Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

South Bank Walking Tour (Self Guided), London

Situated south of The Thames river, the South Bank is an ever-changing and always lively area at the heart of London’s cultural scene, and home to world-class arts venues like Shakespeare Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, and the Southbank Centre. Dotting along the tree-lined riverside walkway are also food markets, restaurants, and historic pubs and cafes.

Take this self-guided walk to explore the cultural and foodie attractions in the South Bank and don't miss the chance to admire iconic London landmarks (Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral) from the London Eye Ferris wheel located here.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

South Bank Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: South Bank Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Tower Bridge
  • City Hall
  • Borough Market
  • Southwark Cathedral
  • Golden Hinde
  • The Site of the Original Globe Theatre
  • Shakespeare Globe Theatre
  • Tate Modern
  • Gabriel's Wharf
  • Southbank Center
  • London Eye
  • London Dungeon Museum
Tower Bridge

1) Tower Bridge (must see)

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge 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.

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
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
Borough Market

3) Borough Market (must see)

Borough Market is a foodie's paradise. Located in Southwalk, London, it is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London with a market on the site dating back to at least the 12th century. The present buildings were built in the 1850s, and today the huge market sells a wide range of specialty foods to the general public.

The market attracts a huge crowd of eaters but always has a nice atmosphere. It is a great place to visit when in London. You will find all kind of cheese, salami, olive oil, oysters, and cuisines of different countries. The prices are reasonable and many venders happily providing samples to try. It is a good idea to wander around a bit before you commit because the choices are endless.

The best time to visit the market is Wednesday - Saturday when it offers the full market. On Monday and Tuesday it offers a limited market. It is closed on Sunday.

Operation hours: Mon-Thurs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm; Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Saturday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm; Sunday: closed

Why You Should Visit:
This place is a foodie paradise. Huge selections of street food and specialty food.

Wander around a bit so you get to see what are on offer. Try before you commit.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Southwark Cathedral

4) Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral lies on the south bank of the River Thames close to London Bridge. It is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. It has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years, but a cathedral only since the creation of the diocese of Southwark in 1905.

Between 1106 and 1538 it was the church of an Augustinian priory, Southwark Priory, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a parish church, with the new dedication of St Saviour's. The church was in the diocese of Winchester until 1877, when the parish of St Saviour's, along with other South London parishes, was transferred to the diocese of Rochester. The present building retains the basic form of the Gothic structure built between 1220 and 1420, although the nave is a late 19th-century reconstruction.

Southwark Cathedral is a beautiful cathedral in the middle of the bustle of Borough Market. Friendly and welcoming it is a lovely place to drop by and spend some time there. There also is a nice herb garden to see too and some interesting memorials in the grounds, including for the London Bridge terrorit attack.

***Shakespeare Walk***
Southwark Cathedral made history in the 17th century as the place of worship of two great English playwrights, Williams Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer. It is also believed that Shakespeare was present here during baptism of John Harvard, the future founder of the American university, in 1607. Shakespeare used to live in Southwark, near The Globe Theatre, and visited the cathedral rather often as his parish church. He even had his brother Edmund buried here on the grounds in December 1607, although the actual location of his grave is unknown. Within the cathedral there is a beautiful stained glass window dedicated to Shakespeare, depicting characters from his plays. Beneath the window, there is an alabaster statue of the Bard himself, in repose, set against a relief of 17th-century Southwark showing The Globe Theatre, Winchester Palace and the tower of the would-be cathedral, created by Henry McCarthy in 1912.
Sight description based on wikipedia
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
The Site of the Original Globe Theatre

6) The Site of the Original Globe Theatre

The original site on which The Globe theatre once stood, first opened in 1599, is now marked by a plaque and a series of illustrative panels. Back in the day, Park Street was called Maiden Lane and was part of The Liberty of the Clink area outside of control of the City and the Surrey County Sheriff. At some point, the area fell under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Winchester who, instead of banning them completely, taxed the theatres, animal baiting rings and even brothels operating therein.

The Globe site was discovered during excavations revealing approximately five percent of the original foundations of the first (and second) Globe, thus proving that the famed theatre was a 20-sided polygonal building and providing vital info for its future replication. It is believed that about 15 of Shakespeare’s plays, including many of his most famous productions, had their first or very early shows at The Globe.
Shakespeare Globe Theatre

7) Shakespeare Globe Theatre (must see)

Shakespeare's Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays. The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644.

