31 Things to do in the South Bank London
Welcome to the vibrant South Bank in London! This exciting area offers a wide array of activities and attractions, ensuring there’s something for everyone, whether you’re in search of culture, entertainment, or a peaceful spot to unwind. From iconic landmarks like the London Eye to leisurely riverside strolls, captivating art exhibitions at the Southbank Centre, world-class theatre at the National Theatre, and mouthwatering street food at Borough Market, there’s no shortage of things to do. For art enthusiasts, the Tate Modern awaits, and thrill-seekers can explore the London Dungeon or the London Aquarium. And don’t forget the inviting markets and green spaces, such as the Royal Festival Hall, the South Bank Skate Park, and the London Bridge City Pier. Whether you’re a local looking for a day out or a tourist exploring the city, South Bank London is a must-see destination that caters to all.
Things to do in South Bank London this weekend
If you’re looking for some fantastic things to do in South Bank London this weekend, you’re in the right place. I’m here to give you the inside scoop on the best activities to enjoy in this vibrant neighborhood. So, grab your comfy shoes and let’s get started!
How to get to South Bank
- Getting to South Bank London is a breeze with various transportation options at your disposal. The most popular and convenient method is by using the Tube, London’s subway system. Closest to the South Bank, you’ll find three key Tube stations: Waterloo Station, London Bridge, and Westminster Tube station.
- From Waterloo Station, hop on the Northern Line and alight at Southwark Station to access the heart of South Bank.
- Alternatively, you can take the Jubilee Line, which connects to both London Bridge Station and Westminster Tube station. Once you disembark at any of these stations, you’re just a short stroll away from the vibrant South Bank.
- For those who prefer other means of transport, you can opt for buses or cycling to reach the South Bank.
- In 2023, Transport for London introduced an attractive offer: unlimited bus trips for just £4.95, thanks to their daily bus fare capping. It’s a fantastic deal, so be sure to check it out! Share your journey using the hashtag #LetsDoLondon on your favorite social media platforms.
Are you planning to go to Wiltsire? From Waterloo, you can easily catch trains to Wiltshire and explore the beautiful countryside and quaint towns of this region. Some popular places of interest in Wiltshire include Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge, and the Wiltshire Museum.
To get to Wiltshire from Waterloo, you can take a train from the South West Trains platform and be in Wiltshire within a few hours. Alternatively, you can also take a coach or drive to Wiltshire, which will take slightly longer but may be more convenient if you want to explore the region at your own pace. Whatever mode of transportation you choose, Wiltshire is definitely worth a visit and is easily accessible from South Bank London via Waterloo Station.
London Bridge Station
London Bridge Station
Exploring Culinary Delights at Borough Market
Insider’s Tips on Borough Market
Early Birds Catch the Freshness: Arrive early in the morning for a delightful, crowd-free experience. Even though the market officially opens at 10 am, the Saturday buzz starts early, giving you first access to the freshest goods.
Cash in Hand: While most vendors accept card payments, it’s a good idea to carry some cash with you. A handful of stalls might prefer the old-fashioned way of doing business.
Sample the Goodness: Prepare your taste buds for an adventure because many vendors are eager to share samples of their delicious offerings. It’s like a culinary treasure hunt.
Reusable Shopping Bag: Don’t forget to bring a reusable shopping bag to tote your purchases. It’s eco-friendly and practical.
Watch Your Belongings: Borough Market is a popular spot, and it can get pretty busy. Keep an eye on your belongings to ensure a stress-free visit.
Visiting Times Matter: Weekends at Borough Market are vibrant, but if you prefer a more relaxed vibe, consider dropping by on a weekday from 10 am to midday or a Saturday morning starting at 8 am. Another option is to visit later in the day, around 4 pm, when the crowds tend to thin out a bit.
Exploring Alternatives: If you’re looking for more market adventures, explore Broadway Market or Real Food Market, tucked away behind the Southbank Centre. They offer unique experiences and often at a lower cost compared to Borough Market.
In the end, Borough Market is a food lover’s paradise and a treasure trove for high-quality goods. So, whether you’re a dedicated foodie or someone seeking unique finds, it’s a must-visit spot. Enjoy your culinary journey!
