Tower of London review for families

Our rating 
3.9 out of 5 star rating 3.9
User rating
tower-of-london_205613

In a nutshell

The Tower of London is a must-visit 1,000-year-old castle that protects the Crown Jewels. The buildings and exhibitions within it provide an insight into the past for children and adults alike, although children over eight will get more out of the visit.
Fun for kids
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Fun for parents
3.5 out of 5 rating 3.5
Worth the money
5.0 out of 5 rating 5.0
Facilities
3.5 out of 5 rating 3.5
Family friendliness
3.5 out of 5 rating 3.5
Pros: Iconic historical London gem, good value for a full family day out, plenty to see, easy to navigate, close to other family attractions.
Cons: Very limited accessibility for buggies and wheelchairs, smaller children may struggle with the many stairs, free activities and exhibitions aimed at older children, no picnic tables.

COVID-19 safety update

Some facilities and attractions may be closed or restricted this year, due to COVID-19 – and there may be extra safety rules, pre-booking requirements or one-way systems in place. Please check the Tower Of London website before travelling or booking.

Advertisement

Who and when we visited:

We’re a family of four (mum, dad, two sons aged 5 and 2) visited on a busy Sunday at the end of June

What age is the Tower of London best for:

Best for: Older children (over 5 and ideally 8+) who can read and have an interest in history, royalty, battles and jewels

Still good fun for: Younger children (under-5s) but there are long queues, lots of steps and certain exhibits that may be frightening

Avoid if: You’ve got babies who won’t go in a sling, or kids who are impatient in queues or struggle with crowds

How much does it cost?

Currently you can only buy tickets online:

  • Online prices: Adults £25, children aged 5-15 £12.50
  • Family saver ticket online: £37.50 (1 adult, up to 3 children) or £62.50 (2 adults, up to 3 children)

Although costly for a family, the entry ticket represents good value when you consider that all the exhibits are included and you can easily stay for a whole day.

How to get a cheap Tower of London ticket or discount

Because of reduced entry due to Covid-19, some of the normal offers (such as 2-for-1 deals) aren’t available this year. But there are other ways to save money on tickets:

For many attractions, you can use Tesco Clubcard vouchers. These turn every 50p in vouchers into £1.50 against the cost of an entry ticket or, for some attractions, an annual pass.

Piqniq is a trusted days out ticket site where you can find deals on hundreds of attractions. Piqniq sources the best deals for a range of  family days out, and offers a price promise – if you find the same ‘family ticket’ for the same date at a cheaper price within 48 hours of purchasing, Piqniq will refund the difference. It’s worth doing your research though – the discount may be the same as the attraction itself is offering when you book online. 

If you plan to visit several attractions, you could save using a Pass from either KidsPass or LittleBird. Both offer up to 50% off major attractions when you subscribe (KidsPass currently £29.99, LittleBird £34.99) and both are currently offering a 30-day trial for £1.

Any extra charges once I’m there?

  • Normally there are Audio Guide Tours (£5 for adults; £4 for children; £14 for a family) – very reasonable but better to suited to older kids. These are currently suspended
  • There are 4 gift shops in total, but you’re not forced to walk through any of them on your way in or out
  • The best is the children’s gift shop, which stocks a huge variety of items both for children to buy themselves and for adults to buy for them
  • Look out for the sizeable ‘pocket money’ section with items for a few pounds alongside pricier items like the Princess Elizabeth dress-up costume for £35
  • Our boys (2 and 5) have not stopped playing with their knight swords, which my husband reckons is the best £5.99 he’s ever spent on a toy

How long will you spend at the Tower of London?

A minimum of 3 hours to see everything but really you should allow for a full day, especially in the busy summer holidays or if you want to spend longer at some exhibits. We arrived at 10.30am and around 4 hours later had managed to see about two thirds of the exhibitions and catch a play, as well as stop for lunch.

What does the Tower of London offer for families?

Billed as a must-see for school children and tourists alike, the Tower of London is an integral part of British history and the home of the world-famous Crown Jewels. Its fact-filled exhibitions and impressive structure make for a great family day out, and older kids in particular will love learning about its rich history as a secure fortress, a royal palace, and an infamous prison.

tower-of-london_i

What shouldn’t be missed?

