View from Waterloo Bridge, London

A South Bank walk, on a Sunday

Today dawned with beautiful blue skies so it was time for my Christmas party-induced hibernation (also known as a hangover) to end. If the past couple of weeks have taught me anything, it’s not to trust the blazing sunshine—it’s damn cold out. So I wrapped up and grabbed my Lumix for a little stretch of the legs.

I recommend this walking route as a quick way to see many of London’s best sights: in an hour-ish you’ll get glimpses of Somerset House, Waterloo Bridge, the Southbank Centre, the Oxo Tower, the Tate Modern and St Paul’s. There’s a route map at the end of this post (or you can find it here).

The 2016 Somerset House Christmas tree by Fortnum and MasonFortnum and Mason's Christmas tree at Somerset HouseBlue skies over the River Terrace at Somerset House, LondonChristmas at Somerset House, LondonA beautiful winter's day at Somerset House, London

I alighted my bus at Somerset House and stopped to admire this year’s Christmas tree, decorated by Fortnum and Mason, before cutting across the river terrace to get to Waterloo Bridge.

The wind chill was no joke, my eyes were streaming. I literally couldn’t even see to take photos. Point, shoot, hope for the best, right? Pro tip: it’s almost always -30°C* near the River Thames so be prepared. If your eyes are functioning properly, stop to admire those views.

*Only a slight exaggeration

View from Waterloo Bridge, London, EnglandView from Waterloo Bridge, London, UKWalkiing over Waterloo Bridge, LondonLooking over London from Waterloo BridgeSomerset House from Waterloo Bridge, LondonNational Theatre, LondonSouth Bank Centre, London

Once across London’s own arctic microclimate, you’ll see the National Theatre and the other Brutalist buildings that make up the Southbank Centre.

Depending on your opinion of this form of architecture, you’ll either stop to admire or rush on in repulsion. Either way, head down the steps on your left to the South Bank.

Somerset House from the South Bank, LondonRoute for walking down the South Bank, LondonSouth Bank, LondonA Londoners tips for walking along the South Bank, London

Wave to Somerset House from the other side of the Thames!

Walking along the river towards Blackfriars, you’ll get to a tunnel going under Blackfriars Bridge—stop, and go up the stairs to the right. Cross the road and head down Southwark Street, then left onto Hopton Street.

Peek through the gates of Hopton’s Almshouses and try to imagine life here in the 1750s. Or now even. Also, how cute is this little house?! Does it remind anyone else of Carl’s situation in Up?!

'Up' house near London's South BankTate Modern, LondonMillennium Bridge, LondonTips for a 60-minute walk along the South Bank, London

Next you’ll come to the Tate Modern‘s (controversial) new extension, the Switch House. After you’ve gawped at the sheer scale this gallery has grown to, cross back over the river via the Millennium Bridge—you know, the one that was in Harry Potter.

Behind you looms the Tate’s 99-metre-tall tower, or more properly the Bankside Chimney. In front is, of course, St Paul’s Cathedral.

Tate Modern's Bankside Chimney, LondonAdmiring London's St Paul's and the Millennium Bridge during a golden hour walkSt Paul's Cathedral, LondonSt Paul's Cathedral, London

This is the point at which your camera dies. Or maybe you, on checking before leaving the house, didn’t think “it’ll be fiiine” when you saw your battery only had 2 bars left. Anyway, your journey is nearly at an end!

Enter the One New Change shopping centre and take the lift to the 6th floor. Your final stop is an amazing free roof terrace with views over the London skyline. Enjoy!

South Bank walk route map
South Bank walk route map:

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