1. View From The Shard
There is something about viewing a great city like London from a height, and viewing heights do not come any better than that at The Shard.
From the viewing gallery at The Shard you get an incredible 360 degree panoramic view of this historic city, picking out all the iconic landmarks below.
The Shard offers London’s highest viewing point at 244 meters above the capital. High speed lifts whisk you up to the 68th floor in only a minute to begin your visit. One floor further up is where you will find the main viewing gallery with its stunning all round views.
The 72nd floor houses the open-air sky deck where you can enjoy the spectacular views while feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. The View from the Shard champagne bar allows you to enjoy your visit in style.
Family tickets can be bought from £25 per person, allowing access to the viewing platforms as well as a guidebook and souvenir digital photos. There is also a gift shop where you can buy mementos of your visit.
2. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous landmarks, the raising of the bridge still a thrill no matter how many times you watch.
Visitors to Tower Bridge can explore the towers and engine rooms, learn about the people who helped in its construction, and experience the bridge’s glass floored walkway.
The bridge was built between 1886 and 1894, with over 400 labourers working on the site each day. Visitors start their tour of the bridge in the North Tower, which takes you up and out on to the glass walkway 42 meters above the river Thames. Here you will have stunning panoramic views over the capital, as well as unique views of the bridge and river beneath through the glass floor.
From the walkway you descend through the South Tower, before heading to the engine rooms where you can see the inner workings of the bridge, including the Victoria steam engines. You will also learn about the people who worked the bridge, with 80 people once required for its maintenance and operation.
Stunning views, architecture and incredible engineering await visitors to this landmark bridge. This is a dog-friendly attraction where tickets start at £10.60, with children half price. Guided tours are available from £20.
3. HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast is permanently moored on the river Thames and offers visitors a fascinating insight in to life at sea during times of conflict. HMS Belfast’s preservation as an immersive visitor attraction allows you to explore the nine decks of this historically significant warship.
Launched in 1938, HMS Belfast served in a number of conflict zones during its illustrious career, including supporting Operation Overlord on D-Day in 1944. Now you have the chance to explore the inner workings of this warship, and can even take control from the Captain’s chair.
Across the nine decks there are a host of interactive and immersive exhibitions showing you what life was like on board during times of peace and war. HMS Belfast had a crew of almost 1000 and you can discover their personal stories. From the lower decks to the spectacular views from the upper decks, there is so much to explore on the Royal Navy’s most significant surviving second world war warship.
HMS Belfast is open daily with adult prices starting from £22.50. Children under 5 years of age are admitted free of charge. Private tours for groups of up to six people are also available for this unique visitor experience.
4. The Old Operating Theatre
This may be one of the more unusual museums you will visit. It is the oldest surviving surgical theatre in Europe and can be found in the garret of St Thomas’ church, which was once part of St Thomas’ hospital.
The theatre opened in 1822 and was in use for 40 years, remaining forgotten about for over a hundred years before being turned in to a museum.
The atmospheric operating room has some noteworthy features to look out for, including the wooden theatre table. In the early years operations on this table would have been performed without any anaesthetic. The museum has a collection of historical medical equipment plus a herb garret room where you can browse the herbs, tinctures and other assorted curiosities used to treat people in times gone by.
This is a hidden gem of a museum. However, access to the attic is by a 52 step spiral staircase. The museum opens every Friday and Saturday with concession prices from £6 and family tickets from £18.
5. London Bridge Experience and Tombs
London Bridge has been witness to centuries of history, not all of it pretty. The London Bridge Experience will test your nerves as it takes you on a memorable trip through the scariest elements of the city’s history.
This immersive attraction will bring you face to face with the likes of Queen Boadicea, William Wallace, Jack the Ripper and more.
From the Roman times though to modern day London, visitors travel through history with actors bringing to life the old streets of London Bridge. It is not everyday you get the chance to experience medieval London as you walk across the shop lined London bridge at the time of the Great Fire.
Prepare to be scared as you enter the London tombs. This scare maze is filled with unique characters whose sole purpose in life is to frighten those who pass. Not one for the feint hearted, but the actors, special effects and atmosphere of the tombs are a fun and exciting way to round off your visit.
There is a special Guardian Angel show designed for children under 11 which is equally fun, but just a little less scary!
6. Food and Drink
London Bridge is a vibrant area with the restaurants, bars and pubs to match. The following are a sample of the excellent food and drink options in the area.
Ting at the Shard
This contemporary restaurant on the 35th floor of the Shard combines Asian cuisine with classic British dishes. Open daily from 6.30am, Ting meets all your fine dining needs throughout the day with a range of menus. Why not try an indulgent afternoon tea while enjoying the incredible views across London. The three course set menu is available at certain times of the day from £34.50 per person.
Le Pont de la Tour
Authentic yet innovative French cuisine is on the menu at this riverside restaurant located near Tower Bridge. This is a restaurant known for its alfresco dining, boasting some of the best riverside views In London from its terrace seating area. The a la carte and set menus offer traditional French cuisine with a modern twist, while the bar provides the ideal place to relax over cocktails.
