Two iconic bridges of London

The image of Tower Bridge’s grand castle-like Towers and raising bascules make it the most recognised bridge in the UK, possibly even in the world. However, many confuse it with London Bridge. An easy mistake to make, but one we can help you with!

We clear up the mix below, with details about Tower Bridge and London Bridge, where these are located, the distance between them, and many more interesting facts of both structures.

The Götheborg of Sweden by Edward Hasler

A brief history of Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge stands as it was built in 1894. Its Neo-Gothic design was chosen to blend with the Tower of London, a request by Queen Victoria.

It may look a lot older than its 130 years but that was all part of Sir Horace Jones and Sir John Wolfe Barry’s plan. Their aim was for the Bridge to blend in with the Tower of London, and not be an eyesore.

Who knew this landmark would actually become the symbol of London it is today?

The Götheborg of Sweden crossing Tower Bridge in June 2022 © Edward Hasler

West of Tower Bridge, view of London Bridge

A brief history of London Bridge 

London Bridge is the oldest river crossing in London, bringing river and road traffic together. 

The bridge as we know it today, was opened to traffic by The Late Queen Elizabeth II on 16 March 1973.

Now made of concrete and steel, it replaced a 19th century stone arched bridge designed by Scottish civil engineer John Rennie, which in turn succeeded a 600-year-old stone-built structure.

This 600-year-old stone-built bridge was preceded by a number of timber bridges, the first of which was constructed by the Romans. 

London Bridge was actually the sole crossing of the Thames until the construction of Putney Bridge in 1729.

Aerial photo Tower Bridge and London Bridge

Where are they located?

Tower Bridge and London Bridge are located next to each other in the Pool of London, on the River Thames.

Tower Bridge spans between the boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark, near the Tower of London and the Old City Hall.

London Bridge, meanwhile, is slightly upriver, spanning the Thames from the City of London to Southwark. 

London Bridge station is served by the Jubilee and Northern lines of the London Underground, and National Rail trains. Several bus routes will take you to Tower Bridge, including the famous 78.

Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast

How far apart are Tower Bridge and London Bridge?

Tower Bridge and London Bridge are just over half a mile (approx. 1km) of each other.

You can walk from Tower Bridge to London Bridge in less than 15 minutes.

It's a pleasant walk, particularly if you take The Queen's Walk route, with breathtaking views of the Thames, HMS Belfast (pictured), The Shard, and, of course, of Tower Bridge itself.

Tower Bridge - Visitor photographing the views

Can I visit inside Tower Bridge?

Yes, you can! Tower Bridge is a visitor attraction, open from 9:30 to 18:00 (last entry is 17:00).

You can come inside and explore the Towers, high-level Walkways, Glass Floors and Victorian Engine Rooms.

The panoramic views of London are unique, 42 metres above the Thames and 33.5 metres above the road level.

Tower Bridge's Engine Rooms

How long does it take to see inside Tower Bridge?

We suggest you to allow 60-90 minutes for you to explore inside Tower Bridge.

Your timed entry ticket includes a visit to the Towers, the high-level Walkways, Glass Floors and Victorian Engine Rooms.

You can also book a guided tour of Tower Bridge with one of our accredited guides, which last approximately 90 minutes.

Was London Bridge sold instead of Tower Bridge?

London, Southwark and Millennium Bridges

In 1967, the City of London was looking for someone to buy a dismantled London Bridge. American entrepreneur Robert Paxton McCulloch placed the winning bid of £1.02 million ($2.4 million at the time) on 18 April 1968. Each of the bridge’s 10,276 exterior granite blocks were numbered and then shipped to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. 

The construction started on 23 September 1968 and the foundation stone was laid by the Sir Gilbert Inglefield, then the Lord Mayor of London. The work was completed three years later and Lake Havasu City’s London Bridge opened on 10 October 1971 with a parade of marching bands, fireworks, hot air balloons and skydivers.

Contrary to the popular rumour, McCulloch was not under the impression that he was purchasing Tower Bridge. The urban legend was vehemently denied by the tycoon and by Ivan Luckin, of the City’s Common Council, who arranged the sale.