Once known as “Lambehitha,” or “landing place for lambs,” the Lambeth district is located in central London. From its early days as a marsh, to its Viking days as a lamb-trading port, to the modern day, this region has developed into one of the most iconic areas in London and the world. Lambeth is now home to everything from the London Eye to Waterloo. It is presently one of the most visited areas of London along with the popular West End, and is a great place to visit for any intrepid traveler.
The district of Lambeth is located along the south bank of the River Thames, opposite Westminster. In fact, the two were linked by a horse ferry across the Thames until the opening of Westminster Bridge in 1750, followed by Blackfriars Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge. It’s a great place to look for an apartment with a view of the Thames or just go for a walk along the river. Within the context of London, Lambeth is centrally located with a wealth of culture all its own.
Although the whole area is three miles wide and seven miles long, the northern area from Waterloo Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge (and half of Clapham Common) is the most well-known with the most popular shops and restaurants.
Many people are surprised to discover that King’s Cross station, popularized by Harry Potter and a must-see for Potter pilgrims, is not the busiest London travel terminal. That title is held by Waterloo Station, which hosts over 90 million passengers through the system every year. The surrounding area of Waterloo, from which the station took its name, was named for the Battle of Waterloo in which the British and allies snatched a narrow victory from Napoleon during his conquest of Europe. The current Waterloo Station building was inaugurated in 1922 (so be on the lookout for Art-Deco motifs), but the site has been a rail station since 1848. Beneath the regular train station, Waterloo Station also connects three lines from the London Underground, so it’s one of the best hubs for travelers who are interested in seeing as much as possible.
What Canary Wharf is to finance, the Southbank Center is to the arts. This 21-acre area is Europe’s largest center for the arts, and it includes concert and art hall favorites like the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Hayward Gallery. Each year, more than 3 million art aficionados pour through the doors to witness some 1000 performances. Or, in the words of Shakespeare, “If music be the food of love, play on!”
Speaking of playing, let’s focus on The Royal Festival Hall. Some London experts have called it the best-known part of Southbank (You know what else is in Southbank? The London Eye. Exactly.). At 2,500 seats and prices as low as a measly nine quid, there’s no beating the value of one of the premier performance halls in Europe. It’s a great way to get the kids excited about culture, and cut mom and dad a break from the whirlwind of kid-centric London activities.
Speaking of taking the kids to London, you can’t beat a visit to the London Aquarium. As it’s one of the top family activities in London, kids are guaranteed to be amazed by the variety of underwater life swimming just beyond the glass. Check out cool programs like turtle feedings or (for the bravest families) snorkeling with and feeding sharks (though hopefully not in that order). Go for a day trip and pop out just before sunset, because the aquarium is on the Thames in the center of London and is one of the city’s greatest places to watch the sunset.
New York Habitat’s Lambeth apartments
With so much to do in Lambeth, you may as well move in! No, seriously, if you’re looking for lodging, you’ve come to the right place. From serviced apartments to self-catered private homes, check out nyhabitat.com to find whatever you’re looking for. A vacation rental is a great option if you’ll be in town for less than 30 days, while a furnished rental apartment is the ideal pick for long-term visits. If you’d prefer something a little further north of the river, don’t miss our guide to how to fit in in South Kensington!
As the tallest Ferris Wheel in Europe and one of the most iconic landmarks in London, the London Eye enjoys a reputation for being the second-tallest viewing point of the city of London. Originally called the British Airways London Eye in 2000 (when it carried its first passengers), it has since changed hands several times to become the Coca-Cola London Eye. The entire landmark is 443 feet tall (135 meters tall) and has a diameter of 120 meters. When it was built, it was not only the highest point from which to view London, but also the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel (that title has since been surpassed by the 550-foot-tall High Roller in Las Vegas that opened in 2014). It’s the most popular tourist attraction in the UK, with over 3.5 million visitors per year.
For just twenty quid, you can take a ride in one of the 32-passenger capsules for 30 minutes, or spruce up the experience with a range of additional options. If you’re only in town for a weekend getaway with your person of choice, consider the romantic champagne experience that’s best timed for sunset. Incidentally, it’s also a great place to see London’s spectacular array of New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Just south of the London Eye, you’ll find Lambeth Palace. This historic structure has been the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the high medieval period and the last crusades of the 13th century. Like the London Eye, it’s just opposite Westminster. You’ll also be able to find the Archbishop’s Park nearby, unsurprisingly named for the Archbishop. Today it features playgrounds, cricket nets, and chargeable tennis and netball courts.
Further south adjacent to the border of Wandsworth, you’ll find half of Clapham Common. The other half is in Wandsworth, and the total area of the park covers 220 acres. It’s a great place to relax, featuring ponds, skate parks, sports facilities, and children’s play areas. Make a day of exploring the hidden places throughout the parks that are usually only seen by locals. Don’t worry if you get lost in London, Londoners are mostly very kind and helpful. It’s unusual in a city this size to find a park so idyllic, so be sure to grab your camera for some wonderful shots of this calm oasis away from the hustle of London.
Have you ever been to Lambeth in London? What location would you most like to visit?