8 Tickets to Book Before You Go to London

This post contains links to affiliate websites, such as Amazon, and we receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you using these links. We appreciate your support!

Book your tickets to these popular London attractions before you leave for your trip so you are guaranteed entrance to your favorite experiences with a shorter line to wait.

A paper ticket for the Tower of London is being held up in front of the Tower of London itself.

When I planned out our London itinerary, I added one big experience to every day of the trip.

I took the time to book our tickets in advance and it was so nice to have one less thing to worry about when we arrived for our London adventure.

Why You Should Book Tickets in Advance

Many of the experiences listed below can actually be seen with a last-minute decision once you have arrived in London.

If you don’t want to take the time to plan an itinerary and prefer to be flexible, you might still be able to see these things.

However, if you are traveling during peak times (and in London, it seems most months are peak times!) you should be prepared for long lines or potentially sold-out admittance.

I think it is smart to plan ahead and book your tickets in advance because:

  1. Your Itinerary is Easier to Plan: You’ll have an organized plan for your days which relieves the stress of decision making on site.
  2. You Have a Window of Admittance: Even if you book your ticket for 10:30, there is a window of grace so you don’t have to panic about being late by a few minutes. Usually you have between 15 – 30 minutes but be sure to check each attraction’s rules.
  3. You’re Guaranteed Admittance: You don’t have to worry about not getting in to see the things you’re most excited about.
  4. Shorter Lines: The lines for people waiting to purchase their tickets are far longer than the lines for those that booked ahead. You’ll still have a queue, but it will go very quickly.

Harry Potter Experience

If it is important to your family to see the actual studio where the Harry Potter movies were filmed, the very first tickets you should reserve before your trip are for the Harry Potter Experience.

Timed visits sell out very early and are the first to go as soon as they open up.

You may have success buying more expensive tickets from third party sellers who snap them up, but if you want to pay face value you’ll want to stalk the site and grab them as soon as you can.

By the time I knew this, tickets were already gone during our vacation time frame but none of us were very sad about it. We decided our time in London was too valuable to spend on this excursion, especially since we’ve already been to the World of Harry Potter at Universal.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace as seen away from the crowds, down the hill to the left.

If you are a big fan of the royal family like I am, a tour of Buckingham Palace might be on your London bucket list.

Unfortunately, Buckingham Palace is only open on select dates during the winter and spring. There are also a few windows during the summer.

You’ll want to check their dates as you’re planning your London itinerary and be sure to book the tickets in advance of your trip.

You can check the schedule and book your tickets here.

The price was more than we wanted to spend for our travel budget this time around, so we had to miss it this trip. But my daughter and I are already chatting about a future trip with this experience as the centerpiece of the adventure.

Kensington Palace

A family of four stands out front of Kensington Palace near the Queen Victoria statue.

I booked tickets to tour Kensington Palace for Easter morning during our vacation. We started off the day with a timed ticket entry for 10:30 am.

You can view the birthplace of Queen Victoria and the King’s State Apartments and Queen’s State Apartments. I enjoyed spotting Queen Charlotte’s only remaining dress which is on display in the museum exhibition downstairs.

Kensington is the official London residence of Prince William and his family but their home is in a wing that is not open to tourists.

You can book your timed ticket entry here.

Be sure to plan extra time after your tour to walk through Hyde Park, the palace’s “backyard” has large ponds with beautiful swans, the stunning Prince Albert Memorial, and several Princess Diana memorials you don’t want to miss.

Tower of London and The Crown Jewels

The White Tower within the Tower of London museum.

One of the more memorable experiences from our trip was our visit to the Tower of London. We spent more time here than at any other attraction (about 3 hours) and we easily could have gone through it more slowly.

The highlight of the tour was a visit to the Crown Jewels display where you can view the jaw-dropping headpieces worn by the kings and queens of England throughout the years.

This museum-within-a-museum gets very crowded very quickly and they limit entry once it nears capacity. A queue forms outside the entrance within an hour of the Tower of London opening.

It is essential to book your timed tickets for the Tower of London for an early morning visit and then head directly to the Crown Jewels display if you want to avoid standing in a long line.

You can check the times available and book your Tower of London tickets here.

Plan for a visit to the Tower Bridge after your visit to the Tower of London for excellent photo ops of the family. You can walk across the bridge for free or pay to do the Tower Bridge experience and walk through the museum over the top.

Churchill War Rooms

The profile of Winston Churchill is glowing on the wall, a teen girl is posing in his same shape.

History buff or not, every member of my family enjoyed our visit to the Churchill War Rooms.

There are two distinct parts of the museum:

  1. The Historic Cabinet War Rooms: The underground center of operations for Churchill and his cabinet during World War II.
  2. The Churchill Museum: An area dedicated to Winston Churchill himself and his life both before, during, and after WWII.

Your path through the museum starts in the war rooms, splits off into the Churchill museum, and then ends back in the second half of the war room tour.

There is an unbelievable amount of artifacts and displays to take in, it is almost overwhelming. We stayed about 2 hours for our visit but if you’re seriously into all the bits of history you could easily spend much more.

You can check their times and book your tickets here.

Westminster Abbey

The inside view of the abbey shows the stained glass windows and arched ceiling.

Just around the corner from the Churchill War Rooms is the famous Westminster Abbey. You could probably visit both of these attractions on the same day.

To see the abbey, you have two choices:

  1. Pay for an Official Visit
  2. Attend Services for Free

Since we were in London for Easter, I planned our Easter church services for the 3 pm service at Westminster Abbey so we could enjoy our visit for free.

If you prefer to not visit during services, you can book your visit in advance here.

Theater Tickets

If seeing a very specific musical in London is on your bucket list, you are best off booking tickets before your trip.

Not all shows play every night and unfortunately for us I just couldn’t make a trip to the theater work for this visit.

If you are more flexible with what you see, you could try booking last-minute discount theater tickets by checking the morning of the evening you’d like to go.

This is a great option for families that don’t mind which show they see and it is one of my favorite memories from my trip to London with my parents back in the 90’s. We saw a new show every night, often from very whacky seats with slightly blocked views, but we didn’t mind at all. It was such great fun.

Sky Garden

Tourists walking along the indoor garden near a wall of windows that look out at London.

If you want a stunning view of all of London, a visit to the Sky Garden is a must-do.

I booked us tickets for “Sunrise at Sky Garden” which provides a coffee or hot chocolate and a pastry for every member of your party with early access to the gorgeous gardens in the sky.

We spent an hour over our simple breakfast and walking around taking in the sights from up high. It was one of our favorite experiences from the trip.

You can book your tickets to Sky Garden here.

More London Planning Tips

Looking for more tips as you plan your trip to London? Don’t miss my favorite ideas here:

A photo of a paper ticket that gives entry to the Tower of London next to a photo of Buckingham Palace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *