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Looking across the Thames River toward Westminster Palace and Big Ben with a glimpse of the London Eye.
The National Theatre is one of the collection of arts buildings on the South Bank. The London Television Centre tower can be glimpsed at left.
A later example of Brutalist architecture, the appearance of the National Theatre remains controversial, and it was once likened to a "nuclear power station" by Prince Charles.

The South Bank is the area in London on the southern bank of the River Thames near Waterloo station that houses a number of important cultural buildings/institutions. The South Bank stretches 2 square miles (5 square kilometres) along the shores of the River Thames. It was the site of the 1951 Festival of Britain, which proposed the name for this post-war urban regeneration project; the ancient name of the area is Lambeth Marsh and Lower Marsh. Presently it is London's fastest-growing section, a locale of modern cultural centre with numerous theatre, gallery, and concert halls. The legacy of the Festival is the Royal Festival Hall, now part of Southbank Centre arts complex. The area is split between the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark (for the part of the riverside which stretches towards Blackfriars Bridge; the riverside beyond that point is properly Bankside.)

Since then, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room were opened in 1967 (on the site of a former Shot Tower), The Hayward in 1968, and the National Theatre in 1976. Nearby are the BFI Southbank (formerly the National Film Theatre) and the BFI IMAX cinema. King's College London has a campus in the centre.

Adjacent to the National Theatre is the distinctive white tower of the London Weekend Television (LWT) building, where (among other things) the long-running television Arts programme The South Bank Show is produced. Carlton Television and GMTV have also broadcast from the building since 1993, and it is now called The London Studios.

Much of the area was subject to various large scale commercial development plans in the 1970s–1980s, which were successfully opposed by community groups. The renovation of the Oxo Tower and development of mixed housing developments and open space by community groups have encouraged the regeneration of the community in the area.

The London Eye on the South Bank

To the west of the RFH, beyond the railway viaduct leading up to Hungerford Bridge, is a public open space called Jubilee Gardens, separating it from nearby County Hall. The County Hall houses many attractions including the Dali Universe, hosting the works of Dali, Picasso and contemporary artist Nasser Azam, a hotel, the Marriott London County Hall, The London Aquarium and numerous restaurants. By County Hall is the large Ferris wheel built to celebrate the 2000 Millennium, the London Eye.

To the east of the South Bank is the adjoining area of Bankside, deriving its name from one of the medieval causeways built to hold back the Thames. Bankside is home to the Tate Modern art gallery and the reproduction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and, near London Bridge, Borough Market.

Beyond Waterloo Station, to the south, can be found the rest of the Waterloo area, including the historic market street of Lower Marsh and The Cut, home of The Old Vic.

The South Bank is also regarded by many to be the unofficial home of British street skateboarding.The sheltered section beneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall has provided the skateboarding community of Britain and international skaters alike with ideal banks and stairs since the 1970s, and is conveniently located near other skatespots such as The Hayward. More recently, a skateboarding related art company, The Side Effects of Urethane, has provided Southbank Centre with several skatable sculptures in their 'Moving Units' project.

In September 2007, a statue of Lord Olivier as Hamlet was unveiled outside the National Theatre, to mark the great actor's centenary.

Coordinates: 51°30′15″N 00°07′00″W / 51.50417°N 0.1166667°W / 51.50417; -0.1166667

See also

External links

London/South Bank travel guide from Wikitravel

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to London/South Bank article)

From Wikitravel

View of the London Eye at night
View of the London Eye at night

South Bank is a district of central London.

Understand

Experiencing the South Bank is a must-do in any London itinerary. Travellers will be visiting the cultural heart of London, an eclectic and creative area that is home to iconic attractions, stylish hotels and boutique shopping.

Within easy walking distance from Covent Garden, Soho, Westminster and the City of London, South Bank stretches along the Thames from Lambeth Bridge east to St Saviour's Dock just east of Tower Bridge. It is the perfect location for a relaxing stroll and a spot of people watching. You can take in beautiful views across to the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s, especially early morning and at dusk, and the packed programme of theatre, exhibitions, music, film and free events means there are plenty of inspiring things to see and do for all ages.

