Last Updated on 7 November, 2023
They say London is expensive, but there are so many ways to explore in the city without raising alarm bells with your bank manager.
Below I will take you through some of the cool things to do on London’s Southbank, especially now that summer is here.
I love summer in the London as it is simply a delight to explore on foot, just as well because this little Southbank guide will require you to have comfortable shoes on.
Make sure you are well prepared for what to pack for London as I shared tips in my recent post with packing tips for London.
About London Southbank
London Southbank is a bustling cultural hub nestled along the scenic banks of the River Thames. This vibrant area offers a diverse array of attractions, from iconic landmarks like the London Eye and the Southbank Centre to renowned theaters and art galleries.
Strolling along the riverside promenade, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the city skyline while immersing themselves in a lively atmosphere filled with street performers, bustling markets, and charming cafés.
With its rich cultural heritage and a myriad of entertainment options, London Southbank is a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike, promising an unforgettable experience in the heart of the British capital.
Top 10 Things To Do On Southbank
- Start your journey from Butler’s Wharf: Take in the views of London’s beautiful skyline as the city tour boats whizz about under Tower Bridge. If you love museums, here you also have the Design Museum matched with amazing views of the city’s skyline from Butler’s Wharf
- Continue your walk and head over to The Shard just before sunset as everything is bathed in a golden light. You also have the option of crossing over the river and taking in the views from The Sky Garden.
- From Shard views to checking out the gastronomy at Borough Market. Everything from English, Indian, Italian, Spanish and more are catered for and there are cute pop-up bars to wash your food down. The food is good, the vibe amazing and the musical. Perfect spot to hang out if you want to spend an evening here with your significant other.
- Continuing the walk from Borough Market leads your towards Thames Walk. From here head towards Tate Modern and Switch House which offer amazing Views of St Pauls and The North Bank. While here, you also have the option to walk across Millennium Bridge and grab a drink at Madison Bar overlooking St Pauls Cathedral and chill here with a drink and good conversation otherwise continue the walk.
- Explore the Tate Modern: Discover contemporary and modern art at the renowned Tate Modern, located in a former power station. Marvel at the extensive collection and temporary exhibitions that showcase artistic innovation.
- Continue the walk towards Waterloo passing the OXO tower. As you approach Waterloo Bridge. Take in the views from Gabriel’s Pier. Here there are a couple of bars and restaurants with great food, music. Something about the ambiance created when the sun is low on London’s Southbank, the lights around the Thames starts to come on…
- Indulge in the food markets: There are so many options for food along Southbank. You can sample delicious street food and browse local produce at the popular food markets along Southbank. From Borough Market to the Real Food Market, you’ll find a plethora of culinary delights to satisfy your taste buds.
- Continue walking towards Waterloo Bridge and here the river is lined with benches to chill and take in the city, get lost in deep conservation about what could be. There are food stalls on Southbank Food market that are not to be missed, as well as bars and restaurants nearby.
- You also have the National Theatre Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall which usually puts on exhibitions and shows at really great prices. In addition to dance classes too, where you can your significant other some of your dance moves. You can also take in the evening watching skateboards showcasing their talents under Queen Elizabeth Halls.
- Enjoy a riverside meal or drink: Southbank offers a plethora of riverside restaurants, bars, and cafes where you can relax and enjoy a meal or drink with stunning views of the River Thames. Explore the many cool bars on Southbank. Many of which come with amazing views of the River Thames while you sip cocktails.
- Take a ride on the London Eye: Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city from the iconic London Eye, a giant observation wheel that offers a unique perspective of London’s skyline. Get a ride on London eye and enjoy the views of the city as the Eye takes you on a 45-min merry-go-round.
- Visit the SEA LIFE London Aquarium: Dive into the underwater world at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, where you can marvel at fascinating marine creatures and learn about ocean conservation.
- Attend a concert at the Royal Festival Hall: Experience the magic of live music by attending a concert at the Royal Festival Hall, renowned for its exceptional acoustics. From classical symphonies to popular music performances, there’s a wide range of musical genres to enjoy.
- Chill under the watchful eye of London Eye as you take in the scenery and the spinning wheel in Jubilee Gardens Under London Eye. This is also a popular spot to watch the sunset in the evening. In the summer there are shows and funfair by the lawns for additional entertainment in the summer evenings.
