A Stroll Through London: Top 10 Southbank Destinations

Melissa Pearce

The South Bank of the River Thames is abundant with cultural and artistic institutions, offering educational and inspirational experiences to visitors and locals of London. Constantly adapting to benefit the public, South Bank is located a stone’s throw across the river from the iconic Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s Cathedral. This bustling part of London is one of the city’s most prominent cultural hotspots.

The Old Vic Theatre

The Old Vic is a site of extreme historical importance within British theatre and is currently under the artistic direction of Kevin Spacey. Synonymous with historical iconic names in acting such as Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and Peter O’Toole, it is one of the oldest and most famous artistic institutions in the world. The year 2013 marks the 195th birthday of the theatre, and to commemorate this event organisers are holding a series of tours scattered throughout May to August, during which time the public can learn about the long history of this iconic building.
Tour dates and events within the theatre can be found here.

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Destinations Unlocked:

Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip

Looking for an expert's perspective?

Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
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CentralAmerica

GORGEOUS GUATEMALA

Gorgeous Guatemala

5 days . Mini
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1. Guatemala

An express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.

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CentralAmerica

BEACHY BELIZE

Beachy Belize

5 days . Mini
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2. Belize

A quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
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CentralAmerica

COLONIAL MEXICO

Colonial Mexico

5 days . Mini
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3. Mexico

An exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
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SouthAmerica

ADVENTUROUS ECUADOR

Adventurous Ecuador

8 days . Epic
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1. Ecuador

A remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.

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SouthAmerica

ANCIENT PERU

Ancient Peru

9 days . Epic
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2. Peru

An alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
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Europe

SEDUCTIVE SOUTHERN ITALY

Seductive Southern Italy

10 days . Epic
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1. Italy

The ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.

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Europe

EDINBURGH AND THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS BY TRAIN

Edinburgh And The Scottish Highlands By Train

7 days . Culture
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2. Scotland

Embark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
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Europe

COMPLETE PORTUGAL BY TRAIN

Complete Portugal By Train

8 days . Culture
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3. Portugal

A wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
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Asia

SOULFUL SOUTH KOREA

Soulful South Korea

10 days . Epic
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1. South Korea

Discover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.

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Asia

THAILAND, CAMBODIA & VIETNAM

Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam

11 days . Epic
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2. Thailand

From Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
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Asia

SECRETS OF SRI LANKA BY TRAIN

Secrets Of Sri Lanka By Train

10 days . Culture
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3. Sri Lanka

A fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
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Africa

EPIC MOROCCO

Epic Morocco

11 days . Epic
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1. Morocco

An epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!

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Africa

ULTIMATE EGYPT

Ultimate Egypt

9 days . Epic
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2. Egypt

From Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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Africa

IMMERSIVE KENYA

Immersive Kenya

8 days . Epic
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3. Kenya

An immersive blend of culture and wildlife for first time travelers to Africa. Learn about Nairobi, sample local coffee in the Aberdares and finish up with a fantastic safari stay in the Masai Mara.
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The EDF Energy London Eye

Initially planned to commemorate the dawning of a new millennium, the London Eye is a landmark on the banks of the Thames River standing at 135m tall, making it the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world. Built over seven years, the design of the structure resembles that of a bicycle wheel and can be seen for miles. The wheel is striking due to its simple aesthetic design and engineering. Once aboard the relatively young structure, passengers of the 32 large glass pods are comfortably and slowly lifted sky-high enabling them to cast their views over the city’s horizon.
View the website here to see up and coming events such as the London Eye 4D Experience.

The Southbank Centre

This world-renowned centre for the arts was erected in 1951 to observe the Festival of Britain and is a top location for anything arts-related. The site is home to several important venues holding varying events such as comedy stand-ups, variety shows, musical performances, intellectual and educational programs, and festivals. In addition to managing the Arts Council Collection and helping to curate artistic touring exhibitions across the country, the centre is important as it allows young talents as well as established professionals to display their abilities to a diverse audience.
View contact information and the year’s events here and information on this year’s Festival of Neighbourhood here.

Jubilee Gardens

These gardens have seen several changes since their initial construction in 1951, when they held temporary structures to mark the Festival of Britain. Ashamedly, the park became a car park once these buildings were deconstructed, until 1977 when the lot was rejuvenated for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Designed by West 8, in recent years the park has seen some surface changes, as the area of Southbank has become increasingly popular. However its main function still lies at serving the needs of the public, by promoting sustainability and providing facilities and community participation schemes at the public’s benefit.
View the garden website here.

BFI Southbank

The BFI Southbank is run by the British Film Institute, a charity-run organisation which has been active since its origins in 1933. The charity is responsible for a number of other art and culture institutions across London, and hosts the London Film Festival in addition to the Future Film Festival, and London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Neighbour to the London IMAX Cinema, the centre supports UK film and promotes young and emerging talent within the worldwide film industry by hosting a number of annual events including documentary features, film screenings, interviews and previews. Film fanatics will revel within the centre’s cinemas, gallery and film store.
Find out the latest events and information on BFI and BFI Southbank here.

Tate Modern

The building which now houses the Tate Modern was once the Bankside Power Station, but has been home to the contemporary art gallery since its opening in 2000. Technically speaking Tate Modern exists on Bankside and not South Bank, but this comprehensive list would not be complete without it. The building is vast, and jaws are guaranteed to drop as visitors enter the expanse of the turbine hall. The Tate is predominantly a charity, and focuses on raising funds for various projects. Housing an impressive collection of modern art and regularly changing temporary exhibitions, the Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art.
Visit the gallery website here.

National Theatre

The Royal National Theatre is one of the leading theatres in the United Kingdom and took residence within its current location in 1976-1977. In its youth, the company situated itself within the Old Vic, before being relocated. A publicly funded organisation, the large plot is home to three auditoriums which display a variety of different productions from contemporary to classic. In addition to this, the theatre boasts regular exhibitions and music events, as well as organising educational workshops for visitors.
Find out the latest performances and events here.

Oxo Tower Wharf

The landmark building of Oxo Tower Wharf has had a rich history and varying functions since its initial construction in 1930. Today, it is home to retail outlets and eateries, as well as individual designer studios. Located in the three-storey warehouse is the Bargehouse, which displays the work of established artists and newcomers, with regular group shows. In addition, gallery@oxo focuses on the display of designers’ works, often curated by charity organisations.
Browse Oxo Tower Wharf here and the Bargehouse here.

Florence Nightingale Museum

The Founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale is a historical icon, earning her status during the Crimean War when she helped countless wounded soldiers, and also with her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where the museum is located. This museum outlines her many contributions to nursing, and enables further understanding of her life by giving details of her childhood and later travels. A self-funded organisation, the museum’s research into the history of nursing is extensive.
View the museum website here.

Bernie Spain Gardens

A hidden garden of Eden, the Bernie Spain Gardens are tucked away between Gabriel’s Wharf and Oxo Tower Wharf along the South Bank. Regularly hosting local festivals and events, the gardens are particularly notable in the Summer when they contain The Mayor’s Thames Festival and the Coin Street Festival; a one day event exhibiting performances in the visual and performing arts. These range from live music, dance and spoken word to local food and drink stalls.
Discover current and upcoming events here.
For all information on visiting Southbank London, visit their website.

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