London In a Day: Tower of London, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard
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Immerse yourself in the quintessential sights of London on this comprehensive tour of the city’s most popular attractions. From the first entrance into Westminster Abbey to the bridge of the iconic Tower Bridge; the splendor of Nelson’s Column to the squalor of prison cells in the Tower of London; there is simply no better easier way to see so all the main sights of London in a single day.
Our guide to London In a Day: Tower of London, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard
Your day begins in Westminster Abbey, where you’ll take advantage of pre-reserved tickets to visit England’s most hallowed church before most of the crowds arrive. As you stroll across the beautiful Cosmati pavements and peer up into the elaborate vaulted ceiling, your guide will introduce you to the church’s tumultuous history, which mirrors that of England. Every corner of the church is packed with historical interest and rich symbolism, including heart-wrenching war memorials, chapels maintained by ancient orders of chivalry, the tombs of national heroes, religious and royal relics, and of course, hundreds of years of royal weddings, coronations and funerals.
Leaving the spiritual heart of England, you’ll avoid the large crowds gathered in front of Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard and head to Wellington Barracks instead. This is where most of the ceremony actually takes place, including the band’s performance and the highly-formal uniform checks. It’s even more surprising then that so few visitors come here to watch the Changing of the Guard, meaning you can get right within arm’s reach of the guards as they pass.
Now it’s time for a little surprise. On the other side of St. James’s Park, you’ll step into the Horse Guards Parade to witness a much less famous, but perhaps even more impressive ceremony: The changing of the Queen’s Life Guard, an elite cavalry regiment, mounted on exquisitely bred, and specially-trained horses. As you watch the guards go through the ceremony, your guide will explain the significance of everything from the armor they wear to the colors on their uniforms.
Your next stop is Trafalgar Square, the geographic center of London and one of the city’s most iconic public spaces. While you marvel at the size of the bronze lions and enormous triumphal columns, your guide will tell you about the naval history that gives the square its name as well as the dashing Admiral Nelson whose fame during his short life makes modern celebrities seem like total amateurs. You’ll also come across some unexpected curios, like the smallest police box in the world and a statue of George Washington that sits on a micro-plot of American soil.
After a break for lunch (your guide will recommend a range of great places to eat) you’ll reconvene for a short walk down to the Thames for a scenic river cruise that will take you past several London landmarks like the Shard, the Gherkin, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and more. Disembark at the foot of Tower Bridge and enjoy a walk over the bridge, where you will stop in the middle to enjoy the great views of the Tower of London.
Your last stop, the Tower of London, is also the most impressive. With pre-reserved tickets at the quietest time of day, you won’t have to battle crowds to enjoy nearly 1,000 years of bloody royal feuds, improbable jailbreaks, jewel heists, menacing ravens, and even a ghost or two. Your guide, who has an expert grasp of British history, will regale you with the often hair-raising stories of this royal stronghold, jail, zoo, and sometimes execution block, including the mystery of two lost royal boys that still raises the hairs of everyone who hears it. There is no better, or more entertaining, way to learn about the dynastic battles that shaped England and created the country we know as the United Kingdom. In the end, you have time to see the Crown Jewels on your own.
As a final treat, when your guide departs they will give you ample time to see the Crown Jewels (which are inside the Jewel House in the Tower). These aren’t just the largest collection of coronation regalia in the world, they are also the only ones in Europe that are still in use by a Royal family.
Every attraction on this tour is a bucket list destination. Your expert, local guide, will be with you every step of the way to give you to point out the world of facts, stories, and interesting details hiding around every corner.
Varies, please see calendar.
Around 8 hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for London In a Day: Tower of London, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard
- You will receive a voucher for this experience. Please read it thoroughly.
- Itinerary subject to change.
- Gratuities to guides are appreciated but never obligatory.
- Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
- Please note that the tour meeting time is 15 minutes prior to the start time. No refunds or re-bookings can be provided for late arrivals or no-shows after tour commencement or departure.
- This tour has a maximum capacity of 20 guests.
- Please note that for security reasons bag searches will take place at Westminster Abbey and at the Tower of London.
- Photographs not permitted inside Westminster Abbey.
- Please be advised that typically there is no Changing of the Guard on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays. On days that 'Changing of the Guard' does not take place, guests will go straight to the Changing of the Queen's Life Guard.
- Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate guests with mobility impairments, wheelchairs, or strollers on this tour.
- Please be advised that 'Changing of the Guard' can be cancelled last minute due to bad weather, and does not take place every day. On days this ceremony does not take place, you will see the Queen's Life Guard Change, Horse Guards Parade.
- Cancellation Policy: Cancellation Policy: A full refund will be given on cancellations made more than 72 hours prior to tour commencement. Cancellations received within 72 hours prior to the tour are non-refundable. We will, however, do our best to reschedule you for another tour. Please note, this is subject to availability and price changes.
- Tours depart precisely at the scheduled tour start time. If you show up late or cannot find the meeting point, for any reason, refund requests are not honoured per policy. For most tours, it is not logistically possible to join the group after it has started.
Frequently Asked Questions for London In a Day: Tower of London, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard
Can I take a bag into Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London?
Yes, but only small bags. Please note that for security reasons your bags will also be checked before you enter. Here is a list of prohibited items: Sharp items e.g. knives (including Swiss army knives) scissors, cutlery and screwdrivers Paint spray Padlocks, chains and climbing gear Items that make a noise (e.g. whistles) Banners, placards and flags Liquids that are not in sealable containers.