Recently, I’ve had some very good Australian friends staying with me. I sent them off for a good few days of ticking off all those classic London attractions that everyone should see on their first visit …. then it’s my time to be tourist guide…… Spoiler alert for any future guests, but I do have a standard walking route that I take people on. In my view it is the best spot in town and despite having done the route a few dozen times, depending on the season, the attractions surrounding the historical buildings are always changing so it’s never a bore or a chore.
The route starts at Embankment, a walk over the Hungerford / Golden Jubilee Bridge stopping to take in the wonderful sight of the River Thames, Southbank, St Paul’s and the forever changing East End skyline. One of my childhood sightseeing memories with my Dad was walking over this bridge back in the 90s, before the Golden Jubilee walkways were built, I remember it being a somewhat unsavoury area, it definitely did not have the view it has today, or a nice salubrious end at the Waterloo side, even Wikipedia says “The footbridge gained a reputation for being narrow, dilapidated and dangerous – it was the scene of a murder in 1999” – maybe that’s the reason of my sometimes irrational fear of crossing bridges?! Anyway… I digress….
Once you’re along the bridge, you’re on the Southbank and there’s plenty to keep you occupied. My first stop is always the Royal Festival Hall – take the lift up to the 5th floor and step out onto the terrace for a wonderful view of the Houses of Parliament and look down on Southbank. The Wonderground and Udderbelly summer residences are to your left which offer a wealth of shows and entertainment or just simply pop in for a drink and have a sit down away from the crowds. To your right, especially on a
hot warm day, you’ll hear the excited squeals of kids [sometimes adults] running in and out of the fountains. If you look upwards from the fountains you should be able to see the gardens and people sipping Pimms on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Whilst writing this, I’ve struggled with how much information to give. Previous drafts I just ramble on and on and on about all of the sights you can see. Instead I’ve posted some pictures below which were taken a couple of weekends ago, and despite probably not knowing me, just trust me – it’s a walk that will never disappoint, and in all seasons … just simply wander, explore, enjoy…
I normally get to the Tate Modern, pop in to see some favourites, take in the view from the cafe and then head over the Millenium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral. Just recently opened is a viewing terrace in the new part of the Tate Modern in Switch House which offers 360 degree views and is free [but it is minus cake and tea….].