Nestled on the south bank of the River Thames, Southwark Cathedral stands as a majestic testament to London’s rich history and architectural heritage. Dating back over a millennium, this iconic place of worship has witnessed the city’s evolution from medieval times to the vibrant metropolis it is today. The cathedral’s stunning Gothic and Romanesque architecture captivates visitors, with its intricate details and soaring spires. As you step inside, the atmosphere is one of tranquility, offering a respite from the bustling urban surroundings. The interior reveals a wealth of historical artifacts, including the Shakespeare Memorial and the Harvard Chapel, adding layers of cultural significance. Whether you’re drawn to its spiritual ambiance, historical allure, or simply seeking a moment of reflection, Southwark Cathedral stands as a timeless jewel in the heart of London, inviting all who enter to explore its centuries-old narrative.
Insider Tips on Southwark Cathedral
Location, Location, Location: Find Southwark Cathedral on the southern bank of the River Thames, right next to Borough Market and London Bridge. It’s conveniently located and can easily be a part of your day’s adventure.
Cathedral Highlights: Step inside to witness stunning Gothic architecture and beautiful stained glass windows that tell stories of old. Explore the nave, the choir, and the tranquil gardens that provide a sense of serenity in the bustling city.
Tours and Events: Southwark Cathedral offers guided tours to unravel its intriguing history. The staff is welcoming and knowledgeable, making your visit informative and engaging. Keep an eye out for special events and exhibitions; you might stumble upon a hidden gem.
Tea, Coffee, and Reflection: Head to the Cathedral Refectory, a charming café within the cathedral, for a moment of peace. Sip a cup of tea or coffee, enjoy a light bite, and take in the soothing atmosphere. It’s a great spot for reflection and relaxation.
Community and Worship: Beyond its historical significance, Southwark Cathedral remains an active place of worship, hosting regular services. It’s also a hub for community activities, so you might stumble upon an event or gathering during your visit.
Visiting Times: The cathedral is generally open daily for visitors. However, it’s a good idea to check their website for specific opening hours and any special events happening during your visit.
A Peaceful Retreat: In the midst of London’s hustle and bustle, Southwark Cathedral stands as a peaceful retreat, allowing you to escape the urban chaos and step into a world of tranquility. It’s a reminder of the city’s deep-rooted history and a serene stop for reflection and relaxation.
Free and Accessible: What makes it fantastic is that it won’t cost you a penny. You can also escape here for a brief 15-minute break and unwind in its garden. This is quite different from other attractions where you might find yourself walking for 2 to 3 hours and shelling out cash to gain entry.
A Hidden Gem: Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a seeker of peace, or a curious traveler, don’t miss out on the chance to visit Southwark Cathedral. It’s a hidden gem waiting to be explored in the heart of London. Enjoy your journey!
The Golden Hinde
The Golden Hinde galleon, which was led by Sir Francis Drake on its journey around the world in the 16th century, is now docked overlooking the river Thames and The Old Thameside Inn pub. At this pub, you can purchase traditional British food such as fish and chips. Queen Elizabeth supported Sir Francis Drake in leading an expedition through the Strait of Magellan to explore the coasts of South America, which ultimately led to the Anglo-Spanish War and attacks on the Spanish and the King of Spain.
For only £5 for adults and £3.50 for children, you can spend about 30 minutes touring the ship and taking photos. Although it may not be a major attraction, I found it interesting to see a medieval ship that is still in good condition. I was able to see various features of the ship, such as canons, benches where the crew would have eaten, the wooden steering wheel, and a large chest. The rooms and decks of the ship were rather cramped, and I can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for tall English sailors standing at around 6 feet tall to have meetings in such confined spaces. I can also imagine how challenging it must have been for them to sail during high tide on such a cramped ship.
Insider’s Tips on The Golden Hinde
Affordable Experience: The Golden Hinde Ship offers an immersive experience at a budget-friendly cost—only under £6 for adults and £4 for children. It’s a fantastic opportunity to delve into maritime history without breaking the bank.
Pirate Immersion: Children can fully immerse themselves in the world of pirates with actor guides. These guides bring the ship’s history to life, making the visit not just educational but also entertaining.
