This blog and podcast features the area of London from St. Paul’s, across the Millennium Bridge over the Thames and along the Thames toward Big Ben and Westminster Bridge. You can follow along by reading the text below, listening to the podcast, and/or searching for the interactive map and pictures by searching on London, and then Thames River Walk, on the website http://www.walkli.com. (For now, Walkli is only available on your computer, but mobile versions are coming soon.) The screenshots of the maps are taken from the Walkli map. The numbers are aligned with the letters on the maps.
(Click above to listen to the podcast. Show notes, information, and links are below.)
Note about timing this walk while you are in London – I recommend that you begin this walk at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the morning if you want to tour St. Paul’s (Monday through Saturday) or attend a service there (on Sunday), and then cross the bridge and have lunch along the Thames at one of the recommended options. At the end of this text, I have links for my podcasts 10, 11, and 12 that have much more information and two more walking tours of London and a link to my new Amazon and Kindle book, One Perfect Trip to London by Cindy Loe, published in August of 2017.
1-A-St. Paul’s Cathedral
Begin this walk at St. Paul’s Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, looking toward Millennium Bridge and the River Thames from the highest point in the City of London. St. Paul’s was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The Anglican cathedral has been the site of many famous services, including the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. There is an admission charge, but there is no charge for worshippers to attend services.
St. Paul’s website:
Walk down Peter’s Hill Street to the Millennium Bridge. This pedestrian bridge opened in 2000, but it was closed shortly after opening due to concerns that it felt “wobbly”. After additional work, the bridge re-opened in 2002. Cross the Thames on the bridge and decide whether you think it still wobbles a bit. I think so, but maybe it is just my imagination! Take some pictures when you get about half-way across the bridge for great views of many London landmarks.
3-C-Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
When you reach the other side of the bridge, turn left and walk to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This reconstruction of Shakespeare’s 1599 theatre opened in 1997. It is only about 750 feet from the original theatre.
The Swan Restaurant and Bar located in the Globe is recommended for lunch.
4-D-Tate Modern Art Gallery
Walk back toward the Millennium Bridge with the Thames on your right. The Tate Modern will be on your left facing the Thames. The Tate Modern houses Britain’s national gallery of international modern art from 1900 to the present. It is housed in a former power station. There is free admission to view the regular exhibits.
The Founders Arms Pub located at the Thames in front of the Tate Modern is recommended for lunch, drinks, or snacks.
5-E-Royal National Theatre
Keep walking with the Thames on your right. You will see the Royal National Theatre facing the Thames on your left just before you reach Waterloo Bridge. In addition to changing indoor performing arts presentations, the riverside forecourt of the National Theatre is used for open-air performances in the summer. The complex has a bookshop, restaurants, bars and exhibition spaces.
Keep walking with the Thames on your right and you will see Jubilee Gardens on your left. This is a public park created in 1977 to mark the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The park was redeveloped in 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II and the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Just after Jubilee Gardens, you will see the giant wheel, now officially named the Coca-Cola London Eye. At 443 feet tall, it provides excellent viewing of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament just across the Thames. It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom. There are a number of skip-the-line and special experiences available on the website below. For example, in summer, on Saturdays at 5:30 pm, you can take a wine tasting “flight” on the Eye. Book in advance on their website, because it always sells out!
London Eye website:
The large building on your left after the London Eye, and just before Westminster Bridge, is County Hall. It was formerly the headquarters of London County Council and later the Greater London Council. Now it houses the London Marriott County Hall. The bar here has a great view of Big Ben, and it serves delicious appetizers, too! We made a meal out of it.
Restaurants, bars, and afternoon tea options at the Marriott County Hall:
Cross Westminster Bridge over the Thames. Stop part way across to take pictures looking back at the London Eye….a great view here!
At the north end of the Palace of Westminster is the clock tower that houses the large bell, known as Big Ben. While many refer to the entire clock tower as Big Ben, the tower is actually named the Elizabeth Tower. The “Clock Tower” became the “Elizabeth Tower” in 2012 in honor of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
You are now located near the Westminster Tube (subway) station. This station has convenient connections throughout London, and is a great place to begin the tour in Podcast 11 below.
Amazon Book Link and additional London podcast links:
Amazon Page for Dr. Loe’s book, One Perfect Trip to London
($8.99 Paperback, $5.99 Kindle)
Podcast 10: Travel Tips, London Intro
Podcast 11: Westminster Area Highlights & Walking Tour
Podcast 12: Hyde Park and Knightsbridge-11 Things to See and Do