The modern Globe Theatre is an academic approximation based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It is considered quite realistic, though contemporary safety requirements mean that it accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theatre’s 3,000. Shakespeare's Globe was about 230 metres (750 ft) from the site of the original theatre and opened to the public in 1997, with a production of Henry V.

The Globe Theatre offers guided tours that brings the space to life with colourful stories of the 1599 Globe and Shakespeare's plays. This place is a must-see for anyone interested in theater, history, or Shakespeare!

***Shakespeare Walk***
Situated in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames, today's Shakespeare's Globe is a reconstruction of the old Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse to build which Shakespeare had contributed handsomely, since 1594, as part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men troupe. Completed in 1599, that theatre was destroyed by fire in 1613 but was then rebuilt in 1614 only to be demolished finally in 1644.

Reconstructed as closely to Shakespeare’s original as possible, using ‘green’ (untreated) oak, lime plaster reinforced with goat hair, bricks created to an Elizabethan recipe and Norfolk reed thatch, the modern Globe is considered rather realistic, albeit with a smaller seating capacity of only 1,400 spectators vs. 3,000, back in the 17th century, due to the contemporary safety requirements. Named after its founder, the new Globe opened in 1997 with performances now taking place between April and October.

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

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
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 one, the Turbine Hall once housed the power station’s generators. Today you can visit Contemporary Art exhibitions from October to March. Level two holds temporary Cutting-edge Contemporary Art exhibitions

On Level three 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 four 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 five 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.

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
Gabriel's Wharf

9) Gabriel's Wharf

Tucked away on the South Bank, Gabriel's Wharf is a charming hidden enclave with lots of independent specialty shops, restaurants, bars and great value cafes. The shops, usually artist run, are full of beautiful unique art and decorative items. It is a great place to drop by and hunt for souvenirs. If you just want to take a break from your walk and have a cup of tea, you will find plenty of choices too.
Southbank Center

10) Southbank Center

Southbank Center is a complex of artistic venues in London, on the South Bank of the River Thames. It comprises three main performance venues, together with the Hayward Gallery, and is Europe’s largest center for the arts. Inside, it's a maze of mezzanines and breakout spaces where people are meeting, eating, drinking and watching shows. The Southbank Centre always has great activities on for adults and children!

The whole area around the center is alive with lots of food vendors, cafes and pubs, and happy people out for the day and evening. The upper levels of the buildings have some fantastic views of the Thames and buildings on the north bank. It is definitely a place to visit if you are in the area.
London Eye

11) 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.

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, 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.

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
London Dungeon Museum

12) 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.
Covent Garden Walking Tour

Covent Garden Walking Tour

During this self guided walking tour around Covent Garden areas you will have a chance to visit such famous and interesting London attractions, as National Gallery, London Coliseum, London Transport Museum and many others. Don't miss your chance to explore the best of the Holborn and Covent Garden areas.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

Just as his father John previously, who made way from his tiny home village of Snitterfield, Warwickshire to Stratford upon Avon to become a “gentleman”, William Shakespeare made his own way to London to become the greatest playwright this world has ever seen. The years spent in the capital largely shaped Shakespeare's writing and influenced his legacy. This walk covers the most prominent...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Shopping is a 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 available which depict this vibrant city through their merchandise. Whether looking for something uniquely English as souvenir for yourself or as a gift for friends, you will find great inspiration in the shops featured on this...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Harry Potter Walking Tour

Harry Potter Walking Tour

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London even more popular now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations. To follow in the footsteps of the young wizard and his friends in the British...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 Km or 4.2 Miles
Walk around Buckingham Palace

Walk around Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, the British monarch's official residence, is a must-see for anyone visiting London, but so are the adjacent royal establishments that give a unique window into the royal way of life. On this self-guided walk, along with Buckingham Palace, you will visit the St. James's private royal residence, the wonderful Queen's Gallery, and drop by the official Buckingham gift...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Charles Dickens Tour

Charles Dickens Tour

Today's world's literature and mass culture in general is hardly imaginable without the works of Charles Dickens who is largely recognized as the greatest British novelist of the Victorian era. A pioneer of “cliffhanger” endings, Dickens remains one of the best-known and most-read of English authors whose works never go out of print, and have been adapted numerous times for the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles

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...