Hidden Gem: The Golden Hinde Ship is a hidden gem among London’s attractions. While it may not be as widely known as some other sites, it offers a unique and memorable experience that’s worth discovering.
Authentic Atmosphere: Stepping aboard feels like being on the actual ship. The replica provides an authentic atmosphere, allowing visitors to envision the challenges faced by sailors, particularly during tides, as the ship is tight and crammed.
Historical Perspective: The experience goes beyond the surface, prompting visitors to imagine the hardships faced by the 6-foot-5 sailors navigating the ship. It offers a unique historical perspective on the challenges of seafaring in a bygone era.
Educational and Entertaining: The Golden Hinde Ship seamlessly combines education with entertainment. It’s an ideal destination for families, history enthusiasts, or anyone seeking a memorable and interactive experience in the heart of London.
Walk through a small walkway and you’ll come across a one-sided ruin of Winchester Palace. It had been owned by many Bishops of Winchester since the 12th century, and they used to spend their days there conducting royal and administrative business. Now, only the side wall with a window at the top remained. The palace displays a remarkably strong brickwork, which stands as a strong testament to London’s enduring strength. You could see small pebbles embedded in the slab, which you could only assume were the only material available at the time.
South Bank London restaurants, bars, and cafes
Stepping out into the brilliant sunlight, a stark contrast to the somber prison atmosphere I left behind, I embarked on a South Bank adventure in London. This charming riverside area is a vibrant hub with a variety of dining options.
Along the South Bank, you’ll find a line-up of restaurants and pubs, including familiar names like Wagamama, Zizzi’s, Nando’s, The Anchor Bankside Pub, Eat, The Real Greek, and Pizza Express, all overlooking the picturesque River Thames.
The Anchor Bankside Pub, with its eye-catching red facade, boasts a beer garden that offers scenic views of the Thames River and St. Paul’s Cathedral. However, the interior can feel a bit cramped and crowded, and the food may not leave a lasting impression.
Zizzi’s South Bank serves decent meals, but I found myself still hungry after shelling out £14.50 for spaghetti and a can of coke. You might have a more satisfying experience at Nando’s, The Real Greek, or Pizza Express.
Keep in mind that most eateries along the South Bank tend to be bustling, so service can be a bit hit or miss. Be prepared for potential waits, ranging from 20 minutes to an hour, even with the crowds.
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, consider exploring upscale options like Coppa Club Tower Bridge, The Oxo Tower Restaurant (with impressive reviews), Skylon, or the iconic Shard and Sky Garden. These establishments offer breathtaking views of London, especially at night.
The South Bank isn’t just about dining; it also showcases modern office and apartment buildings in various shapes, sizes, and colors, creating a chic and contemporary atmosphere. For those craving street food, you’ll find vendors selling churros, burgers, fish and chips, frozen yogurt, and quick bites hidden throughout the South Bank, with prices comparable to fast food restaurants.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Museum
The Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre tour, priced at £17 for a duration of 40 minutes, offers an intriguing glimpse into the historical and cultural heritage of one of London’s most iconic theatrical landmarks. Led by knowledgeable guides, this guided tour takes visitors on a journey through time, offering insights into the vibrant history of the Globe Theatre. While the duration may seem relatively short, the tour is a condensed immersion into the world of Shakespearean theatre, covering fascinating facts about the theatre’s architecture, its significance in the context of Shakespeare’s works, and the dynamic presentations, where you can observe actors in rehearsal, that have illuminated its stage. For those with a deep appreciation for the Bard’s works or a love of theatrical history, this brief but enriching tour is well worth the investment.
In the Shakespeare Exhibition at South Bank, you can discover a rich array of artifacts and displays that offer insights into the life and works of the iconic playwright. From rare manuscripts and documents to interactive exhibits, visitors can explore Shakespeare’s writing tools, historical artifacts, and even a detailed model of the Globe Theatre. The exhibition provides a comprehensive journey through Shakespeare’s world, featuring quotes from his timeless works, historical context, and a captivating glimpse into the literary legacy of one of history’s most celebrated playwrights.
Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy an intimate introduction to Victorian costumes, hosted by a knowledgeable member of the museum staff. This experience adds a dynamic and educational element to the exhibition, providing a deeper understanding of the historical context surrounding Shakespeare’s era.