Get in

By tube

The district is serviced by the following tube stations:

  • Waterloo (Jubilee, Northern, Bakerloo lines). In the heart of South Bank, perfect to access riverside walk.
  • Westminster (Jubilee, Circle and District lines). Walk over Westminster Bridge to arrive at London Eye and County Hall.
  • Embankment (Bakerloo, Circle, District and Northern lines). Walk south over the pedestrianised and recently-renovated Hungerford Bridge to the Royal Festival Hall area. Beautiful views.
  • London Bridge (Jubilee and Northern lines). Most convenient for the eastern end of the South Bank Walk.
  • Southwark (Jubilee line). Near the heart of the district.
  • Borough (Northern line). Convenient for the eastern part of the district and Borough Market especially.
  • South Bank: London Waterloo, London Waterloo East, Charing Cross
  • Bankside: London Bridge

Get around

The South Bank area is probably best accessed on foot or by bike - parking is difficult at times.

By bus

The Riverside Bus service (RV1) is an great way to get around. It links over thirty of London’s attractions on its route from South Bank to Bankside, London Bridge, Tower Gateway and Covent Garden. [1]

By boat

The following piers [2] are in the South Bank area: Westminster, Waterloo Millennium, Embankment, Festival.

Bankside is served by Bankside and London Bridge piers.

The Tate Boat runs every 40 minutes between Tate Modern and Tate Britain (Millbank Pier), also stopping at the London Eye. It takes 20 minutes. [3])

See

Landmarks

South Bank

From west to east:

  • County Hall, Belvedere Rd (tube: Westminster, Waterloo), +44 8716 632501. The former seat of regional London government, now home to the London Aquarium and Dali Universe.  edit
  • London Eye, Westminster Bridge Rd (tube: Waterloo, Westminster), +44 870 9908883 (, fax: +44 870 9908884), [4]. Jun-Sep 10AM-9PM daily, Oct-May 10AM-8PM daily (except Christmas and 3-8 Jan). An enormous, 135 metre-high observation wheel with 32 exterior glass-walled capsules. It offers incomparable views over central London and up to 25 miles away on a good day. Tickets are sold for specific times, so if visitors wish to go on the London Eye at a specific time, they are strongly advised to book in advance, particularly in the summer. On a busy day, you can easily spend 1-3 hr queuing just to buy a ticket. However, you can also purchase tickets in advance online. Then you can collect your tickets at the London Eye in a separate queue, which takes a few minutes or less. Adult £15.17, child £7.59, senior £11.74, disabled Person £11.74, 10% discount purchased online.  edit
  • Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd (tube: Embankment, Waterloo), +44 8716 632501, [5]. Large 1960s development on the South Bank. Built largely of concrete, views on its architectural merits vary considerably. Presents a varied programme of music, literature, dance, performances and exhibitions on contemporary art and culture at its venues the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Hayward. A host of new eateries and shops have now opened along the riverside and terrace. The Royal Festival Hall hosts almost daily classical music concerts throughout the year, tickets often available on the day. The Royal Festival Hall has recently been through a long redevelopment though still holds its classic 1960s design. Free events are held daily, ranging from free music to festivals, interactive art installations to the popular slow food market.  edit
  • Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Rd, +44 20 7921 0813 (, fax: +44 20 7401 2664), [6]. Sa-M, Th 10AM-6PM; Tu 10AM-8PM; W 10AM-8PM); F 10AM-9PM (except 24-27 December and 1-2 January). Particularly strong on contemporary art exhibitions. Hosts a single temporary exhibition at any time. Adult £7.50, child (12-16) £4, senior (60+) £7, student £6.  edit
  • BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd (tube: Embankment, Waterloo), [7]. Tucked under Waterloo Bridge, BFI Southbank, formerly known as the National Film Theatre, pitches itself as the home of film and has three screens showing classic (including silent), foreign language and less mainstream films. Recently redeveloped, it now has a new entrance on Theatre Alley, a shop dedicated to film, an interactive exhibition space and an excellent bar/restaurant at the back. Visitors can also access the Mediatheque - wind your way through the BFI's extensive film and TV archive for free. Cool bar and restaurant. Tickets are generally available on the spur of the moment.  edit
  • National Theatre, Belvedere Rd (tube: Embankment, Waterloo), +44 20 7452 3000 M-Sa 10AM-8PM or +44 20 7452 3400 (, fax: +44 20 7452 3030), [8]. Three large auditoriums, the Olivier, the Lyttelton and the Cottesloe. The Olivier theatre is the largest with an open stage and a fan shaped auditorium around it. This ensures that all seats provide a good view. Most of the more 'popular' productions are put on here as the space provided is much larger than most theatres. The Lyttelton theatre is more traditional with a procenium arc with good views from most seats. The Cottesloe is a small studio theatre, seating around 400. Some tickets will be available on the day, either day seats (arrive before 9:30AM and queue) or standby (arrive before 6PM and queue), or you can buy online. Popular shows, especially those around Christmas in the Olivier sell out months in advance. Tickets to The National Theatre are generally better value than most other theatres. There is also the '£10 Travelex' season in the summer that provides a large number (over 100,000 seats a year) at £10. Booking in advance is required for these. There is also an exhibition space in the Lyttelton theatre foyer that frequently holds popular photographic exhibitions. Free jazz is often played in the evening in the ground floor foyer. During summer there is a free daily outdoor festival of performance, music, comedy and cabaret known as Watch This Space. Deckchairs (and artificial grass) are provided to watch on. Free exhibitions. Backstage tours £5.  edit
  • BFI IMAX Cinema, 1 Charlie Chaplin Walk (tube: Waterloo), +44 08707 872525, [9]. Set back from the riverside is the BFI IMAX, the largest cinema screen in the UK at 26 m wide, 20 m high. Shows family-friendly 3D IMAX films as well as action films which work well on the huge screen. Also hosts special all-nighters such as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  edit
  • Gabriel's Wharf, [10]. An eclectic mix of Shops and restaurants, the design shops at Gabriel's Wharf are exclusively run by small businesses who design and manufacture their own products, the majority of work available will have been made by the person selling it to you. If you can't find exactly what you are looking for it is possible to commission many of the designers directly. Shops to look out for include Bicha, Game of Graces and Anne Kyyro Quinn.  edit
  • OXO Tower, [11]. Home to designer-marker boutiques, selling everything from hats and homeware to wedding dresses and jewellery. Modern gallery on the ground floor which is free and open every day, various cafes, a florists and hairdressers here to. Upstairs there's the Tamesa Brasserie and Bincho Yakitori (Japanese tapas). Also contains a restaurant and bar on the top floor, giving you a great view over the Thames. You pay for the privilege through the food bill, though.  edit

