Last weekend Brad and I ventured to one of London’s newest tourist attractions: the glass floor walkway at the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Overall, it was a fun experience and for the relatively cheap price I think it was worth it. Here’s what you need to know to plan your own trip to Tower Bridge.
I felt admission was reasonably priced, at least for London’s standards. Make sure that you book online to save a few pounds and if you’re a student or hold some other special status, don’t forget to claim your discount. There are no specific time periods to select for your visit but rather you just select a day and you’re ticket is good for a visit on that particular day. Here are the prices:
- £8 per adult (if booked online)
- £9 per adult if purchased on site
The entrance to the exhibition is at the northwest tower. To get there, make your way to the west side of the bridge and simply follow the sidewalk until you arrive at the Exhibition Center. The lobby is pretty small and I can only imagine how packed it gets inside there during peak summer hours. Still, the line went by pretty quickly and we were giving them my phone to scan my eTicket within minutes.
Once you arrive at the top floor but before you enter the walkway, there’s a short film presentation on the history of the bridge. It’s fairly entertaining and an interesting way to get some background information on the history of the bridge. Once that’s over, you’re ready to head to the walkway toward the glass floor.
In the walkway there are a lot of different interpretive panels on the history of Tower Bridge and other fascinating bridges across the world. A quick aside: these panels, and many others, claim that Tower Bridge is the most famous bridge in the world. I think that might be up for debate, however. Personally, I think that the Golden Gate Bridge is worthy of the most famous bridge title. Sure, that could be my West Coast bias coming into play, but I’d be willing to bet that Tower Bridge is often confused with London Bridge so much that the Golden Gate Bridge is more readily recognized by the average person. Regardless of who is really #1, however, there’s no denying Tower Bridge is still a spectacular bridge.
But back to the point… the hall housing the glass walkway was a little busy for my liking. Not quite overwhelming but every section of the small glass walk was occupied pretty much at all times making it kind of difficult to really get the kind of photographs I was hoping for. And just when it started to thin out, more tourists poured in. I really think that the walkway would be a much bigger hit if it were much longer but I could understand how that could pose problems to both the structure and architectural integrity of the bridge. Despite dealing with the crowds a little bit, it was still an interesting experience just stepping out onto the glass platform.
Once you step on the glass and are looking way down at the River Thames, the view definitely plays tricks with your mind. I felt a little dizzy and as if my brain was on adrenaline stand-by mode as I took my first steps onto the glass. It’s really cool to look down on all of the pedestrians walking across the bridge and to see all of the classic London taxis and busses making their way across. If you really wanted to make the most out of your experience then I recommend that you plan your visit for a time when the bridge will be opening. That would really make the experience a lot more worthwhile to me, as you’d have a bird’s eye view of Tower Bridge rising up right beneath you.
It was pretty funny to see how different people reacted on the glass walk. On the one hand, there were people laying down carefree on the glass taking selfies and posing precariously. On the other hand, there were quite a few people who were actually too scared to even step foot on the glass. These people tiptoed on the outside of the glass to make it by as if there was nothing there to protect them from falling.
The view from the walkway of the Thames, downtown London, and the Tower of London were okay but not really phenomenal. The crossbeams and thick glass windows made it a little difficult to get great views of the city but there were good enough views to appreciate the city. I’m sure the views are much better up in the Shard or even the London Eye, but for a fraction of the price, these views were good enough.
After you make your way to the south tower there’s another film on the construction of the bridge you can watch. This film was mid-way through when we stepped into the room so we just continued on. To get out, you go through a number of flights of stairs and on your way down there’s some cool views of the interior of the towers as well as the city of London. Also, take some time to check out some of the min-exhibits set up along the way and don’t forget to look up to see some manican-workers perched up on the beams.
Once you make your way back down you can follow the blue line to get a glimpse of the engine room. Since we were on a bit of a time crunch (as always) we opted not to do the engine room tour and so I can’t give my review on that.
Overall, the glass walkway at Tower Bridge is a worthy tourist destination, if only because of the cheap price. The views may not blow you away but the feeling of stepping on glass over the bridge is moderately thrilling enough to warrant a visit. I’d probably mostly recommend this for those folks looking for a cheaper alternative than the Shard or the London Eye but it’s still a worthy attraction in its own right.