South Bank Walk, London (Self Guided)

Continue your cultural walk along the southern bank of the River Thames and enjoy the unique attractions it hosts. Buzzing with life and joy, London's South Bank will eagerly reveal all of its secrets. Take this tour and check it out yourself.
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South Bank Walk Map

Guide Name: South Bank Walk
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Author: clare
1
Tower Bridge

1) Tower Bridge (must see)

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London. The bridge consists of two towers which are tied together at the upper level by means of two horizontal walkways which are designed to withstand the horizontal forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical component of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower.

Its present colour dates from 1977 when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Originally it was painted a chocolate brown colour. Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred to as London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream.

Why You Should Visit:
Unique and majestic structure; amazing to see especially at night!
Great view and a glass floor on the high-level walkways that is really quite cool.

Tip:
If you're lucky enough, you could see the bridge open up to let the barges/ships pass by.
Don't skip the engine room, which is very educational as to how the bridge operates.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
City Hall

2) City Hall

Some buildings in London will surprise you by their startling modernity. Sometimes it seems that architects go out of their way to make sure that visitors to the city realize that although it is steeped in ancient history, the capital and its people live in the 21st century. The City Hall is just one of these buildings, and once you have got used to its odd shape, you will appreciate the beauty of this futuristic structure.

The building is a 10 storey glass-and-steel office block that leans to one side. It was designed by Norman Foster in 2002 and won the competition to find the best design and location for the new home of the London Assembly. It is 45 metres high and takes up less space than a traditional cubed building of the same volume. It is filled with energy-saving features and uses less than a quarter of the energy of the surrounding buildings.

For the first time, the public was invited to help with the choice during the competition, and the 9th floor is open to visitors. There is a balcony that goes almost all the way around the building on this level and it’s probably one of the best places to take great photos of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London on the opposite bank of the Thames.

On the lower ground floor you will find a cafeteria, but if you have brought a picnic lunch with you, you can eat it on the west side of the building, where there is a sunken area, a bit like an arena with stone steps/benches. It is called the Scoop and lots of office workers eat their lunch there in fine weather.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Borough Market

3) Borough Market

Borough Market is a wholesale and retail food market in Southwark, South East London, England. It is one of the largest food markets in the world, and is regarded by some as one of the highest quality markets in the United Kingdom, selling a large variety of foods from all around the world. The wholesale market operates on all weekday mornings from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., but the retail market operates only on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The market, which has focused historically on fruits and vegetables, has, in recent years, added stalls dealing with the fine food retail market. Since the beginning of 2000, some of the market's most famous traders include Artisan Bakers DeGustibus, Furness Fish & Game Supplies, Peter Gott and Sillfield Farm, and the Spanish company Brindisa.

Operation hours: Thursday: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm; Friday: 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm; Saturday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Southwark Cathedral

4) Southwark Cathedral

On the South Bank of the Thames, not far from London Bridge, you will find the Southwark Cathedral, which is the Mother Church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark and well worth a visit. Although the church has only been a cathedral since 1905, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book Survey of 1086. It is certainly possible that the building was erected on the site of an even older place of worship as in 1977 a 4th century Roman well with a pagan statue was discovered beneath the choir. The present building is the first Gothic church to be constructed in England and was dedicated to St Mary Overie (a corruption of Over the River). Of the Norman church only the wooden door remains, as the church was damaged by fire in 1212, 1390 and 1420. Inside the Cathedral there is a stained glass window dedicated to William Shakespeare showing scenes from his plays, and below this is a statue of the Bard. Another interesting memorial is the multi-chrome panelled tomb of John Gower, a 15th Court Poet and friend of Chaucer. Joined to the cathedral by Lancelot’s Link, an ancient alley now a glazed street, you will find the refectory, where you can enjoy a meal and a cup of tea and the cathedral shop, selling postcards, books and locally made gift items.
5
Golden Hinde

5) Golden Hinde

When you want to give your children a treat while you are visiting London – or if you want to treat yourself for that matter, you couldn’t do better than to spend an afternoon, a day, or even a night on the Golden Hinde, berthed in St Mary Overie Dock.

The ship is a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s famous warship, in which he sailed round the world. The Golden Hinde you will visit today was launched in Devon in 1973 and circumnavigated the world many more times than its namesake, before being opened to the public for guided visits or for private hire – the Pirate Birthday Parties are especially popular.

Costumed educators will tell you the history of the original ship, about Sir Francis Drake and all about life onboard for both officers and crew in the 16th century. There are several themes to make sure that everyone has a great time while learning about Elizabethan weaponry and warfare.

