Christmas in London- Magical Markets, Dazzling lights and Fairytale Ice Rink

Christmas in London- Magical Markets, Dazzling lights and Fairytale Ice Rink

Lockdown 2.0 in London and England, from Thursday 5 November 2020 for 4 weeks, ending on Wednesday 2 December 2020. Events are scheduled for post lockdown with social distancing measures in place. Please check with event organisers directly via links provided for opening times, prices and ways to book your time slot. This article was initially published in December 2019. Whatever you do, always have fun and enjoy Christmas in London.

Christmas in London is special, magical and for me, it is the most wonderful time of the year. It is the time of year where Christmas Markets pop up with the best and unique gift ideas for your loved ones, the aroma of spiced infused mulled wine beckons you to try even if you do not want to! The mince pies and roasted chestnuts have their special appeal too. Streets of London glow with more lights than usual that it almost seems like walking through a magical fairyland. Added to this, the festive vibes that comes along with ice skating rinks accompanied by Christmas songs and hot chocolate with marshmallow topped. Without a doubt, you will also find some of the best decorated Christmas trees in London. There is no place more magical than London.

If you are looking for some festive fun and cheer this year at Christmas, come over to London and experience Christmas in London. London will not disappoint. Here is a list of places you can visit during this festive season.

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links including Amazon LLC. This means that I earn a commission, from qualifying purchases at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about any of the companies. You could also take a look at our Trusted Partners

Christmas in London | Magical Christmas Markets

Christmas in London means a visit to the Christmas Markets is a Must. The Christmas Markets in London are a total treat and it has so much to offer, not just mulled wine, mince pies, German sausages and fairground rides but also unique gift stalls of beautifully handcrafted gifts. There are several Christmas Markets in London but below, you will find my favourite top three.

1 | Christmas Markets at London’s Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London. [Opens 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.]

Winter Wonderland, Christmas 2019
Winter Wonderland, London 2019
Winter Wonderland, Christmas 2019
Winter Wonderland, London 2019

One of the biggest Christmas Markets in London is Winter Wonderland although it is more like the biggest fun fair in London at Christmas!. It draws thousands of visitors, both near and far for an experience of the largest outdoor ice rink, festive food stalls and the many different rides, roller coasters and ferris wheel. There is an IceBar that serves unique festive cocktails,. The one attraction which I would highly recommend is the Santa Land, an enchanting experience for both young and old. Don’t forget to walk around the stalls for some beautiful handcrafted gifts. Entry is FREE but attractions and activities are not. For some attractions, prior booking is recommended. For more information on Winter Wonderland, check their official website here.


2 | Leicester Square Christmas Market

Leicester Square Christmas Market, London: [Opens: 12.00 p.m – 10.00 p.m Mon – Fri
10.00 a.m – 10.00 p.m Sat-Sun

Handpainted ceramics at Leicester Square Christmas Market

The Leicester Square Christmas Market is very much in the heart of London, in theatre land and just a stone’s throw from China Town. It is in the most vibrant part of the City of London. It is small compared to Winter Wonderland but the festive vibes are very present. You will find plenty of food stalls, handcrafted bespoke gifts stalls, festive ornaments and variety shows. In fact, I feel more “at home” here because it has more of a traditional feel than any of the other Christmas Markets in London. The stalls are authentic Bavarian-style wooden huts and this, for me adds to the warmth of the Christmas cheer. Entrance is FREE. Santa’s Grotto is £11.50 and the Cabaret Shows are ticketed. For more information on Leicester Square Christmas Market, check their official website here.


3 | Covent Garden Christmas Markets

Covent Garden, London

The 20m tree illuminates the cobbled piazza in Covent Garden, London | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel
Silver baubles and mistletoe at the Apple Market, Covent Garden, London
Apple Market, Covent Garden, London | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

Covent Garden is one of the most popular shopping destinations in London at anytime of the year. It is unique because it is one place where you will find highend fashion names alongside market traders, all offering a very special shopping experience. Over 200 stores and each offer their own speciality. There is a wide range of unique handmade crafts and goods, from jewellery and prints to watercolours, soaps and sweet treats – all presenting a perfect opportunity to shop under one roof for that special gift at Christmas for your friends and family.

Christmas is especially beautiful here when the Apple Market is decorated (don’t forget to look up) and the Market pulls out all stops when the Christmas decorations go up making Covent Garden a magical haven and an instagrammable hotspot! On 13th and 20th December, stores stay open till 9 p.m. and there will be carol singing. For more information on Covent Garden, check their official website here.


Other markets that you may also like

4 | Christmas in London – Christmas by the River at London Bridge City

Christmas by the River has a vintage ski theme and comes with chalet-style stalls. All selling gifts, drinks and food to mark the festive season.

For more information, check their official website, londonbridgecity.co.uk here


5 | Christmas in London at Greenwich Market

Greenwich Market is a World Heritage Site and is a great destination all year round. It is especially magical with Christmas lights and mulled wine. There are 120 stalls offering a range of handmade gifts, food and drink. For more information on activities at Greenwich Market, check their official website,


Learn more about Greenwich Market and the beautiful town of Greenwich in Greenwich – 45 Experiences and more in 1 Day


Christmas in London – Dazzling Christmas Lights Display

Experience the magic of Christmas in London and be dazzled by some of the amazing Christmas Lights Display which will have you in awe. The lights display are a must-see event and the following should top any list.

1 | Oxford Street Christmas Lights Display, London

You know Christmas is here when you are in Oxford Street. You will be amazed at the seasonal window displays lining up the infamous shopping street in the world.

