T was dubious as to whether it’d be worth it but we all come away with an unequivocal YES!There’s a lot more to the Tower of London than the Crown Jewels. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider them a highlight of our visit – there’s so much more to see and do and there’s a real effort to bring history alive for new generations.
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Here are my tips for making the most of your visit to the Tower of London with children.
1. Buy Tower of London tickets in advance online
I recommend buying your Tower of London discount tickets online in advance via Klook. The voucher is sent to your email and Klook app instantly and then it’s easy to redeem the voucher at the Groups ticket counter.
It also means you can avoid lining up at the main ticket office, which has much longer lines.
2. What is the age range suitable for visiting the Tower of London?
Being a World Heritage site, it is really difficult to get around Tower of London if you’re not mobile or trying to push a pram/stroller. There are narrow stairs to climb, steps with no ramps on pathways and uneven ground.
If you have little kids, I highly recommend you wait until they’re older before visiting the Tower of London. I think the best age range is minimum of 7 years old.
I think almost 9yo Lady AB and almost 7yo Baby 2.0 are the perfect age to visit. They have the stamina to walk for most of the day and are engaged by the history of the place.
3. Do some research with kids before you arrive
I think when you’re visiting a historical site kith kids it’s always worth doing some preparatory research before you go. You can play ‘look – remember this in this book’ or ‘hey this was in the movie!’.
Providing kids with some background knowledge will help make the place come to life and you’ll appreciate your time at the Tower of London even more.
There are lots of children’s books about London and they pretty much all feature the Tower of London because it’s such an iconic location. For a specific Tower of London children’s book check out Terrible True Tales from the Tower of London, The Tower to London: A Three-Dimensional Expanding Pocket Guide, Tower of London, England’s Ghostly Palace and Where is the Tower of London?
The Historic Royal Palaces Youtube Channel has great short videos for kids, particularly in the ‘Schools and Teachers playlist’. Finally, watch some episodes of Horrible Histories (available on ABC iview) – our kids love it!
4. How long do you need to see the Tower of London?
I think you need at least 3 hours to see the main highlights of the Tower of London.
Personally I’d allocate a whole day for your visit. Even if you’re not actually there from opening to closing there’s a lot of walking and information to take in during your visit and lots of tramping around outdoors. Plus if you’re not staying close by you’ve got to commute to and from Tower Hill too. I think everyone will need a rest to chill out afterwards the visit!
5. Wear comfortable walking shoes and outdoor gear
Tower of London is 1000 years old and a World Heritage listed site. Most of the ground is cobblestones and you will be outdoors walking from building to building, particularly if you join a Yeoman Warder’s tour.
Wear comfortable, flat shoes for your visit as you’ll be doing a lot of walking, plus a raincoat or hat and sunscreen depending on the weather!
6. Arrive at Tower of London early
What is the best time to visit Tower of London? It opens at 9am/10am depending on the day and I highly recommend you arrive in time for opening. Fewer people, fewer queues.
There are bag searches in place before the entrance to allow extra time for that.
Note if you have pre booked tickets or have a Klook voucher you will need to line up to collect those tickets before you can join the entry line.
7. Collect a Tower of London Family Trail from the Welcome Centre
There are two Family Trails available and they can only be collected at the Welcome Centre, which is located next to the ticket offices BEFORE you enter the Tower of London. You can also download them from the website.
Once you’re inside you won’t be able to collect a Family Trail (unless there’s a special event happening and they’ve distributed Family Trails to some of the gift shops) and there are no pass outs once you’ve exited the Tower of London.
The Family Trails are excellent booklets with activities, factoids and quizzes to enhance your visit. You also get a free Tower of London pencil and badge to go with it (if you want to save money from having to buy souvenirs!).
Also at the main ticket office we buy a children’s guide to the Tower of London which is a fantastic resource and souvenir.
8. First Priority – Go straight to the Crown Jewels
As we arrive around 9:30am we can walk straight into the Jewel House – by the afternoon the line is snaking around the courtyard.
Inside there are lots of displays and information, though to be honest Lady AB and Baby 2.0 don’t spend too much looking around. The surge of people behind you also means it’s difficult to linger over any particular display as the traffic keeps propelling you forward.
At the Crown Jewels there is even a travelator conveyer belt to prevent anyone from standing in front of the display case for too long!
