London – Tower Bridge & St. Paul’s Cathedral

Hi friends, welcome back to my Paris and London Anniversary series 🙂 Today we’re picking up right after our tour of the Tower of London. Just a few steps away from the White Tower is the iconic Tower Bridge (often mistaken for London Bridge). It has been turned into a museum that allows visitors to ascend the towers and walk across the skywalk bridge 42 meters above the River Thames. If you don’t care to visit the museum, you can walk along the bridge at street level without sacrificing too many views.

Jon and I had no issue buying tickets onsite and Tower Bridge seemed relatively empty compared to the Tower of London. We climbed about 200 stairs up the north tower and skipped the museum exhibits. The bridge was built between 1886 and 1894 and made of materials all from Britain. We also passed on seeing the steam room because we were getting too hungry, but in 1976 the bridge transitioned to electric power.

The highlight of going inside Tower Bridge is walking across the glass floor with only the bridge and river beneath you. We also enjoyed seeing London from a different perspective. You can see the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral above the skyline foreshadowing our third excursion of the day.

Proof that we walked on the scary part that is not actually scary. We didn’t see any bridge lifts while we were in London, but it would be worth looking up ahead of time!

We headed to Borough Market for lunch and it was quite the experience! I pictured it being more like Seven Dials Market, but it was completely outdoors and packed. I’d been wanting to go to The Black Pig after seeing someone post about it on Instagram, and it took us about ten minutes to find the booth. I ordered the Honey Truffle Parmesan (slow roast free range pork shoulder, honey truffle mayo, fennel & apple slaw with 30mo aged parmesan on toasted ciabatta) and Jon picked the Salsa Verde (slow roast free range pork shoulder, aioli, fennel & apple slaw with Italian salsa verde on toasted ciabatta). These sandwiches were delicious and also very filling! I’d definitely recommend stopping by Borough Market for lunch if you’re visiting London.

After lunch we headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral passing by Shakespeare’s Globe on the way.

St. Paul’s Cathedral isn’t nearly as grand as Westminster Abbey, but we still had a great time walking through. Sir Christopher Wren, the architect, wanted a simple, open church but his vision was later changed by Queen Victoria and only the entrance remained unadorned. I just realized when writing this that we forgot to go up to see the galleries. It’s possible they were closed by the time we got to the cathedral, but we were a bit tired from all our sightseeing and walking so it might’ve taken us a while to get up the 528 steps.

The original cathedral burned down from a fire, so St. Paul’s Cathedral was rebuilt from 1675 to 1710. The new design by Sir Christopher Wren was inspired by St. Peters in Rome and features the iconic 365 foot domed ceiling. St. Paul’s Cathedral survived many bombings during WWII and is now a symbol of resilience.


This cathedral is most known for hosting Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding to Prince Charles and hosting Queen Ann, Queen Victoria, and Winston Churchill’s funerals. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee service of thanksgiving was held here, but Her Majesty wasn’t feeling up to attending.

This Duke of Wellington Memorial took 54 years to complete and honors him for defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Behind the alter is the American Memorial Chapel honoring the 28,000 Americans in Britain that lost their lives in WWII. You can also find a picture of George Washington on the stained-glass windows.

Jon and I enjoyed listening to a free audio guide, but you can also take a free tour to see areas not available to the public.

We took the tube back to our hotel and rested for a bit before it was time to head out to dinner and to Mamma Mia! We planned to go to Pilgrim Pizza, but the wait was too long so we went to our favorite Anita Gelato. We knew it would be quick and it’s never failed us before. I got my usual Cookieman and Caramel Cheesecake and Jon got Caramel Cheesecake and a new flavor that tasted a lot like Cookieman. The London Anita Gelato location had just opened a week before our trip, I think it was meant to be!

We finished our first full day seeing Mamma Mia and it was one of the most fun shows I’ve been to! It differed slightly from the movie, but was the perfect show to see in London. It was incredibly high energy and so hard to not sing along with every song. The actress that played Donna, Mazz Murray, was incredible and her voice gave me the chills! The only negative about the show was there was quite a bit of talking/singing by the audience around us and you had to buy the programs separately for five pounds. I’d rank this show third behind Hamilton and the Music Man. I’d highy recommend seeing Mamma Mia if you’re in London, it was so fun! Jon and I kept singing Waterloo throughout our time in London because we would pass by the station on the tube.

Stay tuned for our day in Windsor touring the Queen’s favorite residence 🙂

Posts in my Paris and London Anniversary series:



27 thoughts on “London – Tower Bridge & St. Paul’s Cathedral

  1. Excellent sightseeing choices, apart from Mamma Mia. A musical by Abba would be beyond the pale for me but my other half would be delighted. Luckily, I’m doing the bookings for our upcoming trip to Paris and London. There will be no musicals but there will be a play and some ballet.

    1. Ah yes you are not a fan of musicals, that’s fair, I’m not a huge fan of ballets. Mamma Mia is definitely cheesy, but your beloved would definitely love it. I was trying to find a show that we didn’t have in NYC. I believe Amy Adams is doing a play on the West End.

