Booking an experience day with Virgin is something I have never tried before, until now. We ordered a 'Family Visit to The Tower Of London And Thames Sightseeing Cruise' from Virgin Experience Days, which is valid for a family of two adults and three children (aged 5 - 15). We received our experience gift pack in the post a few days later and all we had to do was nip over to their website and activate our experience. It was really simple and only took me a few minutes.
Once in London, make your way to Tower Hill station and as you step out of the station you can not miss the magnificent Tower of London. Walk straight down towards the river with the Tower to your left (you will see the Shard in front of you, which is on the other side of the river). Head to the Tower Millennium Pier, to the ticket office and show them your Virgin gift pack, the lovely assistant will then give you your tickets for the Thames cruise and your Tower of London tickets.
We made ourselves comfortable on the boat and proceeded to eat a few snacks from our picnic. We were lucky that the weather was really nice so we sat up on the open deck, but you can sit inside on the lower deck if you prefer. If like me you like to take lots of photo's then sit upstairs, the views are lovely.
The cruise travels from Tower Pier to Westminster pier and it passes lots of famous landmarks like London Bridge, Tower Bridge, The Gherkin, St Pauls Cathedral, The Shard, Tate Modern, Oxo Tower, The London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. If you fancy a nice long cruise you can also travel all the way down to Greenwich Pier, where you will find Cutty Sark and Greenwich Market. The captain of the boat gives a fabulous, fun commentary as you pass the sights, and he had us chuckling on more than one occasion, a very entertaining chap.
Once at Westminster Pier you could walk down to Parliament square and sit for a while, maybe to eat your lunch, there is a green here that is a very pleasant spot to relax. In this area you will also find Westminster Abbey. From here you can also walk to Downing street, Trafalgar Square, The Cenotaph, Whitehall and lots more. A lovely area for walking with lots of sights. A ten minute walk is St James park, which is lovely for the kids, it has a pretty lake with ducks. If you walk through the park you will find Buckingham Palace and if you time it right you can watch the changing of the guards (this is usually around 11.30, but check online before you leave).
After we enjoyed our lunch in St James Park, we jumped back on the river boat and headed back to Tower Pier. There is a small shop on the lower deck of the boat where we bought a much appreciated coffee, which went down very nicely, along with the slow cruise back along the Thames. Once at Tower Pier we headed to the Tower of London where our Virgin Experience days tickets were fast track, so no queueing.
Entering the Tower of London is like entering another World. It is so hard to believe that this beautiful old building is smack bang in the middle of London, surrounded by so many modern constructions. The contrast is quite surreal.
There is so much to see at the Tower of London and the kids really enjoyed it. In fact my homeschooler has a new interest in history and has started a project about Anne Boleyn. We loved all the winding corridors and staircases, a kids paradise.
We will definitely buy a Virgin experience Day package again. It was great to have fast track tickets to beat any queues. Great value for money, the 'Tower Of London & Thames Sightseeing Cruise' is priced at £109.00 for two adults & three Children (5 - 15). The theme for April over at Virgin Experience Days is 'Enjoy the Green' and they have lots of great experiences for you to buy ranging from glamping trips in the Lake District to afternoon tea at Kessington palace.
*We were sent a Virgin experience day gift pack for the Tower of London and a Thames sightseeing cruise free of charge for the purpose of this review. Our opinions are own.