Standing tall and resplendent against the London skyline, Tower Bridge is more than just an architectural marvel. It’s one of London’s most iconic landmarks, and a must-see attraction for anyone visiting London.
However, Tower Bridge is just the start – nearby there are countless other things to do and see.
In this article, I unveil the best-kept secrets and hidden gems nestled in this historic part of East London. Join me as I uncover the secret treasures and unique experiences just a short walk beyond Tower Bridge’s majestic towers.
- What other attractions are near Tower Bridge?
- Historical attractions near Tower Bridge
- Free things to do near Tower Bridge
- Museums near Tower Bridge
- Theatres and galleries near Tower Bridge
- Tower Bridge gifts
- Map of things to do near Tower Bridge
What other attractions are near Tower Bridge?
London is a huge place, but for this article I’m focussing on things you can do that are within walking distance of Tower Bridge.
I’ve lived near Tower Bridge for many years, and it is one of my favourite landmarks in London. I’ve spent countless hours exploring the local area, and want to share my knowledge to help others who may be visiting here for the first time.
I’ll cover both well-known attractions such as the Tower of London, as well as unusual and less crowded attractions that are off the beaten path. Despite Tower Bridge being one of the most popular destinations in London, there are quite a few lesser-known sights very close by.
Visiting London can be expensive, so I’ve also included a number of free things to do.
All cost details are current as of October 2023, but it’s always best to double-check when you book.
If you’re looking for more information about Tower Bridge itself, then check out my ultimate guide!
Historical attractions near Tower Bridge
1. Tower of London
The Tower of London has to be number one in this list. Not only was Tower Bridge named after the Tower of London, they are located right next to each other. The Tower of London is just a short walk from the bridge, on the north of the River Thames.
Home to the incredible Crown Jewels, as well as the famous ravens and Beefeaters, the Tower of London is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions.
Inside, you can explore inside former royal apartments, and discover more about the tower’s history as a prison.
The standard admission ticket gives you access to see The Crown Jewels as well as the White Tower and several exhibitions plus the famous guards. Tours with the Beefeaters are included in the ticket price.
There are often special events such as after-hours tours, so it’s always worth checking their website. One that is worth doing is the traditional Ceremony of the Keys, which happens every night at exactly 9:53 p.m. Tickets for this need to be booked online in advance, and usually sell out very quickly – you can find more details here.
Tip – the Tower of London can be pretty busy, and it’s likely you’ll need to queue for the more popular attractions like the Crown Jewels. The best way to avoid the crowds is to get there as soon as it opens, and head straight for the Crown Jewels.
Current ticket prices are £33.60 for an adult, and £16.80 for children aged between 5-15. You can buy tickets both online or at the ticket office, however, it’s only possible to book tickets for the same day in person. If you want to book in advance you’ll need to book online. Usually, the ticket is valid for the whole day, but during busy periods such as school holidays you’ll need to pick an entry time slot.
Full details are on the Tower of London website.
If you’re travelling into London by train, you can use the 2FOR1 offer and get 2 tickets for the price of 1 if you claim when you book your ticket online. It’s also one of the attractions included in the London Pass.
9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (opens at 10 a.m. on Mondays and Sundays). Last admission is 3:30 p.m.
The wharf outside is open daily between 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
There is a lot to see and do there, and I’d recommend putting aside at least 3-4 hours to make the most of your visit.
2. Gunpowder Plot
In addition to the Tower of London, you can also visit the Gunpowder Plot – an immersive experience that will take you back to London in the year 1605. It features live theatre, character actors, special effects and two Virtual Reality rides. The experience is located in Tower Vaults just next to the Tower of London.
You’ll be fully involved in the plot – meeting mysterious figures, uncovering a secret safe house and helping smuggle barrels of gunpowder up the Thames!
For fans of Harry Potter, Guy Fawkes himself is played by actor Tom Felton, although sadly you won’t get to meet him as he is one of the digital cast.
This is not included in the standard Tower of London ticket, and costs from £45 to £100 for an adult. You can save £5 if you book a Tower of London ticket at the same time. It’s suitable for children aged 10 or over, although they will need to be accompanied by an adult.
You can find out more, and book tickets in advance on their website.
Usually 10:45 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday to Sunday (plus some Wednesdays and Thursdays).
The performance lasts around 1 hour 40 minutes.
3. HMS Belfast
Moored on the River Thames just in front of Tower Bridge is HMS Belfast. Built as a light cruiser, she was in service with the Royal Navy from 1939 to 1963. Now a museum ship, you can visit and learn more about the ship’s history – from taking part in D-Day through to serving in the Korean War.
During your visit, you’ll discover what life would have been like for the 950 crew onboard, including how they slept and ate. You might even spot the ship’s cat!
There are 9 decks to explore, and you can climb up and down ladders to visit them all, from the impressively large engine and boiler rooms right to the Flag Deck at the very top of the ship.
