Lord it over London on one of the world’s most famous bridges, an icon of Victorian engineering. Not to be confused with London Bridge (a much more muted affair about half a mile upstream), this combined bascule-and-suspension bridge crosses the River Thames near the Tower of London. Join the vehicles and pedestrians pootling across the deck, or go behind the scenes with the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which spans the towers, glass-bottomed walkways and Victorian engine rooms. Check online for bridge lift times – it’s the perfect backdrop to get creative with those selfies.
42 metres above ground, ogle at double-decker buses and the River Thames below through hefty – and entirely safe – glass panels. Time your visit right, and you might even experience the thrill of the bascules lifting beneath your feet.
Marvel at the coal-driven engines that used to power the bridge lift – a display of gleaming pistons and raw hydraulic power that once allowed ships through. The chambers also house intriguing exhibits and videos that hark back to the bridge’s past.
Explore the bridge’s colourful history via this new permanent exhibition, housed in the North and South Towers. On display are recently unearthed photographs of the people who made it possible – like the divers who dug its vast foundations in the riverbed.
Once a month, Tower Bridge dedicates an entire day to family-friendly activities. Drop in to Big Draw sessions inside the engine rooms, led by the artist in residence. Grab an activity booklet or download the interactive Family Trail app to spark young imaginations. Check the website for autism-friendly Saturday morning openings, too.
Inside this café, industrial lights and polished concrete pays tribute to the River Thames’ merchant history and the site’s previous life as a spice factory. Come in the morning for coffee, pastries and porridge; swing by a little bit later for brunch and best-of-British cocktails.
Pici cacio e pepe
Resistance is futile when faced with a bowl of Padella’s pici cacio e pepe. Think fat worms of pasta, served in a luscious pecorino, butter and pepper emulsion.
John Keats and Leonardo da Vinci would have loved this little bar and its blackboards for impromptu artistic scribbling – both were big fans of doodling. Unleash your own inner Banksy at this art-loving drinking den, which also has a foosball table, weekend food trucks, ping pong tables and spot-on cocktails.
An atmospheric annual concert series is held in the mighty Bascule Chamber, which houses Tower Bridge's huge counterweights. Composer and curator Iain Chambers devised the schedule for 2018. Keep an eye out for upcoming concert dates; they’re rare but brilliant.
Practise your downward dog, crow, crab and other gravity-defying poses 42 metres above the River Thames. Energetic Vinyasa sessions are held at sunrise on the third Wednesday of the month.
During winter (October–March), Tower Bridge is open 9:30am–5pm. In summer (April–September), it’s open 10am–5.30pm. Tower Bridge is closed 24–26 December, and open from 10am on 1 January.
It’s a short stroll to Tower Bridge from London Bridge, Fenchurch Street or Tower Gateway DLR stations. If you’re hopping on the Tube, Tower Hill station is to the north side of the Bridge. Get off at London Bridge station, a 15-minute walk away, for a picturesque stroll along the Thames.
Crossing the bridge deck is free. A full visit – with access to the walkways, towers and Victorian engine rooms – costs £9.80 for adults and £4.20 for children. Advance tickets are cheaper online.
Although e-tickets come with savings, they don’t enable fast-track entry. Avoid visiting during school holidays, and time your visit for a quieter morning slot.
Image credits: © Katie Evans; © Katie Evans; © Alamy; © Tower Bridge; © Tower Bridge; © Getty; © James Davy Photography; © Padella; © Doodle Bar; © Steve Stills; © Tower Bridge