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5 Great Places for Free Live Music in London

The live music scene in London is one that no other destination can rival. The city is brimming with pubs reverberating with the sound of guitars, underground clubs where the collective youth heaves to the sounds of local DJs and grime acts, lively jazz venues that transport you to a different time, and grand halls and stadiums filled with classical and contemporary music.

Listening to free music is one of the best free things to do in London. Save yourself a few quid and read on for five of the best spots across the city to enjoy some free live music.

1. The Old Blue Last – Indie & Alternative Rock

The cradle of live music in London, The Old Blue Last is legendary when it comes to free, live music. The pub venue is located in Shoreditch and, while some gigs come with a price tag, a lot of nights are free entry.
This classic London-style pub is lined with dark wood and has a distinctive alternative and indie vibe inside, which is also the main types of bands they have playing. A lot of now-famous bands have started out with gigs here, including Foals, Hot Chip, and Lily Allen, to name but a few.

audience

2. The Nightjar – Jazz, Swing & Blues

As soon as you enter The Nightjar, you’ll be transported back in time to the 1920s. The cosy and stylish cocktail bar is all class, the service impeccable and the drinks pricey. But at least the music is free – they regularly host the biggest names in jazz, swing, and blues, which only lends to the stylish throwback atmosphere in the bar.

3. Covent Garden – Buskers

For some of the best street performers and buskers in town, Covent Garden never fails to have something happening. Full of shops, restaurants, bars and theatre, the cultural destination would be amiss not to include any live music. Wander through the marketplace to find the best buskers the city has to offer, warbling melodically to onlookers.

4. Southbank Centre – World, Classical and General Music

A surprising amount of free live music is offered at the Southbank Centre, right on the River Thames, smack bang in the middle of London. The diversity is astounding; you might hear classical music played by a local orchestra one day, only to witness tribal African music the next.

guitar

5. The Lock Tavern

Head to Camden where The Lock Tavern resides, one of the most popular spots to catch a live gig in the neighbourhood. Grab some pub grub and set yourself up with a pint before enjoying one of the many free shows that are put on in the bar. The rustic aesthetic of the brick walls glimmer under the disco ball and dazzling spectrum of lights, as DJs and indie alternative acts take to the stage and get the crowd dancing. Don’t be surprised to see some hip-hop or funk here as well – anything goes.

As London experts, Premium Tours offers a number of tours around the UK’s capital and beyond. For more information or prices, book online or call 0207 713 1311.

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57 Free Things to Do in London

London is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and there certainly is plenty to do. It’s also one of the most expensive cities, so it is important to add some free attractions to your itinerary.

You don’t need to max out your credit card to see the best of what our magnificent capital has to offer. In fact, if you follow our advice you won’t even have to open your wallet.

Here are 57 free things to do in London.

Museums

1. Natural History Museum

As well as the iconic T. rex, the magnificent Hintze Hall is now also home to a 25-metre blue whale skeleton. There are hundreds of new specimens displayed over three floors, which are divided into colour zones that tell the story of evolution, diversity of life, the creation of Earth, and our role in the planet’s future.

Open daily 10.00-17.50.

Natural History Museum

2. Museum of London

Take a fascinating journey into the past and learn about the history of London from prehistoric times up to the present day. Discover the turbulent past of our capital city including Roman and Saxon times, the Civil Wars, the plague, the Great Fire and life in Victorian London.

Open daily 10.00-18.00.

3. Victoria & Albert Museum

After admiring this fine example of Victorian architecture from the outside, step in to discover some of the most stunning art and design collections in the world. Highlights include the Medieval Renaissance galleries, the Jewellery Gallery and the British Galleries.

Open daily 10.00-17.45, Fridays 10.00-22.00.

4. V&A Museum of Childhood

Situated at Bethnal Green, the museum houses a fascinating collection of toys, dolls, houses and construction toys dating back to the 1600s. There are also displays of objects relating to all aspects of childhood in the home and in the classroom.

Open daily 10.00-17.45.

5. National Maritime Museum

The largest maritime museum in the world houses over two million precious artefacts related to exploration and the history of the Royal Navy. Learn about life and death on the seas and see the actual uniform Nelson wore when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Open daily 10.00-17.00.

6. Science Museum

There’s a whole range of weird and wonderful interactive activities for adults and children at the Science Museum. Discover how astronauts go to the toilet in space or what it’s like to be a pregnant man! It’s also home to the Apollo 10 command capsule and Stephenson’s Rocket.

Open daily 10.00-18.00.

7. British Museum

The British Museum is home to thousands of fascinating artefacts from ancient civilisations and cultures around the world, including Egyptian mummies, Samurai armour and the famous Rosetta Stone. The exhibits are centred on the spectacular Great Court.

Open daily 10.00-17.30, Fridays 10.00-20.30.

8. Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum houses a collection of experiences of people in wartime since the First World War. Permanent Exhibitions include Extraordinary Heroes, Secret War, a Family in Wartime, and the Holocaust Exhibition.

Open daily 10.00-18.00.

9. British Library

Open to the public, the British Library also offers a free Treasure Gallery where you can see the original Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s first folio, Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook scribblings, and Beatles lyrics handwritten by John Lennon.

Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 09.30-18.00, Tuesday 09.30-20.00, Saturday 09.30-17.00, Sunday 11.00-17.00.

Galleries

10. National Gallery

This spectacular building houses masterpieces from some of the greatest artists in history including Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Renoir and Turner.

Open daily 10.00-18.00, Friday 10.00-21.00.

11. National Portrait Gallery

Home to the world’s largest collection of portraits from the Middle Ages to the present day in different media, including paintings, sculptures, photography and video.

See the faces of famous people in British history, from royalty to movie stars.

Open daily 10.00-18.00, Thursdays and Fridays 10.00-21.00.

12. Tate Modern

On the banks of the Thames, the Tate Modern houses a fascinating collection of modern and contemporary art from around the world, including works from Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol and Pollock. There are also activities for younger children to keep them occupied while you look around.

Open Sunday to Thursday 10.00-18.00, Friday and Saturday 10.00-22.00.

13. Saatchi Gallery

Displaying contemporary art from lesser-known artists, the Saatchi Gallery has helped launch the careers of many British artists, including Damien Hurst.

Open daily 10.00-18.00.

Monuments

14. Nelson’s Column

Taking pride of place in Trafalgar Square, the statue was erected to commemorate Admiral Lord Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

15. The Monument

Built between 1671 and 1677, this vast column was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666. It stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London.

