Things to do in London Bridge
London Bridge and the surrounding area is often considered the gateway from the more residential south of London to the more corporate and entertaining north. This is probably why it offers such an eclectic mix of things to do.
It may seem like a strange thing to say, but one of the very best views of Tower Bridge is to be had from its rival bridge, a little way up the river.
Tower Bridge is one of the must-have photos of London and it has to be said that it’s everything that London Bridge is not. It’s unique, it’s photogenic, it’s interesting, it does interesting mechanics stuff.
Take a look at it from London Bridge, it’s pretty spectacular.
Tickets cost £9.20 for adults and £4.20 for children, with other offers available for groups of various sizes.
One of the things that make the view of Tower Bridge from London Bridge so special is everything that’s going on in between. HMS Belfast is one of those things.
It’s moored alongside London Bridge Pier and as one of only three ships from the bombardment fleet at the D-Day landings still, afloat it deserves plenty of respect. And a visit!
As well as a rich history, there are ladders to climb, guns to touch and real-life stories about life on a ship to hear.
Adult tickets cost £18 and child tickets cost £9, with various deductions made for online purchases and groups.
Put quite simply, anyone who claims to be a foodie and hasn’t visited Borough Market is most probably a fraud! This is a place where people can quite literally eat their way around.
There’s food to eat now, food to take away as well as the best ingredients from around the world. There’s beer, wine, fruit, veg, meats and everything in between. Even if food is the last thing on the mind, it’s worth going just for the smells, or even because it is the oldest market to be found anywhere in London.
Entry is free to the market but, naturally, the goods and boutiques all cost and vary in price from stall to stall.
The Golden Hinde
The London Bridge area is a place that is genuinely fun to explore. It has grown naturally over the course of centuries and offers a unique rabbit’s run of nooks and crannies where all manner of things can be found. One of those lucky finds might just be the Golden Hind, a reconstructed model of the ship Sir Francis Drake used to sale around the world in.
Admire the outside for free or better still, get a guided tour from someone in a sixteenth-century costume!
Tickets for adults and children cost £5 while a family of 4 pay £15.
When there’s a tall building in a city it just has to be climbed, or whatever the equivalent is when the ‘climb’ is actually a comfortable and fast lift ride.
The shard isn’t just the tallest building in London. It’s not just the tallest building in the UK. It’s the tallest building in Europe and it has unrivalled views of one of the most historic cities in the world.
It’s not just about the view from the top either. There are also bars and restaurants to visit inside. They may only be halfway up, but they’re still higher than anywhere else around.
Tickets are for adults only, with the costs varying depending on the ticket and package that is bought. Standard tickets (the cheapest) cost £25, while all-inclusive tickets (the most expensive) are £39.
Food & Drink in London Bridge
London is a place full of cuisines from all over the world, some of which are the very best the genre has to offer. London Bridge is no exception to this. Here are some of the best places to have a bite in the area.
Believe it or not, this is an Italian restaurant and one of the most unique in the capital.
The odd name is for the greengrocer and his shop who originally occupied the space. However, the name isn’t the only odd thing about the place. On arrival, it could be mistaken for a dingy wine bar, which essentially it is too. But the small, perfect plates of cured meats, mussels, and duck ragù, amongst plenty more, say otherwise.
Address: 8 Stoney St, London SE1 9AA.
Food with a view is always a hit, even when it comes to a bill as eye-watering as the one produced by a visit to Oblix surely will be.
The decor is glitzy and glamourous and screams opulence no matter what city one finds themselves in. However, nabbing a table by the window will leave diners in no doubt as to exactly where they are. The stunning London vista is unmistakable.
Aside from the views, the food is pretty good too, eclectic menus, well presented and very tasty.
Address: The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
If travelling with people who need a Michelin Star displayed outside a restaurant before they could possibly consider entering, then this is probably one for them.
Located near Tower Bridge, this is the ultimate in modern cuisine, some of the plates look like they would be more at home being displayed in the Tate Modern as opposed to a restaurant.
The plates are the ‘chapters’ which give this restaurant its unusual name and they certainly keep diners interested as a feast for the eyes, nose and thankfully the mouth.
Address: 199 Tooley St, London SE1 2JX
Worth going just for the name! Rest assured, this isn’t a French, outdoor themed picnic eatery with Scotch eggs and crisps.
Though it is very very French.
The location is very much indoors in an unmistakable Tudor pavilion right next to Tanner Street Park in Bermondsey. A very British setting with a very Gallic interior.
The staff is all French-speaking and the menu is in French and completely untranslated. It really is a little bit of Paris in South London. The dishes are all ultra-traditional and they also offer a takeaway roast dinner, though it has to be ordered an hour ahead!
Address: Tanner St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3LD
Talking of roast dinners. The roast is a very British restaurant specialising in the most important of British meals, the Sunday roast.
