When it comes to some things to do near London Bridge, the list is so long that you would struggle to narrow it down.
While there are some amazing activities and tours out there, sometimes the budget just can’t stretch to pay for all of them.
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The banks of the Thames is a hive of activity and beauty. That’s why taking a London Bridge to South Bank Centre self-guide walk is a simple and free way to see the city.
The walk can you anywhere from 90 mins to two and a half hours depending on if you stop a lot for photos, a bite to eat and drink or to watch performs along the way.
However, you may be unsure about where to go and stop along the way. In this guide, you will find some cool places to experience on your way to South Bank Centre.
Whether you travel along the bank of the Thames or through the city there are two different routes that you can take.
South Bank is one of the entertainment hubs of the city, with a number of attractions on offer. Found in Central London, this area sits across from places such as Westminster, Soho, Covent Garden, Chinatown and more.
With famous spots dotted throughout the area, there are a few things to see and do here.
From restaurants to galleries, theatres, and even cultural spaces, there is something for everyone here. Taking a walk along the banks of the river offers a different kind of experience.
This kind of walk takes you more into the everyday life of London, with some cool sights and locations to experience along the way.
Make your way to Monument Station on the underground – this will be the best starting point for your walk to the South Bank centre.
You can either walk up Cannon Street towards St. Paul’s Cathedral or walk down King William Street towards London Bridge. As you make your way towards the side of the River Thames, it is worth stopping at the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
This column was erected at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill and offers some of the best views of London. Climbing the 311 steps to the top to witness some incredible panoramic views of the city is a popular activity.
You even get a certificate to commemorate your achievement since climbing these stairs is no easy feat.
After this, you can take a stroll across London Bridge and take in the sights of the River Thames and what lines its banks. From there, make your way towards Southwark Cathedral and the Borough Market, you will pass these two locations on your way to the boardwalk and more attractions.
If you decide to walk up Cannon Street instead of crossing London Bridge, you will first stop at London Mithraeum. Found in the Bloomberg SPACE building, these Roman Temple ruins are some of the Roman Ruins that are scattered throughout London.
This is a great look into what ancient London looked like. Entrance is free but you will need to book a ticket to enter online with limited space inside.
Follow the sound of bells as you walk up the street to St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is one of the iconic attractions of London and a must-see on your journey through to London, South Bank.
This is where you then cross over the Millennium Bridge to the opposite side of the Thames and carry on your walk at Shakespeare’s Globe.
As you walk across London Bridge, this magnificent structure will come into view. Set aside on the bustling River Thames, this Cathedral is a marvellous attraction that has been around in its current form for over 800 years.
It was damaged quite severely during the Great Fire in 1212, undergoing repairs in the following years.
The Cathedral is open to visitors to explore, so step inside and marvel at the beautiful stained-glass windows. A nice thing about this specific cathedral is that they allow you to take photos inside, so bring your travel camera along.
All they ask for is that it is outside of events and services and that a photo permit is purchased for an extremely small fee.
South of the Cathedral, the Borough Market is a staple in the area and a must-stop on your walkthrough to the Southbank Centre.
This historic market is one of London’s oldest and top food markets, which is protected by the elements under an ornate glass roof.
You will find this lovely space on Borough High Street and Southwark Street is laden with speciality goods. Here you’ll find an abundance of restaurants and food stalls. This is a great place to get some breakfast before continuing on your journey through South Bank, London.
The market is also famous for being used as a filming location for movies such as Harry Potter, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and others.
Winchester Palace Ruins
You’ll also pass by the Winchester Palace ruins a The magnificent 13th-century palace served as the London townhouse of the Bishops of Winchester and was formerly known as Baynard’s Castle.
When leaving the Borough Market, make your way down Park Street and follow it all the way to the Bankside walkway along the River Thames. Make sure to stop at the William Shakespeare mural at the end of Bank Road before moving on to Shakespeare’s Globe.
The Mural is just before the Clink museum, so keep an eye out for that.
This theatre is famous around the world and is also a cultural landmark with regular plays being held here.
This is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre playhouse where Shakespeare wrote most of his plays. The original was lost to a fire, rebuilt, and subsequently demolished.
Even though it is a reconstructed version, it is considered to be incredibly realistic, with a capacity of 1400 people.
The building itself is one of London’s more unique landmarks and happens to also be the only building with a thatch roof in the city. If you are a fan of Shakespeare, this is somewhat of a monument to the playwright and a must-stop on your walk.
It is not hard to miss this theatre – it looks as if mediaeval London is still alive and well today.
The Millennium Bridge
Just outside of the theatre is an amazing photo spot to take some photos of the Millennium Bridge.