Located next to The Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern is a must-visit for anyone who loves contemporary art. This free gallery is housed in a former power station, and still retains its steel, brickwork, and open spaces. There are several floors to explore, and each room has its own unique characteristics. The white walls and numerous paintings are sure to intrigue and inspire visitors. In front of the gallery, the Millennium Bridge offers a beautiful view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and there is a pathway that leads to Central London. The entrance to Tate Modern is surrounded by a park with benches where you can relax and enjoy a picnic while taking in the views of the River Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral. On any given day, you might encounter street artists, jugglers, and musicians entertaining the public.
The Free Tate Modern Gallery
The art exhibit featured a variety of works, including 3D illusions on paper, photographs of multi-story buildings addressing economic issues in the 1990s, 3D art, quotes from various artists, paintings, and a video about apartheid in South Africa. One room in particular, featuring art by Yinka Shonibare, stood out due to its white walls and bright atmosphere. The books in the room were also made of Dutch wax print fabric, which highlighted themes of colonialism, cultural appropriation, and national identity. This fabric, developed in the 19th Century, was actually an imitation of Indonesian batik prints that were being colonized by the Dutch at the time.
An artistic video depicting the Apartheid in South Africa.
A video from Erkan Ozgen depicts a story of Muhammed, a thirteen-year-old boy who fled the war in Syria in 2015 and took shelter in south-eastern Turkey, Derik Ozgen’s hometown. Muhammed is deaf and mute, and in this video, he shows his audience the traumatic account of the events he witnessed during the war.
Gabriel’s Wharf stands out as a charming and distinctive locale, offering a delightful mix of restaurants, cozy cafes, and quaint boutique shops. Its serene ambiance is enhanced by wooden seating areas, and a central gazebo provides a focal point. This inviting spot is also a haven for street food enthusiasts, featuring delectable options such as burgers, chips, frozen yogurt, fish and chips, and chorizo. For a unique dining experience, don’t miss Fire and Fromage Restaurant’s igloo-inspired setting. To learn more about their menu and services, simply book a table through the Southbank Centre website.
The National Theatre
The National Theatre hosts many plays including Shakespeare, international classic drama, and new contemporary plays. It’s publicly funded alongside the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Royal Opera House. I haven’t had a chance to review some of the shows in the National Theatre, but I’ll be sure to as soon as possible. Right now, you can check their website for further information, and what shows you can watch online.
The South Bank Book Market is located in London and is a great place to find a wide variety of books including hardcovers, paperbacks, classics, contemporary titles, comics, maps, and prints. It is located under Waterloo Bridge and is open daily, even in bad weather. The market is located near the National Theatre and is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to browse and find unique books to bring home. It is open until 7pm each day, although it may close earlier in the winter months. If you are in London, be sure to check out the South Bank Book Market for a wide selection of secondhand and antique books.
No trip along the Southbank is complete without a visit to the South Bank Centre. While the shows here might not be as long or famous as the ones in the West End, many folks flock to the Southbank Centre for its delightful culinary options, riverside views, and the general atmosphere. As you step inside, people comfortably settled and seating by the windows, enjoying coffee and nibbling on sandwiches and crisps. The coffee shop proved to be an ideal spot for a bit of relaxation within the centre. The middle part of the centre felt open, with more folks congregating, sipping coffee, and engaging in social chatter. There’s also a rather large, seemingly underused ballroom which serves private events.
In the vicinity of the Southbank Centre, you’ll find various quick-bite eateries like Eat, Giraffe, and Yo Sushi. Nearby, the vibrant sounds of skateboarders tackling colourful graffiti ramps under the centre provide an energetic backdrop. The South Bank Centre boasts a roof garden and café, and during the summer, it comes alive with outdoor music. The evenings here are filled with live music and beverage stations on the balcony, with people reveling into the early hours. There’s something special about sipping a beer on the balcony during a summer day, overlooking the River Thames while music fills the air.
South Bank Food Market
While the Southbank Food Market may be smaller and less bustling than Borough Market, it serves up a variety of hot street food from around the world, in contrast to the fresh produce found at Borough Market. It’s a worthy alternative for a foodie. For skateboarding enthusiasts, the free Southbank Skate Park beneath the Southbank Centre is a must-visit. The colourful graffiti and skate ramps provide an exciting backdrop where skateboarders occasionally take a tumble, drawing a crowd of onlookers. It’s all in good fun.