9. Join a Yeoman Warden’s Tour
The tours run every 30 minutes so if you miss the first tour you don’t need to panic – but the earlier tours are less crowded (believe it or not – look at the size of that crowd!). Note the final tour is 2:30pm in winter and 3:30pm in summer.
Don’t be put off by the number of people on your tour. Firstly, if you join the 10am tour the Yeoman Warder will tell anyone who hasn’t already seen the Crown Jewels to go there first, so a sizable number of people leave the tour to do that.
Secondly, the Yeoman Warders have enormous voices! I don’t know how they train to carry their voices without microphones over such huge crowds – but they do it very successfully.
The 1-hour tour is very informative and entertaining, with the Yeoman Warder regaling us with history and tales. It is suitable for kids and children are encouraged to push their way to the front so that they can see and hear.
With the two Family Trails and the Yeoman Warder’s Tour I don’t think there’s any need to purchase an audio guide as well. If you do purchase an audio guide you’ll have to choose the adult or children’s version as they follow two separate routes.
10. Don’t miss the White Tower
Inside the White Tower is the collection of the Royal Armouries. The kids whip through most of these displays; Henry VIII’s armour means not much to them.
On the top floor of the White Tower you’ll see lots of artefacts used in the tower, including an original executioner’s block from the 18th century with an axe that possibly dates back to Tudor times.
Also on the top floor ‘Armoury in Action’ features the most interactive exhibits.
Here you can shoot an arrow, fire a cannon, practise your sword skills and dress Henry VIII in his armour.
It’s pretty fun (Henry getting cross is very amusing!) and the only reason we leave is that we have lots of other things to see at the Tower of London.
11. Visit the Bloody Tower
At the Bloody Tower you’ll find Sir Walter Raleigh’s study and a projection telling the story of the supposed murder of the 12-year-old Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, in 1483.
Lady AB is fascinated by the carvings from former prisoners.
12. Visit the Medieval Palace
Inside the Medieval Palace you’ll see recreations of interiors used by medieval kings and queens. It provides an insight into the private lives of the royals.
13. Meet the Ravens
The ravens are iconic symbols of the Tower of London. There is a special Yeoman’s Raven Tour which I would have liked to join but we miss it as it only runs twice a day (11:00-11:15 and 13:30-13:45 each day).
Do not feed the birds!
14. Visit the Tower’s Mint
It’s surprisingly interesting and has a couple of hands-on exhibits that the kids enjoy. In fact, we have to drag them away to see other things.
15. Where to Eat at the Tower of London
The Tower of London has three places where you can get food.
- The Wharf Kiosk: Snack by the river
- New Armouries Café: Light bites, hot meals
- Raven Café: A variety of gourmet sausages
Personally I’d recommend bringing your own snacks but unfortunately a full picnic lunch is not possible as there are not many places to sit – just seats and no tables.
As we visit in winter eating outdoors isn’t really an appealing option so we have a basic sausage roll and hot chocolates at the Tower of London Ice Rink.
In the summer months, you can enjoy a picnic in the Tower Moat!
16. Visit the Tower of London Gift Shop after you exit
There are two gift shops within the Tower of London but the shop with the best and largest selection is actually outside the exit.
I didn’t do a full check of what’s available at each shop though so confirm before you buy something whether it’s actually available at the main shop or only sold at the specific gift shop so you don’t miss out.
The Tower of London is a stop on the Big Bus London Hop-On Hop-Off tourist bus. You can combine a Big Bus ticket with Tower of London entry for a combo discount. London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour Review.
17. Go ice skating at the Tower of London Ice Rink
If you are visiting London in winter then book an ice skating session at the Tower of London Ice Rink.
Ice skating sessions are on the hour and tickets include skate hire and entry. If you need a skate aid you pay an extra £5.
The rink is quite large (and larger than say the Natural History Museum Ice Rink) and the setting is magnificent, with the walls of the Tower of London as your backdrop. There are not many times where you can skate on the MOAT of an ancient castle!
You can skate at the Tower of London Ice Rink without paying for admission into the Tower of London. However, if you have entered the Tower of London and then need to go into the Tower of London Ice Rink you will need to exit and will not be allowed back in after your skating, so schedule your skating for the end of the day or another day.
For accommodation in London, I recommend checking out what’s available on Booking.com and Airbnb
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