Last weekend I met up with an old friend and we spent the day in London, walking along the South Bank, admiring the views and soaking up that unique London atmosphere. I've mentioned before I used to live in London and I do love going back. It's a city like no other, so diverse and unique, full of amazing history in every corner. We started at Blackfriars station and walked in a loop, stopping off at the Tate Modern, over the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's Cathedral and then walking back along the river along the South Bank towards the London Eye and Westminster. I've included many of the photos I took that day.
I'm also adding a couple of maps to this post to show our exact route in case you wanted to follow us in our footsteps or find the places we visited. If I'm unfamiliar with a destination I usually end up searching for the location on Google maps. So I thought I'd save you the hassle and include our directions. Although most of my blog viewers are from the UK, many are from the US and other countries around the world and some may not have visited London. If you haven't been along London's South Bank, I recommend this beautiful walk.
|© Google/Our Seaside Baby|
We started at Blackfriars Station (no. 1 on the map). The train station and underground are on the north side of the river so we walked across Blackfriars Bridge to the southern side, just outside the Tate Modern Gallery (no. 2 on the map). I love this part of London because it has a beautiful view of St Paul's Cathedral across the river and is always filled with people, even in winter. There are usually musicians singing and the 'bubble man' blowing those huge bubbles into the air, attracting young visitors. I didn't snap it this time but include my photo from a previous summer. Obviously, it was colder but the view was pretty much the same, with kids following the bubbles!
Our next stop was a trip inside the Tate Modern, a wonderful building, formally the Bankside Power Station! I have been here many times in the past & a couple of times with Pip, but since I was having a child-free day we made the most of taking a proper look inside. There is so much to see at the Tate Modern, you could easily spend the whole day in there with several galleries, shops and an amazing cafe overlooking the Thames. We wandered through the galleries and seemed to always end up in the war/conflict zones! It's fascinating and strange at the same time & I did find some of the exhibits a little too heavy/intense. I usually love contemporary art but maybe it was just too early in the morning this time!
After our gallery visit we headed over the Millennium Bridge (no. 3 on map). I was studying for my first degree in Archaeology and living in London when this bridge was built. It offers such an amazing view of St Paul's up ahead, The Shard and Tower Bridge to the right, and the views along the river to Westminster on the right! There is also the Shakespeare Globe Theatre nearby, somewhere I still need to visit. The view from the bridge is just stunning and there's always something so special about the dome of St Paul's.
If you come to London you should include a visit to St Paul's Cathedral in your visit (no. 4 on the map). Did you know the original church dates back to 604 AD, with the current building dating back to the 17th century! I'm always amazed as how much history this monument holds. The original cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and is mentioned in the Diaries of Samuel Pepys (a great read if you're interested in the history of London). The Cathedral survived the Blitz despite being struck by bombs during the Second World War. I didn't know it was the tallest building in London until 1967! The Cathedral has held funerals for Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill, to name a few, and was also the venue for the famous wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981. When I lived in London entry was free and I visited quite a bit. Entry is now a huge £18 for one adult! If you haven't been in though I would say pay it as it's worth it and you can get 2 for 1 entry if you travel by train. I saw people at the very top of the dome on this visit and you can see them in the photo above if you zoom in. I bet the views are stunning and I'll take Pip up there when he's a little older! On a side note if you want to learn more about the history of London including that of St Paul's I recommend a visit to the fantastic and free Museum of London.
After visiting St Paul's we had a late lunch and headed back along the north side of the river (no. 5 on the map) and over Waterloo Bridge where I took the photo above (no. 6 on the map), just as the sun was setting. The London Eye and Houses of Parliament, including Big Ben, are in the distance. Once across Waterloo Bridge you'll find the South Bank Centre, a wonderful venue with festivals, gigs, exhibitions, displays and performances around the year! Our last stop was the London Eye (no. 6 on the map), another attraction I recommend, especially at sunset! So many people were out, cafes and restaurants were bustling, people of all ages enjoying the late afternoon atmosphere with everyone making the most of all London has to offer. London still feels so familiar to me, almost like home and still one of my favourite cities in the world. If you haven't been I recommend putting it on your travel bucket list!
Read more of my London travel posts:
My full list of travel posts can be found here.
Linking up with #CityTripping
Have you been to London's South Bank? I'd love to hear your thoughts.☺