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Southbank: culture, food, festivals and city views

Southbank - Short Let London

Culture, food, festivals and city views: why a walk along the south bank of the Thames should be top of your list this summer

The 3 km walk along the Thames from Waterloo Bridge to Tower Bridge is packed with special experiences and buzzing London life. In fact, there’s so much to do that you could spend a day (and an evening) exploring this vibrant and inspiring area. So let’s discover some of the highlights.

Iconic architecture and two summer festivals

Let’s start at the Southbank Centre, by Waterloo Bridge. Fans of Modernist architecture should take note. Because this is an icon of Brutalist architecture, so have your camera ready for some creative shots. It’s also a famous cultural complex, with an art gallery, theatre and concert hall. And currently the Southbank Centre is hosting their annual Meltdown Festival, a treat for music-lovers.

But the first thing you’ll notice on a summer day is that this is a popular place to hang out in a cafe or bar and chill out on one of the riverside terraces. And you’ll find plenty of places to grab a tasty bite to eat. So, fuel up while you enjoy London’s buzzing atmosphere.

Also, on Southbank this summer, you’ll find the unique and entertaining Underbelly Festival. Here you can get tickets to one of their circus, cabaret or comedy events in their pop-up venue. Or just hang out and enjoy the sun in their outdoor bar.

Art and shopping

Next, if you wander east, following the riverside path, you’ll soon find the Oxo Tower. This is packed with design studios and shops selling art, design and homeware. And there’s always something new to discover. Or head to the 8th floor for some stylish dining with a view.

Alternatively, if you’re just here for the art, then follow the riverside path past Blackfriars Station. After this point, you’ll come to Tate Modern, a mecca for lovers of contemporary art. And there’s free entry to the permanent collection.

Plunge into London’s history

At this point, you can stroll over the footbridge directly to St Paul’s Cathedral. Or head on along the river for a flavor of old London. Because next to Tate you’ll find Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre , a close replica of the original. The path then takes you along atmospheric Clink Street, past the warehouses of old London, and the medieval Clink prison.

Food and views

After this, you could head to nearby Borough Market , a famous foodie destination. Here you’ll find an amazing variety of fresh produce from near and far. Or stroll on along the Thames path beyond London Bridge, to Tower Bridge. And here you’ll get one of the best views of the Tower of London across the river. On the way you might even see some pop-up theatre or screenings at The Scoop, an outdoor theatre space. Because – yes, there’s another festival here, called ‘Summer by the River’.


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