You’re walking down Southbank, Westminster and the Houses of Parliament to your left and the icy blue of a foggy Thames capturing your sight. Ahead, the steely grey of the Shard in the distance, and beyond it your famed cheese and olive bread…
I mentioned my cheese and olive bread ritual the other day here, but I think there may be one (slightly related) tradition I absolutely NEED to do every single time I’m in London, and that’s what I’m going to call *drumroll please*:
‘The Best of London in 3 Hours’ walk.
So, here we go, get your walking shoes on and make sure you’ve got your coat and gloves if it’s brisk because there isn’t much indoor time on this walk – in fact, you’ll be out and about nearly the entire 3 hours or so!
Starting near Lambeth Bridge, on Southbank, head past the London Eye, making sure to get a good panoramic view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from this side of the Thames. As you duck under arches on your way across Southbank, there’s a couple of coffee shops you might want to duck into – pit stop number 1!
Keep walking along until you hit the Tate Modern, and pop inside if you fancy a look. I’ve been through some of the galleries, and I must admit it’s not my favourite of London’s art galleries – I much prefer the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Close by to the Tate Modern is Shakespeare’s Globe, and if you continue a little further you will see the Shard gleaming up at you, with Borough Markets nearby. Here’s stop 2 (or 3 if you’ve gone into the Tate): grab yourself some foodie samples and enjoy the view across the Thames of St. Paul’s Cathedral and, in the distance, the Gherkin.
After filling your belly and getting a little warmer after the chill of walking, embrace the cold yet again and head out towards the Thames. You have two options here:
- (My favourite) pop across Tower Bridge and indulge in the incredible history of London’s finest bridge, as you walk towards, and along, the walls of the sinister-looking Tower of London.
- Cross Millennium Bridge and be inspired by the majesty of St. Paul’s rising up in front of you. Stop in the centre and enjoy a panoramic view of London.
Either way, you should be very near/at St. Paul’s Cathedral by this time. I’ve not yet spent the time to go inside and to the lookout, as I found what I imagine to be a similar view from the top of Monument to the Great Fire of London (which was erected exactly where the fire started, and, if laid down, the column will reach exactly where it ended), but feel free to stop here and enjoy St. Paul’s.
At this point, the walking portion of this walk ends, and you jump onto the number 15 bus from across the road of St. Paul’s to Trafalgar Square. I recommend this here only because the old historic buses of London – you know the ones, picturesque and with the boarding from the back, no Oyster card tap on’s in sight! – only run on the number 15 route, and it really is something special. Try and get the top front row – pole-position!
Once off at Trafalgar Square, have a quick pop into the National Gallery because it really is worth your time, and then either head towards Big Ben in the distance down Whitehall. We won’t be going all the way down to Westminster in this walk, but feel free to. Instead, at the Horse Guards, turn into the archway and head out through St. James Park towards Buckingham Palace.
You made it! And have seen so much of London on your way! You won’t have made the 11am changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, however feel free to do this walk backwards and catch it all in one day. Enjoy xx