16. Marble Arch

Designed by John Nash and made from Carrara marble, the arch was moved from its original position in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace to its present location. The move helped to make room for extensions to the palace for Victoria and Albert’s growing family.

17. Big Ben

The clock at the Palace of Westminster is one of London’s most famous landmarks. The tower, constructed between 1843 and 1858 is over 300ft high. The tower is even more impressive at night when all four clock faces are illuminated.

big ben

18. Statue of Eros

The winged statue can be found in Piccadilly Circus and many believe it to be Eros, the God of Love. However, it’s actually his brother, Anteros, the Angel of Christian Charity. It was erected as a memorial to the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury in 1886 in honour of his charitable works.

19. London Wall

The London Wall at Tower Hill is the original wall built by the Romans to protect the ancient port of Londinium during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

Parks

20. Hyde Park

Centrally located Hyde Park has cycle tracks, a lake and a spectacular children’s playground. It’s also home to the Serpentine Bridge, the Diana Memorial Fountain, and the famous ‘Speaker’s Corner’.

21. Regent’s Park

Regent’s Park has some stunning rose gardens, vast outdoor sports areas, and is home to wild bird species and waterfowl. It’s also home to London Zoo.

22. St James’s Park

Surrounded by 3 royal palaces, St. James’s Park has a fabulous lake where you can watch pelicans being fed at 2.30pm. It’s also where Horse Guards Parade is located.

23. Greenwich Park

Greenwich, the oldest royal park, is home to herds of deer and offers breathtaking views across the River Thames and the City of London.

24. Wimbledon Common

This large conservation area has a number of plant and insect species and offers wonderful nature walks. You may even spot a ‘Womble’ if you’re lucky!

squirrel

25. Hampstead Heath

Popular with picnickers, the views from Parliament Hill are spectacular. It’s a great place to watch the sun setting over the city.

Gardens

26. Kensington Gardens

The green splendour of Kensington Gardens with its backdrop of Kensington Palace is also home to the Peter Pan statue and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.

27. Barbican Conservatory

See exotic fish, birds and tropical plants in the hidden garden at the Barbican Conservatory.

28. Japanese Garden

Relax and escape in the Kyoto Japanese Garden at Holland Park.

29. Chiswick House

Explore the many pathways and beautiful displays of flowers in the 18th century gardens of Chiswick House in West London.

30. Queen Mary’s Garden

Discover the amazing varieties of roses in Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in the inner circle of Regent’s Park.

31. Phoenix Garden

The beautiful community garden of Phoenix is right in the heart of the West End and has a wonderful display of wildflowers.

Walks

32. South Bank

The South Bank Walk along the River Thames near the City of Westminster is a great way to see some of the more famous London sites, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.

33. Little Venice

Wander along the peaceful towpaths of Little Venice, London’s Canal district, where you’ll discover an array of waterside cafes and pubs.

little venice

34. Millennium Bridge

A stroll across the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge offers spectacular views of St Paul’s Cathedral, which is linked by the bridge to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Markets

35. Borough Market

Feast your eyes on the food stalls at Borough Market, home to small, independent producers selling a range of British and International gourmet food products.

36. Camden Market

Camden Market is the home of vintage. Browse through secondhand and retro stalls selling vintage clothing from the 1940s to the present day.

37. Portobello Street Market

Wander along Portobello Street Market and peruse the many antiques and collectables stalls the market is famous for.

38. Leadenhall Market

Admire the stunning architecture and ornate glass-and-iron roof of the beautiful, Victorian Leadenhall Market, used as the setting for Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter film.

39. Columbia Road Flower Market

Breathe in heady, sweet aromas and marvel at colourful displays of flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market.

Stores

40. Fortnum & Mason

Nibble on some delicious free food samples in the fancy food halls of Fortnum & Mason. You can even sample their teas!

41. Harrods

Browsing through the 300 retail departments of Harrods doesn’t cost a penny. Many tourists wandering the hallowed Knightsbridge institute don’t actually buy anything, but just visit for the experience.

42. Hamleys

Delight at the spectacular window displays of Hamleys on Regent Street. The displays at Christmas time are particularly enchanting.

43. Harvey Nichols

South of Hyde Park you’ll find the magnificent Harvey Nichols where you can enjoy browsing the array of handbags and trying on perfumes.

Churches

44. Templar

The 13th century effigies of the Knights Templar in the nave of Templar Church are must see for fans of The Da Vinci Code.

45. St Mary-le-Bow

Tradition states that only someone born within the sounds of the Bow Bells at St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside is a true cockney. Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt the historic church after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

46. St Olave’s

Samuel Pepys is buried in the 15th century church of St Olave’s near Fenchurch Street. Mary Ramsey, the woman believed to have bought the plague to London in 1665, is also buried here.

47. St Bride

The site at St Bride in Fleet Street is believed to date back to the 6th century. There is a plague pit from 1665 in the churchyard where numerous plague victims are buried, including the brother of Samuel Pepys.

Popular Attractions

48. Changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard takes place most days at 11am. The best viewpoint is from the railings at Buckingham Palace, but be sure to get there early as it gets very crowded.

changing of the guard

49. Platform 9 ¾

Harry Potter fans should visit Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station. There you’ll find a luggage trolley partially embedded in the wall, making a perfect photo opportunity.

50. Ceremony of the Keys

Every evening the 700-year-old Ceremony of the Keys ritual takes place at 9.30 as the Chief Yeoman Warder locks the doors to the Tower of London.

51. Abbey Road

No die-hard Beatles fan can resist a photo opportunity, strolling across the famous zebra crossing on Abbey Road.

52. Covent Garden

Soak up the bustling atmosphere of Covent Garden while watching the lively street entertainers perform.

53. Piccadilly Circus

Watch the world go by and take a selfie in front of the bright neon lights in Piccadilly Circus.

Entertainment

54. Angel Comedy Club

The Angel Comedy Club on Islington High Street offers stand-up comedy shows on Saturdays that are free to attend. Shows start at 8pm and are very popular, so make sure you get there early.

55. St Martin’s in the Fields Concerts

St Martin’s in the Fields at Trafalgar Square hosts free lunchtime concerts featuring choral music and piano solos on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at 1pm.

