Hello fellow travelers, I’m busy planning the itinerary for our family trip to Paris and London in a couple weeks. We have a 4 year old girl and almost 7 year old boy. We just have two and a half days in London and already have some great plans. But I’m questioning whether we should take the time and expense to tour the Tower of London. My children might be too young for a long crowded tour and to hear about executions but I definitely want them to see the outside and see Beefeaters. Is that possible or does one need to pay admission in order to see the grounds, exterior and to see Beefeaters and is there anywhere else to see Beefeaters? Thank you for your help.
Of course you have to pay to get inside the gates.
Don’t recall Beefeaters mingling outside the Tower gates.
Remember the Beefeaters are the Towers official Guards.
You could walk along the adjacent Thames Path and see the exterior then walk them across Tower Bridge.
If you don’t think your children will like touring the Tower with the hordes, save your money and take them elsewhere. Somewhere completely different like Mudchute Farm OR to Diana’s Playground in Kensington Gardens near Kensington Palace OR to the playground at Olympic Park OR to the London Transport Museum OR to see the buskers in Covent Garden.
Totally agree with Claudia’s suggestions. We took our 8 year old granddaughter and another relative a couple of years ago. Our group was so big it was a crushing experience and the 8 year old couldn’t see much of anything. She and I ended up going out the main gate and sitting along the moat to watch the catapult display.
Thank you both for your help. I want them to have a real London experience though not just playgrounds. And my almost 7 year old son is fascinated with castles and I think he’d really like seeing Beefeaters. I just haven’t been in so long and wasn’t sure if they were just outside the castle and we could see them without paying for the tour. The catapult sounds wonderful too, he loves all that stuff. We just don’t need a full tour with the executions, jewels, history, etc. just want to see grounds and Beefeaters. So I suppose we need to pay admission but maybe not take the tour and whisk through at our own quick pace to see Beefeaters and the catapult.? We don’t have much time either. I was planning on us doing it following a 5pm London eye ride (30 minutes) then taking the boat there and touring quickly 6-7pm before our Medieval Banquet next to the Tower of London where the doors open at 7:15pm. Do you think that’s doable? I really appreciate your guidance.
I was just about to encourage you to take both kids inside to see the Beefeaters, the rooks, the walls, the try-on armour, and to walk around. Perhaps join a Beefeater tour for the first two stops and drop off (no hassle doing that) before the Green stop.
They and you would have had a fabulous time. Executions are a really small part of the history of the Tower, and a really small part of the Beefeater tour.
There are loads of kids on these tours and they love it. 4 is a bit young (hold her hand, or hold her), but most 7 year olds lap it up.
These talks are designed for tourists of all ages.
But that is all out the window given your second post here, I'm afraid, Nicole. You won't be able to get in, regardless. Last admission is at 5pm and everything is closed and everybody ushered out by 5:30pm. It is an hour earlier in winter.
If you are just getting on the London Eye at 5, you won't see anything at the Tower when you get there. All the Beefeaters - even if you could glance over from Tower Bridge Road - into one of the living quarters areas you won't see any in uniform. They'll mostly be at home, inside, and in civilian dress.
If you did the Tower first, maybe. But as Emma says, you are trying to fit a gallon into a pint pot.
Thank you so much for this post, now it really seems we need to plan it for a different day which we can do and there is plenty for them to enjoy and a way to enjoy it fully without taking the full tour. That’s what we’ll do, I just wasn’t sure how much there was for you g children inside and if it was all about executions and was hoping we could see Beefeaters outside before paying admission and going inside for a tour. I want to buy fun Beefeater souvenirs but it doesn’t mean anything g if they don’t see them during the trip. Do you think there will be much of a line if we are there early Thursday or Friday morning?
Buy your tickets on line ahead from the official website and the you don't have to wait in line to buy tickets. Just have to wait in the security queue along with everybody. My experience - as a member there - is the tourists queue up for the security check before opening and once that dam has burst (the doors open exactly, precisely, on time - they are very proud of that) there is another period 5 or 10 minutes after opening that ticket holders have very little queue. I tend to go down to Paul bakery across the street from the entry and have a coffee and pastry. Others are very happy to queue for the security - that's when you show your tickets too - but I prefer to queue with a coffee and pastry.
Study the on-line map on the website, and read the history so you can be the tourguide for hubby and kiddoes. Then just really enjoy. I'm a member because I love it so much there that I go several times a year. I'm not a kid, but I see plenty of kids having a wonderful time. You know your own kiddoes and how much energy they have, and how much the two of you have chasing them...
Click on visit. Click on facilities to get to the map and other goodies.
If seeing Beefeaters is important, you could go to the Beefeaters Gin distillery. They could look at the bottles and you could sample the wares. ;-).
