Although London has a plethora of historic and iconic locations, one of the top destinations is and has been the distinctive Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge is also not to be confused with London Bridge, which sits nearby on the Thames, and has been replaced on numerous occasions over the last two thousand years. The Tower Bridge was designed by Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry with two towers that were connected by two upper horizontal walkways; and at the time of its opening, it was the largest – and most sophisticated bascule bridge in the world. Construction of the bridge took eight years (1886-1984), and over 70,000 tons of concrete and 10,000 tons of steel. Since 1894, the bridge has been open to foot, vehicle, and water traffic, although the internal engines of the bridge have been replaced, and the original upper walkways have been renovated since the opening. While any pedestrian can walk across the Tower Bridge, or admire it from the nearby Tower of London, since 1982 the bridge has been a working museum as well with the “Tower Bridge Experience”; and since 2012, the Tower Bridge Experience has featured glass bottomed walkways in the upper horizontal passthroughs.
Directions/Fees: The Bridge is located along Tower Bridge Road and the closest main location and attraction is the aforementioned Tower of London, and Tower Hill. There are numerous Underground stops in the area, but one of the closest is the Tower Hill stop. For visitors who don’t want to enter the museum, it is free to walk across the bridge. For visitors that want to experience the museum, and the glass-bottomed upper walkways, prices range from $10.00/adult with a pre-booking to around $12.00-$15.00 for walk-up patrons with no reservations. There are packages for families; and this attraction is part of the London Pass, which covers many of the top attractions within London.
The Tower Bridge Experience. While the bridge itself is fascinating, and the history behind it even more so, the main experience in the museum is the glass-bottomed walkways. Visitors are allowed to stroll back and forth on both walkways at their leisure, and are invited to take as many photos (through the glass and windows) as they would like. People with a fear of heights may want to consider bypassing the upper bridges; however, there are non-glass bottomed sections to walk through as well. Due to its central location, there are great views of the Thames, and the city from the bridge and its walkways.
Tips/Interesting Facts: Like many popular locations in London and in Europe, the Tower Bridge is at its busiest during the summer months. But, during the winter months, the attraction is quite manageable, and when I visited in December, my wife and I practically had the upper corridors to ourselves one afternoon. While there are many interesting facts about the bridge, two of my favorites are as follows: first, in 1910, the upper walkways were closed to the public because they were a favorite spot for prostitutes and pickpockets; and second that the bridge was originally painted a chocolate brown color. While there are many impressive things to see and do in London, the Tower Bridge is at least worth a quick walk across for first time visitors to the city who are likely stopping at the Tower of London; and for the more adventurous, the glass-bottomed walkways are a unique, fun upgrade to a classic monument.