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Best Things To Do On Southbank London

There are tonnes of things to do on Southbank London. Running alongside the River Thames, the Southbank starts close to the Oxo Tower and runs as far as Lambeth Bridge.

You can see some of the most iconic London landmarks whilst strolling along the Southbank and eat incredible food from one of the many restaurants, markets or food trucks.

Not to mention the tens of fabulous attractions such as the London Eye, Shreks Adventure, London Dungeons, or the Royal Festival Hall are ideal for watching a performance.

I worked on the Southbank for over 15 years, so I got to know the area very well and often go back to meet friends for dinner or take the kids out for the day. It’s a part of London you could spend days exploring, albeit a small area.

In this post, I will tell you about all the fantastic attractions and things to do on Southbank London. I have spent years exploring the area and feel like I know it like the back of my hand!

Things To Do In Southbank London

London Eye

Riding the London Eye offers panoramic city views on a clear day. It’s a giant observation wheel with spacious glass capsules and one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

As you ascend, landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace come into view, providing a unique perspective of London’s skyline. The entire experience takes about 30 minutes. It’s best to buy tickets in advance for this must-do Southbank activity.

Purchase tickets here to the London Eye is one of the best things to do on Southbank London.

SEA LIFE London Aquarium

The aquarium has to be one of the best things to on Southbank London with kids. It features various sections highlighting different marine environments.

You can explore exhibits showcasing coral reefs, jellyfish displays, and transparent tunnels with unique perspectives of marine life. It’s particularly impressive when the shark swooshs overhead.

As you pass through the aquarium, you see several divided ecosystems. It’s a fantastic learning opportunity, from Antarctica’s frozen world with penguins to the rainforest adventure.

Since it is one of the most popular attractions for things to do in Southbank London, it is best to book tickets ahead of time.

Book tickets to SEA LIFE London Aquarium here, one of the best things to do on Southbank London.

Shreks Adventure

The Shrek Adventure Experience in London is an interactive and immersive attraction that takes visitors through the fantastical world of Shrek and his friends.

It combines live actors, 4D special effects, and themed sets to bring the beloved DreamWorks characters to life.

Visitors can embark on a quest, meeting Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and other characters. The entire experience is a mix of storytelling and interactive elements. Shrek Adventure Experience is perfect for a family day out but equally welcomes adults who love Shrek!

Since it is next door to SEA LIFE London Aquarium, combining the two attractions on the same day is ideal.

Book tickets to Shreks Adventure here one of the best things to do on Southbank London.

London Dungeon

The London Dungeon is a thrilling attraction that takes visitors through London’s dark history. This immersive experience combines live actors, special effects, and detailed sets to recreate historical events with a touch of horror and humour.

From the plague-ridden streets to the infamous Jack the Ripper era, the London Dungeon covers some well-known historical events from the past.

Book tickets here to London Dungeon, one of the best things to do on Southbank London.

Jubilee Gardens

Depending on what month you are looking for things to do on Southbank London. Jubilee Gardens is a green space with a playground just behind the London Eye. It’s the ideal spot for kids to run around and play whilst parents can relax on the bench.

There is lots of grass to sit and have a picnic especially love the summer months from around May onwards.

From around October, it can be quite chilly, but still doable to sit and relax on a nice clear day.

Graffiti Tunnel & Lower Marsh

The Graffiti Tunnel beneath the railway tracks near Waterloo Station is an evolving canvas where street artists consistently create something new.

I loved walking through the tunnel on my way to work, each day would be something different!

Officially the tunnel is known as Leake Street and is full of ever-changing urban art. Stroll through the Tunnel and pop out the other side to Lower Marsh.

This market street in the heart of London offers a mix of eclectic shops, cafes, and stalls. Known for its independent boutiques and many eateries.

The markets on this street run from Monday to Friday from 11 am to 330 pm. It does tend to be quite busy at lunchtime since it attracts so many local workers escaping the office for their break.

Not many tourists go to this market so it is a nice one to visit when looking for things to do on Southbank London.

Hop on a Ferry From Festival Pier

The Thames Clipper service, operating from Festival Pier, is facilitated by Uber, providing a seamless and efficient river transport option in London. It is a way of getting a cruise along the river without the premium price of a tour.

It’s the ideal way to view the city from the water. Ride to any nearby stop to explore other parts of London. It stops at iconic spots such as London Bridge, Canary Wharf and Greenwich.

Southbank Centre Food Market

The Southbank Centre Food Market is closed over winter and reopens in February. You can not come to the Southbank and not try some of the incredible food available.