London's Christmas Lights
Christmas lights, Oxford Street, London | 2020 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel
Christmas Lights Oxford Street, London
Christmas lights, Oxford Street, London | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

This year (2019) the lights are new and spectacular. The display features 27 LED light curtains, made up of 222,000 sparkling lights draped over the length of the shopping street. The Street is lit up until 5th January, be sure not to miss it.


Oxford Street Christmas lights gets better year on year and the lights for Christmas 2020 is an amazing experience as well. With a heart warming message and dedication to the City’s heroes, it is a destination in London not to be missed – when it is safe to travel. View London’s Christmas Lights | An Unmissable Christmas Cheer article.


2 | Carnaby Street Christmas Lights Display | Christmas in London

Carnaby Christmas lights displays a quirky underwater theme. This year (2019), Carnaby is highlighting an issue that is close to many hearts.

Carnaby Street and Project 0 London Christmas 2019
Carnaby Project 0 | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel
Carnaby Street Christmas Lights 2019
Carnaby Christmas display | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

Carnaby teamed-up with ocean conservation charity Project 0 for this sustainable display. The display features bubble-blowing whale, glittering underwater creatures such as giant clusters of jellyfish and 200 illuminated vampire squid – all made using recycled and reusable materials.


2020 – Carnaby has teamed up with Choose Love to bring a message of Love & Unity, brightening up the fashionable street with uplifting messages in pink neon lights. View article on Christmas Lights in London


3 | Regent Street / Piccadilly Christmas Lights Display, London

The glorious and amazing golden angels over Regent Street

Christmas Lights Display at Regents Street
Regent Street Angels, London | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

…adding that glittering sparkle to our festive shopping.


4 | Bond Street Christmas Lights Display, London

The glow of Christmas lights at Bond Street.

Bond Street Lights at Christmas 2019
Bond Street Lights | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

5 | Christmas in London – Christmas at Kew Gardens

Christmas at Kew is a perfect festive winter event of magical light trail across its gardens.

These photos were taken in 2018, Christmas at Kew when I visited with a friend.

Christmas at Kew 2018
Tunnel of Lights
Christmas at Kew 2018 Tree of Life
Tree of Life
Christmas at Kew 2018
The grand finale – light show played to a seasonal theme.

Their sparkling after dark trail holds new surprises this year for visitors young and old. The new route will guide visitors along a mile long of illuminations. The highlight of 2019 is “a waterfall of lights” cascading from their 18 metre high Treetop Walkway with “spiralling columns of light cascading from the canopy above” – I can only imagine it to be a truly mesmerising experience as I have not seen it yet.

For detailed events on Kew at Christmas, and entry prices, check Kew’s official website here


Christmas in London – Fabulous Ice Skating Rinks

The festive season not only brings magical markets and dazzling lights into play but also some of London’s finest ice-skating rinks bounce into business. Ice skating is one of London’s winter traditions. Not everyone is Torville and Dean, and you don’t have to know how to slide and glide. You can get your skates on and inch your way on the handrail at one of these fabulous ice skating rinks in London that has the loveliest of backdrops I have seen. It all comes together with the music, the dazzling lights and round and round the Christmas tree.

1 | Somerset House Ice Rink | Christmas in London

Somerset House Ice Rink.Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. [Open from 10:00 am-10:45 pm]. Adult tickets start from £11.00

This is the most iconic of London’s ice rink and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the ice rink at Somerset House.

The most beautiful ice rink in London is at Somerset House
Somerset House Ice rink | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

There is a 40ft tall Christmas tree and Fortnum & Mason runs the champagne and chocolate fondue at the Skate Lodge. It is open 24/7 on some days. Check their official website here for more details.


2020 Update:

Due to the current uncertainty and for safety reasons, the Somerset Ice Rink is not available. However, organisers are working towards

exciting new event to mark the festive season in a way that is both safe and celebratory, and that Skate will return in winter 2021. 

Somerset House

2 | Natural History Museum | Christmas in London

Natural History Museum, London. Cromwell Road, Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. [Open from 10:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m. until 12th January] Adult tickets start from £15.95 

The ice skating rink at Natural History Museum
Christmas in London | Natural History Museum Ice Rink | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

The Ice Rink at the Natural History Museum is one of the most enchanting of ice rinks in London. There is a 30ft tree, beautifully decorated with dazzling twinkling lights right in the centre. Benugo’s Cafe serves up hot chocolate, cream teas, prosecco and cake. There is a viewing platform providing a glimpse of all the sparkling action below.


2020 Update

The Natural History Museum Ice Rink is not open this festive season but the Museum remains open, in line with UK government guidelines throughout the festive season, welcoming visitors. View further updates on their official website Natural History Museum


3 | Tower of London | Christmas in London

Tower of London, LondonSt Katharine’s & Wapping, EC3N 4AB. Nearest station: Tower Hill. [Open from 11:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m on weekdays, and from 10:00 a.m on weekends].

For the first time, Tower of London has opened its doors to ice skating . The moat is converted to an ice rink with a cafe in an adjoining marquee. Skate away in the grounds of a castle that has stood 1000 years of history.


Other Ice Rinks that you may also like

4 | Covent Garden Ice Skating Rink – Inspired by Tiffany & Co > it is FREE

Covent Garden Ice Rink 2019 inspired by Tiffany & Co
Tiffany inspired ice skating rink at Covent Garden | 2019 | Photo: Georgina_Daniel

5 | Winter Wonderland Ice Skating, London

Click here for more details

6 | The Queen’s House, Greenwich Ice Rink, London

For the first time, a new ice rink opens its door in Greenwich, with the Queen’s House being the backdrop for an amazing experience.

Click here for more details


Visit Discover London with Georgina and MyCityMyTown Series for more articles on the City of London


My final say on Christmas in London

This easy guide, listing my top three on each of the Markets, Lights and Ice skating rinks is designed to give you a taster of Christmas in London. There is so much more to see and do in this beautiful City should you decide to visit us during the festive season.

