Southbank is a sprawling area which is, as the name suggests, on the south bank of the River Thames. It is known as a place of arts and entertainment and houses some of London’s best known landmarks and attractions. There is so much to do and see here and South Bank is epitomised by the abundance of cultural attractions and the buzzing energy. And, it’s a particularly special area at this time of year when the Christmas markets come to visit along the river at the Southbank Centre. Given it’s location right by Waterloo station, it’s also a surprisingly convenient place for hosting gatherings. Here’s our list of a few things to do, places to go, sights to see, on the Southbank. Just the tip of the iceberg . . .
Restaurants and Bars in South Bank
South Bank has some of the best restaurants and bars in London, from the finest foodie establishments to rooftops bars with amazing views across the London skyline.
The Mondrian is one of London’s finest hotels. And the Rumpus Room, on the twelfth floor, is their luxurious rooftop bar. It’s the kind of place where a Champagne cocktail is the only fitting choice to sip on while enjoying the ambience and admiring the spectacular view along the River Thames.
In the summer, another rooftop venue we love is the secret garden on the top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. It always has a slightly more relaxed air than other parts of Southbank and can be a lovely summer escape where you can sit out and enjoy a drink or two in the sunshine (we can but dream at this time of year…).
For a dinner experience, Union Street Cafe is just on the edge of what can technically be classified as Southbank, but it’s worth the extra walk. Part of the Gordon Ramsay Group, you’re guaranteed food of incredible quality and the Italian influence, combined with urban interiors make it a special venue.
Shopping and Ambling in South Bank
If you are looking for things to do in South Bank, we’ve got a few ideas for you here, but you can’t do better than following your feet, going a little off the beaten track and seeing where you end up!
It goes without saying that the thing to do here, on the river bank, is stroll alongside the water. And on your way you’ll stumble across any number of little shops and pop-up stalls. In the Christmas period, it’s the Winter Market at the Southbank Centre that draws the crowds. Arguably London’s best Christmas market, it’s a collection of wooden stalls serving gifts, food and drink in every festive guise you could possibly imagine – so festive it almost let’s you imagine you’re in Prague, Berlin or Vienna.
For an afternoon sweet treat Konditor and Cook has become a well-known name on the bakery and cake-making scene. Their shop in Waterloo is the original outpost and exudes character and charm.
Cultural Hotspots in South Bank
What to see in South Bank? The list goes on and on. There are so many famous spots to visit in the area, and lesser known gems that are worth a trip too.
The London Eye is an iconic landmark in London. It’s instantly recognisable and hugely popular with visitors to the city – and for good reason. The view from the pods looks out almost directly onto the river and gives a unique vantage across other landmarks that epitomise London – Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. It’s definitely a must-visit hotspot in London, at least once!
For evening entertainment – what’s more cultured than a trip to the theatre? The National Theatre is one of London’s biggest and best known dramatic institutions and somewhere you don’t want to miss out on. Continuing the dramatic theme, BFI IMAX is another imposing building in the centre of a roundabout by Waterloo Bridge. Which might sound unusual, but it’s a striking building and just as jaw-dropping inside, for its architecture and its tech.
If you don’t mind trekking across the river – and on a beautiful day a walk over the Thames allows you to take in some of the most stunning sights in London – there are a couple more unique HeadBox venues on the other side of the river. There’s the Household Cavalry Museum, as well as Bateaux (a boat, as you might imagine), both of which can be hired for private events. Everyone loves a riverside venue!
There’s so much to do in South Bank that it’s no wonder this area is always busy and full of energy. But with more than your average dose of cultural places to visit there are plenty of venues where you can escape the hustle and bustle for an evening. With its indie, arty reputation Southbank is a fantastically creative part of London like no other.
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