Interestingly this particular bridge was given the nickname of the “wobbly bridge” since, on its opening day, the bridge started swaying drastically when people walked across it. But don’t worry, it’s safe to use since it was fixed and does not sway at all anymore.
One of the best views in London awaits you on the southern end of this bridge. If you start walking onto the bridge and turn around at the end, you will see the south facade of St. Paul’s Cathedral framed perfectly by the ramps that lead up onto the Millennium Bridge. Not a bad view when looking across the river.
This is the time to whip out a camera for Instagram photos that will make your timeline stand out and make your friends jealous.
If you stand halfway on the bridge, you will see the skyscrapers of London, like the Shard. If you hang around long enough, you will even hear the bells of St. Paul’s ringing.
For all the art lovers, the Tate Modern is the next stop on this walk toward the South Bank Centre. This gallery is home to the entire national collection of contemporary and modern art in the United Kingdom.
It also happens to be one of the most extensive galleries of this kind in the world. This is a place where you can spend quite some time walking around and navigating the various exhibitions.
The building itself used to be the old Bankside Power Station, designed by the famous architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The interior is fascinating, with much of the original structure still in place. This includes the main turbine room, which is the size of a warehouse.
One-half of the roof has a two-storey glass extension, adding lots of natural light.
There is also a balcony that offers some incredible panoramic views of the London skyline and the Millennium Bridge.
Entrance is free, as with most museums in London. However, there could be a cost for admission to specific exhibitions that may be on.
After the Tate, if you carry on along the promenade, under the Blackfriars Bridge, you will notice something a little different on the side of the Thames.
Believe it or not, there are actually beaches on the banks of the Thames that Londoners flock to when the weather starts to warm up in the summer months.
The South Bank has a few tidal beaches that are favourites, with the Thames Beach in front of Gabriel’s Wharf being a popular choice.
Not only is it the perfect place to cool off your feet in the warmer months, but for anyone looking for Instagram snaps, this is the place to go. The views are spectacular, both during the day and if you want to simply relax on the sand and watch the city light up as the sun goes down.
If you are there at the right time of the year, the Limin’ Beach club is a vibey and fun place to grab a drink while resting for a little before carrying on with your adventure.
Now you have sort of been on this for almost the entire walk, but this part of the boardwalk is particularly lively.
As you leave Thames Beach and head towards Waterloo Bridge, the feel of the boardwalk changes. With ornate irons, wood railings, benches, and lush trees scattered along the boardwalk.
Grab a bench with a snack from one of the vendors that line the path. While indulging, watch as people and the world pass you by – both on the boardwalk and on the water. For any budding photographer, this is a beautiful place to be after a bit of rain.
The puddles on the path create mirror-like reflections of the scenery surrounding them. This is more of a tranquil stop to just reset and take a breather, with some amazing views to go with it.
The National Theatre is also found here. If you’re in the mood or have the time, consider booking a show for later on.
Just after Waterloo Bridge, you will find this iconic London feature before you finally arrive at South Bank Centre.
This is one of the most famous spots in the South Bank area. This skatepark is considered to be the home of skateboarding in Britain, having been used by local skateboarders since the 70s. It is believed to be the longest continually used skate spot in the world.
This area has become a space for creativity to flourish, with graffiti covering almost every surface in the skate park. It was nearly lost in 2014 when the area was going to be re-developed, but thankfully, it was saved by locals.
This is a great place to relax with a coffee for a little and watch as the skaters show off for the audience and attempt some insane tricks. Keep an eye out though for any rogue skateboards that might come flying your way.
Just past the skate space is the Hungerford Bridge with the Golden Jubilee Bridges that run along each side.
The endpoint of this walk, the South Bank Centre is a buzzing hive of activity with so many different things going on. It is the perfect place to finish on a high note.
At any given time, there are a few South Bank events happening throughout the year. On the weekends, the South Bank Centre food market is on, where you can get some incredible food at reasonable prices. It is arguably one of the best markets near London Bridge.
A neat little feature of the area is the benches, funnily enough. These modified social benches are a fun thing to take photos on, with one being just a dip in the middle, forcing you to cuddle with whoever you share the bench with.
Take a walk across the bridge for some more incredible views of the city and along the river.
Embankment Station is just across the river, with Trafalgar Square and a few other things to do in Covent Garden being straight down the road as well.
While there might not be as many historically significant things to see on this walk, it is significant in the sense that it highlights the culture that thrives within London.
From the sights of the city to the various galleries and other important cultural locations, South Bank is overflowing with places to see.
With Trafalgar Square being just across the river of the South Bank Centre, it would be ideal to head to one of the restaurants in Covent Garden and revel in the memories of the day. If not then you can head to South Bank Waterloo Underground station and catch the train back home.
Which of these spots are you looking forward to seeing the most as you stroll along the River Thames?