Highlights for us were:

  • The sense of ceremony and majesty is tangible as soon as you enter through the gates – even stroppy teenagers will be awed by the towering ancient brick walls. Just walking on the ramparts and cobbled paths gives you a sense of wonder at the scale and grandeur of the place
  • The exhibits provide plenty of detail for history buffs and almost endless visual stimulation for children who may not be able or have the patience to read
  • The bling! Arrive early and make a beeline for the Crown Jewels (the most popular and easily accessible exhibition) on display in the Jewel House, diagonally opposite the main gate, to avoid long queues and get the best view. We arrived after lunch and by then there was a lengthy wait in the blazing sun. You view the jewels from a moving walkway, so be prepared to lift up younger or smaller children as the jewels are on display at adult height
  • Head to the White Tower and the collection of the Royal Armouries, which will fascinate adults and kids of all ages, and spend some time at the Armouries in Action experience, which is interactive and great for kids tall enough to reach (our nearly six year old could just about manage)

What’s the Tower of London like for younger children?

The very thing that makes the Tower so atmospheric is also what makes it difficult to manage for a family with young children. The building is hundreds of years old, so accessing parts of the castle with a buggy or very small children in tow can be tricky and sometimes impossible.

Besides the building restrictions, we found several of the exhibitions – including one billed as family friendly – were just too high up for our young children to be able to see or, in the case of the interactive exhibits, reach. We had to either pick them up or help them push buttons to see or interact with displays, which got quite tiring for us – though the kids seem to love it.

That said, there is plenty of space to run around and spotting Rocky the raven, Beefeaters and life-size animal sculptures will keep even the most rambunctious toddler amused.

Any scary or unsuitable bits for younger or sensitive children?

Unless your kids are super patient and have a sophisticated sense of humour, skip the Yeoman Warder guided tours. They’re funny and very informative but last around 45 minutes and are aimed at adults, with sections that can seem frightening or scary to young children.

Time naps with visits to the exhibits unsuitable for young children, such as the Torture at the Tower exhibition, which some children – and even some adults – might find upsetting. Oddly, this exhibition isn’t graphic so may not be too scary but in other places, there are very moving or disturbing pictures hanging on walls. For example, the upper floors of the Bloody Tower present the disappearance of the two young princes (Edward V and his younger brother Richard), which prompted lots of questions about their fate from our older boy.

tower-of-london_l

What’s currently open and what’s closed due to Covid-19?

Open

  • Crown Jewels
  • Torture at the Tower
  • Line of Kings
  • Fortress
  • White Tower & Bloody Tower
  • Meet the Yeoman Warders
  • Medieval Palace
  • The Ravens
  • Guards at the Tower of London
  • Tower Green & Scaffold site

Currently closed

  • The Tower’s Mint
  • Audio Guide Tours and other Tours
  • Battlements
  • Fusilier Museum
  • Royal Beasts
  • Imprisonment at the Tower exhibition
  • Armoury in Action
  • Gun Salute

What you need to know before visiting the Tower of London:

  • Look at the website and plan your visit in advance and prioritise which buildings and exhibits you and your family want to see. This way, you’ll have the enthusiasm and energy to see the things you want before you run out of steam
  • Use the detailed Tower of London map to plan your day beforehand, but there’s no need to print it out – you’ll be handed a map on arrival. It’s all in a square set around the White Tower, so it’s relatively easy to orientate yourself
  • Pre-book your tickets online to save money
  • Get a copy of Tower Power: Tales from the Tower of London by Elizabeth Newbery – it’s a great book that will get children of all ages interested in the history of the tower and excited about their visit
  • Download the free ‘Time Explorers’ app to your iOS or Android device for an interactive adventure – older children can meet characters from history, explore the buildings and complete challenges

Is the Tower of London pushchair-friendly?

Not great, due to the historical structure of the buildings. Unless your little one can nap in your arms or a sling, one parent will have to stay outside with them as you can’t take pushchairs or buggies into most of the towers. However, if you do split up, it’s fairly easy to find a meeting spot and there are plenty of benches and stretches of grass to wait on. We got lucky – Rocco’s nap coincided with our visit to the Crown Jewels, the only exhibit easily accessible to pushchairs – so we could all go in together.

Unoccupied buggies can be left unattended at one of the three buggy parks around the Tower but you’ll need at £1 or 1 Euro coin as a returnable deposit.

tower-of-london_e

What are the Tower of London’s free activities like?