My sincere wish is that this post is valuable to you in planning your visits to London during the Christmas festive season in any year. If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Scroll all the way down for more ideas and inspiring travel stories. Subscribe to join us at My Timeless Footsteps to receive all the latest news and events. As always, I am contactable at ggdaniel166@gmail.com for any further info or to design your itinerary for you.

Enjoy the festive season, no matter what you get up to.

Happy holidays!

Georgina xx

February 2021, Update


If you choose to #travel, travel safely | #staysafe #stayinspired | Read now to #travel later. For latest on Covid-19 go to: CDC.GOV | WHO International


What's New on Timeless Travel Steps

Travelling to London



Places to Stay in London





Advertisements


You may like to read these travel stories also…

Tokyo

Pin me on Pinterest!

Christmas in London
Christmas in London
Christmas in London
An easy guide to the best magical markets, dazzling lights and fairytale ice rinks. 

London Travel Guide
A Resource for Mature Adventurers via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/An easy guide to the best magical markets, dazzling lights and fairytale ice rinks. 

London Travel Guide
A Resource for Mature Adventurers via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/

Christmas in London Magical Ice Skating Rinks

Christmas in London Magical Ice Skating Rinks

The Ice Skating Rinks adds magical vibes to Christmas in London. The festive season not only brings magical markets and dazzling lights into play but also some of London’s finest ice-skating rinks bounce into business. Ice skating is one of London’s winter traditions. Not everyone is Torville and Dean, and you don’t have to know how to slide and glide. You can get your skates on and inch your way on the handrail at one of these fabulous ice skating rinks in London that has the loveliest of backdrops I have seen. It all comes together with the music, the dazzling lights and round and round the Christmas tree.

1 | Somerset House Ice Rink, London

Christmas in London Magical Ice Skating Rinks | The most beautiful ice rink in London is at Somerset House
Christmas at Somerset House Ice skating rink

This is the most iconic of London’s ice rink and this year marks the 20th anniversary of the ice rink at Somerset House. There is a 40ft tall Christmas tree and Fortnum & Mason runs the champagne and chocolate fondue at the Skate Lodge. It is open 24/7 on some days. Check their official website here for more details.

Somerset House Ice Rink.Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. [Open from 10:00 am-10:45 pm]. Adult tickets start from £11.00

2 | Natural History Museum, London

Christmas in London Magical Ice Skating Rinks | The ice skating rink at Natural History Museum
Christmas in London Natural History Museum Ice-skating rink | Image: georgina_daniel

The Ice Rink at the Natural History Museum is one of the most enchanting of ice rinks in London. There is a 30ft tree, beautifully decorated with dazzling twinkling lights right in the centre. Benugo’s Cafe serves up hot chocolate, cream teas, prosecco and cake. There is a viewing platform providing a glimpse of all the sparkling action below.

Natural History Museum, London. Cromwell Road, Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. [Open from 10:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m. until 12th January] Adult tickets start from £15.95 

3 | Tower of London, London

an absolute beginner's guide to the Tower of London
Tower of London | Image: georgina_daniel

For the first time, Tower of London has opened its doors to ice skating . The moat is converted to an ice rink with a cafe in an adjoining marquee. Skate away in the grounds of a castle that has stood 1000 years of history.

Tower of London, LondonSt Katharine’s & Wapping, EC3N 4AB. Nearest station: Tower Hill. [Open from 11:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m on weekdays, and from 10:00 a.m on weekends]. 16th November 2019 to 5th January 2020
Tickets: Adult from £15, Children 3-12 years old from £10.50

February 2021, Update

Learn more about landmarks in London

St Paul's Cathedral #1 London mycitymytown series

Visit Greenwich, a quintessential English village where Time began

Greenwich in one day


Other Ice Rinks that you may also like

4 | Winter Wonderland Ice Skating, London

Click here for more details


5 | The Queen’s House, Greenwich Ice Rink, London

For the first time in 2019, a new ice rink opens its door in Greenwich, with the Queen’s House being the backdrop for an amazing experience.

Click here for more details


6 | Covent Garden Ice Skating Rink – Inspired by Tiffany & Co and it is FREE

Christmas in London Magical Ice Skating Rinks | Covent Garden Ice Rink 2019 inspired by Tiffany & Co
Ice skating rink by Tiffany & Co at Covent Garden, London UK

This simple guide is designed to give you a taste of London at Christmas – my favourite of the Ice Skating Rinks without a doubt is Somerset House followed by Natural History Museum. Both are Christmassy and I can’t imagine Christmas in London without a visit to the ice skating rink.

Enjoy the holiday season and have a splendid New Year!

Georgina xx


Articles on Christmas in London

For inspiration…

Discover Japan
Inspiration for Italy
Scotland - Ultimate guide
Resources all in one place

Pin me on Pinterest!

Christmas in London Ice skating rinks

A simple guide to Christmas in London magical ice skating rinks. Head over to one of the selected few for a fairytale experience like never before via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/A simple guide to Christmas in London magical ice skating rinks. Head over to one of the selected few for a fairytale experience like never before via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/

Christmas Markets in London | Unmissable Best 3 Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets in London | Unmissable Best 3 Christmas Markets

This article on Christmas Markets in London was initially published in December 2019. There are links provided for each of the event listed here. Please check with organisers directly for activities and timings.

Christmas Markets in London are a total treat and it has so much to offer. Not just mulled wine, mince pies, German sausages and fairground rides but also unique gift stalls of beautifully handcrafted gifts. There are several Christmas Markets in London but below, you will find the unmissable best 3 Christmas markets in London.

1 | Christmas Markets at London’s Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London. November 21st – January 5th 2020 [Opens 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.]