56. Royal Academy of Music Recitals

Every Tuesday afternoon chamber groups and solo performers from the Royal Academy of Music at Marylebone Road perform recitals free of charge.

57. The Scoop

Queen’s Walk on the south side of the River Thames is home to the Scoop, an enormous outdoor amphitheatre that hosts a range of free productions and entertainment during the summer. Events include live music performances, plays and movie screenings.

Premium Tours offer a range of luxury and open-top bus tours around the capital. Have a look at all our London tours here.

shopping

7 Vintage Shops in London We Love

Unique, one-of-a-kind, a piece of history, and every item with its own story to tell: that’s the beauty of vintage clothing, and that’s why we love it so much.

In London, where fashion and history blend seamlessly together, you’ll find some of the best vintage clothing stores in the world.

If you’re looking for a truly special memento that can’t be found on the capital’s high streets, here’s a roundup of seven vintage shops in London you’re sure to love.

1.Rokit, Covent Garden

The retro clothing giant started life as a humble market stall in Camden and has since expanded to several large stores across London.

Here you can pick up some real bargains for men and women. Take your time to hunt through the racks and you may find a designer gem or classic dress from the 1940s.

2. Rellik, W10

A favourite with celebrity shoppers, designers and fashion editors, Rellik has a fantastic display of designer womenswear dating from the 1930s to the present day.

The displays are beautiful and the bare wall backdrop adds to its retro feel. If you’re a Vivienne Westwood fan, you’ll love Rellik.

relik

3. The Vintage Showroom, Covent Garden

This famous London store focuses exclusively on menswear from the mid 20th century. If you’re looking for a unique gift for your husband, boyfriend or son, you’ll be amazed at the extensive selection of denim, shirts, leather and shoes on offer.

4. Beyond Retro, Brick Lane

You could easily get lost in the largest and most affordable vintage store in London. Beyond Retro has something for everyone, from 1960s party dresses to antique accessories and vintage shoes.

Beyond Retro only sources items from charitable organisations, and they even have their own fashion label. There are two more branches in Dalston and Soho.

5. Absolute Vintage, Spitalfields

Just around the corner from Brick Lane, you’ll find Absolute Vintage, a treasure trove for shoe lovers. Vintage shoes cost between £10 and £20, and clothes start from £1!

You have to rummage around the enormous amounts of clothes in the bargain bins and racks, but with a little patience, you can find some real gems such as a cabinet filled with rare Chanel bags.

shopping lady

6. One of a Kind, Portobello Road

Situated on iconic Portobello Road, One of a Kind stocks a range of luxury designer labels such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Chanel, Dior and Gucci to name but a few.

It’s also a favourite shopping haunt for celebrities including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss.

Prices are hefty but the clothes are in pristine condition, sourced by the owner from auctions, markets and jumble sales.

7. Camden Market, Camden

You can’t shop for vintage clothes in London without stopping off at the famous Camden Market. Nowhere else will you find such an amazing and eclectic range of one-off gems, vintage bargains, haute couture, and classic dresses from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. You’ll even find 70s and 80s disco wear if that’s your thing.

From secondhand clothes shops to specialist stalls, Camden Market is a vintage clothes lover’s dream.

With a unique knowledge of London, Premium Tours run London tours that are filled with insider information, such as where to find the best vintage stores. There are also plenty of tours from London to other fascinating places, so whatever your interests are you’ll be able to find the perfect tour for you.

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6 Great Spots for a Curry on Brick Lane

If you’re visiting London, make sure to complete your visit with an Indian curry at the iconic Brick Lane, the vibrant hub that’s full of colour, music and the unmistakable aromas of Indian spices.

With so many eateries to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. And, let’s face it, almost every restaurant website here boasts that they’re the ‘best Indian Restaurant on Brick Lane’.

To help you choose, here are six great spots for a curry on Brick Lane.

1. City Spice

The award-winning ‘King of Brick Lane’ was the winner of the Masterchef Curry Award 2017. The lively, buzzing local has been recently refurbished with a modern, Indian-influenced decor.

The menu is based on ‘Indian food served to the Mughal Emperors at the time of British India but with a little Bengali twist’.

Specialities:

  • Thatul Tanga Bhujon – chicken, lamb or vegetables cooked in a sweet, sour and spicy sauce.
  • Shahi Chingri Bhuna – a classic dish served to the mogul emperors of king prawns baked in their shells in a tandoori oven and finished with a mixture of spices served with baked tomatoes.

city spice

2. The Famous Curry Bazaar

This elegant, modern and spacious restaurant is popular with celebrities and serves typical dishes with a modern twist, including a variety of vegetable options. It’s ideal for parties and get-togethers with friends.

Specialities:

  • Spicy Lamb or Chicken Tawa – made with fresh tomatoes, onion, capsicum, ginger and fresh green chillies.
  • Lamb Shashlik Bhuna – skewered with capsicum and onion, then grilled in the tandoori.

3. Bengal Village

Enjoy a blend of Indian dishes made with the freshest, local ingredients in relaxed surroundings. Bengal Village takes pride in producing Bangladeshi dishes using local produce that’s delivered daily.

Specialities:

  • Karai dishes cooked in a sizzling iron wok, which gives them a delicious smoky flavour.
  • Tandoori Lamb Chops Massala Karahi cooked with fresh herbs and spices, ghee and garlic.
  • Banana or Mango Lassi.

4. Sheba

Established in 1974, the chic and stylish decor of Sheba belies its reasonable prices. As well as traditional dishes, the restaurant specialises in lamb shank dishes that literally melt in the mouth.

Sheba was voted ‘Best Curry House in the UK’ by the Cobra Good Curry Guide 2015.

Specialities:

  • Bengal Lamb Shank – slowly roasted with carrots, spices and saffron.
  • Bollywood Blast – for hot chilli lovers, tender lamb chunks cooked with a variety of chillies.

5. Aladin

Applauded by Prince Charles and listed by the BBC as one of the world’s best curry houses, this bustling, lively restaurant prides itself on its authenticity.

Specialities:

  • Chicken or Lamb Sizzler – made with onions, tomatoes, green chilli peppers and pistachios.
  • Haryalic Chicken Masala – marinated in spinach and mint, grilled then cooked in a creamy sauce.

aladin brick lane

6. Cinnamon

This is one of the most popular restaurants on Brick Lane so it’s wise to book in advance. Winner of numerous awards, Cinnamon is famous for its grilled meat specialities.