Normally there are free performances on certain days, which you can sit down on the grass and watch. Others, such as the immersive ‘Go Medieval at the Tower’, are one-off events that you need to plan your visit to coincide with. However, these have all been postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

What to bring:

  • A pushchair that can handle cobblestones – they line the streets outside the attraction and inside, between the buildings
  • A sling for babies and younger toddlers. Virtually all the exhibits are inside towers that can only be accessed by small doorways and several steps, often in the form of spiral staircases
  • Flat shoes, not only for the walking around but also for the aforementioned steps, many of which are narrow (tricky to balance on when you’re carrying a baby or toddler)
  • Packed lunch and some drinks, to save time and money
  • A parasol to shade kids from the sun as most of the queues, although fast-moving, are exposed

What are the food and drink facilities like at the Tower of London?

The main restaurant – New Armouries Café – gets busy so get there early to ensure you get your first choice of hot dish; you’ll also find baby food and children’s meals on sale. Or grab a gourmet sausage from Ravens Café for under £5.

Ice cream kiosks in summer are placed strategically by the longest attraction queues; a scoop will set you back £2.50. If the kids need a treat or some encouragement to keep going, send them into the children’s gift shop for a giant chocolate coin for a quid. And if you’re in need of a caffeine fix, a filter coffee is £1.90 from Jewels Snacks, opposite the children’s giftshop.

Can we take a picnic?

Yes, but it’s best on a sunny day. Annoyingly, there are no picnic tables but there are benches around, several of which are under cover, making them prime spots for a packed lunch in the sun or rain.

What are the toilets like?

For small children, the toilets are frustratingly far from the entrance. If they can hold on, you’ll find the female loos clean, well-stocked and queue-free but getting more than one child into a cubicle with you is beyond awkward and the sinks and soap aren’t in reach for younger children. For the not-yet-potty-trained, there are 3 open-access baby changes, including a unisex facility in the New Armouries café. There are 4 accessible loos in three locations.

How well does it cater for disabled visitors?

The large number of steps, stairways and cobbles mean wheelchair access is limited, and doesn’t make for an easy day out for those with restricted mobility

  • 4 accessible loos: 2 in the Brick Tower; 1 in the New Armouries restaurant; 1 in the Salt Tower
  • The Jewel House has a ramped entrance/exit with displays on one level
  • Many buildings have a large numbers of steps, spiral staircases and small doorways
  • See the downloadable access guide to visiting the Tower of London for more information

Opening dates and times:

The Tower of London is normally open daily except between 24-26 December and on 1 January – however, currently it is open from Wednesdays to Sundays. Opening hours are from 9 or 10am to 5:30pm in summer, and 9 or 10am to 4:30pm in winter.

Best time to visit:

The Tower of London is normally quietest on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before 11am, and all of Wednesday. Predictably, it is busiest on Saturdays and Sundays.

tower-of-london_p

Worth a long car journey?

Yes, it’s an educational and entertaining must-visit attraction that draws crowds to London for good reason. However, keep an eye out in case your kids are likely to see it soon on a school trip

Which hotels or holiday accommodation are near the Tower of London?

The Tower of London’s central location means there are plenty of accommodation options nearby, including:

Nearby attractions for a longer day out:

Within a short walk of the Tower of London, you’ll find HMS Belfast, the Tower Bridge Exhibition and The London Bridge Experience & London Tombs.

How to get to the Tower of London:

The Tower of London is located in the centre of London, with good public transport links.

  • The nearest tube station is Tower Hill, but we didn’t find it buggy friendly as there were long, steep flights of stairs to access the connecting underpass.
  • You might be better off going to Fenchurch Street or London Bridge and walking a bit further
  • Or taking a bus – the 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1 stop nearby, as do all major sightseeing bus tours.
  • Driving? There are no parking spaces at the Tower (Tower Hill is a vehicle free zone) and the National Car Parks site is around a ten-to-15-minute-walk away. Watch out for the Congestion Charge

MFM verdict:

This unique and educational attraction is well worth a visit, though families with older children (8 years+) will almost certainly get more out of the experience than those with younger ones. It’s not impossible to come with a buggy, but it will require careful planning and a fair amount of determination. While I found negotiating cobblestones, steps and stairs with two small boys and a buggy stressful and tiring, the kids barely seemed to notice and both had a great day out, delighting in the atmosphere of the place as much as in the exhibits. I’d visit again – but I think I’d wait a few years and join them on a (secondary) school trip.

Visit the Tower of London website

See more reviews of the Tower of London on TripAdvisor

Advertisement

Intro to me:

Having not visited for many years, I was intrigued to see what the Tower could offer a family with young children – mum, dad and two boys aged 5 and 2.