London for Free – A cultural walk along the South Bank – Part 1

Taking a stroll along London’s South Bank 

There’s one advantage of me working in the City and that is I can always find somewhere to walk in my lunch hour.  One of the places I love to walk is along the South Bank where there’s loads to see and do and most of it for FREE! The walk stretches for over two miles from the London Eye right the way up to Tower Bridge and there’s always a photo opportunity as the views across the Thames to the City are always eye-catching, whether it’s early morning or late at night.

Starting at The London Eye

Although The London Eye isn’t free, it’s great to just stand and look at the huge people-filled pods going round this gigantic structure. There’s also a great view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben just across the Thames, and you’ll also get a good view of Westminster Abbey.

View of the Houses of Parliament

View of the Houses of Parliament

The London Eye is also situated in front of Waterloo Station and at the weekend you’ll find The South Bank Centre Real Food Market held on the ground just behind the London Eye.

Southbank Food Market

Southbank Food Market

The Royal Festival Hall

Walking along past the foodie market, you’ll come across the South Bank Centre  which houses the Royal Festival Hall auditorium and also the Hayward Gallery. This huge concrete block was built in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain.  You can sit and have a drink in the Riverside Terrace Cafe which overlooks the Thames and where you’ll also find the South Bank Centre Shop, the Central Bar and Skylon restaurant.

Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall

Just along from here you’ll come across the National Theatre, another building of architectural importance that produces classic plays, and at certain times some of the plays are free!

The National Theatre

The National Theatre

Gabriel’s Wharf

Next along the walk you’ll come across Gabriel’s Wharf, a square of beautiful little artisan shops and restaurants hidden away just off the Thames. This area has been redeveloped from old garages into designer studios and there are plenty of places to sit and have a drink.  It’s situated between the Oxo Tower restaurant and the London Studios where programmes such as Good Morning Britain and the Graham Norton Show are filmed.

Gabriel's Wharf

Gabriel’s Wharf

Gabriel's Wharf

Gabriel’s Wharf

Oxo Tower, Gabriel's Wharf and London Studios

Oxo Tower, Gabriel’s Wharf and London Studios with the London Eye in the background

The Tate Modern

This huge art gallery along the South Bank has free entrance and free exhibitions although there are a couple of premium exhibitions that you have to pay for on the top floor. There’s also a very nice restaurant that overlooks the Thames from a open-air terrace. The huge Turbine Hall at the entrance holds all the large sculptures and artworks.

The huge Turbine Hall entrance with sculpture

The huge Turbine Hall entrance with sculpture

The Tate Modern seen from the Millennium Bridge

The Tate Modern seen from the Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge spans the Thames from The Tate over to St Paul’s on the other side.  You can get some fabulous photographs of St. Paul’s from this bridge.

St Paul's from the Millennium Bridge

St Paul’s from the Millennium Bridge

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

A short stroll from the Millennium Bridge will find you at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre where many thousands of tourists come here every day to watch live plays written by the Bard himself. The building is very striking with its round shape and old black beams dating from the Elizabethan era. Although not free, you can get tickets to see a play from as little as £5!

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Here’s a link to PART 2 – Onward from Shakespeare’s Globe to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the end of the walk.

Here’s a map of the area

Author: Debbie

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