- Wander along the Queen’s Walk: Take a leisurely stroll along the Queen’s Walk, a picturesque riverside path that stretches along Southbank. Admire the stunning views of iconic landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
- Continue your walk towards Vauxhall Bridge where you will be rewarded with even more of a beautiful view of the city showcasing the London Eye, Big Ben and the city beyond. You head back but this time taking in the city from the Northbank!
- Catch a show at the National Theatre: Enjoy world-class theater productions at the National Theatre. From classic plays to innovative contemporary performances, there’s always something captivating on stage.
- Enjoy street performances: Experience the lively atmosphere of Southbank’s street performers as they captivate audiences with their talents. From musicians to magicians, you’ll find a diverse range of entertainment along the riverside promenade.
Staying Near Southbank
If you’re planning a visit to London Southbank and looking for convenient accommodation options, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a list of hotels near London Southbank that offer comfort, convenience, and proximity to the vibrant attractions of the area:
- Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London – Located just steps away from the Southbank Centre, this stylish hotel offers contemporary rooms, a spa, and stunning views of the city.
- Sea Containers London – Situated on the South Bank of the Thames, this design-forward hotel features chic rooms, a rooftop bar, and a vibrant restaurant.
- Mondrian London – Offering a blend of luxury and artistic flair, Mondrian London boasts stylish rooms, a riverside bar, and an acclaimed rooftop lounge with panoramic views.
- The Savoy – A legendary hotel with a rich history, The Savoy offers elegant rooms, world-class dining options, and an iconic American Bar.
- CitizenM London Bankside – Perfect for the modern traveler, citizenM Bankside offers compact yet stylish rooms, a 24/7 bar, and a lively atmosphere.
- Hilton London Bankside – With contemporary rooms, a rooftop bar, and a convenient location near Tate Modern, this hotel combines comfort and sophistication.
- H10 London Waterloo – Situated within walking distance of Southbank attractions, this modern hotel features comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and a trendy bar.
- Novotel London Waterloo – Offering spacious rooms and a fitness center, this family-friendly hotel provides a comfortable base for exploring Southbank’s attractions.
These hotels near London Southbank provide a range of options to suit different budgets and preferences, ensuring a memorable stay in this vibrant part of the city.
London Southbank FAQs
1. Is London Southbank a safe area to visit? Yes, London Southbank is generally considered safe for visitors. Like any popular tourist destination, it’s always advisable to remain vigilant and take standard safety precautions.
2. What is the best way to get to London Southbank? London Southbank is well-connected by public transportation. You can easily reach it by taking the Underground (Tube) to stations like Waterloo, Embankment, or Southwark, or by bus or taxi.
3. Are there any family-friendly activities on London Southbank? Absolutely! London Southbank offers various family-friendly activities such as visiting the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, enjoying street performances, and exploring the Southbank Centre, which often hosts family-oriented events.
4. Can I take a river cruise from London Southbank? Yes, you can embark on a scenic river cruise from various points along London Southbank. These cruises offer an excellent way to enjoy views of the city and the River Thames. Check out these cruises leaving from the pier next to London Eye.
5. Are there any free attractions on London Southbank? Yes, there are several free attractions on London Southbank. You can visit the Tate Modern for free (though some special exhibitions may require a fee), enjoy street performances, walk along the Queen’s Walk, or simply soak up the vibrant atmosphere without spending a penny.
6. Are there any nearby shopping options? Yes, London Southbank offers shopping opportunities such as the Gabriel’s Wharf boutique shops and the Southbank Centre Shop, where you can find unique gifts, books, and artisanal products.
7. Can I find parking facilities near London Southbank? Yes, there are parking facilities available near London Southbank, but parking can be limited and expensive. It’s recommended to use public transportation when possible.
8. What is the best time to visit London Southbank? London Southbank is a year-round destination. However, the summer months (June to August) tend to be busier due to favorable weather and school holidays. Consider visiting during weekdays or off-peak hours for a less crowded experience.
9. Are there any nearby accommodation options? Yes, there are numerous hotels and accommodations near London Southbank, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly options. You can find a suitable place to stay based on your preferences and budget.
10. Can I take a leisurely walk from London Southbank to other attractions in central London? Yes, you can take a leisurely walk from London Southbank to other attractions like the Tower Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, the British Museum, or Covent Garden. The riverside promenade offers a scenic route for exploring central London on foot.