The London Eye, Sea Life London Aquarium, and London Dungeon
The reality of the London Eye experience is that the queues can be quite lengthy, and during the approximately 30-minute ride, you’ll primarily get a bird’s-eye view of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the South Bank. The cost can also be on the higher side for the relatively short duration of the ride.
COVID-19 Memorial Wall and Big Ben photo opportunity by the river Thames
The COVID-19 Memorial area offers a reflective atmosphere. Should you decide to venture beyond, you’ll come across individuals capturing moments in front of Big Ben—a popular spot frequently featured in stock photography. However, be ready for a bustling scene as many visitors eagerly snap photos of the iconic view, in stark contrast to the serene imagery often associated with stock photography. Moving forward, you’ll encounter a poignant sight—a lengthy row of small red hearts adorning the wall, serving as a tribute to those who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s common to find names and dates inscribed within these hearts, a heartfelt way for people to memorialize their loved ones.
Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and the London Wall
The Tower of London boasts a rich history spanning a millennium, and this historical journey is included in your ticket price. You can join the Wardour Tour, which typically includes around 20 people. During this tour, the Beefeaters, known for their British sense of humor, regale you with tales of who was once held captive in the chilling towers. You’ll also delve into the stories of royal families, executed politicians, and notable residents, such as Henry VIII.
As for the Tower Bridge, it’s an opportunity to explore the engineering marvel behind this iconic structure. While some may expect to hear stories about Queen Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary, the focus here is more on the bridge’s construction. If you’re keen on engineering, you can embark on the Tower Bridge tour, which usually lasts 40 to 45 minutes. Additionally, there’s a museum featuring the Engine Room, although it’s important to note that some visitors have been disappointed when they found out it’s not the actual engine room but rather a museum displaying various engines used for the bridge. If you wish to see the real Engine Room, you can book a separate tour with a staff member.
After your visit to the Tower of London, you can take in the sights of the London Wall, a well-preserved piece of ancient Roman history. While many people may pass by without noticing, it’s worth a moment of admiration if you have an interest in history. During the summer, you can enjoy a relaxing lunch at Potter’s Field Park, with a picturesque view of the grand Tower Bridge set against the blue sky.
When planning your visit to the Tower of London, it’s a good idea to schedule it as the last item on your to-do list, as exploring the Tower usually takes about 3 hours, and you might need some relaxation afterward, especially since there’s quite a bit of walking involved.
Coppa Club Tower Bridge
Coppa Club Tower Bridge restaurant serves general European/Italian dishes including pizza, pasta, salad, wines, and cocktails. It’s also an Instagram worthy restaurant. On the website, it says they provide an undisturbed working environment but during dinner, it was super busy. Maybe during the afternoon, it’s quieter. Better check it out during the day.
If you click on the link above, the post will cover reviews on the igloos, the atmosphere, the price, the location, the service, the bar and of course, the food.
Opened in 2015 in London, Coppa Club has many restaurants situated in Henley-on-Thames, Sonning-on-Thames, Maidenhead, Brighton, and Cobham Village. Depending on where you go, you’re either near the beach, in an English village, in an English countryside or a bustling city in London. Either way, all the Coppa Club restaurants are vibrant, busy, and popular. Coppa Club has been a popular visit for locals and tourists, and it’s been a top recommendation from travel articles around London.
All Hallows by the Tower Anglican Church
You can visit All Hallows by the Tower Church/Presidential Wedding and Museum before you visit the Tower of London and it’s located in front of Tower of London itself. The website claims this is the oldest church in the City of London founded in AD 675, and in 1539, the church belonged to Barking Abbey, a Benedictine nunnery in Barking, Essex, in the 7th Century, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Throughout the 11th – 15th Century, they extended the church with elements of the Norman, 13th and 15th Century architecture. It’s also amazing that the church survived the Great Fire of London, and the Blitz in World War II, even though it was irreparably damaged by the Germans. I haven’t had a chance to review this intimate church because of COVID, but once COVID restrictions have been eased, I’ll write a review about it.