Christmas Markets in London | Christmas 2019, Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland London 2019 | © mytimelessfootsteps

Winter Wonderland is the biggest Christmas Market in London,. It is more like the biggest fun fair in London at Christmas!. It draws thousands of visitors, both near and far for an experience of the largest outdoor ice rink, festive food stalls and the many different rides, roller coasters and ferris wheel. There is an IceBar that serves unique festive cocktails,. The one attraction which is highly recommend is the Santa Land, an enchanting experience for both young and old. Walk around the stalls for some beautiful handcrafted gifts.

Entry to the park is FREE. Attractions and activities will incur a fee. Prior booking is recommended for some attractions.

Nearest station is Marble Arch, Bond Street, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park.

For more information on Winter Wonderland, check their official website here.

2 | Leicester Square Christmas Market

Leicester Square Christmas Market, London: November 8th to January 5th 2020 [Opens: 12.00 p.m – 10.00 p.m Mon – Fri 10.00 a.m – 10.00 p.m Sat-Sun

Christmas Markets in London | Handpainted ceramics at Leicester Square Christmas Market
Handpainted ceramics at Leicester Square Christmas Market

Located in the most vibrant part of the city, the Leicester Square Christmas Market is in the heart of London, in theatre land and just a stone’s throw from China Town. It is small compared to Winter Wonderland but the festive vibes are very present. You will find plenty of food stalls, handcrafted bespoke gifts stalls, festive ornaments and variety shows. There is more of a traditional feel than any of the other Christmas Markets in London. The stalls are authentic Bavarian-style wooden huts and this, adds to the warmth of the Christmas cheer.

Entrance is FREE. Santa’s Grotto is £11.50 and the Cabaret Shows are ticketed.

Nearest stations are Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus.

For more information on Leicester Square Christmas Market, check their official website here.


3 | Christmas Markets in London at Covent Garden

Christmas Markets in London | Covent Garden, Christmas 2019
Covent Garden Market, London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image: georgina_daniel
Christmas Markets in London | Silver baubles and mistletoe at the Apple Market, Covent Garden, London
Apple Market, Covent Garden | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image: georgina_daniel

Covent Garden is one of the most popular shopping destinations in London at anytime of the year. It is unique because it is one place where you will find highend fashion names alongside market traders, all offering a very special shopping experience. Over 200 stores and each offer their own speciality. There is a wide range of unique handmade crafts and goods, from jewellery and prints to watercolours, soaps and sweet treats – all presenting a perfect opportunity to shop under one roof for that special gift at Christmas for your friends and family. Christmas is especially beautiful here when the Apple Market is decorated (don’t forget to look up) and the Market pulls out all stops when the Christmas decorations go up making Covent Garden a magical haven and an instagrammable hotspot!

Entry is FREE. On 13th and 20th December, stores stay open till 9 p.m. and there will be carol singing.

Nearest station: Covent Garden

For more information on Covent Garden, check their official website here

Other markets that you may like also

4 | Christmas Markets in London – Christmas Markets by the River at London Bridge City

This year, 2019, Christmas by the River has a vintage ski theme and comes with chalet-style stalls. All selling gifts, drinks and food to mark the festive season. Runs from 26th November through to 5th January 2020. Opens from 11.00 am to 10.00 pm. For more information, check their official website, londonbridgecity.co.uk here

5 | Christmas Markets in London at Greenwich Market

Greenwich Market is a World Heritage Site and is a great destination all year round. It is especially magical with Christmas lights and mulled wine. There are 120 stalls offering a range of handmade gifts, food and drink. For more information on activities at Greenwich Market, check their official website,

Peruse related article on Greenwich – 45 Experiences in One Day

For more things to do in London at Christmas, read all about London’s Christmas Lights – An Unmissable Festive Cheer and Christmas in London – Magical Markets, Dazzling Lights and Fairytale Ice Rinks.


I sincerely hope that this post is valuable to you in planning a trip to the magical Christmas Markets in London. Do let me know of your thoughts in comments below. If you have any questions in general about London, please do drop me line also. I am more than happy to assist in your queries.

Have a splendid holiday season, wherever you are and whatever you get up to 🙂

Georgina xx

Be in the know! Subscribe to our FREE Exclusive Newsletter & Never miss on the Latest post

We value your Privacy and will not sell your information to third parties. We will not spam your inbox. You will receive excellent, beautiful and valuable travel related content to your inbox 3-4 times a week. You can Unsubscribe anytime. Learn more on our Privacy Policy here

What's New on Timeless Travel Steps


You may like to read these articles also

Isle of Wight
Windsor and Windsor Castle
Stonehenge, England

I share regular highlights of my adventures with my travel community on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest where I would love for you to join me.

Pin me on Pinterest!

Christmas Markets in London

I look forward to connecting with each of you


A Simple London Travel Guide to Christmas in London. As a resource for mature adventurers, here are Three  Magical Christmas Markets that should be on your list. via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/A Simple London Travel Guide to Christmas in London. As a resource for mature adventurers, here are Three  Magical Christmas Markets that should be on your list. via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/

Tower of London-The Best Guide to What you need to know

Tower of London-The Best Guide to What you need to know

A fortress, royal palace and an infamous prison

View of Tower Bridge from the grounds of Tower of London © mytimelessfootsteps | georgina_daniel

The Tower of London

Tower of London is one of the most visited castles and tourist attraction in Britain with 2.86 million visitors in 2018. With such popularity and often referred as a “fortress, royal palace and an infamous prison”, I had wondered of its continued significance and how much of the past history or traditions the Tower continues to exhibit. My thoughts were spurred on as I retrace my footsteps on the royal palaces as part of my 3rd instalment in London Series, MyCityMyTown, retracing my footsteps – Royal Palaces and Royal Parks which this article represents.

