Here’s what to see in South Bank (colorful lit up scenes, waterfront venues, historic sites)
The South bank area of London along the Thames river is a very popular area to explore a variety of culture, art, dining and entertainment venues. It is busy with riverfront promenades lining both sides of the Thames River. The many attractions receive a steady flow of tourists visiting early morning until late at night when the last of the bars and cafes close down. If you haven’t had the chance to explore this fun to area, you will find so many options that appeal to all ages, wonderful river and skyline views with a mix of ancient to modern architecture. Take a look at some of cool attractions to explore in South Bank of London and you will definitely see a different side of London.
Fun and cool spots in the South Bank to explore
You’ll find a fascinating mix of ancient, old, kitshy to ultra modern along the banks of the Thames in the South Bank area. It’s fun to explore during the day time, but takes on more a magical scene with illuminated lights that takes the river area into a different dimension.
The London Eye
The London Eye is a prominent feature that you can see throughout the South bank and Thames river. Set along the waterfront facing Parliament and Big Ben on one side and the New Performing arts center on the same side of the river. Of course the views are the main draw to visiting this attraction. You’ll get some fantastic views along the riverfront areas surrounding the London Eye and popular landmarks that dot the skyline. This is definitely a fantastic spot to photograph London’s key attractions and historic sites.
Tip – the best time to visit for taking photographs would be in the late afternoon for sunset and late into the night for the colorful light show with many of the surrounding buildings lit in bright and bold neon colors along the Thames.
Always mistaken as the London Bridge on the Thames river, the tower bridge is the iconic symbol of London with the two large towers with a suspension segment that is instantly recognized around the world. The Tower bridge is accessible both for pedestrians and automobiles, but enjoying the views is best by walking from one end of the span to the other end.
Tip – views along the Thames, Tower of London and the London skyline are best taken along the pedestrian walkways especially during sunset which is a perfect time to be on the bridge for photography.
Piercing the sky like a sharp dagger, the Shard is the tallest modern building in London. You can take a super fast elevator ride to the top observation floors with panoramic views of the entire city. It’s fun to walk around both levels of the building and check out the major landmarks below with the help of some landmark maps.
Tip – sunset to late evening is the perfect time to enjoy the views and end of day light show into the night when the buildings and bridges along the Thames river are lit up in bright neon colors that make the scene below pop like a night carnival. As a special treat, you can buy tickets with a glass of champagne while enjoying those magnificent views of the city below.
The Shard at sunset from the Tower Bridge
Sunset views along the Thames and South Bank
This is a fantastic time to walk along the shoreline and waterfront areas of the Thames here in the southbank and capture some of the attractions wtih sunset vistas to enjoy and photograph. It’s not so busy with the typically crowds that flock around this area during the day time and more pleasant to walk around the South Bank area.
The Tower of London
Along the waterfront facing the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London is one of the most iconic images that Identifies London town. Dwarfed by all the contemporary architecture that frames the modern skyline of the city, the Tower of London exudes a regal and historic centerpiece to the waterfront. Facing the Tower bridge, the fortress castle and prison was built by William the conqueror in 1078 and represented the absolute rule and oppression of the monarchy, especially when it was used as a prison from 1100 up to 1952.
Tip – you can buy tickets for entry online here and save a few dollars for making a reservation.
The Tate Modern
This is an expansive modern art gallery and part of the Tate group on the Bankside area of South Bank. Originally a power station used until 1981, a competition was held to covert the power station into the contemporary art space of the British National Art Museum. The successful adaptive reuse space has become one of the most popular venues for visitors and locals to enjoy British and International contemporary art.
Tip – even if you are not into contemporary art, the museum is free and a beautiful place to explore the huge building with spectacular views of the London skyline. For more information about current shows and calendar, visit the Tate Modern website here.
South Bank Center
A very colorful and popular complex of contemporary buildings, the South bank center comprises of three main performance halls, art galleries and restaurants. This is one of the largest performing arts center in all of Europe and a shining jewel to visit and attend any of the daily performances that occur at the center. With over 1,000 performances of music, dance, literature and other creative arts, the center draws in over three million visitors annually.
For a calendar of events and special programs, you can visit the South bank Center website here.
More popular and fun venues in the South Bank
In between glass paneled arcades, food markets, ornate train stations and a new skate board venues in the Bankside area, the waterfront walks are a fun way to explore the eclectic neighborhoods and mix of ruins, stately architecture to contemporary buildings. There are many small streets and alleys to explore along with fantastic bars and pubs to world class restaurants to have a nice meal in this district.
Skate boarding underneath the bridges in Bankside
St. Paul’s Cathedral at night
The Winchester Rose
South bank lit up at night with colorful lights
Modern London skyline and the South Bank
Please do check out my other posts about London below
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