Bankside

  • City Hall, The Queen's Walk (tube: London Bridge), [12]. M-F 8AM-8PM. Greater London Authority offices. The brand new headquarters for London's Mayor and Assembly, a radically-designed glass fronted and rounded building.  edit
  • HMS Belfast, Morgan's Ln (tube: London Bridge), [13]. Mar-Oct 10AM-5:15PM daily, Nov-Feb 10AM-4:15PM daily. A historic boat, part of the Imperial War Museum. £7.20-10.30, child under 16 free. (latitude,) edit
  • Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge (tube: London Bridge), [14]. Off the traditional tourist path, Southwark Cathedral has been the site of worship since the year 852. Literally in the shadow of London Bridge, the Cathedral is a shelter from the noise of the city. Next to the Cathedral is the Borough Market open Th-Sa with a wide range of specialty food to buy, a good area for lunch. (latitude,) edit
View into the main Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern
View into the main Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern
Tate Modern
Tate Modern

From west to east:

  • Saatchi Gallery, County Hall, South Bank (tube: Waterloo, Westminster), [15]. Su-Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-8PM. An exhibition of works from Charles Saatchi's collection of contemporary art, predominantly Britart, including works by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas. Themes of the art on display may not be suitable for all ages. The admission fee is the highest of any art gallery in the world, so tourists should consider if they are sufficiently interested in the genre of art on display before entering. The entrance corridor, which spans County Hall, contains about 20-30 works from the exhibition, so an unsure visitor can sample the type of work on display before spending out on visiting. £8.50.  edit
  • Sea Life London Aquarium, County Hall, Belvedere Rd (tube: Waterloo, Westminster), +44 207 9678000 (), [16]. 10AM-5PM daily. One of the largest aquariums in Europe, it boasts a collection of 350 species of fish, from sharks to stingrays. £9.75-13.25.  edit
  • Tate Modern, Bankside (tube: Southwark, Blackfriars), +44 20 7887 8888 (every day, 10AM-6PM) (), [17]. Su-Th 10AM-6PM (last admission 5:15PM), F Sa 10AM-10PM (last admission 9:15PM). An enormous art gallery converted from the former Bankside Power Station, a visit to Tate Modern could easily take half a day. The gallery collects together contemporary and modern art from around the world, arranged thematically. The most stunning aspect of the building, is the enormous Turbine Hall, which plays host to a single piece of work commissioned for the space each year. Permanent collection free but all donations welcome.  edit
  • The Hayward, (At the Southbank Centre). The largest public art space in the UK and the exhibitions showcase masters and young British and international artists, usually accompanied by outdoor installations that bring the area to life. The gallery often holds free exhibitions which can be enjoyed by all.  edit
  • London Dungeon, (tube: London Bridge), [18]. Brings to life the gorier elements of London's past, with faithful recreations of disaster, disease, and torture. Younger children may be scared. £21.95.  edit
  • The Old Operating Theatre, (tube: London Bridge), [19]. 10:30AM-5PM daily. Britain's oldest operating theatre is an unusual tourist attraction, located in the roof space of St. Thomas's Church along with the herb store originally used by St. Thomas's Hospital's apothecary.  edit
  • Fashion & Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey St, [20]. Founded by veteran designer Zandra Rhodes.  edit
