Discover the area around London Bridge
London Bridge is a bustling area is packed with so many attractions – Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Borough Market, The Shard, HMS Belfast, Southwark Cathedral and a plethora of amazing pubs, restaurants, farmers markets, street food vendors, theatres … the list goes on. If that has piqued your interest and you are curious to explore this area and tap into the some of the lesser-known gems then, read on!
About two years ago, DH surprised me with tickets to the viewing gallery at The Shard. I can never forget the breathtaking views from the dizzying heights of the viewing gallery and the feeling of falling in love with London all over again. Though I have explored most of the popular attractions around London Bridge and the Shard, in particular, I have always wanted to delve deeper into the offerings of this bustling city within a city. So when an opportunity to spend a day wandering around, drinking in familiar sights and sounds presented itself I found myself feeling as excited as a first-time visitor to London Bridge. For my fellow Londoners and anyone visiting from surrounding cities, it is a fairly straightforward journey into London Bridge station. In fact, the recently refurbished station is so well planned it is important to spend some time admiring how the existing parts of the station have been merged to create one big, airy, spacious fabulously modern station complex. London Bridge station has connections to overground lines and tubes. To tourists travelling into London, this part of the London Bridge area is a good choice to book your stay. An easy way to book is to look for hotels near the Shard, there is something to suit everyone’s needs. It is one of the most well-connected areas of Central London in terms of transport links and the neighbourhood has lots to offer everyone from young families to couples and even solo travellers.
I have put together a rough guide which is a mix of the most popular tourist attractions, some lesser-known spots and my pick of the best places to eat and drink at while near London Bridge.
Why did I wait so many years to experience this amazing marvel of engineering? No sensible answer to this question but it was the highlight of my day! I can never forget the feeling of gingerly stepping on the glass walkway and looking down into the deep waters of the Thames from such crazy height. One of London’s favourite icons, this bridge was celebrated its 125th last year.
It was only when we saw some toddlers and teenagers walking on the glass walkway and clicking selfies that we dared step on it 😉 It also makes one realise who fearless little ones really are, how their minds just absorb everything new around them and they embrace it so quickly and without hesitation… food for thought..
Don’t forget to also check out the stunning engine rooms and walk around and read about the very first team of people that worked around the clock to keep this busy moving machinery working at its best.
Tower of London
Whether you want to go admire the crown jewels or dive into a 1000-year-old rich historical background, this World Heritage site is a must-see. Don’t forget to pose and grin near the Beefeaters – uh-uh not the gin, these uniformed guards have been guarding the Tower since Tudor times.
This burgeoning market has been a part of the rich tapestry of Southwark for the past 1000 years. Home to thousands of vendors selling everything from fresh organic produce, artisan cheese, preserves, fresh seafood, exotic meat to many stalls selling exotic world cuisine. It truly is London’s largest, most popular and amazing food market.
Read my post about why you simply have to visit the historic Borough Market a fabulous foodie destination
This architectural beauty has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows dating back to the 19th century. The building also has been witness to its only Royal wedding dating to 1423.
Winchester Castle Ruins
Not to be missed, the ruins of this once very grand castle are to be found right behind Borough market. In its glory days during medieval times, it was one of the largest and most important buildings.
Admire the stunning rose window and marvel at the architecture of an era gone by. Entry is free but restricted. There is a beautiful medieval-style garden in the remains of the Great Hall.
Hop aboard The Golden Hinde
Perfect little ship to explore with little explorers, this was the first-ever English ship to sail across the world. For tour and other available experiences head here
Theatres and Galleries
Shakespeare’s Globe: If Music is the food of love….. An absolute must-see is the iconic Globe theatre. Dating back to 1599 this wonderful building is a cultural hub celebrating the life and works of Shakespeare.
Bridge Theatre: Home to a huge 900-person capacity auditorium, this modern building caters to contemporary audiences.
London Bridge area is home to many amazing galleries showcasing amazing artists and works of art. Some of them are London Glassblowing, Science Gallery, Bermondsey Project Space and the White Cube Gallery.
