Along with Big Ben and the London Eye, Tower Bridge is one of the most recognisable and famous landmarks in all of London. It’s so iconic, in fact, that it’s often mixed up with the nearby London Bridge, which has a more important-sounding name despite being much less picturesque.
Tower Bridge, which is right next to the famous Tower of London, was built between 1886 and 1894 with the aim of reducing road traffic and providing access to the Pool of London docks on the north bank of the River Thames. To build the bridge, two massive wrought iron piers were sunk into the Thames and then filled with concrete and clad with granite brickwork that extended above the water’s surface. The two towers that sit on the foundations are made from steel, granite and Portland stone.
Fun fact: It wasn't until 1977 that the bridge was painted red, white and blue to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee, giving it its distinctive appearance. Up to that point, it was a chocolatey brown colour.
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge. Two large moveable roadways (called “bascules) operated by hydraulic power can be lifted up to allow boats to pass below. These bascules were originally powered by steam, but since 1976 they’ve been driven by oil and electricity instead.
According to reports, it took 432 construction workers, 31 million bricks and 11,000 tonnes of steel to create Tower Bridge.
Walk along the 45-metre-high walkways and enjoy panoramic views of London as part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition. You can also check out the original Victorian engines that powered the bridge and controlled the opening and closing of the bascules. Within the Tower Bridge Exhibition, you'll also learn about the history of the bridge and how it came to be.
Don't forget to take a walk along the Glass Walkway, which allows visitors to look down on pedestrians and boats below underneath their very feet! If heights make you nervous, don't worry: the walkways is made of five thick layers of glass that are designed to withstand the weight of an elephant.
Travel tip: Children under five years old can enter the exhibition for free.
Tower Bridge is also one of the main landmarks along the route of the annual London Marathon, which consistently draw thousands of runners to the city. Spectators can stand along the sidelines to snap photos and scream words of encouragement at the competitors. But beware: this area gets super crowded during Marathon time.
A better bet might be to grab a spot at one of the bars or restaurants nearby and have a tipple while you watch the race. We recommend the Bridge House or the Draft House pubs, both on the south end of Tower Bridge Road. Book a table or get there early to avoid crowds!
January 2nd to March 30th
April 1st to September 30th
October 1st to December 31st
Entry to Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower Bridge Road
United Kingdom SE1 2AA