The South Bank of the River Thames is a premiere theatre and historical district with much to offer to any visitor.
The South Bank of the River Thames in London has a storied history. Located across from the city of London’s north bank, this area was considered outside of the boundary of London town and was less controlled through the years by the monarchy. Thus, industry, theaters and adult entertainment prospered on the South Bank. Today the area is a hub for tourists.
Getting to South Bank
Stretching from the Lambeth Bridge to just east of the Tower Bridge, South Bank has much to offer to a visitor. The area can be reached using the London Tube using several stations including the Waterloo, Westminster or London Bridge stations. Some tourists take the Riverside Bus service which has stops in the South Bank area. Another route is to take a water taxi or ferry to one of the docks on the South Bank. Once in the area, the best way to see South Bank is on foot. The area does have a bus service, but the South Bank River Walk is a wide pedestrian walkway the covers most of the length of South Bank. The River Walk connects with all of the attractions on the river.
Take the Family to Visit These Brilliant Attractions
Starting from the west, the County Hall is one of the South Bank’s historical sites. Formerly the home of the government of London County, the Hall has been converted into the London Aquarium and an art museum. The Aquarium has over 350 species of marine life and is a great place for a family outing. The London Eye is also located near the County Hall. Over 100 feet tall, this Ferris wheel is visible from all over London. On a clear day, one can see over 40 km of the London area. Tickets to the Eye can be ordered on line for a specific ride time. This is much more convenient than standing in line to ride. The Eye is even more magnificent at night under the lights. Another family treat is BFI Southbank, the new name for the National Film Theatre. BFI has three screens that feature old classic movies plus a historic view of both film and television.
See the Continuation of London’s Great Theatre and Performance Centre
The Southbank Centre is one of the South Bank’s main theatres. The two halls of the Centre are usually scheduled with a variety of live shows and theatrical performances. The third hall is devoted to the Hayward gallery which holds various art exhibits throughout the year. The National Theatre is also located on the South Bank. This is the largest theater in London with three auditoriums. The largest, The Olivier, is home to the most prominent national stage productions. The other two auditoriums also host productions the year around. There are free exhibitions and concerts here during the day and a backstage tour is available. And don’t forget to visit The Globe Theatre, another theatre in the South Bank area. This theatre is a rebuilt model of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The theatre puts on productions the year around and is an open air theatre. Seats need advance reservations, but standing room is usually available each day.
Attractions for the History Buffs
The Southwark Cathedral in South Bank is the oldest church in the London area. This site has been used since 852 as a place of worship; the church is open for visits and private devotions. A number of famous Englishman is buried in the church including John Gower and John Harvard. There are two historic ships that can be visited while in the South Bank shore area. One, the HMS Belfast is part of the Imperial War Museum by the London Bridge. This vessel provides an example of life on the high seas. Another ship, a rebuilt model of Drake’s Golden Hind is located near the Southwark Cathedral. One can also sit on the park and see the historic buildings of Parliament and St. Paul’s cathedral across the Thames.
South Bank Is the Place to Shop
South Bank has a number of brilliant shopping areas. These include Gabriel’s wharf which is a large collection of artist owned shops. Most of the store sells products made by the shop owners, and watching the owner’s manufacture their art is one of the highlights of this shopping area. A more modern mall can be found at the OXO Tower. This mall has a number of modern boutiques and designer stores. A customer can find just about everything here from wedding dresses to unique accessories. The top floor houses a restaurant with a great view of the River Thames. If you are looking to buy your own food products, then Borough Market is the place to go. This market has farm fresh produce and vegetables as well as delicatessen items, pastries, cheese and wine. You can then eat your meal in one of the many parks along the River Walk.
Clearly, the South Bank of the London Thames is an area that should not be missed during a visit to London. South Bank, the centre of London theatre and a historical district, offers sites that are not to be found elsewhere in London.
About the Contributor: This article was kindly contributed by the Lancaster London hotel. A four-star hotel located in Central London with two restaurants and a world-class conference and banqueting service.