A weekend in London: Day 1

Tower of London

Tower of London

Two Digital Gypsies Rating – 4.5 Stars

To see our YouTube video on our Day 1 visit to London, please click here.

We visited London over the Labor Day weekend of 2013, which for our non- American readers was the first weekend in September.

From what we’ve read in travel guides and heard from friends, London is not a city where you want to drive a car if possible. Traffic, parking costs, and finding a place to park are the reasons we were given. So for our trip to London we drove from our current home base in Bury St. Edmunds to Epping, where we left the car in long term parking and then hopped on the Tube for the rest of the trip. Total time for the trip from Bury to downtown London was around 2 hours.

When traveling around London on the Tube be sure to buy an Oyster card, which is a rechargeable card available at any of the stations. Then you can tap on and tap off with the Oyster card to enter or leave the tube stations instead of having to buy individual trip tickets.

Arriving at our tube stop at Tower Hill we checked into our hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton on Pepys Street. We then headed for the Tower of London which is just across the street. The Tower of London is amazing. There was lots of history here and the size of the grounds was much larger than I had expected. Admission costs were 20 pounds each and if you want to visit the Crown Jewels expect more admission charges there also.

Tower Hill features:

  • Traitor’s Gate – Boat entrance from the Thames River used by many kings and queens.
  • White Tower – Started by William the Conqueror over 900 years ago and is named for the white stone from France used in the construction. In the tower you’ll find the Royal Armory which shows the armor of Henry VIII and other kings, princes, and knights. The Tower’s actual execution ax, and all kinds of canons and rifles from England’s past are on display. You can also see the Arsenal and St. John’s Chapel.
  • Crown Jewels – Across from the White Tower when you exit is the where the Crown Jewels are housed in the Waterloo Block. In front of the building is a Royal guard standing stoically. Once inside the building you’re treating to a stunning display of the Crown Jewels. My favorites were the Scepter which a new monarch receives after being crowned,and the Grand Punch Bowl of George IV which holds 144 bottles of wine.
  • Bloody Tower -Housed famous prisoners like Ann Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, Edward V, and more recently Rudolph Hess.
  • Tower Green – Houses the Beefeaters and is the location of the Scaffold Site where people of privilege in the past were beheaded away from the jeering crowds.
Tower Bridge on the Thames River

Tower Bridge on the Thames River

We ate lunch at the New Armouries Cafe near the White Tower and the food was surprisingly good considering it was cafeteria style. There is also a restroom near the cafe.

After eating we took a walk along the walls of the Tower where there is an excellent view of the Tower Bridge and the Thames River. Outside the grounds of the Tower there are numerous shops and places to eat.

If you visit the Tower of London ,plan on spending at least a half day there so that you can appreciate all the history that is evident there.