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links including Amazon LLC. This means that I earn a commission, from qualifying purchases at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about any of the companies. You could also take a look at our Trusted Partners

What is known about the Tower of London

Entrance to the Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

I had always known that the Tower was historically important, built by the Normans after the 1066 invasion and it was once occupied by reigning monarchs. In 1988 it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Given it’s historical importance and it’s popularity, the Tower offers various activities throughout the day to entertain visitors, both young and old. As a visitor on previous occasions, I had gone along with the flow, joining in the activities and observing without really giving it much thought. I don’t think I had even seen ALL of the towers and castle grounds! So, my re-visit on this occasion was an opportunity to see, explore, discover and learn more of this magnificent castle. I share my experiences in this article in the hope that you would find this to be the Best Guide to What You Need to Know about the Tower of London.

What I discovered about the Tower

In a nutshell, my visit was a whole new world of discovery! It was all too much to ignore and for me to try to condense it into one post will not do justice to English history and to this monument or to you, as reader of this article and/or as a visitor to the Tower of London. Therefore, I address the Tower’s historical significance in this article which is the Best Guide to What you need to know about the Tower of London together with links dotted throughout the article where you can navigate for a more informative post on that particular section.

This may seem like taking a step into history but I think it is a much needed one to help you fully immerse yourself in the context of the Tower’s 1,000 years of history.

I shall address “The traditions at the Tower of London” which will be published in a future article.

My visit to the Tower of London was yet another perfect opportunity for me to use the HRP annual membership and not pay an entry fee.

Best Guide to What you need to know about the Tower of London

The Tower of London has been many things during its life. Today, a visit to the Tower of London along River Thames allows a visitor to discover its many layers of history. I shall limit my contribution to the areas famously attributed to the castle as a “fortress, royal palace and an infamous prison”.

Tower of London as a “fortress, royal palace and an infamous prison”

My starting point was to look at the Tower’s significance today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and trace it’s history to understand what factors contributed to its recognition as an iconic monument.

1 | The Tower of London is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Tower of London is of Outstanding Universal Value and gained its recognition as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Through my research, I discovered that this 11th century fortress is the most complete castle still remaining in Europe. The Tower reflects the last military conquest of England, thus symbolic of royal power since 1066. It’s imposing architecture, it’s strategic sitting on River Thames and it’s many layers of history stood for protection and control of the City of London as well as the gateway to the new Norman kingdom. The Tower resembles fostering of closer ties with Europe, language and culture.

As a symbol of royal power, the Tower of London has an interesting history that goes way back to medieval England.

2 | The Tower of London is a historical landmark

The primary significance of the Tower of London as a UNESCO Site is that it is a historical landmark with an interesting history that goes way back to the Norman conquest in 1066. 1066 is a popular date/year in Britain’s history and a date/year that is hard to forget. It marks the end of Anglo-Saxon rule and the last successful invasion by force of England, hence the “beginning” of England as we know today.

This historic castle was constructed in the wake of the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror. Since then, the Tower has dominated the pages of English history and London’s skyline. Let’s take a look at how it came about.

Timeless Travel Steps says: Join one of the Beefeater Tours which is FREE. They run for 45 minutes and is filled with facts, gory details and humour. More details in Useful information below.

2.1 The Norman Conquest and the Story of the Tower of London

According to history, castles were at the heart of William of Normandy’s strategy to conquer England. As he captured towns, villages and strategic points, he built castles to secure his acquisitions and as means to provide defensive structures to guard against the Saxons. His conquest can be traced by the castles he built in Pevensey (his first capture), then Dover and Hastings. William won the Battle of Hastings by defeating King Harold, which ended the Anglo Saxon rule of England.

As a victor of the Battle of Hastings meant that William had invaded a country with a population of 2 to 3 million people with only 10,000 men. William had to move very swiftly to take control of England. To gain full control of England, William realised that he first must have control of the City of London, which was a major power centre that held the purse strings of the country.

To learn more of its history while you walk, get an audio guide.

The “Negotiation”

To gain control of the City of London, William negotiated a deal with the leaders of the City – if he was accepted as King of England, he would give the City certain rights that would allow them to function independently as a state within a state. The City leaders accepted the deal. William of Normandy was crowned King William 1st of England in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. Having been crowned the King, William wanted to make a statement to the people of England that he is here to stay.

3 | The Tower of London is a fortress

To make that statement, King William ordered the construction of a fortress on a huge mound at the eastern side of the City of London, both to protect London and to show Norman military strength. This fortress would become the Tower of London. William built three fortresses, Baynard’s Castle, Montfichet Castle and the White Tower. Baynard and Montfichet are long gone.

3.1 | The White Tower – The beginning of a fortress

The White Tower, Tower of London .
The White Tower | Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

The White Tower is the same White Tower that you see today in the centre of the Tower grounds, with grey turrets and flag pole. Construction of the White Tower began in 1078 and was completed in 1097, eight years after Williams death in Rouen. The White Tower is so named because in those Middle Ages days, it would have been whitewashed to give it a clean, shining and gleaming appearance.

White Tower, Tower of London
The White Tower-the first tower built by the Normans sits in the middle of the Tower of London grounds | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Visiting the White Tower is an opportunity to witness the sophisticated architecture of the 11th century. It represents the Normans cutting edge military building technology of its time. If you are into details, you will note the depth of the walls, giving this incredible monument the uniqueness as a secure fortress to protect the residents of the castle and deter any invasion.

Admission to the White Tower is included in your entry ticket to the Tower of London. Purchase your ticket here.