      1. You are most welcome!! 🙂
        It is decades since I visited that bridge but I recall them saying then that the glass sides were put in to halt the suicides 🙁 It’s funny how things we suppose were put there for the convenience of visitors sometimes have a far darker reason!

  2. A great day of touring Lyssy. The Tower B ridge Experience and the steam room were highlights for us. We were also fortunate enough to score tickets for a performance in the Globe on our anniversary in 2011. To bad about the trip up to the galleries of St. Paul. There is a great view from the outside viewing area. When we were in London in 2002, we took in the Buddy Holly show. My fellow theatre goers though Spam-a-lot would have been a better choice. Thanks for the memories. Allan

    1. The hunger mixed with so much time at the ToL didn’t make for the best conditions to see Tower Bridge, but we still enjoyed it! That would be awesome to see a show at the Globe. I bet the views from St. Paul are spectacular, it somehow totally slipped my mind. Sounds like every trip you have to London is filled with great memories!

  3. Yep, you got me; I always thought the tower bridge was the London Bridge that in was in the childhood song. I’m not sure I would have wanted to walk across that glass floor though. What a beautiful cathedral. I’d definitely be singing along to those Abba songs; they’re pretty hard to resist.

    1. I used to think so too! I’m not afraid of heights so I didn’t find the floor too scary. You can get a sticker if you walk across it haha. Abba songs are hard not to sing!

  4. I like the crown on the upper bridge of the Tower Bridge, though I’m not sure what it’s meant to represent? 200 stairs would’ve been enough for me too but I would’ve debated whether to trade for the climb up St. Paul’s instead. The SP dome looks exactly like the dome on the U.S. Capitol Building (which had several architects, none of them named Wren). Maybe we stole the look? The cathedral is more ornate than I expected for one outside of Rome, almost overwhelming in its detail. I haven’t seen Mamma Mia (film or stage) but I was surprised to read talking in the audience is tolerated. It’d completely compromise the experience for me. Way to hold your tongue 🙂

    Catching up on Lyssy posts now 🙂

    1. I think the bridge was updated for the previous Jubilee. I can’t believe I forgot about the stairs up to St. Pauls. I think that would have a. better view than the Bridge because you could probably see Buckingham/Westminster. It does look like the dome in the U.S. Capitol Building, I bet we did steal the look. It is massive and very detailed! At Mamma Mia there were 16 year old girls next to me singing/talking and middle aged people behind us were even talking. It took everything in me to let it go. I figured they probably don’t get to see many shows. If it was Hamilton I would’ve definitely said something.

  5. I visited Tower Bridge 3 years ago and it was an absolute highlight of that London trip. I loved particularly the steam engine room. St Pauls is just spectacular. We didn’t get to go inside this time round, but that’s something we’ll take care of on our next London stay. We are pretty keen on experiencing the Whispering Gallery, which as I understand, is more often closed than not. A lovely end to your sightseeing day with a show and some ice cream.

    1. I think I remember your post about how it was worth going up, and that influenced my planning 🙂 You’ll have to go to the top of the dome for me! I think maybe we got there too late so we couldn’t go up. It was a great day indeed!

  6. Great photos of the architecture of this magnificent structure. It is good to know some of St. Paul’s illustrious history. I guess that goes with the territory in London. You were smart to visit these places on your own so you could go at your own pace rather than being stuck with the itinerary and pace of a tour.

    1. Thank you! We did enjoy going at our own pace and learning through the audio guide and Rick Steves books 🙂 Some things are worth a tour guide, but I figured with all our sightseeing in Paris, it would be better to leave London a little less structured.

  7. Amazing. And your photo out from Tower Bridge to the river, with the Shard on the left captures my office 🙂 The building just to the right of the Shard, where you can see three panels of it – my desk is literally right there! So crazy you were so close and I wasn’t around!!!
    Anyway, beautiful photos – St Pauls really is stunning 🙂

    1. Thank you!! Oh wow you’re really working in the middle of London. If you were there I would’ve waved 😉 One day we will be in the same place at the same time!

  8. Another great day of sightseeing Lyssy. If you get a chance to visit St.Paul’s again and you’re not too tired I’d recommend climbing the steps up to the galleries as the view from the top is magnificent! A great excuse to return to London.

    1. Thank you! It is a great excuse to return to London, I’d love to see the views from the top. I am thinking maybe we got there too late so they closed the entrance to the dome.

  9. I like that you took the time to visit the interior of Tower Bridge and St Paul’s. I stayed outside to make the best use of the sun that was shining on London at the time. For my next trips from Paris I also want to schedule a Musical, though I don’t have your New York expertise.

    1. I was determined to see as much as we could! If you haven’t seen Hamilton that is playing in the West End and one of my favorites of all time. I’d see it again in a heartbeat! We liked the Book of Mormon too, it was pretty funny.

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