Specialities:

  • Lamb Shatkora – cooked in a thick Bengali sauce using ‘Shatkora’, a special lime exclusive to the Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
  • Lemon Grass Chicken – a medium, spicy sauce cooked with lemongrass.

With extensive local knowledge, Premium Tours offer a number of London tours where you can get the lowdown on things in the city, such as where to find the best curry. You can have a look at all of our tours here.

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Here Are All the Harry Potter Filming Locations

If you are a Harry Potter fan visiting London, then spending a day at the Warner Bros. Studio is a must. However, if you have time, the whole of the UK is a treasure trove of Harry Potter hotspots.

When the magical world of Harry Potter was brought to life on film, much of the success of the films, based on the bestselling novels by J. K. Rowling, was due to the fact that the locations seemed so familiar.

Although computer graphics and special effects played a large role in the films and much of the filming was done at Leavesden Film Studios, the external locations are very real.

Some of the most iconic British landmarks and scenery were the settings for the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione in their quest to battle the forces of the Dark Lord and the Deatheaters.

From the chalk cliffs of East Sussex to the Scottish Highlands, the trail of Harry Potter filming locations runs the length of Britain.

So if you want to escape the mundane muggle world and enter the magical world of Harry Potter, here is the full list of Harry Potter filming locations you can visit around the country (broomstick not required).

England

Warner Bros Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour

This fascinating behind-the-scenes tour at the Warner Bros Studio displays the sets, costumes and props used in the films.

harry potter

Kings Cross Station, London

No true Harry Potter fan can miss a visit to the famous station where Harry first began his adventure.

Head over to the west concourse. There you’ll find a plaque and a baggage trolley embedded in the wall between platforms 9 and 10. Don’t miss out on a perfect photo opportunity, complete with Gryffindor scarf. There is also a Platform 9 ¾ gift shop where you can buy exclusive Harry Potter merchandise.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

Although Platform 9 ¾ can be found at King’s Cross Station. The station’s entrance featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is actually the stunning exterior of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, a 5-minute walk away.

Leadenhall Market, London

The cobbled streets, quirky shops and gothic architecture of this beautiful London market is so atmospheric, you could almost believe you’re in Diagon Alley. Well, you are! The market was used as the setting for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Turning into Bull’s Head Passage, you’ll see the blue painted door of an optician’s shop. This was used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Millennium Bridge, London

When the bridge first opened in 2000, it had to be adjusted because it wobbled disconcertingly. But that was nothing compared to its dramatic collapse into the River Thames after a Deatheater attack at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

London Zoo

The Reptile House at London Zoo is the very same one where Harry spoke parseltongue with a Burmese python. You won’t see Dudley Dursley in the glass tank though. The enclosure is actually the home of a Black Mamba.

Other London locations used in the films were:

  • Australia House – Gringott’s Bank
  • Cecil Court, just off Charing Cross Road – entrance to the Leaky Cauldron
  • Great Scotland Yard – entrance to the Ministry of Magic
  • Claremont Square – Grimmauld Place

Lavenham, Suffolk

Why build a film set when you have at your disposal, historic, authentic and stunning villages that are seemingly untouched by time?

The beautiful, medieval Suffolk village of Lavenham looks like time stood still. The quaint, rustic higgledy-piggledy houses were the perfect setting for Godric’s Hollow, home to Lily and James Potter. It was also where baby Harry was struck by Voldemort to become ‘the boy that lived’.

The village features in the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Virginia Water, Surrey

When you think of Hogwarts’ Lake, an isolated loch in the remote Scottish Highlands comes to mind. Yet, ironically, the lake featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry soars across on the back of the Hippogriff, is at Virginia Water in Surrey only a few miles away from Heathrow Airport. In fact, the first landscape scenes of Hogwarts’ Lake were filmed up in Scotland at Loch Arkaig. But the biting midges were such a nuisance that the scenes involving actors were made at Virginia Water instead.

Ashridge Woods, Newbury

Situated on the Ashridge Estate between Didcot and Newbury, Ashridge Woods is a woodland paradise with tree walks, carpeted with bluebells and other wildflowers. But this peace was shattered when it was used as the setting for the Quidditch World Cup in The Goblet of Fire.

Ashridge Estate was also home to the infamous ‘Whomping Willow’. Sadly, due to the strain of its own weight and age, the ancient tree collapsed in 2014.

Swinley Forest, Bracknell

This forest in South East England was used to film chasing scenes in The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2. In Part 1, Harry, Ron and Hermione are chased through the forest before being captured by Deatheaters. Neville is also chased through the forest in Part 2.

Seven Sisters Country Park, Eastbourne

The dramatic white cliffs of the Seven Sisters Country Park at Exceat on the South Coast of England featured in The Goblet of Fire. It’s here that Harry climbs the hill to find the boot that will transport him to the Quidditch World Cup.

seven sisters

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Nestled in the heart of Wiltshire between Salisbury and Bath, you’ll find the charming and historic village of Lacock.

Almost entirely owned by the National Trust, the historic appearance of Lacock has been beautifully preserved, and care has been taken to hide any signs of modernity such as overhead wires. No wonder then, that Lacock has been the setting for many period dramas including Pride and Prejudice and, more recently, Downton Abbey.

The village is also home to the magnificent 13th century Lacock Abbey. The interior of the abbey was featured in various scenes in the first two Harry Potter films.

In the first film, Harry was chosen to play Quidditch in the halls of the abbey. The abbey’s interior was also used for Professor Snape’s potions class and the Mirror of Erised scenes.

In The Chamber of Secrets when leaving Professor Lockhart’s room after detention, Harry hears the Basilisk in the cloisters of the Abbey.

Gloucester Cathedral

The cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral will be very familiar to Harry Potter fans. They were used as the corridors of Hogwarts in several interior scenes including:

  • The hallway where Harry and Ron, searching for Hermione, spot a 20ft troll in The Philosopher’s Stone
  • The ‘fat lady’ scenes in the first movie
  • The writing on the wall and the flooded corridor in The Chamber of Secrets.

Oxford

Oxford is not only famous as an elite centre of academic excellence, but also for the magnificent architecture of its scholarly buildings.

The stone staircase of Christ Church College featured in The Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry, Hermione, Ron and the other new students enter Hogwarts for the first time.

Hogwarts’ Library, frequented by studious Hermione, and the restricted section where Harry sneaks in wearing the cloak of invisibility was actually Duke Humfrey’s Library in Oxford.