Actually, we did take the tour and found it very interesting, but we had a lot more time than you, plus no young ones to entertain.
Also, don’t run yourself ragged trying to see everything. A hectic pace can be exhausting for a four year old and turn what should be a wonderful time for them into a grueling ordeal that may sour them to travel for years to come.
Shakespeare's Richard III includes a couple of kids who didn't enjoy their visit.
I just took my 12 and 13 year old to the Tower and they loved it.
You will not have time between your London Eye at 5p and a 7p dinner reservation. Your pushing it with that. I had a 7p fast track London Eye ticket and didn’t get on until 7:30. If you don’t have a fast track ticket, you might not get on for a 5p reservation until 6p or so. It’s crowded.
Good one, Dav.
This question has been sufficiently answered by many other contributors, so I won't repeat what's been said, just add one or two new ideas.
I will just add: You can get a fairly good look by walking around the outside of the Tower. Not as good as going inside, but if a walk-by is all you have time for, that may have to do.
The entrance gate/booth is on the south-west corner, and it is my recollection that there was a Beefeater manning the collection booth, and also a Beefeater standing to the right side of the entrance, to maintain order, I'd imagine.
So you could see one of those without paying and going inside, and maybe snap a photo.
A lovely place to sit and enjoy the view of the Tower is on its south side. There are benches overlooking the River Thames, a good view out that way, too, of Tower Bridge and boats on the water.
What your children may enjoy most is a ride on one of the riverboats that docks at the pier behind the Tower of London. You get a great view of the Tower from out on the water, including a view of Traitor's Gate.
Thames Clipper riverboats travel either east toward Greenwich from there, or west toward Westminster area/London Eye.
Thames Clipper riverboats take the Oyster card.
Tap in when you get on, tap out when you exit the boat.
Map of their route along the river:
When specifically are you coming? During the school holidays/half term etc there’s almost always special kiddie activities. In the recent past there’s been family trails to follow, colouring stations, puppet making, photo ops, storytelling, etc. These are designed for kids of all ages...4 and 7 will really enjoy it.
However, that’s not all the time; it really depends on when you’re coming.
You could also consider the Ceremony of the Keys. Short, with a Beefeater, at night. The group of kids (5th-12th grades) I had with me two years ago really liked it. Plus, if you can get some of the limited tickets, it’s free.
Thank you all so much, you’ve been so helpful. I think you are right it is definitely worth a visit inside especially for my son who is fascinated with castles and armor, he loves the idea of trying on armor one of you wrote about and of course seeing Beefeaters. And yes it was cramming too much in to go following our London Eye 5pm tickets. We have no plans that morning yet, I think we’ll make a morning of the Tower of London, then afternoon tea at the Ivy of Chelsea Garden then 5pm fast track London Eye with the video and then the Thames Clipper from the London Eye to the Tower of London for our 7:15pm Medieval Banquet. The ceremony of the keys might be great but we have our medieval banquet plan already for the kids that are interested in jesters, acrobats etc and it might be too late a bed time for our two previous nights. We will be there June 26-29 fyi
I know you've already made your decision but just thought I would say I think your kids might enjoy the inside more than you think. I took my daughter there last year, just as she was turning 7 and she loved it. We didn't do any of the tours but did see the crown jewels, go into the white tower where all the armor is (which surprisingly she really enjoyed, loved looking at how each was different), found it funny to find the kings "throne" while in there), had her picture made with a Beefeater, some ladies walking around in costume, the guards standing outside the jewel building, loved looking at all of the sculptures of the animals that were scattered around the grounds, seeing the small area at the front that had various exhibits inside an area where they used to live and especially loved looking around the shop and picking out a Christmas ornament to bring home. I think it was well worth taking her. Enjoy London, my daughter loved it!
By the way, while in Paris, if you go to the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower, my daughter says to try the macaroons they sell up there. They were her favorite!!
Unrelated to the Tower debate, but we took my (then) 15-month-old to London last year and spent a significant amount of time at playgrounds and parks. You kids are older and I'm sure they will do much better with actual sites, but for a mobile toddler, that wasn't as much of an option for us.
We visited the Princess Diana playground in Kensington, and within the span of 5 minutes, I lost count of how many languages I heard. English, French, Italian, Russian (I think?), Spanish, German, and more I couldn't recognize. I couldn't help but think that we would have been hard-pressed to find a "more London" experience than that.
Have so much fun on your trip!
You may not be able to squeeze it in but have you considered at day trip to Warwick Castle? https://www.warwick-castle.com/
7 year old boys who love castles will love Warwick. 54 year old acted like a 7 year old boy while there.