  • Design Museum, Shad Thames (tube: Tower Hill, London Bridge), (), [21]. 10AM-5:45PM daily (last admission 5:15PM) (except 25-26 Dec). A must for anyone with an interest in modern and contemporary design. The permanent exhibition follows the change in British homes from the early 20th century until present day, which is constantly updated to include new design classics. There are temporary exhibits which run for 3-4 months. Recent exhibits have included Saul Bass, Peter Saville and Archigram. The museum also runs Designer of the Year which awards a prize to a person or organisation that has produced an impressive piece of design (past winner was Jonathan Ive, who designed the iMac and iPod). There is a small shop that has plenty of art and design books as well as designer goods to take home with you. £7, student or concession £4.  edit
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
  • South Bank Walk. The walk along the South Bank of the Thames is a relaxing walk through central London, away (albeit only a short distance) from the traffic. Pedestrians can walk alongside the river almost the whole way from Tower Bridge to Lambeth Bridge, following the route of the Jubilee Walkway [22], a route through central London that takes in most of London's key attractions, which was developed for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. A full guide to the riverside walk along the south bank of the Thames can be found on the Wikitravel South Bank Walk page.  edit
  • Frog Tour, +44 20 7928 3132. Along the Thames and through the streets of London in an amphibious vehicle. Operated by Capital Frogs Ltd, County Hall, on the south side of Westminster Bridge.  edit
  • Florence Nightingale Museum, St Thomas' Hospital, Westminster Bridge Rd (tube: Waterloo, Westminster), [23]. Tells the story of the Lady with the Lamp. Various family events, including art workshops. Located in the grounds of St. Thomas' Hospital.  edit
  • Shakespeare's Globe, 21 New Globe Walk (tube: Blackfriars, Southwark), +44 20 7401 9919 (, fax: +44 20 7902 1475), [24]. May-Sep 9AM-5PM daily, Oct-Apr 10AM-5PM daily. Sam Wanamaker's largely authentic reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, built using traditional techniques, stages plays in the Summer months. Around the year, there is an exhibition ending with either a tour of the theatre itself (in winter, and mornings in the summer), or a virtual tour (summer afternoons). Tickets for plays are often available on the day, particularly if you are prepared to stand in the yard.  edit
  • Dali Universe, County Hall, Belvedere Rd (tube: Waterloo, Westminster), [25]. Extensive private collection of Dali's work.  edit
  • Young Vic, The Cut, Waterloo (tube: Waterloo, Southwark), [26]. Fab theatre on The Cut which is home to younger theatre artists, especially directors. Presents plays for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Lively bar and restaurant too.  edit
  • Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo (tube: Waterloo), [27]. One of the oldest theatres in London which is now under the artistic direction of Kevin Spacey.  edit
  • Menier Chocolate Factory, 51/53 Southwark St (tube: London Bridge), Theatre +44 20 7907 7060, gallery +44 20 7407 3222 (), [28]. Restaurant, theatre, gallery and bar.  edit
  • Borough Market, (Off Borough High St), [29]. F noon-6PM, Sa 9AM-4PM. One of London's favourite wholesale working food markets, on Fridays and Saturdays offering a general retail market with specialties sold directly from the producers, organic products, delicatessen, cheese, wines, fish and imported continental fare. Around the market are other excellent food shops, for a total food experience! Pick up some food and enjoy it under Southwark Cathedral  edit
  • Hay's Galleria, (tube: London Bridge), [30]. Specialise in the sale of fine art including paintings, prints and sculptures.  edit
  • Oxo Tower Wharf, Barges House St (tube: Waterloo), [31]. Huge galleria.  edit