There are various interactive experiences which give some idea what it would have been like in one of the gun turrets or the engine room. There are also memories from some of the veterans who served on HMS Belfast.
Entry costs £24.50 for an adult and £12.25 for a child aged 5-15. You can buy tickets on the day at the entrance to the ship, or order online advance on their website.
If you’re intending to also visit the Churchill War Rooms and the air museum at Duxford in the next 12 months then it’s worth taking out membership to the Imperial War Museum – more details are available on their website.
10 a.m. – 6 p.m., last entry 5 p.m.
From 29th October: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., last entry 4 p.m.
I’d recommend setting aside at least 3-4 hours to visit the ship, as there are a lot of displays and interactive experiences to enjoy.
4. The Monument
The Monument is a 202 ft (61 metres) high column built in the late 1600s to commemorate the Great Fire of London. Those 202 feet are important, as this is the exact distance that the tower stands from where the Great Fire of London started, on Pudding Lane.
This is an interesting piece of London’s history, and worth a visit for that alone. However, the main reason for visiting is to climb the 311 spiral steps to the public viewing platform, which offers incredible panoramic views across London.
Located about ½ mile from Tower Bridge, it stands on the piazza between Fish Street Hill and Monument Street.
As it is rather cramped inside, they only allow a small number inside at once. This means you may need to wait before being allowed in. It can also be rather cold at the top, as it is open to the elements. Once you have completed the climb to the top, you get a free souvenir certificate!
You can find out more information about visiting The Monument at their website.
Tickets can only be purchased on the day at the attraction and can’t be ordered online. The cost is £6 for adults, and £3 for children aged 5-15. If you’re visiting on the same day as Tower Bridge, you can save 20% by purchasing a combined Tower Bridge + The Monument ticket.
Open daily (except 24 – 26 December) from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing time.
1 hour is sufficient to climb to the top and take in the views.
Free things to do near Tower Bridge
1. St Dunstan in the East
St Dunstan in the East Church Garden is a small garden set within the ruins of a Wren church. This small hidden oasis in the middle of the City of London is a lovely place to visit. You can sit on one of the benches in the garden and escape the hustle and bustle of London.
The greenery drapes the old walls, which once formed part of the Church of St Dunstan. This was originally built around 1100, and over the years was extended and repaired. It was badly damaged during the Great Fire of London in 1666, and again during the Blitz during WWII.
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. or dusk (whichever is earlier). Closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
The garden and church ruins are quite small, so it won’t take more than 30 minutes to wander around and explore.
2. Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is found at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, more commonly known as the Walkie Talkie building due to it’s unusual and distinctive shape.
It is London’s highest public garden, and filled with a variety of drought-resistant Mediterranean and South African plants so you feel a world away from the city below. It also has stunning 360-degree views across London. On one side you have the Shard and South London, on another you have Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf. To the West you can see all the way from St Paul’s Cathedral to Wembley Stadium.
There is an outside terrace that overlooks the Thames, but the views are available from inside too if you’d prefer not to go outside.
In my opinion it is one of the best free things to do near Tower Bridge.
Access to the Sky Garden is free, but spaces are limited so you do need to book a (free) ticket. These are available to book up to 3 weeks in advance, and are released every Monday. They tend to get snapped up very quickly though, especially for weekends. These public access tickets are valid for one hour. You can book tickets at their website here.
If you have a reservation at one of the bars or restaurants located there, you don’t need a separate access ticket. They also do sometimes have walk-in tickets available on the day, so if you are nearby it’s always worth checking.
The public garden is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and Bank Holidays.
The restaurants and bars have different opening hours, all available on the Sky Garden website.
The ticket is valid for one hour, although if you book a table at one of the restaurants or bars, you can stay for longer.
3. St Katherine Docks
Tucked away just to the east of Tower Bridge is the tranquil oasis of St Katherine Docks. Once a busy commercial dock, it is now a marina, with a number of cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s ideal if you’re looking for somewhere to eat near Tower Bridge as it usually isn’t overly busy. There’s a lovely Spanish tapas restaurant, as well as chains such as Ping Pong, Cote Brasserie and Cafe Rouge.
There’s also the Dickens Inn pub, which serves good food and also has outdoor seating overlooking the marina for those sunny days.
Despite its proximity to busy attractions like Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, as soon as you step inside the docks you will instantly notice the peace and quiet. There are always a variety of different boats moored, and if you’re lucky you might see the Queen’s barge Gloriana which is based in St Katherine Docks from April to November.
The docks also have a number of events on during the year, from classic boat festivals to a floating cinema.
The docks are open 24/7, however businesses located within the docks will have their own opening hours.
If you just want to wander around the docks, then I’d allow an hour or so. However it’s a great location to grab a drink or bite to eat as well, so allow extra time for that.
