the beautiful south - london's south bank
Some of London's most iconic buildings line the south side of the River Thames. From the London Eye to the OXO Tower and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and with a wealth of attractions, shopping and restaurants, not to mention a vibrant arts and cultural community, the South Bank is an area of unique contrasts.
Originally isolated and defined by the Thames, the South Bank developed very differently from the affluent north side, moving from a marshy expanse of slum housing to warehouses, factories and entertainment venues in the 18th and 19th centuries, with the railway dominating the area.
Second World War bombing raids devastated the area but, ultimately, were responsible for its regeneration when the bombed-out riverside was cleared and built on for the site of the Festival of Britain in 1951. The Royal Festival Hall remained as a permanent legacy and after a recent major refurbishment now makes up part of the 21 acres of the South Bank Centre, along with the 1960s-built Hayward Gallery, the largest public art exhibition space in the country, reopening after essential repairs on June 19 with the Ernesto Neto exhibition. Other essential art viewing is at the imposing Tate Modern, formerly a power station.
From shopping and meeting friends for lunch, to a riverside walk taking in the views of the city or indulging your artistic side at the many arts and theatre venues, the South Bank is an area destined to be explored.
things to do
The Merlin Entertainments London Eye
Riverside Building, County Hall, SE1 7PB
One of London's favourite attractions, this iconic landmark is a must-do for unrivalled views of the city. All tickets now include the new 4D Experience, a 3D film featuring spectacular in-theatre effects such as wind, bubbles and mist, and adding an amazing fourth dimension. Throughout March to celebrate the Eye's 10th birthday, all 10am flights can be booked for £10 per adult and £5 per child.
Open: October-March, daily 10am-8pm; April/September, daily 10am-9pm; May/June, Sun-Thurs 10am-9pm, Fri & Sat 10am-9.30pm; July/August, daily 10am- 9.30pm.
Cost: £17.88 per adult, children 4-15 years £9.50. Family tickets £49.28. Book online and save 10%.
Tel: 0871 781 3000
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Riverside Building, County Hall, SE1 7PB
The jewel in the crown of the UK's SEA LIFE centres, the London Aquarium has been redesigned with new displays including a stunning glass Ocean Tunnel where visitors can admire graceful green turtles. The tunnel leads to a dramatic shipwreck, and the nail biting SharkWalk offers a fitting finale to your visit. Don't miss feeding the stingrays.
Open: Open daily except Christmas Day. Mon- Thurs, 10am-6pm, Fri- Sun 10am-7pm.
Cost: £17.50 per adult, children 3-14 years £12.50. Family tickets £54.00.
Tel: 0871 663 1678
1 Charlie ChaplinWalk, SE1 8XR
Immerse yourself in the ultimate cinema 3D experience;
with a screen over 65ft high, plush seats, including double ones for very close friends, 11,600 watts of digital surroundsound and the most sophisticated motion-picture
projection system in the world, you will literally feel like you are in the picture.
Costs and film times vary,check with BFI Imax for full details. Tel: 020 7199 6000
Think of any dining experience and you can find it on the South Bank. Stop for an alfresco lunch or snacks at Gabriel's Wharf, be a theatre lovey taking drinks or a pre-theatre supper at one of the many arts centres, or enjoy great views from the OXO Tower.
OXO Tower Wharf
Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
A riverside landmark since the 1930s, the OXO Tower's renowned restaurant bar and brasserie makes an ideal meeting
spot for drinks or dinner with friends with fabulous views over the Thames.
Tel: 020 7803 3888
11 Gabriel'sWharf, 56 Upper Ground, SE1 9PP
Open seven days a week, Pieminister's branch at Gabriel'sWharf serves delicious, award-winning handmade pies from just £3.75, or £5.50 adding mash and gravy. A British
tradition to be upheld!
Tel: 020 7928 5755
From the splendour of Harvey Nichols to an eclectic mix of boutiques and arts-related shops, shopping on the South
Bank is an unqualified pleasure.
G2 OXO Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
High-quality, precision handmade jewellery made using primarily diamonds, sapphires and rubies, with pieces being made on commission.
Tel: 020 7401 2405
Game of Graces
6 Gabriel's Wharf, SE1 9PH
Luxurious ladies wear for any occasion designed by
Irena Lane and featuring elegant 1950s style dresses and vintage skirts, tops, jackets and accessories.
Tel: 020 7928 4050
Train: Waterloo, Waterloo East
Tube: Waterloo (Bakerloo, Jubilee and Northern lines),
Southwark (Jubilee Line), Westminster (Circle, District and Jubilee lines)
Watch those pennies: Premier Inn London County Hall, County Hall, Belvedere Road, London SE1 7PB
Tel: 0870 238 3300
Splash out: London Marriott Hotel County Hall, County Hall,
Westminster Bridge Road London SE1 7PB
Tel: 0207 928 5200
Brand new: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, 200 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7UT
Tel: 0844 415 6780
All prices and details were correct when published, please check before visiting London's South Bank.