Featuring stalls like Galeta for sweets, Crêpes à la carte for French treats, and My Kids Are Hungry for Asian fusion. It caters to various tastes. Nobiani offers authentic Korean BBQ, and PAD + SEN serves up delicious pad Thai.

For beverages, Tea, Bread & Brownie offers teas and hot chocolate, and Stomping Grounds provides fine coffee.

It’s worth noting there are tens of market stalls for Christmas along the waterfront over the festive period. If you are in the city through December seeing the markets is most certainly one of the most festive things to do on Southbank London.

BFI Southbank

BFI Southbank is the cultural hub of the British Film Institute (BFI), dedicated to showcasing a diverse selection of films, from classic to contemporary, spanning different genres and cultures.

The venue features state-of-the-art screening facilities and often hosts special events, including film premieres, retrospectives, and discussions with filmmakers.

It hosts the British Film Festival annually and various other more niche events such as Q&A’s with actors, various summits and much more.

Royal Festival Hall

The Royal Festival Hall hosts tonnes of performances, including classical concerts, contemporary music gigs, dance performances, and theatrical productions.

The venue’s renowned acoustics make it popular for orchestral and choral performances, attracting world-class musicians and ensembles.

Beyond music, the Royal Festival Hall accommodates various events such as talks, lectures, and festivals.

There are often many events over kids school breaks such as Easter, Summer and Christmas making it a great spot for families to visit. Right outside is a splashpark in the summer and kids love running through to keep cool!

Check out the upcoming events at the Royal Festival Hall.

Gabriels Wharf

Gabriel’s Wharf on London’s South Bank is a riverside destination featuring design-led boutique shopping and diverse dining.

From bespoke jewellery to Trinidadian cuisine, the area offers unique experiences.

Southbank Printmakers and Vendula London showcase art and animal-friendly accessories. Gourmet Pizza Company, Skylark Galleries, and HolaGuacamole’s Mexican street food provide varied options.

Gabriel’s Wharf has a distinctive shopping experience, from vintage clothing to everyday knitwear. It’s a charming pocket to explore on the South Bank.

Of course, it is completely free to browse, making it a budget-friendly option when looking for things to do on Southbank London.

Oxo Tower

The Oxo Tower is an interesting building once a power station for Royal Mail. It has since been turned into a hub for incredible restaurants and boutique shopping.

One of the best spots of all has to be the bar at the top serving up contemporary British cuisine, fantastic cocktails, not to mention stunning views of St.Pauls Cathedral on the other side of the river.

It’s best to reserve ahead of time and head there at sunset for some epic views.

Book Market

The South Bank Book Market, a fixture for book-lovers for four decades, was opened in 1983 under Waterloo Bridge.

With eight different stalls, the market offers contemporary fiction, children’s books, vintage editions, and more, including maps, prints, and postcards.

Open daily from 10 am to 7 pm, you can browse the market located on Queen’s Walk, under Waterloo Bridge, in front of the BFI.

Lambeth Palace

Right at the beginning of the the Southbank border is Lambeth Palace. It’s a historic build which serves as the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England.

The palace has a history dating back to the 13th century, and its architecture reflects a mix of medieval and Tudor styles.

The surrounding gardens offer a peaceful retreat, making Lambeth Palace an important religious and cultural landmark in the heart of London. You can tour the Crypt, Guard Room, Chapel and the Library.

It’s one of a few medieval buildings in London well worth looking at if you are into architecture.

Florence Nightingale Museum

Full disclosure: I had to include the Florence Nightingale Museum because I am a nurse who worked in the hospital where this museum is based!

It’s open Wednesday to Sunday and is just across from the Houses of Parliament beneath St Thomas’ Hospital.

The museum recounts the life of Florence Nightingale, known as “the lady with the lamp,” from her Victorian childhood to her nursing experiences in the Crimean War. It’s located at the site of Nightingale’s Nightingale Training School, founded in 1860.

Notable artefacts include Nightingale’s childhood writing slate, her pet owl Athena, and her medicine chest from the Crimean, containing various remedies. Interactive exhibits provide ways to explore Florence’s story.

Westminster Bridge Farmers Market

Westminster Bridge Farmers’ Market, located at St Thomas’ Hospital Gardens, offers a variety of tasty and seasonal lunch options. Open on Thursdays from 10 am to 3 pm, this market has a selection of high-quality, welfare-conscious food.

From wood-fired pizzas to curries and noodles, it’s a convenient spot to liven up your lunchtime with a view of Big Ben! I spent many a day in the gardens with this stunning view, enjoying food from the market.

Since it is not on the main street i do feel like its one of the more hidden things to do on Southbank London.

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