The Divinity School on the ground floor of Bodleian Library featured as Hogwarts’ infirmary in the first two films. Recognise the big window? It’s where Harry’s bed was positioned when he woke up in the infirmary at the end of The Philosopher’s Stone.

The cloisters of New College are where Mad-Eyed Moody turned Draco Malfoy into a ferret in The Goblet of Fire.

Durham Cathedral

The poignant scene in The Philosopher’s Stone, where Harry walks with his white owl, Hedwig, through the snowy cloister courtyard, was filmed at Durham Cathedral.

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

If you’re looking for the real-life Hogwarts, then head to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The spectacular castle grounds were used for external scenes at the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

The outer bailey is where Harry and his companions learn to fly their broomsticks under the tuition of Madame Hooch in The Philosopher’s Stone. It’s here that poor Neville Longbottom gets thrown about by his broom, before being left to hang from one of the towers.

The inner bailey is where Ron and Harry crash-land the flying car at the beginning of The Chamber of Secrets.

The imposing lion arch was used as the gateway that led out of Hogwarts to Hagrid’s hut and the Forbidden Forest.

alnwick castle

Goathland Train Station, North Yorkshire

The small Yorkshire village of Goathland is famous as the setting for the popular police soap drama, Heartbeat.

The station here also featured as Hogsmeade Station in The Philosopher’s Stone. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs steam and vintage train services from Goathland to Pickering so you can experience a ride just like the Hogwarts Express.

Malham Cove, Yorkshire

The desolate, rugged, rocky landscape of this natural limestone cove in Yorkshire featured in The Deathly Hallows Part 1. It’s where Harry and Hermione set up camp while hiding from Voldemort.

Wales

Freshwater West Beach

This windy, isolated and spectacular beach in South Pembrokeshire was the setting for Shell Cottage, home of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, featured in both The Deathly Hallows films.

The tragic and emotional scene of Dobby the house elf’s death was filmed on the sand dunes here.

Scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct

One of the most iconic scenes of all the Harry Potter films is the Hogwarts Express journey over the 21-arched viaduct to deliver the students to the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

It is, in actual fact, the Glenfinnan Viaduct that goes from Fort William to Glenfinnan. The 380-metre-long and the 31-metre-high viaduct was built in 1898.

In the films, the viaduct that overlooks Loch Shiel (also used as the Black Lake), acts as the bridge to Hogwarts. In The Prisoner of Azkaban, the train is halted here by the Dementors who subsequently torture Harry, before Professor Lupin saves him.

If you’ve ever wanted to take the journey yourself, you can – on the original Hogwarts Express!

The Jacobite Steam Train was used as the original Hogwarts Express in the films. Scottish West Coast Railways provides a service described as ‘the greatest railway journey in the world’. The 84-mile round trip starts at Fort William, passes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and ends at the beautiful fishing village of Mallaig. As well as passing over the viaduct, you’ll be able to enjoy the spectacular coastline, Highlands and lochs of Western Scotland including Ben Nevis and Loch Nevis.

glennfinnan

Glen Coe

Possibly the most famous glen in Scotland, the wild and rugged Highland hillside of Glen Coe was the filming location of Hagrid’s Hut.

Glen Coe, meaning ‘The Glen of Tears’, was also the main setting for many exterior scenes in The Prisoner of Azkaban, including the brilliant scene when Hermione punches Draco Malfoy in the face!

Steal Falls

This spectacular waterfall at the foot of Ben Nevis was where Harry’s battle with a Hungarian Horntailed dragon during the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire was filmed.

It was also used as a backdrop for some Quidditch match scenes.

Loch Eilt

A rather apt and poignant place to finish up your discovery of Harry Potter filming locations is Loch Eilt in North West Scotland.

It’s here that Hagrid skimmed stones across the water in The Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s also where Voldemort stole the elder wand in The Deathly Hallows Part 1.

More significantly, it is the final resting place of Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

Loch Eilt featured as the island location of Dumbledore’s grave in The Deathly Hallows Part 1.

And finally…

No self-respecting Harry Potter fan can visit Edinburgh without popping into the place where it all began.

The Elephant House coffee shop is located on Marshall Street in the heart of historic Edinburgh. It’s here that J.K. Rowling wrote most of the first books of Harry Potter. She wrote in the quieter back area of the cafe with a view overlooking Edinburgh Castle. This is where the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft came from.

You can find more information about the Warner Bros. Tour here and don’t forget, we also offer plenty of other excellent tours in and around London too.

changing of guard

A Guide to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Brass, bearskins, pomp, and ceremony. If you’re planning to visit Buckingham Palace make sure you don’t miss one of the most popular events: the Changing of the Guard.

The spectacle is not just put on for tourists. It’s an important ceremony in which the on-duty guards (Old Guards) are relieved of their duty and replaced by New Guards of the Queen’s Household Division to protect Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace.

The following guide will tell you more about this iconic British attraction and when to see it.

The Queen’s Guard

The Queen’s Guard is made up of one of the five Foot Guard regiments of the Queen’s Household Division.

The tall bearskin caps and bright scarlet tunics aren’t just for show, and these guys aren’t to be messed with. They are highly trained serving infantry soldiers who also take part in active combat as well as protecting the Monarch.

The regimental flags they carry are known as ‘the Colours’ and are emblazoned with battle honours and distinctions of the regiment.

When the Queen is present at the palace, the Royal Standard flag is flown above and the number of guards is increased.

changing of the guards

History

Elite soldiers have been protecting the Monarch since the times of Henry VII. The guards you see today originate from a regiment that was set up to protect Charles II when he was in exile in 1656.

The Changing of the Guard ceremony has been taking place at Buckingham Palace since it became Queen Victoria’s official residence in 1837.

The Ceremony

Weather permitting, the ceremony takes place on most days throughout the year. Check the schedule for any updates.

10.30 am: After being inspected by the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the St James’s Palace detachment of the Old Guard marches down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace behind a brass band or drum corps.

10.45 am: The St James’s Palace detachment join the Buckingham Palace Old Guard to await the arrival of the New Guard from Wellington Barracks.

11.00 am: The New Guard arrives at Buckingham Palace. Each detachment then salutes their rifles to ‘present arms’ and the keys to the palace are handed over. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the palace security to the New Guard.

