Iconic architecture, historic treasures, modern design and a vibrant food scene – there’s an array of fabulous things to do near London Bridge. Delve into the best, the quirky and the unmissable with my guide to discovering what to see and do in this cool area of London.
That’s Tower Bridge in the shot above by the way. It’s very close to London Bridge but is much more photogenic. Tower Bridge is the one that the Americans thought they were buying but they ended up with the very plain and boring London Bridge…
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Top ten things to do near London Bridge
London Bridge is one of my favourite parts of London to explore because it’s constantly evolving and reinventing itself.
There’s something new and exciting to check out every time I visit, plus a lot of old favourites that I’ll never tire of and a heap of free things to do which is always a win. Who doesn’t love finding free things to do in London.
You’ll need more than a day to explore the London Bridge area because there’s so much to see. Why not book into one of the hotels near the Shard and make a weekend of it because this is one of the best areas to stay in London. Let’s go explore…
See London from The Shard
So, what are the best things to do near London Bridge? Let’s start at the top. The pointy skyscraper building that you can see as you arrive at London Bridge Station is The Shard. When construction started and the iconic structure began to spike the skyline, people either loved it or hated it.
I loved it, booked tickets for opening day, and was one of the first to head up to floor 72 to check out the amazing London views. You can see up to 40 miles (64 km) on a clear day and it’s probably the most epic view of London you’ll ever see.
Travelbunny Tip: Head up to Aqua Shard on level 31 for breakfast for just £16.50 with the views thrown in for free.
32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG
Opening times vary – check the Shard website for times and to book tickets which start at £25.
Step aboard HMS Belfast
When you leave The Shard head toward the river Thames where you’ll come face to face with the warship HMS Belfast. One of only three surviving Royal Navy warships from the D-Day Bombardment, HMS Belfast forms part of the Imperial War Museum display. Explore all nine decks from the boiler rooms deep in the bowels of the ship through to the galley, the helm and the deck where you’ll find the guns that fired during D-Day.
The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2JH
10am to 5pm every day, last admission is at 4pm – Closed 24, 25 & 26 December
Click for HMS Belfast website prices and booking
Get your Gram on at Hay’s Galleria
As you’re leaving the ship drop into Hay’s Galleria, an historic nineteenth century wharf, just a two minute walk away. Once the main delivery point for ships bringing tea into London, the beautiful glass-covered atrium is an Instagrammer’s dream and is packed full of cafes, bars, brasseries and restaurants. Stop for a coffee before heading out and exploring more of the London Bridge area.
1 Battle Bridge Ln, London SE1 2HD
Open 8am – 11pm Monday – Saturday and 8am – 10.30pm on Sunday
To help plan your visit to the UK’s capital check out these London travel tips
Take a tour of Tower Bridge
From the river look to the right and you’ll enjoy some of the best views of one of London’s most well-known landmarks. Head towards the iconic Tower Bridge, walk across the bridge and take in the views down the Thames.
The Tower Bridge Exhibition is well worth a visit. You’ll learn about the history of the bridge, visit the engine rooms and look over London from the high-level walkway 42 metres above the Thames. The views are epic. You should be able to see St Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, The Tower of London, the Sky Garden and a few more famous landmarks. Check out these cool facts about Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP
Check the Tower Bridge website for opening hours and ticket prices
Check out More London, the Scoop and City Hall
Head back from Tower Bridge towards London Bridge Station passing through More London. More London is part of an area known as London Bridge City and it’s pretty cool. Here you’ll find the bulbous shape of City Hall, shops, cafes and restaurants.
There’s a pedestrianised area with sculptures and colourfully lit fountains. Look out for The Scoop, next to City Hall, an 800-seat amphitheatre showing films, screenings of sporting events, musical performances and theatre productions.
The views across the Thames to the Tower of London and the city skyline are stunning. More London’s got it all going on.
The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret
Head back towards London Bridge Station along St Thomas Street, near to the Shard, and drop by the Old Operating Theatre. This museum of surgical history is guaranteed to make you appreciate living in the 21 century.
It’s one of the oldest surviving operating theatres and is full of gruesome, and frankly, quite terrifying surgical instruments.
The herb garret is filled with bottles of curious looking potions and concoctions. Dried herbs hang from the rafters and there are bowls of powders and crushed seeds. It’s all a little hocus pocus. The theatre is located in the garret of St Thomas’ Church, Southwark on the original site of St Thomas’ hospital. You need to climb a small 52-step spiral staircase to get inside.
9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
Check the Old Operating Theatre website for times and prices as the museum often closes for talks.
Buy artisan cheeses, meats, fish and shellfish, wine, oils, deli favourites and most food stuffs you could put a name to. I always stop by Borough Cheese Company for a piece of their delectable Comte.
Walk through to the back and you’ll come across Green Market where there’s a whole gamut of street stalls selling international cuisines from Japanese to Jamaican and Italian to Indian. It’s a great place for lunch.
8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL
Mon-Thurs 10am – 5pm, Fri 10am – 5.30 pm, Sat 08 am – 5pm. Closed Sundays.
Note: Mon-Tue is a limited produce market with a full produce market the rest of the week.
The Golden Hinde
After you’ve eaten your fill head back down Cathedral Street back to the Thames and The Golden Hinde. It’s a 3-minute walk from Borough Market. The Elizabethan galleon is quite a contrast to the modern buildings that surround it. The Golden Hinde is a living-history museum and full-size reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship.
The ship, originally named the Pelican, first circumnavigated the globe back in 1577-1580. Drake discovered huge amounts of treasure which paid off many of England’s debts. He came back to a hero’s welcome and was knighted in 1581 by Queen Elizabeth I. Step onboard The Golden Hinde for a fascinating guided tour or indulge your piratey ways on a self-guided tour.
St Mary Overie’s Dock, Cathedral St, London SE1 9DE
Check the Golden Hinde website for prices and opening – occasionally the ship is closed as a private venue
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
You’ll find another reconstruction if you head west along the river. Shakespeare’s Globe is a must for theatre, literature and history lovers alike. The Globe is an accurate reconstruction of Shakespeare’s open-air playhouse and is built on the banks of the Thames. The original Elizabethan playhouse once stood about 230 metres (750 ft) from the new Globe.
Book one of the daily tours of the theatre or see a performance. I’d choose Othello which I studied for my A-level English Literature – still one of my Shakespeare favourites.
21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT
Check for opening times and ticket prices here https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/
Pubs near London Bridge Station
A visit to London Bridge wouldn’t be complete without a visit (or two) to a proper London pub. The Anchor, one of London’s oldest and frequented by smugglers long ago, is a fabulous riverside with views of London Bridge and St Paul’s over the water. It’s perfect spot for a drink in the sunshine, for people watching and taking in the views.
It’s said ‘The Canterbury Tales’ started on the site of The George Inn in Borough High Street and Shakespeare put on plays here so there’s a long literary history to this pub. Inside the original gallery remains and there’s a great courtyard garden for summers in the city. Food is also served.
One of my favourite bars by London Bridge is The Hide Bar on Bermondsey Street. Hand drawn maps and neon signs adorn the walls and the bar’s stocked with a decent range of gins.
Getting to London Bridge
London Bridge Station is a major railway and underground station close to Bankside, Borough and Southwark. London Bridge Underground Station is on the Northern Line (black) and Jubilee line (grey). Railway trains are operated by Thameslink, Southern Trains and South Eastern Trains.
There’s enough to see and do near London Bridge to fill a couple of days or more. Do you agree with my picks? Reply in the comments with any of your favourites I might have missed.