As part of the Walking London series, we are covering a classic walk today: along the Thames from West to East, passing several tourist destinations. As much as the path is crowded with tourists on weekends, it’s one of my favourite walks after work when the sun sets. And there is a lot that most of tourists haven’t discovered yet!
Walking Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
How to get there: Jubilee, District or Circle line to Westminster
We are starting off at Westminster, the part where the British parliament thrones and decides. Big Ben (which is the bell in the St. Mary Tower and not the tower), Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament are on every bucket list and I would try to tick them off early in the morning. Crossing the Westminster Bridge, the St. Thomas Hospital is a true hidden gem as its canteen on top of it provides a fantastic view over the city (and for free, in contrast to its neighbouring London Eye).
Further down the river bank, the Southbank Centre is one of my personal highlights. There is always something going, e.g. a Scandinavian Christmas market or a photo exhibition. You will also find loads of restaurant chains here of which Ping Pong Dim Sum is my favourite one. Continuing our walk, we will soon be reaching Gabriel’s Wharf, a very cute village with a lot of art shops (The pizza at Gourmet Pizza Company is also a reason to go). Shortly afterwards, close to the Blackfriars Bridge, the Mondrian can be found. It’s a hotel which has a ship-shape and also the interior follows a nautical theme. My favourite spot there? The rooftop bar and their exquisite cocktails that cater to every mood.
Passing the Tate Modern, the Millenium Bridge (the one that is destroyed in Harry Potter) with its view on St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Shakespearean Globe, we soon reach the London Bridge district. As much as the skyline on the other side of the river is tempting (Walking London here), we leave the river for a while now to explore the wonderful Borough. From Park Street we turn right into the Redcross Way to get some lunch (but far from tourist traps!): the Flat Iron Square is situated below the railway track and has several trucks from hamburgers to Asian food that are perfect for a break in this very old part of London. From here, we make our way back toward the riverbank, visiting the Borough Market – closed on Sundays – to try fresh products from all over the world. Other highlights in the area is the Golden Hind, a trading ship from the 1500s, the Southwark Cathedral, the Shard, London’s highest building and of course the ugly London Bridge, the first bridge built by the Romans (and destroyed several times since then). The most important advice that I can give is to just walk around the Borough and soak in the atmosphere of the old brick buildings.
We are already heading towards the end of our walk: The Tower Bridge, magnet for so many tourists from all over the world. Don’t miss out on the Hay’s Gallery on the right which is worth some pictures. It is also worth to actually walk a bit further than the Tower Bridge as the Tower Shad is a very narrow and mysterious street – like in the Sherlock Holmes films with Robert Downy Jr.! But of course, there will be the moment to cross the famous bridge. Instead of directly heading to the nearby Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels, you should rather turn right after the bridge – on a sunny day there are food trucks and fake grass with sun chairs, perfect to sunbathe a little bit and to relax after a great walk by the river.
From Tower Hill, Circle and District Line are running