London in a day: Tower of London, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard
- Includes more entrance tickets than any other London in a day tour; including Westminster Abbey, Tower of London & Tower Bridge
- First entrance at Westminster Abbey means you get inside (and to the Coronation Chair) before the crowds
- We see not just one but two changing of the guards - from the very best vantage points
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 little surprise. On the other side of the 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 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 column, 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 a number of London landmarks like the Shard, the Gherkin, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye and more. Disembark at the foot of Tower Bridge and head down into the engine room, which used to raise the bridge multiple times a day as large ships went back and forth on the river. Then climb to the top level, take a deep breath, and stroll across the glass walkway that connects the towers. From up there you’ll enjoy amazing views over the river, the Tower of London, and the people and crossing the bridge far below you.
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. At 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. By combining them all, we’ve put together the ultimate day of sightseeing in Europe’s most vibrant capital city. 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.
- Entrance to Westminster Abbey
- Entrance to Tower Bridge Exhibition
- Food and beverages
- Hotel pick-up/drop-off
- Gratuities to guides (appreciated but never obligatory)
Infant: Infants up to 3 years are free of charge.
Parliament Square, Westminster, London SW1P 3JX
There are 11 statues within Parliament Square. The Winston Churchill statue is the largest and is located on the north east corner of the square closest to Big Ben. The name 'CHURCHILL' is written on the stone base of the statue. The closest underground station is Westminster.
- 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
- Please be advised that there is no Changing of the Guard on Saturdays
- Photographs not permitted inside Westminster Abbey
- Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate guests with mobility impairments, wheelchairs or strollers on this tour
- Comfortable walking shoes recommended
- Please note that for security reasons bag searches will take place at Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge and at the Tower of London.
- On days that 'Changing of the Guard' does not take place, guests will see Horse Guards Parade.
- March - May 2019: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
- June - July 2019: from Monday to Saturday
- August - October 2019: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
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