St. Katherine’s Dock
St.Katherine’s Docks is a secret little gem. It is also Central London’s only marina and is tucked away right next to Tower Bridge. The picturesque docks form the perfect background for a plethora of cafes and newer office buildings.
Home to a vibrant community this landmark exudes an old-world charm which adds to the tranquil vibe of the marina. The Dickens Inn is a charming 18th-century warehouse which now houses the famous pub, restaurant and inn and is a sight to behold especially in the spring and summer months when the flowers dotting its facade are in full bloom.
Witness to D-Day, it is said that HMS Belfast fired one of the first shots of D-Day itself. This now decommissioned battleship is the last remaining vessel of her type – one of the largest and most powerful light cruisers ever built. At the peak of her glory, she was equipped with the most advanced radar systems of the time. Highly recommended for a very engaging visit for young children and parents this national museum and one of London’s favourite Landmark celebrated her 80th anniversary in 2018.
London’s highest public garden, this building offers panoramic views of London city. The best part is one can enjoy these views for free. Mind you the free tour tickets get booked up pretty quickly. Keep an eye out on their website and very actively updated social media for booking details and timings. They also have two all-day drinking and dining spaces called the Sky Pod Bar and City Garden Bar.
London Bridge – a riverside destination where Historical Landmarks like Tower Bridge sit next to the tallest building in the country. Home to one of London’s best and biggest food market, this neighbourhood has some of the coolest bars, restaurants, theatres and even a quiet marina.
Where to Eat and Drink around London Bridge
Breakfast at Borough Market
With a mind-boggling variety of fresh fruit juice vendors, artisan coffee and all manner of baked goodies available here, it is the best place to head for a delicious breakfast. The market opens at 10 am so get there early. After getting some breakfast I would suggest going to the Southwark Cathedral, followed by wandering past the ruins of the Winchester castle and admiring the Golden Hinde.
Then make your way to the Tower Bridge for their self-guided tour, tickets can be booked online for slightly cheaper than at the venue. Hopefully, you will have worked up an appetite by this time so head to one of the many fabulous restaurants.
Vivaat Bacchus: I booked us a table at this beautiful restaurant because they are known for their range of wines. They are South African by origin and the menu heavily features rare breed meats. They also have a beautiful cheese room stocked with a wide variety of cheese.
I picked a steamed sea bream for my main paired with a Merlot from their Lunch deal meal deal, available at their London bridge branch. Priced at £12.95 it was very delicious, light yet filling option. My husband chose the open steak sandwich. This whopper of a sandwich is made up of 125gm of Surrey Hills aged sirloin steak served on sourdough bread with triple cooked chips and lots of juicy caramelised onion.
Work off the lunch by strolling across Hays Galleria, admire the tall ceiling of this covered market, enjoy riverside views of tall glass building including the walkie-talkie building – home of the Sky Garden. Then you can pick from a tour of the HMS Belfast or the Tower of London.
Take a break after admiring the crown jewels by relaxing with a pint or two at the beautiful Dickens Inn at St. Katherine’s Docks.
After enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the marina, head to Sky Garden. Watch the sunset while you enjoy a cocktail at the Sky Pod Bar.
Work off the fatigue by getting some caffeine at the Rabot 1745 overlooking the Borough Market which will have shut by then but the surrounding bars and restaurants will be coming to life.
Enjoy a walk by the riverside or take your pick from the many shows at the local theatres. We decided to walk by the river and then headed to Waterloo which is a short tube ride away. Taxis are easily available too. We walked along the Waterloo Bridge, one of our favourite things to do and take in the beautiful views of the London Eye and Southbank on one side and the stunning St.Pauls Cathedral on the other bank.
Dinner was a hearty Cuban meal at a vibrant restaurant called Cubana behind Waterloo station. The brightly coloured walls are full of posters depicting the countries history, mix and match metal filigree chairs and rustic wooden tables huddle together for space. But no one complains because the martinis are flowing and they are the stars at Cubana. Mock guns and other bric-a-bac adorn the walls around us while the bar area and covered outside seating seem to be overflowing with hungry folks.
We left for home, exhausted but happy, feeling like we had just headed home from a day trip outside London.