Although it has to be said, roast dinners may be the influence but there’s not much in the way of tradition going on here, more like re-invention. Unless families around the country really are sitting down to Goosnargh chicken and quail’s egg pie with all the trimmings?!
Go for breakfast and Sunday lunch, those are the big events. The restaurant is always busy and loud and overlooks the crowds at the Borough market, who are also busy and loud.
Address: The Floral Hall, Stoney St, London SE1 1TL
Shopping in London Bridge
London Bridge doesn’t have any of the endless shopping streets or massive malls that other parts of London boast, but it does have shops that cater to nearly everyone’s tastes. Fashion, gifts, antiquities, and food can be found in shops and markets throughout the area.
Not just an attraction but a very practical place to go food shopping, as long as an early arrival and a quick visit is planned. This place can get rammed (and that’s an understatement!)
The reason it is so popular is that it is a place where people can go to get exceptional produce. The meat on sale here has been farmed by the people on the stalls, the fish is the same, the people selling it have been involved in catching it.
This makes the market and its people a fountain of food knowledge too, not to mention being more ethical than most other food retailers.
Hays Galeria is a unique building on the south bank of the Thames which is home to offices and flats as well as restaurants and shops.
It was originally warehouse space, but is now covered with a glass roof and is a Grade II listed building.
Around the dominant sculpture in the middle of the floor, there are shops and barrows selling arts, crafts, and other souvenirs. The barrows are a dedication to the market that used to operate in the space.
London Bridge Station
Since the major refurbishment, London Bridge Station has become a template for what a decent city railway station should look like. The facilities are second to none and in the likely event that the trains don’t run on time, there is no chance of going hungry or un-entertained.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants within the station itself with new retailers opening all the time. Hamleys, the world-famous toy shop, has a small outlet here, as does Accessorize, The Body Shop, T.M. Lewin and Cath Kidston, amongst many others.
Bermondsey Antiques Market is one of the premier places to examine and buy antiques in Europe. It is a great place to buy souvenirs or maybe even make amazing discoveries.
Anything and everything is sold here, as long as it’s old or has a history. This includes cutlery & crockery, furniture & decorations, and jewellery & clothes and lots more besides.
Have an antique related question? Bring it along, these are some of the most knowledgeable people around.
Maltby Street Market
Similar to the Borough market but with a history of just ten years as opposed to a thousand!
Still, the fact that it has taken only ten years to garner such a fantastic reputation should be lauded, as well as the fact that it is not as crowded as Borough Market. Though it’s still incredibly popular.
The food on offer is varied and ethical and most importantly smells and tastes phenomenal. It also comes from all over the world, actively demonstrating London’s huge diversity.
Churches and Cathedrals in London Bridge
London Bridge is an area with a rich history and has lots of historic buildings to explore. The most predominant type of old building is religious ones that have been allowed to survive amongst the predominantly modern glass structures.
As large religious buildings in London go, Southwark Cathedral might not be the most famous. St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey probably top that list. However, for any fans of history and architecture (or even religion itself), it would be a must-visit.
This is a very special cathedral with a beautiful interior, some of the features on display have remained unchanged for over 800 years, almost as long as the millennium for which this church has stood for.
St Magnus the Martyr
England has a curious tradition of dedicating churches to the wellbeing of certain professions. St Magnus, therefore, looks out for both fishmongers and plumbers.
The church can be found in Lower Thames Street close by to the Monument to the Great Fire of London. It’s a stunning piece of architecture and its prominent location has led to its mention in works by some of England’s best authors, such as Charles Dickens in his infamous ‘Oliver Twist’, and T.S. Eliot in the poem ‘The Waste Land’.
All Hallows by the Tower
Previously called St Mary the Virgin, this is an Anglican Church that overlooks the Tower of London and is one of the oldest churches in London, having been founded back in 675.
The church has a fascinating history of survival. In 1650 some barrels of gunpowder being stored in the churchyard exploded, causing extensive damage. In 1666 it survived the Great Fire of London when nearby buildings were ordered to be destroyed in order to save it.
In fact, Samuel Pepys himself describes climbing the spire to take a look at the destruction.
Later on, German bombers caused extensive damage in the Blitz, it was finally fully restored in 1957.
St Dunstan in the East
Halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London sits another church that was destroyed by the attacks on London during the Second World War. This one, however, was not restored to its former glory and was left as it stood.
Nowadays it is an overgrown but serene and beautiful public garden, with a violent history that now unfathomable. It was unlucky enough to be badly damaged in the Great Fire of London too.
Nowadays all that is left after the German bombs are the north and south walls, as well as the steeple and tower. The tower itself having been built by the esteemed Sir Christopher Wren after the previous disaster.
St Olaves Church
One of a few churches in the city which escaped the Great Fire of London completely unscathed. Significantly it is also the final resting place of the famous documenter of the disaster, Samuel Pepys.