Built from 11,000 tons of steel, the Tower Bridge is a thing of beauty. An iconic landmark and probably one of my favourite structures in London. Besides being a Victorian masterpiece of engineering, it is also VERY aesthetically pleasing. From any angle, this is a majestic London icon always gives you a picturesque opportunity. If it looks that great from the outside, the views from the inside must be pretty freakin awesome!
Since 2014 – the bridge’s 120th year – there’s been an 11-metre glass floor in place of the upper walkway, so those with the stomach for it can gaze 42 metres down, or for something special, take part in a morning yoga class. I had been meaning to go to the Tower Bridge exhibition since it opened a few years back but I’m not sure why I put it off….oh wait…yeah I remember – I’m Acrophobic! As it was a friends birthday (Happy birthday T!) we decided we’d do a quick visit and of course see just how scared I get because that’s always funny (thanks guys!).
Tickets are available to buy online however you can just as easily buy the tickets when you get there too. We decided to do the latter and made our way to the entrance. If you follow the signs around, it’s a little bit tricky finding it but the best way to remember is that it’s actually on Tower Bridge Road.
Ticket prices for an adult at the time of writing this post is £9.80 per person and if anyone is travelling by national rail you can get 2 for 1 tickets. Family tickets and concessions are also available.
Once tickets have been purchased, about 10 people will be piled into a lift and you’re taken up to the start of the exhibition. It opens with a very short talk and video about how the bridge was first built with huge portraits of the founders. I loved that there was no time limit to anything so we could take our time and have good wonder but most importantly get that pic for the ‘gram!
Once you’ve watched the video you can wander straight on to the first glass floor. Now I had done some research beforehand and I know that there are 6 layers of glass so it’s perfectly safe but I guess nothing prepares you to be confronted with your phobias! We were so lucky that there weren’t very many people around so we each had time to take pictures without other tourists in our photos. You can also take photos to create your own postcards. Once we were done with the first glass floor you can move on to the next one. Now THIS one was the one I’d been looking forward to. A new mirror has been installed above the walkway for optimum selfie taking. No matter how scared I was, I was most definitely going to take advantage of this mirror!
Besides the main attraction of the walkways, your entry fee also includes an exhibition that honours the other awe-inspiring feats of engineering in global bridge design, as well as an art installation as you descend down the staircase. I’d honestly advise you to take your time and really take it all in because it really is very impressive.
In peak visiting hours or during bridge lifts it’s not always easy to guarantee what time you will be able to access the walkways because of queue times, plus the bridge lifts actually take place more often than you’d think. Raising Tower Bridge’s two bascules is a service provided free of charge by the City of London Corporation, 365 days a year, night or day, to the relevant registered boats and ships. On average, Tower Bridge is raised 850 times a year, so next time you’re walking nearby, wait and see what happens, as it’s always a treat to see the bridge go up.
Once you’re out of the tower, the final (and optional) stop is the Engine Rooms. I had no idea this would be included and although I was absolutely starving, I wasn’t going to give it a miss. The Tower Bridge bridge is the only one on the Thames that opens to let ships pass. It was originally powered by steam and converted to electricity in the 70’s and the bridge is still raised about 1,000 times a year. It’s pretty interesting to see behind the scenes and the engine that makes it all happen.
Some might say the fee is pretty extortionate but honestly if you make a day of it and time it so you’re not there when it’s completely packed out then it’s definitely worth every penny. Whether you’re a tourist or a proper Londoner, you definitely have to visit the Tower Bridge exhibition at least once – even if you are petrified of heights!