11.35 am: Relieved of duty, the Old Guard marches back to Wellington Barracks.

royal guard

Do You Need Tickets?

Not at all. The Changing of the Guard is totally free for everyone to see.

Where Should You Stand?

The best spot is at the railings in front of Buckingham Palace. But be sure to get there by 10.30 at the latest as it gets pretty crowded.

You can also follow the procession on-route between Wellington Barracks, St James’s and Buckingham Palace.

Getting There

Underground:

Green Park

Hyde Park Corner

St. James’s Park

Victoria

Bus:

Numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop at Buckingham Palace Road

Train/Coach

Victoria

If you book this tour, you’ll be able to witness the Changing of the Guard and you’ll also get to see London’s other iconic attractions. You can see the other London tours here.

stonehenge night

13 Facts About Stonehenge You Probably Don’t Know

Stonehenge is quite possibly the most mysterious and intriguing ancient monument in the world. The fact that there’s no documented evidence to explain why it was built only adds to its appeal. Each year the World Heritage UNESCO site attracts around 1 million visitors from around the world.

Over the centuries it’s been the subject of folklore, legends and theories, and we are still no nearer to discovering all of its secrets.

If you want to discover more about this fascinating ancient site, here are 13 interesting facts about Stonehenge you probably don’t know.

1. It’s older than the Pyramids

Archaeologists estimate that construction began around 3100 BC. That’s over 1,000 years before the ancient Egyptians built the Giza Pyramids.

2. It’s a royal burial site

Whatever its original purpose, it’s clear that Stonehenge was considered a place of great importance. Human remains found include female skeletons buried with precious stones, suggesting it may have been a burial site for royalty and nobility.

3. The bluestones ‘ring’

The ancient rock formations have acoustic properties and ‘ring’ when tapped. They were believed to have healing properties and curative powers over illness and injury.

4. They aren’t local

They were actually transported from South Pembrokeshire, over 200 miles away.

stonehenge

5. They float

It’s thought the bluestones, weighing 4 tonnes each, were floated on rafts or in giant wicker baskets, along the Welsh coast and up the River Avon to Wiltshire.

6. They’re bigger than they appear

Over time the bluestones sank into the soil. In 1880 Charles Darwin claimed that earthworms were responsible for the stones sinking into the ground.

7. The builders lived nearby

The people who built Stonehenge are thought to have lived at an ancient settlement at nearby Dunnington Wall.

8. You can see what they looked like

The head at the visitor’s centre has been reconstructed from a skeleton that was excavated in 1864.

9. Stonehenge was sold at auction in 1915

Part of the Antrobus family estate in the early 1800s, Stonehenge was sold at auction in 1915 to local businessman, Cecil Chubb for the grand sum of £6,600. Apparently, he’d been sent along by his wife to buy dining chairs! He eventually donated the site to the nation.

sunrise Stonehenge

10. The first tourists were Romans

Thousands of Roman artefacts including coins, jewellery and pottery, have been found during excavations, suggesting it was a shrine that was frequently visited during the Roman occupation.

11. James I was the first excavator

The first documented excavation took place in 1620 by the Duke of Buckingham under the orders of King James I.

12. The Aubrey Holes are named after a writer

The giant round chalk pits were named after archaeologist and writer, John Aubrey after he discovered them in 1666.

13. Stonehenge is not just a stone circle

Stonehenge also consists of monuments, timber structures, burial mounds and shrines over an area of around 12sq km. In 2014, researchers also discovered a series of hidden chapels in the surrounding area.

You can visit Stonehenge as part of a tour, or you can take a specific trip there. We provide private viewing tours at sunrise and sunset, which is one of the most magical ways of viewing Stonehenge.

Have a look at our variety of Stonehenge tours here, and if you’ve got any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

buckingham palace crown

7 Facts About Buckingham Palace That Will Probably Surprise You

Buckingham Palace, administrative headquarters and the official home of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is one of the most magnificent and iconic symbols of Great Britain.

From its humble beginnings as a mulberry garden and townhouse, it has been remodelled and extended over the centuries to become the most famous working palace in modern times.

But there’s more to this famous British landmark than meets the eye.

Here are 7 facts about Britain’s best-loved palace that will probably surprise you.

1. A Self-Contained Town

The palace is not just home to royalty. There are 800 live-in staff including 2 clock keepers whose job it is to wind up the 350 clocks by hand, a flag sergeant responsible for flying the different flags, and a fender smith to clean and repair the metal fireplace fenders.

The palace has its own post office, ATM, police station, doctor’s surgery, swimming pool, cinema and staff canteen. It even has its own postcode: SW1A 1AA.

london

2. Secret Tunnels

It’s believed the palace is built on a labyrinth of secret passageways leading to nearby streets. In fact, the Queen Mother wrote of an episode in her diary, when she and her husband George VI were exploring the tunnels. They met a man named Geordie who lived down there. She describes him as ‘most courteous’.

3. A Persistent Intruder

When Queen Victoria lived in the palace, a teenage boy named Edward Jones was caught sneaking in three times.

He stole food and some pieces of the Queen’s underwear and even claimed to have sat on the throne. He was arrested and sent to Brazil, before escaping and returning to England. He was subsequently transported to Australia where he became a town crier until his death in 1893.

4. Dirty and Freezing

When Queen Victoria first moved to the palace, the windows stuck and ventilation was poor. The chimneys smoked so much the fires were constantly dampened down, so the palace was freezing cold, smelly and dirty.

After his marriage to Victoria, Prince Albert took over the management of the lax and lazy staff, and oversaw the necessary repairs to the design faults.

buckingham palace

5. A Makeshift Operating Theatre

Before his coronation in 1902, Edward VII suffered a near-fatal case of peritonitis. A room overlooking the gardens was transformed into an emergency surgery.

6. Bombed in the Blitz

In a show of solidarity, King George, Queen Elizabeth and their 2 young daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, refused to leave the palace during WWII. The building and grounds suffered nine direct hits during the Blitz of 1940.

Although damage was minimal, the palace chapel was completely destroyed during one attack. It was rebuilt in 1962 to house the Royal Collection Exhibition.

7. Royal Births and Deaths

Of her 9 children, Queen Victoria gave birth to 8 of them at the palace, including Edward VII who also died there.

William IV was also born at the palace, as were 3 of Queen Elizabeth’s children: Charles, Andrew and Edward.

