This short walk along the Thames South Bank starts in Southwark and passes several great London attractions. The Thames South Bank can be explored for a full day, with several fascinating tours and visits or as a short stroll with various refreshments along the way. This walk along the Thames South Bank covers an historically rich and extremely diverse part of central London in a very short distance.
Start the Southwark walk
To start the South Bank walk, leave London Bridge tube and head to the nearby Southwark Tavern on Southwark street. This historic 150 year old establishment is a good place to have a pre walk drink; it is important to stay hydrated after all. The downstairs has the original debtor’s cells where the unfortunate were held until their debts were cleared. They are now, turned into much more comfortable booths. Stand outside with views of The Shard, with the buzz of London transport mingling with the sounds of the market stalls at entrance to Borough Market.
Meander through Borough Market, letting your senses absorb the vast array of enticing foods on offer. The food offerings of Borough Market have expanded considerably in recent times with food options from all over the world available. Choose something to eat and immediately be tempted by something else that you pass, you certainly won’t be short of options. If you are lucky you might find a peaceful spot just outside of the market to enjoy your food with a view of the historic Southwark Cathedral, a religious site for over 1000 years. (Note – Borough Market is not open on Sundays).
As you leave Borough Market, head towards the Thames and you very quickly encounter the Golden Hind. This replica of Francis Drake’s sixteenth century ship rests on the southern bank of the Thames set against the iconic city buildings across the river. If you have time, there is a guided tour to find out more about this famous historic ship.
Continuing westwards along the Thames you almost immediately pass the historic ruins of Winchester Palace dating back to the thirteenth century. Within a few metres is a very different attraction, the Clink Street Prison museum. Claiming to be London’s original prison dating back to 1144, it offers a grisly display of torture devices and an insight into the gruesome lives of the early inmates.
Refreshments with a view
Time for drink with a view of St Paul’s cathedral across the Thames? In that case stop at the Anchor and enjoy the glorious views across the river, enjoying a refreshment or snack if you still have room after Borough Market. This characterful pub on the Thames South Bank has a great outdoor seating area near the water and a balcony with a superb view. It is from this location, although it would have looked very different, that Samuel Pepys was supposed to have observed the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Suitably refreshed, continue walking along the Thames, stopping to look back across the river taking in the city skyline. Shortly after passing Southwark Bridge, you will see Shakespeare’s Globe. This replica of the original theatre shows Shakespeare’s plays in the open air as well as offering tours.
Before reaching the Tate Modern, you pass the Millennium Bridge or ‘Wobbly Bridge’ as it was known, although it no longer wobbles. However, it does offer a great view of St Paul’s across the Thames. The Tate Modern is one of the largest Museums of modern art in the world. Set over 6 floors, the impressive displays that can take as much or as little time as you have available.
Outside, the south bank is a hive of activity with street performers vying for attention as you stroll along. If the tide and weather allow, you could even visit a beach on the Thames, although we wouldn’t recommend going for a swim!
More attractions of the Thames South Bank
If you have time, a very short walk takes you to some of the most instantly recognised building in the world. Just across the Thames are the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, while the London eye offers stunning views across central London. Continuing just a little further you pass the London Dungeon and Sea Life London Aquarium but don’t try to do everything in one day.
To explore this area fully why not find the way with our new edition of the London Map and Walks, our handy sized map of super scale mapping for central London.