Eat

There is a great selection of cafes, bars and restaurants for all budgets, so make sure you take time to watch the world go by. Have a light lunch at the cool Concrete day/night bar in The Hayward, a try crepe in Gabriel’s Wharf, or treat yourself to cocktails-with-a-view at the upmarket Skylon or Oxo Tower Restaurant. There’s also ‘Japanese tapas’ at Bincho and Japanese favourite Wagamama, dim sum at Ping Pong, contemporary English at Canteen, modern oriental at Ozu and Chino Latino, and a brasserie-style menu at Tamesa.

  • Cantina Vinapolis, 1 Bank End, London Bridge, +44 20 7940 8333. This high vaulted brasserie was converted from Victorian railway arches. With an affordable listing offers fresh produce, the dishes are full of flavour and tasty.  edit
  • OXO Tower Restaurant Bar & Brasserie, 8F, OXO Tower Wharf, Barge House St (tube: Waterloo), +44 20 7803 3888 (), [32]. M-Sa noon-2:30PM and 6:30PM-11PM, Su noon-3PM and 6:30PM-10PM. Offers spectacular views and the complete dining experience with mouthwatering dishes and indulgent wines to match.  edit
  • Doggett's Coat and Badge, (Blackfriars Bridge, south side), [33]. A four-floored bar overlooking the Thames near Blackfriars Bridge.  edit
  • The Hole In The Wall, 5 Mepham St (tube: Waterloo), +44 20 7928 6196. With a homey and comfortable decor, the appeal of the Hole in the Wall lies in its close proximity to the station and the excellent range of beers on the hand.  edit
  • Windmill Tavern, 86 The Cut, +44 20 7207 3984 (fax: +44 20 7928 5300). Friendly bar staff pouring chilled beers from a wide selection. Great pub food.  edit
  • The Horniman, (Hays Galleria, near London Bridge).  edit
  • Founder's Arms, Hopton St.  edit
  • George Inn, Archway off Borough High St (tube: London Bridge), +44(0)20 7407 2056, [34]. The current Inn was built in 1676 after the original establishment was burned down in the Great London fire of 1666. The George is London's only surviving galleried coaching inn, and is one of the oldest pubs south of the Thames.  edit
  • Concrete, (The Hayward Gallery). Open until 3AM. Free nightly music events. The best place to sample underground electro, indie, dub-step and more.  edit
  • Express by Holiday Inn London Southwark, 103-109 Southwark St (tube: Southwark), +44 20 7401 2525 (), [36]. Situated on the River Thames, this clean and charming hotel offers good rates for its location.  edit
  • Novotel London City South, 53-61 Southwark Bridge Rd (tube: London Bridge), +44 20 7089 0400 (, fax: +44 20 7089 0410), [37]. Offers great views along with a fitness gym and spa.  edit
  • Southwark Rose Hotel, 47 Southwark Bridge Rd (tube: London Bridge), +44 20 7015 1480 (), [38]. A boutique hotel located in the bustling and popular South Bank area less than 200 metres from the Thames. Offering air conditioned rooms with en suites, this hotel also has meeting room facilities.  edit
  • London Bridge Hotel, 8-18 London Bridge St (tube: London Bridge), +44 20 7855 2200 (, fax: +44 20 7855 2233), [39]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. This four star boutique hotel is popular with business travelers with its sleek and contemporary design and furnishings.  edit
  • Marriott London County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd (tube: Waterloo), +44 20 7928 5200, [40]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. With Big Ben checking on you across the street, the Mariott has an enviable reputation and is home to the largest pool in any London hotel. Providing first class service, enjoy a luxurious spa treatment on site or sip on a cocktail in the trendy bar downstairs.  edit
  • Park Plaza Riverbank. Stylish and reputable.  edit
  • Park Plaza County Hall. Stylish and reputable.  edit
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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