South Bank Pictures
The London Beach, a spirited if diminuitive attempt to copy the success of Paris' beach.
On a fine summer day this is a wonderful, almost traffic free walk beside the Thames River, popularly starting/finishing at Westminster Bridge and the London Eye or perhaps crossing on the Hungerford Bridge from Charing Cross/Trafalgar Square.
A South Bank walk will meander past
the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, Gabriel's Wharf bars and restaurants, Hay's Galleria, the Tate Modern (turn left onto the Millennium Bridge to visit St Paul's Cathedral) and Shakespeare's Globe among other things, finishing/starting
at Tower Bridge or cross it to see the Tower of London.
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The National Theatre runs free outdoor shows on early summer evenings.
A South Bank walk is best on a late summer afternoon when the sun
shines straight down the river at your back. It's flat, well paved and child friendly,
with some free entertainment and plenty of eating and drinking places en route.
The walk is also lovely at night with various well-designed
illuminations and Thameside pubs well placed to lubricate the journey.
Hay's Galleria used to be a ship repair dock and is now a tourist market, shops and café zone.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames River, next to Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge across to St Paul's Cathedral. Another photo.
The original Globe Playhouse was built in 1599 and paid for by Shakespeare, Cuthbert Burbage and four other actors. It soon became the most popular theatre in town, showing first runs of Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth among other plays which Shakespeare not only wrote but probably acted in and possibly produce too. He also lived nearby.
The original Globe site was a couple of blocks away in Park Street from the current one but burnt down in 1613 when a prop cannon in Henry VIII set fire to the thatched roof. Picture of London in 1630 with Globe Theatre.
The new Globe Theatre has been designed to replicate the Elizabethan drama experience of standing in a curved space and shouting at/along with the actors.
Tickets for performances: Contact the Box Office in person April-October 10am-6pm; November-March 10am-5pm, or by phone 0207 401 9919.
Official website: Globe Theatre
HMS Belfast, another thing to do on the South Bank.
HMS Belfast is a World War II warship (Cruiser Class) that saw action protecting Arctic convoys, was part of the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in 1944 and supported the D-Day landing in 1945. Her last action was seen during the Korean War in 1952.
Pay to enter. Tours are free for children under 15.
Opening hours: 10am-6pm in summer, 10am-5pm in winter.
Official website: HMS Belfast
An ultra-modern section of South Bank architecture clustered around the Mayor's Glass Testicle, on the left.
The Design Museum, the last serious attraction at lower end of the South Bank, just downstream of Tower Bridge.
We were unimpressed by the museum on our first attempt but haven't visited recently.
Opening hours: 10am-5.45pm daily except December 25, 26. Last admission 5.15pm.
Address: 28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD.
Pay to enter. Discounts for students and concession holders. Free to under 12s.
Access: Not convenient! The nearest tube is probably London Bridge or Tower Hill (near Tower of London).
The North Bank of the Thames. Next, Tower Bridge Pictures.
A circular walk: The North Bank of the Thames runs beside the river but also alongside busy traffic for much of the way so that's not a pleasant option for tourists who are looking for a round-trip hike down the South Bank and up the North, or vice versa.
However, one option after walking down the south side and crossing Tower Bridge is to head past/around the Tower of London and walka block or two away from the Thames through the City of London. There are some worthwhile sights which will eventually lead you back to Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square etc. See our City of London pictures of the area.
There is a professionally designed route (with markers) called the Jubilee Walkway that goes along the South Bank and back along the north side but we found the website over-complex and confusing.
South Bank walk, getting there or back:
Upstream - tube/underground at Westminster or boat at Westminster Pier (both are beside Westminster Bridge); or from Waterloo tube and main rail line.
Downstream - tube and main line at London Bridge station, on the way; for a tube at the end you have to cross Tower Bridge
onto the North Bank and head straight up to Tower Hill (or Tower Gateway for the limited destinations of the DLR light rail service).
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