3.2 | The Story of the fortress – Tower of London as a fortress

Over the following centuries, a vast complex of twenty separate towers were added, primarily by Henry III in the 1200’s. This phase of extension to the Tower is said to be up to the middle wall, identified by the white drain pipes. The third and final phase of extension is said to be by King Edward in the 1300’s which is the outer wall. This extension can be identified by the black drain pipes. Edward added the moat which became heavily polluted and was drained in the 19th century. These additions included a perimeter wall connecting each tower encircling the castle.

About 20 towers were built over the centuries, to surround the White Tower.
About 21 towers were built over the centuries, to surround the White Tower | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel
The entrance to the Constable Tower at the Tower of London
The entrance to the Constable Tower at the Tower of London. Initially built in 1240, later rebuilt in the 19th century | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

These later additions also displays an intricate architecture. You can notice these on areas surrounding the doorways and the narrow stairs. As you visit each tower, it does give you a feel of Tudor times.

The map below shows the layout of the Tower of London, 21 towers and main structures.

As a fortress, the Tower became the most secure castle of the land.

Tower of London as it stands today.
Tower of London as it stands today | Image: georgina_daniel

4 | The Tower of London as a Royal Palace

The next significance of the Tower of London is that it has always been and still is a Royal Palace. It was and still is the most secure castle in the land. It had protected the royal family in times of war and during rebellions. The White Tower was built not only as a symbol of Norman strength, a fortress but also as a grand palace and served as a royal residence in its early history.

4.1 | Norman Fireplaces

It had four fireplaces to provide sufficient warmth to the residents – like the one in the picture below.

One of the four Norman fireplaces which you can see today in the White Tower | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

The White Tower has four floors – the ground, the first, the second and the third. The first, second and the third floors were designed the same with a large room to the west, and a smaller room in the northeast.

4.2 | A place of Christian worship

As a place of royal residence, King William wanted a place of a Christian worship to be built in the White Tower. Religion was an important part of his royal image, so, a private chapel, St John’s Chapel, was built on the second floor. The Chapel was used for private worship by the royal family for about 900 years and the tower community as well.

The Chapel of St John, White Tower, Tower of London
The Chapel of St John, White Tower, Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

The beautiful Romanesque Chapel of St John is the finest of Norman church architecture that exist today. The Chapel is vaulted with a plain arch, four massive columns on either side and four in the apse. Arches are supported by thick, round piers. Its decorations are simple carvings of scallop and leaf designs.

Although the Chapel was built for William the Conqueror, it was not completed before his death. His son, William II was the first royal to use it. In 1240, King Henry III added stained glass windows depicting the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity. The chapel was also provided with a gold-painted cross in Henry’s reign. The Chapels current unadorned appearance is reminiscent of how it may have looked in the Norman era.

4.3 | The Tower was the starting point of a Royal procession

The Tower of London was significant as a Royal Palace as early as the 14th century right through to King Charles II (1630-1685) where a royal procession on the coronation of the king was held from the Tower to Westminster Abbey. In addition to being a Royal Palace, it became a menagerie, a treasury, an armoury, and more famously, a prison.

4.4 | A menagerie

A menagerie at the Tower of London

The very first zoo is said to be housed at the Tower of London. For over 600 years, the Tower was home to wild and exotic animals given as royal gifts. The Tower menagerie included lions, polar bear, elephants and tigers.

Learn more about the menagerie here.

4.5 | Royal Mint

The Tower of London was both a treasury and home for the Royal Mint. The Mint made the coins of the realm for over 500 years. The coins were minted from the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) who installed it in a dedicated area within the Tower walls in c1279 until 1810.  The area became famously known as Mint Street.

As one can imagine, back in the day, working at the Mint was a deadly business. It involved using toxic chemicals and working with fiery furnaces to melt the metal. Coins were all made by hand. Health and safety of the workers was not a priority. Loss of fingers and eyes were common. The coins carried the face of the monarch and if anyone were to tamper, forge or shave off the silver from the edges of the coin were punished for treason.

Join one of the Beefeater Tours which is FREE. They run for 45 minutes and is filled with facts, gory details and humour. More details in Useful information below.

5 | The White Tower at the Tower of London is An Armoury

Over the years, the Royal Palace became to be used as a storage facility. The Royal Armoury began life occupying buildings within the Tower, storing arms and artillery even as early as the existence of the White Tower itself. However, the first recorded items to the Tower Armouries was in 1498. Today, you can visit, admire and explore the magnificent collection of royal arms and historical artefacts of armouries in the White Tower. A long flight of spiral staircase from the third floor to the basement takes you to the Storehouse.

The spiral staircase has a lot of steps and rather narrow at some curves. Not wheelchair accessible.

Below are just a few photos to give you an idea of what it looks like.

All images © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Learn more on the history of the Royal Armouries here

Admission to the Royal Armouries in the White Tower is included in your entry ticket to the Tower of London. You can purchase your ticket here.

6 | The Tower of London is home to the Crown Jewels

As the most secure castle in the land, the fortress as well as a royal palace, The Tower of London was the one place best suited to protect the Crown Jewels. The Tower of London is home to The Jewel House which now guards the Crown Jewels.

St Edward’s Crown – the most important and sacred crown | Image: St Edward’s Crown, 1661.  The magnificent solid gold frame makes it a very heavy and tiring crown to wear, even briefly, as it weighs 2.23kg (nearly 5lbs). © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2001/Prudence Cuming Associates

To learn more about the Crown Jewels and the exhibition, navigate here to Jewel House at the Tower of London.


Timeless Travel Steps: The entry ticket to the Tower of London includes entry to the Jewel House. It is reasonably priced at £25.00 for Adults and £12.50 for Child, valid for one day. Alternatively, if you have an annual HRP membership, your entry is free.