St. Dunston-in-the-East was a Church of England Parish Church. It’s now a ruin and public park, where people can sit by the benches and take photos of the remaining exterior grey walls. Beautiful red and green plants, trees, mosses, and lichen grew on the walls, but the detailed patterns of the archways, and the stoned walls are still intact. It was destroyed during the Second World War, and you can still feel the ghosts of the past walking through the church. It’s peaceful, eerie, beautiful, and a hidden gem at the same time. You can spend an hour here, taking photos and eating lunch, away from the busy city streets. In 2 – 6-minutes, walk up, and you’ll see Sky Garden, and Leadenhall Market. Sky Garden is an alternative to see the view of 360 Degree London. If you can afford to splash a lot of cash for an evening meal, feel free to book a fine-dining table overlooking the view of London. You’d have to book a slot on the website 3 days before visiting Sky Garden, you can’t just visit there on the day.
From Leadenhall Market, take the bus from Fenchurch Street towards Spitalfields Market. People generally spend half a day here shopping for vintage, designer brands, and Petticoat Lane, a bargain market consisting of £5 – £20 fashion products, football t-shirts, souvenirs, fruit and veg stalls, and many more. Petticoat Lane is always crowded with people, and the walkways can be narrow, you can feel claustrophobic, but if you want to find a bargain, be my guest. You can skip Spitalfields Market for another day if you want to continue making the most of the Southbank. You can check out things to do in Shoreditch if you’re exploring outside the South Bank area.
Kayaking on the River Thames
Kayaking and canoeing are not for the faint hearted and not for beginners. The waves in the River Thames can be very fierce and when it’s windy it’s wise not to do so. I have seen experienced swimmers struggle getting out of the water because of its currents. Make sure you know your risks.
The great thing about kayaking and canoeing in London is that it covers the quieter side of London too if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Places which include wildlife and nature. These places are not scenic but if you’re into landfill, grazelands, abandoned spaces all overtaken by wildlife, then visit remotelondon.com.
There are many kayaking and canoeing companies you can take advantage of. Here are 5 suggestions:
Leadenhall Market is conveniently located near London Fenchurch Street and Monument, just a short 9-minute walk from London Bridge. If you’re already planning to explore the Sky Garden and Spitalfields Market, consider adding a visit to Leadenhall Market before or after your other adventures.
Once you step onto the charming cobblestone pavement of this market, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a collection of luxurious shops dating back to the 15th century. Amid the hustle and bustle, you can enjoy a cup of premium coffee in one of the cozy cafes, often accompanied by businessmen in their sharp suits. Indulge your taste buds with delectable treats like cinnamon pastries, sugared waffles, chocolate croissants, and an array of mouthwatering cakes, all available to take away. And if you’re looking for a taste of traditional British fare, don’t miss the New Moon pub, radiating a warm golden glow, where you can savor classic fish and chips.
Leadenhall Market offers more than just food and drink. You can explore a florist for beautiful blooms, a fresh meat market for your culinary needs, and even a relaxed wine café to sample the finest wines. With a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes to choose from, it’s a unique contrast to the vibrant, working-class atmosphere of Borough Market and the vintage charm of Portobello Market.
What truly sets Leadenhall Market apart is its rich historical architecture. The illuminated pathway is lined with an array of shops, and as you glance upwards, you’ll be greeted by the strikingly high, arched glass roof. Upon reaching the central area, you’ll find an impressive, soaring dome-shaped roof overhead. Throughout your visit, you’ll be immersed in the captivating ambiance of golden architectural elegance.
Cruise the Thames on an old paddle steamer
There are many companies that offer cruising by the River Thames. You can choose from exploring the city with live entertainment, fine dining with wine, fireworks display if you choose to come for NYE and experience Tower Bridge lift, a rare occurrence nowadays.
Dixie Queen is a recommendation and the service there was amazing. The wooden stairs with brass handles will take you to the second floor of the dining area. There were around fifty chairs and tables covered in white tablecloths. Large white candelabras are placed on each table.
The lower deck consists of several intimate booths and blue couches complemented with dark wooden tables. The upper deck consists of a bar for alcoholic beverages and you can also opt for buffet service if you prefer.
