Introduction to the Southbank
The Southbank is a place to relax and socialise and it’s usually loud and crowded during the day. There are so many places to eat and drink if you’re into traditional fish and chips and British pies. During the summer, expect to see children splashing about in the water fountain during the day by the Southbank Centre. During winter, expect to see several Winter Markets selling winter warmers, street food and alcohol by the River Thames, and Christmas activities for all the family.
You’ll also hear loud music while the adults sip on alcohol by the River Thames during the evening no matter the season. Find out more on my post on things to do in Southbank here.
The London Eye is open until 8:30 pm in Summer and 6 pm in Winter. On both occasions, it will get dark, so if you plan on going for an evening walk, make sure to take advantage of The London Eye. The view from the top is better at night than during the day. Check out my post on visiting the London Eye here.
Make sure you find accommodation around the Southbank area or public transport that’s easily accessible to get there. London is very convenient to get around, so don’t panic if you get lost. Just rely on the tfl.gov.uk or citymapper.com app.
This guided walk will take around 1 hour if you want to cover all the attractions around this area. You’re going to have to be fit enough, otherwise, have a drink or two in the pubs in between your walks.
The weather at night can be cold in both summer and winter, so bring a thick coat or jacket. It can also rain, especially during winter. The wind can be breezy, but the fresh air will boost your mental health and immune system.
Start your evening walk from Tower Hill Tube Station (District and Circle Line). As you cross the road from the station, you’ll see Tower of London which will illuminate in the dark. On the other side of the River Thames, you’ll notice The Shard, the tallest building in Europe. Behind the Tower of London, you’ll see Tower Bridge illuminate with the rest of the attractions.
Coppa Club Tower Bridge is a popular igloo restaurant overlooking the River Thames. Feel free to take photos of the igloos outside. You’d have to make an online reservation three months in advance if you want to eat in the igloos. Read more about my Coppa Club Tower Bridge post here.
Walk towards the River Thames where you’ll see a pathway. If you want to take photos of Tower Bridge, turn left, but our walk starts from Coppa Club Tower Bridge Restaurant and turn right.
Opposite Coppa Club Tower Bridge Restaurant, you’ll see HMS Belfast, a WWII warship turned museum with naval guns, permanently moored on the River Thames. You’d have to walk through London Bridge to get up close and personal with the ship. During the day, you’ll be able to explore the ship. London Bridge Station is a few minutes’ walk from here.
If you walk towards London Bridge Station, you will find Borough Market on the other side of the station. It will be closed in the evening. Behind Borough Market, you will see a large vessel ship.
The Golden Hinde Ship
The next attraction you’ll see is the Golden Hinde Galleon. This English vessel travelled around the world with its owner Sir Francis Drake. It will be closed in the evening but if you want to enter, it’s £5 per adult and £3 per child during the day. You’ll hear stories from actors with periodic costumes and it’s a great day out with your family. The Old Thames Pub is situated by the River Thames if you feel like having a pint of beer or dinner. Please note that pubs generally get busy in the evening.
Walk through a small alleyway and you’ll see Winchester Palace.
Winchester Palace is nothing but a one-sided ruin, but it has a lot of history to it. A 12th Century townhouse for various Bishops of Winchester Winchester Palace is nestled away from the hustle and bustle of city life and located in a narrow alleyway. People take this attraction for granted but there are many people who stop by to take photos and read up on the Palace.
The Clink Prison and Museum
Next, you’ll see the oldest prison still standing since the 10th Century. It’s closed in the evening, but this museum held many prisoners, from debtors, drunkards, innocent people and many more. You’ll get to see and hold the torture device used to inflict pain and hear actors in the background playing as prisoners, begging pleading, and crying to be released. It’s closed in the evening but be sure to visit the next day.
Restaurants, bars, and pubs
As you approach the River Thames again through an archway, you’ll see several bars, pubs, and restaurants here. You’ll have the option to eat in The Real Greek, Zizzi’s, Pizza Express, The Anchor Bankside Pub with a beer garden by the River Thames and Nando’s. The view of the River Thames is beautiful at night. You’ll see the twinkling lights from office buildings reflecting on the water. The Anchor Bankside Pub usually gets busy at night, and you’ll see many people drinking beer by the River Thames.
Shakespeare Theatre and Museum
Further up, you will see The Shakespeare Theatre and Museum light up at night. What better way to walk in a cool breeze by admiring the 14th Century theatre to your left and St. Paul’s Cathedral to your right, on the other side of the River Thames? The Swan Restaurant and Bar and Doggett’s Coat and Badge are open all day and night if you want a pint of beer here. Doggett’s Coat and Badge can be busy. The pub has several floors with large glass windows overlooking the River Thames, but the view can be quite industrial.
You can walk through Millennium Bridge which will take you to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral is beautiful at night and there are several restaurants, bars and pubs around this area as well.
Walk back to the Southbank area if you happen to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, turn right.
The Southbank Centre
As you walk for another three minutes, you’ll see various pubs, bars, clubs, and the Southbank Centre, which can be loud and busy at night. Socialising at night by the River Thames, sipping beer and cocktails is a great idea to get out of the house and let your hair down. The atmosphere will be dark, loud with music and only lights from restaurants and bars can be seen. It’s a contrast to the quiet atmosphere from when you started the walk.
The Skating Space below the Southbank Centre is an area for skaters to master their skills. It’s free and open 24 hours. The best thing about it is that it gets quieter at night, so you have more space to practice your skills.
If you want to experience street food, walk towards the back of the Southbank Centre. You’ll smell dishes from around the world and Waterloo Station is a few minutes’ walk from here.
The London Eye
Once you pass the Southbank Centre, you will see the 135 feet tall London Eye, which also illuminates at night. The blue and red lights are all you can see in the dark and if you visit us in summer, try to buy a ticket before 8:30 pm. The view of London is better at night than during the day.
The London Dungeon, Sea Life London Aquarium and Shrek Adventures are all here but are closed until 4 pm. Take advantage of these attractions the next day, especially if you have children.
From here, you’ll see Big Ben and Parliament as well as Westminster Abbey where this will be the end of your Southbank walk.
I hope that this post will give you an insight to the best walks in London at night and the attractions that are beautiful in the dark. If you want a suggested itinerary for your trip to London, click here for my 4 days in London Itinerary. 4 days is an ideal time to visit London.
Author Bio: Annisa from London Traveller
Hi, I’m Annisa. I’m an Indonesian national living in London. I’ve been living here since 1991. My family and I packed our bags to pursue a better way of living. My father thought London was a prosperous city with many opportunities.
Since living here, I noticed London is rich in history and culture and I had an idea of writing about it in a blog. As a resident here, I’ve learned the ins and outs of London and every time visitors see London, there’s always something new to see and do. It’s impossible to see everything in a short amount of time, so that’s why I made it my mission to write about London and give visitors tips and tricks for planning a great holiday. Find me at London Travellers or check out my Instagram Londontravellers22 and Pinterest Londontravellers.
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