In our previous London video tour, we explored the historic area of Westminster, and now we’ll show you the thriving district of Southwark on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. Southwark wonderfully combines the old and the new with its ancient wharfs and warehouses alongside wonderful new buildings like The Shard skyscraper.
Southwark is roughly bordered by Tower Bridge and Tower Bridge Road to the east, Elephant & Castle to the south, Blackfriars Bridge and Blackfriars Road to the west, and the River Thames to the north. Read on and we’ll tell you a little more about the places mentioned in our video tour, such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, Borough Market, The Shard and more!
Welcome to Bankside
Our video tour begins in Bankside, a wonderful place to start your exploration of Southwark! Bankside is easily reachable via the London Underground to either Southwark Station or London Bridge Station. Both stations are just a short walk from Bankside on the southern bank of the River Thames. In the Tudor era, the area was known for its theaters like the Rose, the Swan, and the famous Globe Theatre, the home of William Shakespeare’s theater company; the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
Like all the other Elizabethan theaters, the Globe Theatre eventually closed in 1642. Luckily, the Globe was reconstructed in 1997, and you can still visit today! Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is located in Bankside close to the site of the original Globe, and stages productions of Shakespeare’s classic plays every year. It’s a wonderful and authentic experience to see a Shakespearean play performed in the open-air playhouse.
Take a cultural tour at the Tate Modern & the Clink Prison Museum
The Tate Modern, Britain’s National Gallery of modern art, is the towering neighbor of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. It’s housed inside a former power station and is one of the defining landmarks of the Southwark skyline. The museum’s permanent collection is free to visit and is a must-see for fans of modern art!
The Clink Prison Museum is on Clink Street between the London Bridge and Southwark Bridge. Built on the site of the former Clink prison, the small museum provides a comprehensive look at medieval prison life in London and is an informative experience for kids. For more family-friendly activities, check out how to visit London with kids!
The area around the museum is full of restaurants and traditional pubs, including highlights like the Anchor Bankside and The Old Thameside Inn. Take time to explore the crooked cobblestone alleys and enjoy the beautiful views of the wharfs and river; you never know what you’ll find next!
Stay in a vacation rental apartment in Southwark
If you want to take more time to discover Southwark’s true character, consider staying in a Southwark vacation rental apartment. The central location of the neighborhood makes Southwark a fantastic base from which to explore the rest of the city, and each apartment offers all the comforts of home. Apartments come with a fully equipped kitchen, making it easy to cook your own dinner using ingredients from one of London’s many local farmers’ markets! If you’re considering a longer stay in the city, check out our London furnished apartments available for a month of more.
Go grocery shopping at Borough Market
Borough Market is one of the most famous and oldest farmers’ markets in London. The market sells the large selection of fresh produce that you might expect, but also sells everything from cakes to wine. The market on Stoney Street is close to the London Bridge Underground station and is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. There are several other restaurants and cafes in and around Borough Market that will tempt your tastebuds! If you can’t get enough of London’s markets, see our guide to the top 5 shopping spots in London for more.
Admire The View from The Shard
To see it for yourself, you can book a ticket for The View from the Shard experience, which brings guests to the 68th, 69th, and 72nd floors. From those heights you’ll be able to admire the panoramic view of London from the tower while you marvel at the architectural feat of the building itself. It’s a good idea to book tickets for the View from the Shard online before your visit so you can be sure the experience won’t sell out on your preferred day.
Stroll along Southwark’s wharves & visit Hay’s Galleria
Southwark’s waterfront has undergone a true transformation in the past decades. Old and decaying wharfs and warehouses were renovated and converted into apartment buildings, shops, and restaurants. The former wharf Hay’s Galleria is a great example of how the neighborhood incorporates the old with the new: the beautiful building has been painstakingly renovated and is now an extensive shopping destination. When you’re done shopping for the day, settle down for a drink at The Horniman at Hays, a famous traditional pub with a marvelous view of the River Thames and the river’s docked boats.
Take a boat ride on the Thames Clippers
Speaking of boats, the neighborhood’s riverfront location also provides alternate transportation to and from Southwark. The Thames Clippers is a waterbus company that transports tourists and commuters alike across the water on a clipper. There are several stops along the river that deliver riders to famous attractions, including Blackfriars Millennium Pier, Bankside Pier, London Bridge City Pier, and more. A ride will also deliver you unique views of some of London’s best landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tower of London, and Tower Bridge! The service runs at least every half hour every day, so you never have to wait long for a boat. Check out the Thames Clippers website for more information.