You can find information about all of our London tours here or if you’d like to discuss your visit to London please do get in touch today.

market

9 of the Best Sunday Markets in London

After you’ve taken your tour of London, the next best way to experience London life is to check out the markets. Whether you’re a buyer or a browser, having a relaxed Sunday stroll around one of London’s top markets is sure to be an interesting way to while away the hours. Throw in some great food and live entertainment, and you’ll have a day to remember.

London is well known for its variety of markets and has one to suit every taste. Whether you seek antiques, books, local produce, vintage clothes, street food or flowers, you’re bound to find something to pique your interest.

With that in mind, here’s our roundup of the top 9 Sunday markets in London to whet your appetite for your next trip to the capital.

1. Old Spitalfields Market

This is a great one to visit if you’re a family, with lots to keep you entertained. Food and drink vendors, entertainment and regular events make it a very lively place, while the undercover market and surrounding glass-fronted shops offer everything from designer clothes to handmade soap.

2. Flat Iron Square

This place is a very cool scene, mixing unique food and drinks vendors with a live music and entertainment space, and a fascinating flea market. It’s a great spot with a relaxed, artistic atmosphere.

bread stall

3. Portobello Road Market

After becoming famous in the 1950s, Portobello Road Market is now the world’s largest antiques market. It contains well over 1,000 stalls, including furniture and homewares galore.

4. The Southbank Markets

With one of the best street food offerings in London and a unique market devoted to secondhand literature, this place is sure to be an interesting – and tasty – visit.

5. Camden Market

If you’re after something slightly alternative, this is the place to go. It’s particularly well known for vintage clothing, bohemian jewellery, and amazing global street food.

jewellery market

6. Columbia Road Flower Market

Not just a sight for the eyes, this world-famous flower market is a full-on feast for the senses. It’s only open on Sundays so it’s always busy. Head there early morning for freshness, or later in the afternoon if you’re looking for some cheeky deals!

7. Greenwich Market

Why not head to Greenwich in South London for a market that’s all about arts and crafts, fashion and design. With over 120 stalls, there’s designer jewellery, handcrafted homewares and unique clothing on offer, as well as a delightful continental food court.

8. Covent Garden Market

With three different markets alongside traditional shop fronts and the occasional street performer, Covent Garden Market is a true Aladdin’s Cave. Allow plenty of time to explore.

9. Northcote Road Antiques Market

If it’s antiques you’re after, this is a great market with collectables to suit every budget. Furniture, art, jewellery and homewares are all on offer in a covered space that’s been running for over 30 years.

 

If this has inspired you to book a visit to London, take a look at Premium Tours’ selection of London Tours. With a range of luxury and vintage transport options and private viewings of some of London’s most amazing attractions, we add a sprinkle of VIP magic to your time in the big city.

tower london

Everything You Need to Know About Visiting the Tower of London

History, royalty, bloodshed, intrigue and ghostly hauntings; if you want a trip back into England’s fascinating and gruesome history, then the Tower of London is a must-see experience.

Over the centuries, the most famous VIP prison in history has also served as a zoo, armoury, treasury and royal residence.

The complex, consisting of 21 towers and set on 12 acres, sits on the bank of the River Thames in the heart of London. The imposing buildings and grounds are still guarded by Beefeaters: royal guards of the tower and the Crown Jewels.

Take a walk in the footsteps of medieval traitors. You can even visit the Tower at night if you dare!

If you want to see where royal heads were lost without losing yours, here’s a definitive guide to everything you need to know about visiting the Tower of London.

History of the Tower of London

Originally built over 950 years ago, the Tower of London is the oldest palace, fortress and prison in Europe. It takes its name from the White Tower, originally known as the Great Tower, which was built in 1078 for William the Conqueror to keep the unruly Londoners in line and show off the new king’s power and greatness.

The Tower sits on the same site where the Roman emperor, Claudius, built a fort more than one thousand years before. Traces of the Roman walls can still be seen in the grounds today.

The Tower is most famously known as a prison and a place of execution and torture. It also housed the Royal Mint up until the late half of the 19th century.

It was used as a prison during the First and Second World Wars when 12 men were executed for espionage. Damaged during the Blitz of 1940, the Tower was repaired and opened to the public after WWII.

Today, the Tower is home to the Crown Jewels, it attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe, and is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex is made up of a total of 21 towers. Here are some of the most famous…

tower of london

The White Tower

The original Great Tower dominates the complex and was the castle’s strongest military point. Built in 1078, it was later ordered to be whitewashed by Henry II in 1240. It was then that it became known as the famous White Tower that we see today.

The White Tower was a multi-purpose building that included accommodation for the royal family and a chapel. Up until the 14th century, it was mainly used as a royal residence. The chapel remains unchanged from the days when the royal family worshipped there and the Knights of the Order of Bath kept vigil on the night before a king or queen was crowned.

In 1100, it was first used as a prison for Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham, who was imprisoned by Henry I because he was an active supporter of Henry’s predecessor, William Rufus. Flambard eventually managed to escape from the Tower and went into exile in Normandy.

Lion Tower

When Henry III resided at the Tower, he entertained many esteemed guests who would bring him exotic animals as gifts. The animals were kept in Lion Tower, positioned near the drawbridge at the main entrance so that guests who arrived could be greeted by the impressive, roaring beasts.

Lions, tigers, elephants, even a polar bear were housed in Lion Tower as symbols of power used to entertain the court.

Bloody Tower

The most famous and intriguing tower was built in the mid 13th century during the reign of Henry III. Its original purpose was to defend the main river entrance.

Originally named the ‘Garden Tower’, it was given its gruesome nickname after Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland, committed suicide there in 1585. It’s also believed that Henry VI met his very gruesome death there.

But most famous of all, the Bloody Tower is thought to be the murder site of the two little princes, Edward V and his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York, in 1483.

tower of london

Famous Prisoners

The Princes in the Tower

12-year-old Edward and his younger brother, 10-year-old Richard, were originally taken to the royal apartments after the death of their father to prepare for Edward’s coronation to be held on 22 June 1843.

Edward never got to be crowned. Accusations were made that their father was bigamous and the boys, therefore, illegitimate.  The boys were removed from the sumptuous apartments to the Bloody Tower, and their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, declared himself king.

The two princes were never seen again.

In 1674, two skeletons were discovered hidden under the stairs near the chapel in the White Tower. Believing them to be the remains of the two tragic princes, Charles II had them removed and buried in Westminster Abbey.