If you want a more relaxed day out why not consider a trip to Denbies Vineyard? Read my post about my day trip here.
Also, find some great ideas for family days out find my Top 5 picks of some amazing places of outstanding natural beauty in and around London.
*Disclaimer: The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own
Iuliana Marchian says
London and London Bridge is a dream of mine but I haven’t had time (and financial resources) to travel to the UK so far. But with this comprehensive guide I might venture there in the near future, especially that the foods you have taken photos of look so tasty. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Thank you Iuliana, I really hope you can visit soon, there is so much to explore!
Shobha Keshwani says
Thanks for the lovely post.. Such a detailed one with all the info . It will be so useful for the travellers.
Thank You Shobha, I hope it will serve as a guide to those looking to explore this beautiful part of London
Jane Dempster-Smith says
It has been a long time since I visited London. Actually the last time we visited Tower Bridge. I still want to visit Borough Market and St. Katherines Dock. I always struggle to work out the best area to stay in London so your tip on staying near the Shard is appreciated. Dickens Inn will be on my list of things to visit as well.
I really hope you get to browse Borough Market and Dickens inn during spring, the best time!
The London Bridge is really impressive. I love that little kid in the picture laying down on the glass, haha. The Tower of London was one of my favorite places in London too. I didn’t know about St.Katherine’s Docks though. I bet it’s a nice area to find a cafe.
It really is one of the most impressive marvels of engineering in the beautiful city. That kid totally cracked me up hahaha and also gave me courage to walk the glassway! lol! Yes, the marina is dotted with wonderful cafes and restaurants and is such a vibrant little cosy place away from the giant tourist attractions.
Mijia Eggers says
I have been to London and London Bridge area for a couple of time. The area is interesting for all things above. But what I like the most if there high-tea in the afternoon, a scene which is unique in London.
Love the afternoon tea culture here! I really wanted to do the high-tea at one of the many stunning restaurants with crazy views but I guess that is for another day when I am not exploring the area is such great detail.
Nayna Kanabar says
London has so many beautiful places to visit and London Bridge is one of them. I love that glass walkway at Tower Bridge., its scary but really cool at the same time.
Nayna Kanabar says
London has so many beautiful places to visit and London Bridge is one of them. I love that glass walkway at Tower Bridge., its scary but really cool at the same time. I saw lots of people taking selfies on it.
Believe me Nayna I only mustered up the courage to walk along that glassway when Isaw those kids rolling on it *gulp* and when some kind elderly lady held my hand and marched me across …hahhaha – even if you avoid looking down in the several hundred feet drop dead fall and the angry tides of the Thames, it still will give you butterflies in your tummy!
Chef Mireille says
I am yet to make it to London but I need to get there soon. I have read about Borough Market before and I know that is one place I must put on my itinerary when I go
We have to meet when you get to London Mireille! Yes, Borough Market is an absolute must-see on your London itinerary!
Ami Bhat says
I covered a part of this when I visited the South Bank. I had planned to visit the Tower of London too, especially to see those crown jewels. However, sadly that was not to be as the tickets for that day were sold out. (had not planned it well enough). Just walking along the banks showed me the sights that you have captured. The pretty street art, the borough market. ….did not know about the ruins behind them. Guess, there is plenty still left for me to return and experience.
It is an exciting guide. I love this part of London. The London Bridge has such fascinating stories. Tower Bridge is one of my favorite places. But I haven’t been to the Borough Market, yet. I want to go there on my next visit. I like your food recommendations.
Medha Verma says
London was the first ever international trip of my life and it was more than a decade ago. A lot of things haven’t changed since but I don’t think I did justice to the city when I visited. Reading your post, I realise there’s so much more I could’ve done. I did see the Tower Bridge from below but didn’t go up. Not sure if the glass walkway would’ve been there back then but it’s definitely something that’s gonna be on my list for the next trip.
It’s been a few years since I last visited London and the Bridge but I love this part of London! However, we were just passing by and didn’t have the chance to check out a lot of restaurants and eateries. I didn’t even know there were so many of them in the area. We’ll probably visit again next year and I’m bookmarking this post for when we do. Thanks for all the great suggestions!