Museums near Tower Bridge
1. Brunel Museum
The Brunel Museum is a small museum tucked away behind Rotherhithe Overground station. It tells the story about the famous Brunel engineering family, as well as the world’s oldest underwater tunnel.
The museum is in two parts – the first is in the Engine House, which tells the story behind the Thames Tunnel. The second part is underground in the large tunnel shaft which one served as the entrance hall for Victorian visitors to the station.
The tunnel is still in use today, as part of the Overground train network between Wapping and Rotherhithe stations. I’ve travelled on this line many times, and it was fascinating to find out how this small but important tunnel was constructed over 180 years ago.
£8 for an adult, £5 for children. There is an additional £1 charge for access during Guided Tour weekends.
10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Friday to Monday. Last entry at 3 p.m.
A guided tour of the tunnel shaft takes around 35-40 minutes. In addition, you could easily spend another 30-60 minutes looking around the museum exhibition in the Engine House.
The Clink prison is the oldest prison in Britain, and has a rich and varied history that spans over 600 years. At this museum located on the original site of the prison, you can learn about the inhabitants of this prison over the years, as well as the social and political change that occurred during its existence.
Located very close to Borough Market, it’s just a short walk from Tower Bridge on the south side of the river.
Entry costs £8.80 for adults, and £6.60 for children under 16.
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (last entry 5:30 p.m.) 7 days a week. Closed on Christmas Day.
It’s quite a small museum so 1-2 hours will be enough time to see everything.
3. London Bridge Experience
OK, this isn’t exactly a museum but just a few minutes walk from Tower Bridge is the London Bridge Experience. This is an interactive adventure, which brings the dark history of London Bridge to life. Once you’ve completed your journey through the London Bridge Experience, you’ll also have access to the London Tombs as part of the same admission ticket.
This is an immersive scare maze, filled with a variety of characters and creatures.
You can find more details, and book tickets online at their website.
If you buy tickets on the door, it’ll cost £28.95 for an adult, and £23.50 for a child. Booking online is cheaper, and you’ll pay £26.95 for an adult or £19.50 for a child – plus £1 booking fee.
12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday to Sunday. Closed on Christmas Day.
The experience takes around 45-60 minutes.
4. The Old Operating Theatre at London Bridge
If you’re looking for a quirky and unusual museum then this is definitely one to consider! This small but atmospheric museum is housed in the attic of the early 18th-century church of the old St Thomas’ Hospital.
Once you climb the 52 stairs up a narrow, spiral staircase, you’ll find the the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe. As part of your visit, you’ll also learn about the history of medicine across the ages.
There’s also a digital guide on the Bloomberg Connects app – free to download on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
£7.50 for adults, and £4.50 for children. You can either buy in person at the museum, or in advance online – although this incurs a 95p booking fee so it’s cheaper to buy in person. 2 for 1 offers are available – more details are available on their website.
10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday to Sunday (last admission is 4:15 p.m.)
An average visit takes around 45 minutes.
Theatres and galleries near Tower Bridge
1. White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey
Not far from Tower Bridge is the White Cube Gallery – Europe’s largest commercial gallery space. They regularly host art exhibitions, so it’s worth checking before you visit to see what’s on.
Find out more on their website.
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday
It depends on the exhibition, but 1 hour would usually be sufficient.
2. The Bridge Theatre
Just a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge is one of London’s newest theatres. The Bridge Theatre. Currently showing Guys & Dolls until August 2024, it’s the ideal place to take in a show after a visit to Tower Bridge.
You can find out more, and book tickets online on their website.
Tickets range from £19.50 to £150 depending on the seat location and performance.
There are shows at 7:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, with additional matinee performances at 2:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The performance lasts just under 3 hours, including a 15 minute interval.
3. Tate Modern
If modern and contemporary art is your thing, then just 30 minutes walk along the south bank of the Thames is the Tate Modern. This free art gallery has a number of paintings, sculptures and art installations on display from artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
There is usually a special exhibition running in addition to the free galleries, although these aren’t free and it’s recommended to book a ticket online in advance. You can find out what is on and book online on their website.
Free admission to the gallery, although there is usually an additional charge for special exhibitions.
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday to Sunday, last entry at 5:30 p.m. Closed on 24th, 25th and 26th December.
I would recommend around 2 hours to do the Tate Modern justice, although you can spend longer if you’re an art fanatic.
Tower Bridge gifts
If you’re a fan of Tower Bridge, or want to buy something to remind you of your visit then check out these gift ideas!
Map of things to do near Tower Bridge
How to use this map: Click on the icon in the top-left corner of the map to reveal a list of locations. If you click on one of the locations in the list, or one of the pins on the map, you can get more information or directions to it.
Click on the star just to the right of the title to save to your Google Maps account. You can then view the map on your phone or computer by opening Google Maps, clicking the “Saved” icon and then selecting Maps. You’ll then see this map in your list.
To open a larger version of the map in a new tab, click on the icon to the top right.