The Coal Shed
The Coal Shed is a modern grill restaurant serving the highest quality meat and fish, prepared over coal and served with seasonal produce. Customers can choose from the a la carte menu, including pan fried cod and a selection of steaks. The set early lunch and evening menu offers meals starting from £20 for two courses, while the sharing Sunday roast, including beef fat roast potatoes and Sunday trimmings, costs from £22.50 per person.
The George Inn
For those looking for a traditional style British pub, the George Inn could be just the ticket. Located close to the Shard, the George Inn serves food every day from noon through to 10pm. Run by Greene King, this busy pub serves all your pub classics, as well as sharers such as loaded nachos and assorted platters. The pub also offers a separate children’s menu, as well as a no-gluten-containing main menu.
7. The Golden Hinde
Sir Francis Drake is one of the most famous names in Britain’s seafaring history, with the Golden Hinde the first ship to circumnavigate the world.
This full scale reconstruction of Drake’s ship allows visitors the chance to find out what it was like to sail the seas in the Elizabethan era.
This is a living museum with an expert crew bringing the ship to life. Discover the history of the ship and the tales of the crew who sailed in her as you explore the decks. You can choose to explore the ship under your own steam or have a private guided tour from one of the expert crew members.
The Golden Hinde is located at St Mary Overie Dock in Cathedral Street, with London Bridge the closest station. Admission is from £5, or £15 for a ticket covering a family of four. Unfortunately the Golden Hinde is not currently accessible by wheelchair.
London Bridge is a good place to head to enjoy a variety of shopping, from top brands to local independent stores.
The stores around London Bridge offer a varied selection of products and services. From fashion and jewellery, arts and crafts, health and beauty, technology and speciality shops, there is an eclectic mix for the London Bridge shopper to enjoy.
Some of the brands you will find here include Pandora, Reiss, Charles Tyrwhitt, Next, Superdrug and Kat Maconie. These sit side by side with independent boutiques and stores for an all round shopping experience. Two places to visit when shopping in London Bridge include:
Originally known as Hay’s Wharf, Hays Galleria has been designed with its history in mind. The shopping gallery is topped by a stunning Victorian glass roof and contains a satisfying mix of branded stores and arts and craft stalls, with a selection of cafes to choose from when its time for refreshments.
Borough Market on Southwark Street is one of London’s premier food markets. Open every day of the week, the market offers over 100 stalls, shops and eateries for visitors to peruse. Here you will find expert suppliers selling a vast range of British and international food items. With over 1000 years of history, this is a market which takes pride in the quality of produce offered.
London Bridge is home to a good number of art galleries. The two galleries listed below provide a flavour of the cultural offering you will find in London Bridge.
White Cube Gallery
This leading contemporary art gallery is just a 10 minute walk away from London Bridge, providing visitors the opportunity to admire some of the world’s leading artists. The exhibitions and artists may change though the year, but the impressive scale and presentation of the work does not. At the White Cube gallery you can enjoy and interpret art at your leisure.
Underdog Art Gallery
This is an arts and music bar which promotes up and coming, as well as more established artists and musicians. The gallery loves nothing better but to champion the work of the outsider while producing its signature eclectic mix of art and music. This is a quirky venue, not a traditional gallery but an arts and music bar where the artwork is a hugely important part of the overall environment.
10. Southwark Cathedral
This beautiful cathedral is the oldest Gothic church in London. Dating back to the turn of the thirteenth century, the cathedral has strong literary connections.
During your visit you can learn about its links to Dickens, Shakespeare and the court poet John Gower. Look out for the memorial to Shakespeare as well as the stained glass window depicting the great play-write.
Visitors are welcome to attend services or to participate in their drop-in tours. The cathedral also offers group tours for 10 or more people, where you will learn about the building’s history and have the chance to admire its unique collection of stained glass windows.
The cathedral has a courtyard cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, plus a shop and a lovely herb garden around which you can take a peaceful stroll.
11. More things to do in London Bridge
London Bridge has many places of interest for visitors to the area. The following are a few more places worthy of a visit when in London Bridge.
This prison museum allows you to experience the sights and sounds of the original Clink prison founded on the site in the 12th century. This is the prison whose name became a popular slang term for all other prisons. During your visit you will see historical artefacts, learn about the inmates and the horrors they faced, as well as handle the unnerving devices contained within the torture chamber.
The Clink is open daily from 10am, with concession prices from £6. The museum is within easy walking distance of London Bridge station and has a small shop where you can buy souvenirs and gifts.
Winchester Palace Ruins
Winchester Palace in Southwark was the London residence of the Bishop of Winchester in medieval England. This was one of the principal buildings in London, but was largely destroyed by fire in 1814. You will now find the remains of this once important building tucked away behind Southwark Cathedral.
All that stands of the palace today is a section of the original Great Hall, complete with its magnificent rose window. These unique medieval remains can be viewed for free from the footpath between the Clink museum and the Golden Hinde. The interior of the site is not accessible.
London Glassblowing Centre
Located on Bermondsey Street, this centre allows you a fascinating insight to how artists create stunning pieces of work from glass. Founded in 1976, the gallery is the longest running hot-glass studio in Europe. Visitors to the centre have the treat of watching the artists at work within the hotworking studio.
Admission to the centre and viewing area is free. If you are feeling inspired and creative, the centre’s experience day offers the chance to be taught the craft of glassblowing by highly qualified artists. This is a fun experience where you can make three pieces to be taken home as mementos of your day.