At the end of the boat, there is a great space for dancing, live entertainment, and a balcony for fresh air.
It’s recommended to explore London at night since London can be industrial. During the day, the view isn’t as beautiful as at night.
Interesting landmarks covered include the former Battersea Power Station, Palace of Westminster (Big Ben), The London Eye, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Cutty Sark ship, Greenwich The O2 Arena, and the Thames Barrier to prevent flooding.
Dixie Queen is the busiest, but you can choose from the Elizabethan, Edwardian, and Equity. Equity is for private tours of no more than 6 people.
If you happen to be in St. Paul’s Cathedral, make sure to check out Postman’s Park, nestled behind. It’s a great place to get away from the busy atmosphere, and a great place to have your lunch. You’ll be surrounded by giant ash and oak trees, green plants and tall 14th Century Tudor houses.
The special thing about this park is the Watt’s Memorial to Heroic Self. It consists of memorial plaques of over 40 people who have sacrificed their lives to save others. The memorial opened in 1900 and dates to the 19th Century. Two plaques include:
Thomas Griffin, a labourer who died in a boiler explosion so he could search for his mate. Died 12 April 1899.
Alice Ayers, a daughter of a bricklayer, saved 3 children from a burning house. Died 24 April 1885.
It’s worth the read and imagine what they had to go through risking their live
St. Paul’s Cathedral
This is another attraction that doesn’t need any introduction. As most know, Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married here in 1981, and it’s been an iconic tourist attraction for more than 100 years. The Millennium Bridge connects St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern, and they’re both situated opposite each other. Spare 1 hour here if you want to enter, but personally, you’ll get more out of Westminster Abbey that St. Paul’s Cathedral. There’s more history, and more items to discover. The highlights of St. Paul’s Cathedral are:
Great views of industrial London from the dome up the 528 steps. It’s better to view London at night.
The magnificence of the Whispering Gallery with its intricate gold and creme architecture details, and Thornhill paintings on the ceiling. Go up the Stone Gallery and Golden Gallery from here.
The Nave where you can see the interior of the dome.
The Chapels consisting of Field Marshal Lord Kitchener’s memorial, All Soul’s Chapel, St. Dunstan’s Chapel, St. George’s Chapel, St. Michael’s Chapel, the Middlesex Chapel, and the American Memorial Chapel, dedicating this area to the 28000 Americans that were stationed and killed during the Second World War. Look out for the Knight’s Bachelor Chapel, and the OBE Chapel in The Crypt.
The Quire where they hold choir services.
Oculus: An Eye into St. Paul’s Cathedral where you can watch a video on the history of St. Paul’s Cathedral going back to 1400 years.
The Cathedral collection consists of the Cathedral Library worth over 21000 books and manuscripts dating back to 1690, although some earlier works since the 1300s were destroyed in the Great Fire of London.
When you tour St. Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll be given touch screen guides consisting of films, images, interviews, and commentaries regarding the cathedral. Kids usually love the quizzes and interactive games on offer here.
HMS Belfast, an iconic part of London’s maritime history, is a must-visit attraction. Permanently moored on the River Thames near Tower Bridge, this World War II cruiser offers an immersive journey into naval history. Visitors can explore the ship’s nine decks, from the engine rooms deep below to the operations room on the upper deck, gaining insights into life at sea during wartime. The interactive exhibitions and captivating stories told by the crew members who served on board provide a fascinating and educational experience for all ages. With its stunning location along the river and unmissable views of the city’s skyline, HMS Belfast offers a unique and memorable adventure, making it a valuable stop for both history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.
River Thames Cruise
London may have its fair share of industrial elements, but don’t let that discourage you from enjoying the magnificent views along the River Thames. Despite the ongoing roadworks and construction sites, you’ll be treated to a splendid array of London’s iconic attractions. From the Tower of London to the London Eye, the experience near Tower Bridge is particularly awe-inspiring, revealing the bridge’s true grandeur when you’re up close. The sight of Big Ben, juxtaposed with 21st-century glass-clad office buildings and elegant 19th-century structures, is a sight to behold. As you journey to Greenwich in the southeast of London, you’ll also catch a glimpse of the impressive O2 Arena and more. It’s worth noting that London’s weather can be unpredictable, with occasional wind and rain, so be prepared for varying conditions when admiring the city from the outdoors. The Thames River cruise typically lasts around 40 minutes, with prices ranging from £19 to £21 per adult, depending on the chosen company. Opting for a bundled package with major attractions can offer additional savings, so it’s wise to explore various options before making your choice.