Timeless Travel Steps suggests: Plan your visit to the Jewel House, either first thing in the morning, or towards the end of the day. Anything in between, you may encounter a queue. The Exhibition is on the ground level, no stairs whatsoever! Possibly wheelchair accessible. For accessibility information, navigate to Tower of London

Timeless Travel Steps says: Plan your visit and make the most of your day. Read more on 5 Reasons Why Travel Planning is Important and Pretravel Planning-25 Top Tips for a Stress-free Vacation


Visiting the Jewel House is definitely a highlight and I would highly recommend that you do too. There is more a reason to do so if you were visiting the Tower of London as once in a lifetime occasion/bucket list experience. You would not want to miss walking in the footsteps of history at the Jewel House. Do not let the queue put you off from visiting the Jewel House – just plan your visit and make the most of your day.

Timeless Travel Steps says: Skip the line and buy your entry tickets here for a day. If you want flexibility with time and attractions, over several days, then buy a great value package here.


So far, I have listed the significance of the Tower of London as a fortress and as a palace. Now, lets discover why it is more famously known for stories of those who have gone beyond the walls and never came out – a Prison and a place of torture.

7 | Tower of London as a Prison and a place of Torture – Discover the stories behind the walls of the Tower of London

Besides being a mighty fortress, and a palace, the Tower of London was an infamous prison, a place of torture and executions. The Tower of London was a symbol of fear. Many men and women, including royals and the famous, rich and poor who entered the walls were never returned to the outside world. Some stayed for only a few days, others for many years, uncertain of their faith. Ghosts of many are said to haunt the castle corridors.

Murder and mystery surrounds the Bloody Tower, one of the twenty-one towers that makes up the Tower of London Castle. The Queen’s House and the Beauchamp Tower were used for royals and high-ranking prisoners

The Bloody Tower, Tower of London
The Bloody Tower, Tower of London | Image: georgina_daniel
The Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London is next to the right of the Queen's House. The Dudley's were imprisoned here
The Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London is next to the right of the Queen’s House. The Dudley’s were imprisoned here | Image: georgina_daniel
The Queen's House, Tower of London - Where Lady Jane Grey, Queen Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes were help captive.
The Queen’s House, Tower of London

With over 1000 years of history, there are many stories to be told. You will find some of them written in the following articles:

Read more about the Bloody Tower and its prisoners by navigating to Bloody Tower at the Tower of London. As well, learn more about the Forgotten storie royal prisoners at Queen’s House

Timeless Travel Steps says: The torture basement next to Wakefield Tower is signposted but can be easily missed. The entrance is narrow, dark and a few steps down, you will come to face the torture devices. For some it can give the chills. Stands displayed is the RACK torture device and information on SCAVENGER’S DAUGHTER which is another form of torture. Both are extreme. **Personally, I will not recommend for children to visit this basement.


Other points of Interest at the Tower of London which should not be missed

8 | Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula at Tower of London

The Parish church of St Peter ad Vincula in the Inner Ward of the Tower of London is a quaint and unique place of worship with an extraordinary history.

Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London
Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

This Tudor chapel dates from 1520 but it is said that there had been a place of worship at this spot for over a thousand years, predating the White Tower itself. During the Victorian renovations in the 18th century the resting places of Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey were discovered in the chancel, near the altar. This led to the chapel gaining its reputation as the “saddest spot on earth”. This discovery led to the permanent memorial for Anne Boleyn and others to be dedicated at Tower Green. The Chapel you see today is the result of extensive renovations carried out in 1970-71 and in 2014.

Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London
Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London

Georgina: There is a certain warmth here despite its sad history. It is airy and seems to have the right amount of light coming through. I noticed not many visitors to the Tower came here possibly because it is tucked away from the other main/touristy parts of the grounds. I would highly recommend that you don’t miss it when you visit.


Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula is open to the public for worships and visits. You can book it for private functions such as baptisms and weddings. Sunday Services at the Chapel: 09:15 a.m. – Holy Communion | 11:00 a.m. – Mattins & Sermon.


9 | The Fusilier Museum at the Tower of London

The building that is the Fusilier Museum at the Tower of London is also home to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers’ Regimental Headquarters and the Officer’s Mess, where formal dinners take place.

The Fusilier Museum, Tower of London
The Fusilier Museum, Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel
The Fusilier Museum, Tower of London
The Fusilier Museum, Tower of London | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was formed on 20th June 1685, when King James II issued a Royal Warrant to raise an infantry force from the existing Tower of London Garrison. The first Commanding Officer was the Constable of the Tower. The Fusiliers’ intended role was to guard the guns at the Tower of London. The force later fought in Belgium and Spain, and in the American War of Independence.

Notable exhibits here are the:

  • 12 Victoria Cross Medals won by the Regiment;
  • The uniform and bearskin of King George V (a former Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment);
  • An Eagle Standard of the 82nd Regiment of the French Line captured by the Royal Fusiliers during the Napoleonic Wars.

Today, garrison duties are undertaken by the Yeoman Warders and a rota made of three London District regiments.


Entry to the Fusilier Museum is included in the entry ticket to the Tower of London. It is reasonably priced at £25.00 and is valid for one day – take a look here. However, you may wish to purchase combined tickets that allows a visit to several attractions over a few days. Personally, I find these combined tickets to be extremely good value for money and offers flexibility that I need over several days. Take a look at one such example for London, here.


10 | St Thomas’ Tower

St Thomas' Tower, Tower of London
St Thomas’ Tower | Tower of London | Image: georgina_daniel

St Thomas’ Tower is one of the three towers that forms the Medieval Palace. The other two are Wakefield Tower and the Lanthorn Tower.  Built by Edward I between 1275-1279, it was formerly a royal residence. Richly decorated, comfortable and grand.

