The White Tower at The Tower of London

The quietest time of day to visit the Tower of London (for free)

It took me six years to visit the Tower of London as a Londoner — not least because it’s one of the busiest attractions in the capital.

And, as a quiet London blogger, ‘busy’ doesn’t really work for me… so I had to figure out the best time to visit, how to avoid the queues and how to get a free ticket at the same time.

View of Tower Bridge from a quiet corner in the Tower of London

Image: A Peace of London

Only then could I finally enjoy the Tower of London for what it is: one of the best historical sites in the world.

Here’s my plan for a quiet trip to the Tower of London, and how it went down for me…

Step 1: Get there before 9am

The Tower of London in the early morning

Image: A Peace of London

The best time to visit most of London’s attractions is early in a weekday morning, and the Tower of London is no exception.

But my quiet trip worked so well because I got there before it even opened — about 8.50am, to be exact.

Considering I went in July, even I was surprised at how quiet it was when it had first opened.

The popular Yeoman Warden tours don’t start until 10am, so I made sure to fit in my trip before that and I was flying through.

Next, it was time to speed up my trip even further…

Step 2: Skip the queues (and get a free ticket)

Free ticket for the Tower of London from Museums Association

Image: A Peace of London

So I’d navigated rush-hour on the Tube and I was ready for some early morning Tower action. But uhh… queues.

This is where my next tip came in handy — because I didn’t have to queue AND I got in for free.

How? Well, I’m a member of the Museums Association — which in short means that I can get free entry to hundreds of museums, including the Historic Royal Palaces.

View of The Shard from the Tower of London

Image: A Peace of London

Anyone can join and individual membership starts from £14 every three months (dependant on your salary and other circumstances such as if you’re a museum volunteer).

I’d already paid for my quarterly subscription by visiting the Tower, which normally costs £21 for a ticket. Pretty cool, huh?

And because I didn’t have to actually buy a ticket, I skipped past the queues for the ticket office and went straight to the Welcome Centre where the nice attendant printed out my free pass.

Quiet room in the Tower of London

Image: A Peace of London

There was a queue to get into the actual gates, but only because the site hadn’t opened yet.

And the best thing about this tactic?

I go in for as long as I liked without feeling that I had to stay there for hours just to make the most of a £21 ticket.

Which is why the next tip works so well…

Step 3: Make a plan before you get there

Henry VIII's armour at the Tower of London

Image: A Peace of London

Since I had to get to get a move on before the first tour started, it paid to decide what I wanted to do before I got in.

That way, I didn’t waste any time.

Top of my personal hit-list on my visit was the White Tower, where Henry VIII’s suits of armour are displayed among the Line of Kings.

To me, these are the real treasures of the Tower — one of his first sets of armour (above) is even adorned with the initials H and K, for Henry and Katherine of Aragon.

Henry VIII's armour at the Tower of London adorned with Katherine of Aragon's initials

Image: A Peace of London

Next to this rather svelte figure sits one of Henry’s final suits, which is rather larger with a 51-inch waist and notably missing any initials of his six wives.

These exhibits give you a sense of history that you just can’t get from a book — including the size of England’s most iconic king — and it’s one of the reasons why I’ll get up at 5.30am to go to visit a place like the Tower of London.

Step 4: Avoid the crown jewels

A quiet square in The Tower of London in the early morning

Image: A Peace of London

The surge of people towards the Jewel House on my trip strongly suggested that most tourists have the crown jewels at the top of their must-do list.

In comparison, the White Tower was so peaceful and I got to see the Line of Kings and the White Tower pretty much all by myself…

Quiet room in the White Tower of the Tower of London

Image: A Peace of London

A quiet (and free) trip to the Tower of London: the essentials

Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday: 9am-5.30pm; Sunday-Monday: 10am-5.30pm

Best time to visit: 8.50am-10.15am (Tuesday-Saturday only)

Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB

Nearest Tube: Tower Hill

More information: Visit the Historic Royal Palaces website for details about the Tower or visit the Museums Association website to sign up and get free entry to museums and exhibitions.

Old guidebooks at the Tower of London

Image: A Peace of London

 

Comments (10)

  1. This is absolutely fantastic. As a Londoner for 30 years I will have to do that. I had a glimpse of the Tower through the ceremony of the keys which was very exciting too. I love your blog and it gives me so many ideas to visit place I have not seen in those years, and I have traveled by foot a lot and acted as tour guide for all my visitors. Thank you Charlotte.

  2. I strongly agree with you about not bothering with the crown jewels, and not just because of the crowds. Security measures mean that everybody has to move very quickly without any chance to examine the jewels closely and there’s just a brief dazzling impression of (dare I say it?) rather vulgar bling – very disappointing.

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