Medieval churches. Abbeys. Gothic buildings. They all have three things in common; architecture, history, and the people. Discover more than 900 years of life in Westminster Abbey in the City of Westminster. Explore tombs, burials, and memorials from the British monarchy, British politicians, scientists, writers, and poets. Shakespeare, Stephen Hawking, Queen Elizabeth I, King Richard II, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Geoffrey Chaucer, and many more. Learn about the Nave, the Quire, the ceilings and windows, and the architecture that goes with it. Read more about the secrets of Westminster Abbey.
“How the heck did they construct abbeys and churches so beautifully? The intricate detail of chiseling stones into small patterns, the way they carved religious crosses, and make them identical to one another. The several rows of small, curved lines in an archway above their main doors. “How did they combine multi-coloured glassed windows in different and turn them into picture stories?”
Big Ben and Parliament
Big ben and the Houses of Parliament are iconic landmarks located in Westminster. Big Ben, located within the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, is a large bell that chimes every hour. The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is the home of the British government and the site of the UK’s two houses of Parliament: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The palace is UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its gothic architecture and famous clock tower, which houses Big Ben. The palace and its clock tower are popular tourist attractions and can be seen on many London postcards and souvenirs.
Tate Britain is the first of the four galleries to open in England. The Tate galleries are a part of the Tate group, which includes Tate Britain, formerly known as Tate Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St. Ives. The group consists of British contemporary art and houses similar art to Tate Modern above. Its sponsor is the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports, so it’s not government funded, although they’re all free to enter. Founded in 1897, as the National Gallery of British Art previously, in 1932, it was named after the sugar tycoon Henry Tate & Tate & Lyle, who had started the collections into the galleries. I haven’t had a chance to review Tate Modern because of COVID, but once it’s safe to do so, I’ll give it a visit. In the meantime, stay safe and check out their website and virtual tour here.
You may also like:
The Cut, a street that lines from Waterloo to Southwark. You’ll be able to check out The Old Vic Theatre, The Young Vic Pub, a tapas bar, Meson Don Felipe, and check out the vintage second-hand Calder Bookshop and Theatre.
Lower Marsh Market is a fresh food market with 77 stalls near the Southbank, and around it, you’ll find stylish restaurants and cafes from around the world, from Cuban, Thai, Spanish, and many more. Check out the music and vintage memorabilia shop as well if you’re into that kind of thing.
BFI Southbank which represents and promotes filmmaking and television in the UK. You’ll find so many film archives, from the London Film Festival, the London IMAX, and many more. Check out their website for more information.
In conclusion, South Bank London offers an abundance of captivating experiences, from historic landmarks to cultural treasures and delightful culinary adventures. With a list of 31 things to do, it’s clear that this vibrant area has so much to offer. While it may be a daunting task to explore everything in just one day, that’s precisely what makes South Bank London an enduring area to visit. Whether you choose to stroll along the riverbanks, visit iconic sites like the London Eye or the Tate Modern, or savour the flavours of the Southbank Food Market, you’ll undoubtedly be left with a strong desire to return for more. The rich blend of art, history, and modernity in South Bank London ensures that there’s always something new to discover, making each visit a unique and memorable experience. So, take your time, explore at your own pace, and savor the South Bank’s diverse offerings. It’s a place that beckons you back, time and time again.
If you decide to visit the Tower of London and Tower Bridge for example, you can use the London Pass, for which I am a part of an affiliate program with Go City – London Pass. Go City is part of the London Pass group where you get great discount packages on major London attractions. If you book through me, I can offer your a 5% discount code AFFGOALL so you’ll save MORE money. BOOK NOW and unlock access to top attractions, skip-the-line privileges, and exclusive savings.
If you book through me with no additional charge to you, I get a commission from them.
In addition, I am able to recommend and advise on your travel plans before you book your travel holidays (vacation as the Americans call it). Contact me on Facebook if you want to tweak your itinerary to suit your taste.