Things to do in South Bank

People relaxing on the grass on a bright day at Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, with the London Eye in the background.
Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden and the London Eye © visitlondon.com
Find everything from culture to adventure and foodie treats to family fun along the South Bank.
  • South Bank attractions include the iconic London Eye, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, The London Dungeon and Shrek's Adventure! London.

  • For entertainment, visit the National Theatre, Southbank Centre, BFI IMAX, plus the Old Vic and Young Vic theatres.

  • For places to eat on the South Bank, explore the restaurants and bars along the street-art-clad Leake Street Arches and quirky Gabriel's Wharf.

Where is South Bank?

Just across the river from the Houses of Parliament, the South Bank stretches between Westminster Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge on the south side of the river Thames, and is the perfect spot for a stroll on a sunny day.

Things to do in South Bank

The South Bank was energised during the 1951 Festival of Britain by the iconic modern architecture of the Southbank Centre, and has continued to evolve into a top destination for families, culture lovers and foodies.

Don’t miss annual events and pop-ups, from its Winter festival to family and gender-focused events, which will keep you coming back throughout the year.

Riverside attractions in South Bank

Stick close to the river for some memorable moments.

  • Prep your camera and step into a pod at the iconic London Eye, as you embark on a 30-minute flight full of London landmarks – make it even more special with a champagne experience.
  • East of Waterloo Bridge, the riverside walkway is perfect for people-watching, lazy afternoons in a pavement cafe, or browsing book and art shops and regular markets.
  • In the summer, find a secret hideaway at the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden – relax with a book and soak up the sun or grab a cocktail to sip on among the plants.
  • Feeling the heat? The Appearing Rooms fountain on the Southbank Centre’s upper deck is a fantastic place to cool off.

South Bank family favourites

Find some of London's top kids' attractions along the South Bank. 

  • SEA LIFE London hosts all kinds of creatures from the deep – here you can brave the Shark Walk or explore the Coral Kingdom.
  • Meet the lovable ogre and his friends at the interactive Shrek’s Adventure! London.
  • Prepare for a scare or two at frighteningly good The London Dungeon.
  • Become enlightened by the story of “The Lady with the Lamp” at the Florence Nightingale Museum.
  • Discover first-hand wartime stories at IWM London, with plenty of free exhibitions and interactive displays to explore.

Top tips for teens

Enjoy epic days out along the South Bank, from exclusive gigs to thrills on wheels and water.

  • Skater haven, the Undercroft of the Southbank Centre, is the world’s oldest continually used skate park.
  • Find more ramps at skater and BMX hotspot House of Vans, which hosts regular free gigs, screenings and exhibitions.
  • Venture onto the river and get the adrenaline pumping with a fast-paced speedboat tour with Thamesjet or Thames Rockets.
  • BFI Southbank and BFI IMAX are the places to be for big-screen treats, from the latest film releases to much-loved classics.
  • Insta-worthy Leake Street Tunnel is full of constantly changing street art – keep an eye out for workshops to have a go yourself.

Cultural hangouts

Get your culture fix at South Bank's many world-class entertainment venues.

Shopping hotspots

Find one-of-a-kind items at markets, boutiques and independent shops.

  • Browse the designer boutiques in the OXO Tower to find little treasures, from ceramics to custom jewellery.
  • Hunt for goodies at the independent shops lining unique Gabriel's Wharf.
  • Peruse paperbacks and hunt for hardbacks at the daily Southbank Centre Book Market under Waterloo Bridge.
  • Market stalls and shops along Lower Marsh are perfect for fresh produce and even more unique items.

Scrummy South Bank restaurants

Splash out, find something quirky or savour the views from your table at eclectic South Bank restaurants.

South Bank bars for fun nights out

From cocktails to craft beer, grab a drink and unwind in one of the many bars in South Bank.

  • Time for a drink… If you're craving a cocktail, head to Sea Containers’ destination bar Lyaness, which mixes unusual creations with sweeping river views.
  • Music lover? Spiritland Royal Festival Hall combines DJ sets with food and drink to match.
  • If beer’s more your bag, head to The Understudy at The National Theatre for crate-loads of craft options.
  • Underneath the arches leading up to Waterloo Station, you’ll find Bar Topolski, the former studio of Polish expressionist painter and draughtsman Feliks Topolski.
  • Are you looking for a night out with a difference? Challenge your mates to a board game at Draughts, which has more than 800 games to choose from!

Unmissable South Bank events

There are events in South Bank all year round, so take your pick of what's on.

  • Let the kids take centre stage at the annual Imagine Children’s Festival.
  • Celebrate gender and equality each year at Women of the World festival, with talks, workshops and performances.
  • Tune into Southbank Centre’s long-running Classical Season. Keep coming back for the hundreds of concerts from leading artists and orchestras throughout the year.
  • Mix twinkling lights with foodie delights from the Southbank Christmas market during Winter at Southbank.
  • Be treated to quirky acts, from comedy to cabaret, during Vault Festival.
  • Enjoy plenty of gigs during the annual Meltdown music festival, which is curated by a big name each year.
  • The London Literature Festival brings together poetry, talks, readings and more, as it hosts famous authors from across the globe.
  • Enjoy electronic music at Concrete Lates or make use of free Friday Lunch concerts and weekly Futuretense performances from emerging artists, all at Southbank Centre.

Stylish South Bank hotels

Have South Bank within arm's reach by staying in the heart of the action.

How to get to South Bank

The South Bank is easy to access with London Waterloo, London Waterloo East and London Blackfriars railway stations all close by.

London Waterloo connects to the south and south-west of England, including Bournemouth, Southampton, Exeter and Weymouth.

Waterloo East serves Kent and East Sussex, including Dover, Canterbury and Hastings. While Blackfriars is connected via Thameslink services to south-east destinations such as Hertfordshire and Kent.

London Waterloo is on the Jubilee, Northern, Bakerloo and Waterloo & City Tube lines; while Southwark, which is a short walk away, is also served by the Jubilee line.

Some Thames Clipper services stop at London Eye Pier; where you can also take a river cruise with City Cruises.

More about South Bank

Find out more about South Bank at southbanklondon.com 

Visit more London neighbourhoods

Where to next? Check out other top London areas, including nearby London Bridge and Westminster.