The Southbank is an electric part of London, popular with tourists and Londoners alike, all enjoying the atmosphere, sights and entertainment that happens every day and night alongside the river.
With so much to see and do along the Southbank it’s one of the best places in London to go on date. Read on for all the information you need for a date on the Southbank…
If you fancy taking in the whole of the Southbank our advice would be to begin at London Bridge and make your way along the river to Waterloo.
Start at London Bridge head to Borough Market. Have a wander around the recently refurbished market and taste the various fine foods and treats and if you’re not full from all the free samples there is shed loads of stalls to get something delicious. You can sit in the grounds of the Southwark Cathedral to eat or alternatively head to the banks of the Thames. If you are after a sit down meal there is Hotel Chocolat’s Rabbot 1775 restaurant as well as a whole host of smaller eateries. Plus just down from Borough Market are Vinopolis and Laithwaites where you can partake in a wine tour, stop in to taste or just pick up a bottle.
Carrying on along the river you will come firstly to the Swan at the Globe which is a lovely historic restaurant; an excellent choice for an evening meal along the river and also the Globe itself. The Globe puts on Shakespeare’s works all year round…Some advice if you are thinking of seeing a play at the globe:
1. Don’t be a groundling, make sure you get seated tickets; standing for three hours is not fun, especially on a date.
2. Make sure the play you are seeing is in English – a friend once went and had mistakenly got tickets for a showing in Hindi so the night wasn’t the best, leaving after the first half.
The Tate Modern is one of London’s best known and most iconic art galleries housing works of Jackson Pollock, Lichtenstein and Rodin. With regularly changing exhibitions as well as large-scale installations in the vast turbine hall, Tate Modern is a nice stop-off whilst ambling along the Thames. The Tate Modern also has a restaurant and bar on the 6th Floor which offer impressive views over to St Pauls and beyond.
The OXO Tower contains a high-end restaurant, brasserie and bar as well as boutique shops and galleries sitting at the foot of the tower. It also offers spectacular views along the river from the glass fronted restaurant and brasserie terrace. Be aware that prices in the restaurant are expensive however deals can sometimes be found on lastminute.com.
Alongside the OXO Tower towards Waterloo is Gabriel’s Wharf, a small area encircled with arty independent shops and restaurants. Here you can sit and relax at Studio Six for a drink and for a snack check out House of Crepes or for something more substantial The Wharf or The Gourmet Pizza Co will do the trick. The London Bicycle Tour Company also departs from here so if you’re after something a bit more active you can enjoy a 3 hour guided tour of the capital.
BFI / National / Southbank Centre
The BFI, National Theatre and Southbank Centre all sit alongside each other on the river. Although they are not the prettiest buildings they offer a vast amount of things to see and do for a date. The BFI’s stylish bar and brilliant film schedule is a solid and easy idea for a date. The National boasts fantastic plays where tickets can be bought for a bargain and the Southbank Centre’s performance schedule is always full. A regular food market lies behind the Southbank Centre’s Jubilee Hall which has lots of delicious and tasty stalls for you to sample as well as some refreshing drinks to make you merry.
From Spring to Autumn the Udderbelly and London Wonderground make themselves at home on the Southbank. These two spectacles play host to shows, bars and a fairground making the Southbank even livelier than it currently is. With comedy, burlesque, acrobatics and theatre it is an essential outing for a date.
At Christmas a German Market lines the riverside, massively overpriced and full of tat you still can’t help but get in the Christmas spirit and get that magical Christmassy feeling on a winter’s night. Ice skating fever also grips the Southbank in winter with the London Eyeskate nestled next to the London Eye.
The Old Vic Tunnels
A dedicated space for graffiti artists, Leake Street links Lower Marsh with York Road and is lovely for a wander through to see artists at work. Lower Marsh is also a great area in Waterloo to grab a drink on a date with Carriage 34, Cubana and Scootercaffe.
Other Tourist Attractions
Some of London’s biggest tourist attractions live on the Southbank; The London Dungeons, London Aquarium and The London Eye are all situated at the Waterloo end. While touristy they still make for great date ideas, as long as you book in advance and get discount tickets, you don’t want to spend half the time queuing. For the braver of you The London Duck tours leave from near the London Eye and hopefully won’t set on fire in the middle of the river.
If you’re after a bar in Waterloo check out our article The Best Bars in Waterloo for a Date