Anne Boleyn

The most famous wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn was imprisoned in the Tower of London in May 1536.

Failure to produce a male heir and the subject of jealousies and plotting meant Anne needed to be disposed of. She was tried for adultery, treason and even incest, found guilty and sentenced to death.

Anne was beheaded with a double-bladed axe (for a sharp, swift death) by a French swordsman on Tower Green within the castle grounds. Her body was buried in an unmarked grave beneath the pavement of the Chapel Royal of St Peter and Vincula at the Tower on 19th May 1536.

Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was also beheaded here in 1542.

Lady Jane Grey

Used as a political pawn, teenager Jane was installed as queen in 1553, after her cousin Edward VI died choosing her as successor to ensure Protestant rule. Her reign only lasted 9 days. Edward’s Catholic half-sister, Mary, declared herself rightful queen and Jane was imprisoned in the Tower.

Initially pardoned by the new queen due to her father’s involvement in a Protestant rebellion, poor Jane was sentenced once again to death and beheaded on Tower Green 12th February 1554.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Once hailed as a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, explorer Raleigh was imprisoned in the Bloody Tower in 1603 after being accused of plotting against King James I. One of the longest-serving prisoners, Raleigh spent 13 years here before being released in 1616.

Guy Fawkes

Imprisoned in the Tower for his involvement in the infamous gunpowder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, militant revolutionary and the world’s first official terrorist, Guy Fawkes was confined to a tiny cell where it was impossible to stand up or lie down.

After interrogation and torture on the rack, Fawkes was condemned to death.

The Kray Twins

Infamous London gangsters, Ronnie and Reggie Kray were among the last prisoners held at the Tower for a few days in 1952 for refusing to report for National Service.

Ghosts at the Tower

With its gruesome history, it should come as no surprise that there are various reports of ghostly sightings over the centuries. Here are just a few that you may see wandering the grounds after dusk:

  • Henry VI, imprisoned by the House of York during the Wars of the Roses, was butchered to death as he knelt in prayer in Wakefield Tower. On the anniversary of his death, May 21, his ghost is said to appear pacing the murder spot before disappearing on the stroke of midnight.
  • The ghosts of the two princes in the tower are reported to have been seen in the Bloody Tower dressed in nightshirts. Many visitors have reported hearing children’s laughter within the grounds.
  • The headless figure of Anne Boleyn has been reported wandering near the Queen’s House and in the chapel where her body lies.
  • The ghost of Dudley Guilford, husband of Lady Jane Grey, also executed here, has been reported sitting and weeping in the Beauchamp Tower. Many believe he etched the name ‘Jane’ into the stonewalls, which can still be seen today.

Visiting the Tower

The best way to make the most of your visit is to book a guided tour conducted by the expert Beefeater Yeoman Warders who’ll regale you with fascinating insights and stories.

yeomen

As well as the famous towers and the spine-tingling Tower Green, the Tower of London hosts a whole range of unmissable attractions. Make sure you don’t miss out on the following:

  • The Royal Armoury in the White Tower has an amazing display of weaponry dating from medieval times to the end of the 19th century, including armour worn by Henry VIII, Charles I and James II.
  • Tower Torture in the bottom of the Wakefield Tower holds a grisly exhibition of torture used at the Tower. See replicas of torture instruments such as manacles, racks and the Scavenger’s Daughter, a nutcracker for humans.
  • Jewel House is home to the Crown Jewels including St Edward’s Crown made from pure gold and used at coronations, and the Imperial State Crown made for the coronation of Queen Victoria and set with over 2,800 diamonds.
  • The Medieval Palace, constructed by Henry III, now displays a recreation of the sumptuous royal apartments.
  • Many prisoners entered the Tower through Traitor’s Gate, rather than the streets of London. They were brought by barge along the River Thames. As they passed through the imposing arch, heads of recently beheaded prisoners stuck on pikes would greet them so they could see what fate awaited them.
  • The six Ravens, housed at Wakefield Tower, have been protected at the Tower of London since the times of Charles II who believed the superstition: ‘if they are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall’. Today, their wings are clipped, just in case, and they are lovingly cared for by a Ravenmaster Yeoman Warder.
  • Mainly dating from the 1530s to the 1670s, the prisoner’s graffiti, painstakingly etched into the thick stone walls of the towers range from simple names to intricate carvings, each one a testament of time spent in the Tower.

Insider Tips

  • Parts of the Tower are closed to the public when ceremonies and special events are held, so find out in advance before making your booking.
  • Queues can be long, especially during school holidays, so it’s best to get there early in the morning during these times.
  • Many areas of the Tower are uneven and cobbled, so ensure you wear comfortable shoes.
  • Yeoman Warder tours last approximately one hour and are available daily, every 30 minutes. The last tour is 2.30 pm (winter) and 3.30 pm (summer). Multi-lingual audio guides are also available. You should allow approximately 3 hours to see everything.
  • Snack and dining facilities are available at the Tower including a restaurant overlooking the River Thames.
  • There are 6 onsite souvenir and gift shops.

tower

Tickets and Opening Times (as of June 2017)

Tickets:

Adult (16 years old +): £21.50

Child (5 – 15 years old): £9.70

Under 5s: Free

Online, Group and Family discounts also available.

Opening times:

Summer: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am – 5.30pm. Sunday to Monday, 10am – 5.30pm

Winter: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am – 4.30pm. Sunday to Monday, 10am – 4pm

Getting There

By Underground:

Tower Hill Tube Station is a 5-minute walk away. It’s served by both the District and Circle lines.

By Rail:

Tower Gateway Station, served by Docklands Light Railway is located next to Tower Hill Tube Station, a 5-minute walk from the Tower.

Other nearby stations are London Bridge and Fenchurch Street Station.

By Bus:

Routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1 all stop at the Tower.

By Boat:

It’s possible to arrive at the Tower by water transport, getting off at Tower Pier. Riverboats depart from Charing Cross, Greenwich and Westminster.

By Car:

There is strictly no parking at the Tower. The nearest car park is on Lower Thames Street, a 2-minute walk from the Tower. However, parking is within the Congestion Charging Zone, so it’s advisable to use public transport when travelling into the centre of London.

Sightseeing hop-on, hop-off buses also stop at the Tower.

For a truly unforgettable adventure, book your visit to the Tower of London with Premium Tours. Contact us today for more information.