The Maritime Workshop arranges hands-on activities where children (or adults) will learn how to measure time and speed aboard a sail-rigged war boat. You can handle navigational instruments used by Drake to plot his voyage round the world.

The Day or Overnight Living History themes allow children to dress up as crew members in Tudor sailors’ costumes. There are workshops on navigation and barber surgery; in the afternoon there are mock battles and gun-drill. The children are served biscuits and grog (apple juice).

The overnight version includes a Tudor dinner (vegetable soup and bread), sleeping on the gun-deck and a Tudor breakfast (bread and cheese). Whether you chose the paying themes or just an afternoon’s self guided visit, don’t miss the souvenir shop, where you can stock up on postcards, t-shirts and other gift items.

The Golden Hinde is open between 10.00 am and 5:30 pm daily for self guided tours. Self guided tours admission: adult - £6.00, children (4 - 16 years old) - £4.50; family - £18.00.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
The Site of the Original Globe Theatre

6) The Site of the Original Globe Theatre

A plaque and a series of illustrative panels mark the site of The Globe theatre. Approximately five per cent of the foundations of the first (and second) Globe have been excavated. These foundations verified that the original Globe was a 20-sided polygonal building – vital information used in the quest to later replicate the famed theatre. About 15 of Shakespeare’s plays had their first or very early performances at The Globe, including many of his most renowned works.
7
Shakespeare Globe Theatre

7) Shakespeare Globe Theatre (must see)

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, which officially opened in 1997, is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames. It is approximately 230 metres from the site of the original theatre. Jack Shepherd's 'Prologue Production' of The Two Gentlemen of Verona starring Mark Rylance as Proteus, opened the Globe to the theatregoing public in August 1996, a year before the formal opening Gala. The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by the playing company, Lord Chamberlain's Men, to which Shakespeare belonged, and was destroyed by fire on June 29, 1613. The fire was caused by an accident with a cannon during a production of Henry VIII. The theatre was rebuilt by June 1614 (the exact opening date is not known), but was officially closed by pressure of Puritan opinion in 1642 and demolished in 1644. Replicas and free interpretations of the Globe have been built around the world and in the virtual world.

Why You Should Visit:
A brilliant location in which to see Shakespeare's plays, complete with a usually high standard of production.

Tip:
Gets rather cold during the evening (due to the theatre being only semi-covered) so bring a blanket.
Taking a hat or sunglasses for the sun moving across the sky should also help.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Tate Modern

8) Tate Modern (must see)

The Tate Modern is a National Gallery of International Art and one of the four Tate Galleries. It was opened in 2000 in the disused Bankside Power Station building on the South side of the River Thames. This wonderful gallery is a must for all lovers of modern art.

On levels three and five of this remarkable gallery you will find permanent exhibitions. On Level 1, the Turbine Hall once housed the power station’s generators. Today you can visit Contemporary Art exhibitions from October to March. Level 2 holds temporary Cutting-edge Contemporary Art exhibitions

On Level 3 you will find the Material Gestures Exhibition of Abstraction Art, Expressionism Art and Abstraction/Expressionism Art, with works by Claude Monet, Anish Kapoor, Barnet Newman, Henri Matisse and Tacita Dean, among other great artists. A second gallery on this level is called Poetry and Dream, which displays Surrealist Art. Level 4 of the gallery holds temporary exhibitions of major art and is the only part of the gallery that charges a fee to visit it.

On Level 5 you can visit two fine exhibitions: Energy and Process with Arte Povera, nineteen sixties Italian Modern Art. In the second gallery, called States of Flux you can admire Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism (20th century British Modernism) and Pop Art. You will find works by Picasso, Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Why You Should Visit:
Something for amateur art lovers as well as serious art folk.

Tip:
Time your run so you can check out the 10th-floor terrace as the lights come on across London. Awesome views, especially with a drink in your hands from the small bar up there.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 10am-6pm; Fri-Sat: 10am-10pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
London Eye

9) London Eye (must see)

The Merlin Entertainments London Eye (commonly the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel) is an extremely large passenger-carrying Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames in Central London in the United Kingdom.

It is the largest Ferris wheel in Europe and has become the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over three million people in one year. At the time it was erected, in 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until it was surpassed by the Star of Nanchang in May 2006, and then the Singapore Flyer on 11 February 2008. However, it is still described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel".

The London Eye is located at the western end of Jubilee Gardens in the London Borough of Lambeth in England, between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The site is adjacent to that of the former Dome of Discovery.