11 | Traitor’s Gate

The Traitor's Gate, Tower of London
Traitors’ Gate | Tower of London | Image: georgina_daniel

Traitors’ Gate was originally called Water Gate. It was built in the late 1270s and was used by Edward I and other royals to get into St. Thomas’s Tower by water. The Tower began to be used as a prison, more so for prisoners accused of treason, who were brought to the Tower by water. The name “Traitor’s Gate” was first used in 1544.

12 | Fun for Family and kids

Explore and discover the 1,000 year old history of the Tower of London on a family fun day out together with your kids – There are activity trails and digital mission which you can complete with your kids. Activity Trails are filled with fun quizzes, activities, facts and illustrations – available throughout the year.

Digital missions are interactive adventures played on a mobile device. Kids can meet characters from history, solve problems by tackling a series of challenges which helps with exploring the Tower.

Find out more about the digital mission here.


13 | Walk along the perimeter of the Tower of London for views of London’s Skyline

Finally, don’t forget to walk along the perimeter of the Tower for some amazing views of London’s skyline, even if the sign says, “No Entry”.

No Entry sign to the perimeter of the Tower of London
“No Entry” | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel
London's skyline
London’s skyline | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel
London's skyline and the Walkie Talkie in the distance
London’s skyline – the Walkie-talkie in the distance | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel
View of Tower Bridge from Tower of London
A walk along the perimeter of the Tower of London gives some breathtaking views not seen elsewhere. Try and make time for it. | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

Thoughts so far…

The Tower of London has attracted much attention due to a mixture of its legends/myths of ghosts and the fearsome reputation it holds for inflicting torture on its prisoners. The prisoners who enter the walls of the Tower never really return to the outside world. However, according to history, torture was used only for relatively a short period of time during the Tudor era in the midst of political turmoil.

Although the Tower of London is no longer used as a prison, it is still a place that attracts much attention from tourists or local visitors because of its dark history and legends. It is now a secure “storage” unit for documents, armaments and jewels. However, this is only part of the story that makes Tower of London a #1 destination to visit. The more entertaining part lies in the 700 year old traditions of the castle itself which are fascinating and incredible. As mentioned earlier in the article, I will share these traditions in a future article.

As a tourist/visitor to the Tower of London, you simply have to witness it at least once.


There is so much more to see and experience at the Tower of London where you would want to feel the money’s worth. For many visitors, the Tower of London is a must see attraction and you may not wish to spend a lot of time waiting in line to purchase tickets. To maximise your time as a visitor to the Tower of London, you could purchase your ticket/s online and avoid this wait. Prior to my Annual Membership with the Historic Royal Palaces, I often purchased these day tickets or combined tickets that allows a visit to several attractions over a few days. I do still look for combined tickets to attractions not covered by the membership. I find these combined tickets to be extremely good value for money and offers flexibility that I need over several days. Take a look at one such example for London, here.


The queue at the ticket office to the Tower of London.
The queue at the ticket office to the Tower of London. You don’t have to do this! Get your tickets online | © mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

My final say…

No journey to England is ever complete, in my opinion, without a visit to at least one ancient castle. I highly recommend the Tower of London. As you can see, the Tower of London has been many things in its life – a rich, complex and diverse institution popularly known as a “fortress, a palace and a prison.” It’s role as a prison, the centre for torture and execution as do the ghost stories had and continues to intrigue and attract visitors from all over the globe. Some of the Tower’s traditions such as the Ceremony of the Keys, the need to maintain six ravens and the Yeoman Warders are still very much present today – more on this in Part 2.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post on the historical significance of the Tower of London and agree that it is The Best Guide to What you Need to Know on this ancient castle. If you do, please leave a comment below, I would love to know what your views are. If it was not helpful, you can say that, too. Either way, I would love to hear from you.

Useful information for when you visit the Tower of London

Getting here:

Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB

Nearest Station:

Tower Hill Underground Station

Opening hours:

Tuesday-Saturday: 09:00-17:30
Sunday-Monday: 10:00-17:30

Yeoman Warders Tours: FREE | 45 Minutes

Tickets & Prices:

Buying online is cheaper and convenient. Entry to Tower of London includes entry to the Crown Jewels Exhibition, the White Tower and the Beauchamp Tower.

£25.00


Due to lockdown measures in the City of London as a result of Covid-19, some attractions may be closed or operate on restricted hours. In most situations you may need to pre-book a time slot for your visit. Check the following website for visits to the Tower of London: https://hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/

Updated February 2021

map with pin on london | ultimate guide to Tower of London
Tower of London | 51.5081° N, 0.0759° W

If you choose to #travel, travel safely | #staysafe #stayinspired | Read now to #travel later. For latest on Covid-19 go to: CDC.GOV | WHO International

What's New on Timeless Travel Steps

Sponsored Advertisements



If you have enjoyed reading this, you may also be interested in reading further articles on the Tower of London:

Bloody Tower at the Tower of London | Books on the famous prisoners of Bloody Tower

Have a splendid time discovering London 🙂

Georgina xx


Be in the know! Subscribe to our FREE Exclusive Newsletter & Never miss on the Latest post

We value your Privacy and will not sell your information to third parties. We will not spam your inbox. You will receive excellent, beautiful and valuable travel related content to your inbox 3-4 times a week. You can Unsubscribe anytime. Learn more on our Privacy Policy here

I share regular highlights of my adventures with my travel community on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest where I would love for you to join me.

Sponsored Advertisement

Resources used for this blog: https://whc.unesco.org/ https://hrp.org.uk/ http://hauntedrooms.co.uk/

Pin me on Pinterest to read later!

Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower of London
Tower of London

I look forward to connecting with each of you


A detailed travel guide offering a comprehensive list of the best of what you need to know about the iconic Tower of London, London, England. via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/A detailed travel guide offering a comprehensive list of the best of what you need to know about the iconic Tower of London, London, England. via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/