promotion. You can check out all of the amazing options here on the VisitBritain Shop, and enjoy great savings across the UK.
If you’re looking for suggestions within England, here are a few of my favourites on the list.
The Tower of London
If you’re thinking of visiting Tower Bridge, then how about combining it with a trip to The Tower of London next door? This historic castle dates all the way back to 1066, and has had many uses over the years including being a royal fortress, a prison, a zoo and of course, a place for gory executions. These days it’s where you can see the spectacular Crown Jewels.
We visited after visiting Tower Bridge and I thought it was just incredible. The fact you can wander ancient corridors that date back over 1,000 years just blows my mind. One of the highlights was the guided tour led by a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater!) He was full of fascinating tales from over the years, and was truly proud to call this his home. It was also fun to spot the famous ravens. My advice – stay well back. Those beaks look pretty dangerous! If you want to find out more about visiting, read this handy Tower of London guide.
The London Eye
I’m a little biased on this recommendation, as I spun around on London’s iconic wheel hundreds of times when I was a London tour guide. However, this is one of the quintessential experiences in the capital and it really does offer sensational views. It’s amazing to think back to the Millennium when it was assembled as a ‘temporary’ structure. Thankfully the city fell in love with it and it’s here to stay!
One rotation on The London Eye takes around 30-minutes, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Windsor Castle. You’ll also enjoy amazing views of the River Thames, the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Parks and the city’s skyscapers.
I’ve only seen Stonehenge briefly as I drove past, but I’d love to go on a National Lottery Day Out to explore it properly. It’s the most famous prehistoric monument in Europe, with a history dating back around 4,500 years. I’d love to wander the iconic stone circle and see how it feels to stand on ground that’s so iconic and yet still misunderstood.
Dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, Windsor Castle is an incredible place to visit, and an easy day trip from London. Wandering the grounds of the place that British kings and queens have lived for over 1,000 years is an amazing experience. I loved walking inside St. George’s Chapel, the place where Harry and Meghan tied the knot a few years ago. Just imagine being in their shoes in such a majestic place – wow!
The Eden Project
If you’re craving a tropical getaway but don’t fancy getting on a flight, how about exploring the tropical domes at The Eden Project in Cornwall? Step inside and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an exotic rainforest. After exploring the steamy jungles, checking out lots of flora and fauna along the way, head up to the canopy walkway to see above the treetops.
I think this is a brilliant option for families looking to redeem their National Lottery Days Out voucher in the southwest of England. Kids and grown-ups alike will love learning more about the plants and trees, as well as zooming along England’s longest zipwire.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing all about my trip to Tower Bridge as well as finding out about other National Lottery Days Out. There are lots of great options all over the country, so be sure to look at where you could visit near you. Please note the offer is due to end in March 2022.
A big thanks to Visit England for inviting me to be a part of this campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Click here for more inspiration on planning your next city break within England.