Why You Should Visit:
A nice way to gain perspective of the city, especially if it's your first time in London. You can enjoy spectacular views with Shard and London bridge on one side and Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster on the other side. The ride lasts roughly 30 minutes, and you can both stand or be seated in the pods.

Tip:
Getting your ticket(s) in advance online is a good idea.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
London Dungeon Museum

10) London Dungeon Museum

The London Dungeon Museum is a famous horror attraction in London. A great hit with ghoulish children, the museum illustrates the most bloodthirsty events of British history. You'll encounter Druids performing a human sacrifice at Stonehenge, a room full of people who die with agony from the plague and many other terrifying performances.

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

Create Your Own Walk in London

Creating your own self-guided walk in London is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
East City of London Walk

East City of London Walk

The City is a notable part of central London. This neighborhood is colloquially known as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 square miles (2.90 square km) in area. The City of London is able to offer great number of things to see. This tour will guide you from the Tower Bridge to the “30 St Mary Axe”, great achievements of architecture and engineering.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

There are over 240 museums in London and they welcome about 42 million annual visitors nationwide. This wonderful tour will lead you to the most famous and significant museums of London Bloomsbury area, such as Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Wellcome Collection, The Crypt Gallery and others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of the must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades and from snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street there are a host of shops selling items which typically depict this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs for yourself or gift for friends, here are a few ideas to give you some great inspiration.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Bridges of London

Bridges of London

Thirty-four bridges span the Thames in London. Each one has its own history and is worth seeing. Take this walking tour to appreciate the beauty of London bridges.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.1 km
Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Situated just below Hyde Park, Knightsbridge and South Kensington are two adjacent neighborhoods with grand Victorian homes and leafy garden squares. The area is also a shopper's paradise featuring two iconic luxury stores in London. Museum goers will find there a number of excellent museums on history, science and arts. On this self guided walk, you will explore the famous homes, grand...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km
Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

Charles Dickens London Walking Tour

Born in Portsmouth in 1812, Charles John Huffam Dickens was the second child to arrive in a big family of his father, a Naval clerk. At the age of three, Dickens traveled to London along with his family, upon which two years later they moved to Chatham in Kent. Starting circa 1840 until his death in 1870, Dickens remained the most famous and popular writer in the world. He authored some of...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of their must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades to snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in London for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best London has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting London's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the London Pass, London Explorer Pass, or iVenture Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple London's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of London hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Trafalgar St. James London Curio collection by Hilton, Corinthia Hotel London, The Grand at Trafalgar Square.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as London, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of London typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$130 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of London from the open top of the bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the six interconnecting routes, plus get on board the Thames River Sightseeing Cruise. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Spend half a day pedaling your way around London Royal Parks on a guided bike tour to see the city's most spectacular highlights stopping at some for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Commit yourself to a full-day of sightseeing to appreciate the English capital in its full splendor complete with its top (UNESCO-listed and other) attractions, plus to enjoy a sightseeing cruise down the River Thames, and more.

- Dive into Britain’s royal and political history on the Westminster Abbey & Houses of Parliament tour for an up-close view of the country's two most prominent landmarks that have been in place and duly served their purpose for almost a millennium.

- Explore the WWII chapter of the British history on a guided 2-hour walking tour of Churchill War Rooms & Westminster to see how they operated back in those days. Hear some little-known war tales and tidbits about London and the country's most celebrated leader, Winston Churchill.

- Satisfy your penchant for English tradition, glamour and food culture in style with an afternoon tea experience at the 5-star Grosvenor House Hotel in London complete with a full set of lovely cakes, sandwiches and tea!

- If you're into music, give yourself a treat, whilst in London, to the Musical Theater Show at Apollo Victoria Theatre presenting the alternate side of the famous Wizard of Oz story previously untold.

Day Trips


If you have a day to spare whilst in London, why not use it to explore some out-of-town destinations like the Warner Bros. Studio London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle, Cotswolds, or Leeds Castle, Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury. For as little as circa US$100+ to US$120+ per person you will get a chance to explore the postcard-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sights, get behind-the-scenes of the mystical world of Harry Potter, see what has been the home of the British Royals for the past 900 years, explore the ancient rock formations, Roman Baths and medieval castles, walk the streets of the charming hometown of William Shakespeare, check out one of the world’s most prestigious universities, get to see the picture-perfect region officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, otherwise known as “forever England,” renowned for its quaint villages and rolling hills, admire the symbolic White Cliffs of Dover, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up straight from your hotel in London and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or train (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.