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Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral, Free London Viewpoints, Street Performers and the London Eye are just a few London icon’s you’ll find along the River Thames and what’s great is that all of these London attractions are within walking distance along a lovely part of the River Thames when you walk from Tower Bridge to Westminster.
On a sunny blue sky day, I took to the River Thames with my Marco Polo London Guide following their recommended River Thames walking guide to remind myself just how easy and enjoyable it is to walk along the Thames.
Whether you’re a tourist in London or a local Londoner, this is an iconic London walk that you should not miss! It’ll take you 2-6 hours depending on how much you want to see and how much you want to stop.
Below is my London guide on how to walk from the Tower Bridge to the London Eye and Westminster, and all the top things to do in London that you’ll pass on the way!
If you’re not in London already, be sure to look at The Train Line for the best train tickets to London. I use them all the time to search for the best times, routes and prices!
Start: Tower Hill Station
The closest tube station to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London is Tower Hill Tube Station which is conveniently located on the District, Circle and DLR line so it’s easy to reach from elsewhere in London. I suggest starting at this end of the river, and so does the Marco Polo Guide as I find it less busy than the ending point of this walk- the London Eye and Westminster.
With that being said, if you’re wondering how to walk from the London Eye to Tower Bridge, you can simply reverse this walk.
I love that as soon as you walk out of Tower Hill Station you’re presented with an impeccable view of the Tower of London across the main road. Head under the tunnel which takes you alongside the Tower of London.
The Tower of London is a 900-year-old castle and fortress and it’s very famous for being home to the Crown Jewels. You can see a lot of the inside castle and outside grounds in about one hour, so if you think you’ll want to visit the Tower of London, be sure to get some tickets online in advance because they do sell out on busy days and you’ll avoid the queues of getting them on the day.
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic attractions and London’s most famous Bridge. Visitors often think it’s called London Bridge but London Bridge is the next bridge up and very basic in comparison!
As part of this walk, you’ll need to walk over Tower Bridge to the Southside of the River Thames and if you don’t go in the Tower of London and fancy doing a unique activity in London, you can go right up into the top of Tower Bridge to see the bridge through a glass floor! Just be aware that you’ll need to walk up the stairs to the top because there’s no elevator in this 1800’s bridge! Tickets can be purchased in advance on their page here.
After walking over the impressive Tower Bridge you’ll be in South London, as London is split by the River Thames! For centuries the Southside of the River Thames was very rough and scruffy compared to the North but with the expansion of London, oh how times have changed.
The Southbank, next to the Tower Bridge, is now full of places to sit to take in the view of the city skyline opposite. It’s also full of pop up bars and food markets all summer and all winter as this is a popular spot for London Christmas markets come December!
Head up the river towards The Shard, you will need to detour out onto the road here but the detour takes you straight through Borough Market which is good if you need something to eat or just want to check out this famous London street food market.
If going up The Shard to the observatory right at the top is on your London bucket list, now is your chance and it will fit in nicely with this River Thames walk. However, if you want a free London viewpoint, keep reading as there’s one coming up!
Related Post: If you’re reading this but it seems like it might rain when you’re in London, have a look at my post on 10 Things To Do in London When it Rains.
A recent place I found close to London Bridge is Flat Iron Square. It’s a really cool indoor and outdoor street food market under a train line, it opens at 12:00 noon and is open all day so if you’ve been to Borough Market before or fancy going somewhere more local and quirky, head to Flat Iron Square as it’s not out of the way at all!
The next stretch of River will take you under the train tunnels through Clink Street which is the historic location of the notorious Clink Prison- one of Englands oldest prisons dating back to 1144! They offer visits which last one hour and I’d recommend going in if the history of London is interesting to you. Plus this London attraction is much less touristy than the London Dungeons nearby.
Talking of history, next up on your places to visit on the River Thames is Shakespears Globe which is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre built just 180m from its original site. The London Marco Polo Guide informed me that in Shakespeare’s time this was a disreputable quarter of brothels, bear-baiting pits and gambling dens, hence the reason for the South of the River Thames to have such a bad reputation in the past!
Guided tours of Shakespears Globe are on offer but you get a pretty good view of the building from the pavement which is a total contrast to the buildings nearby, or anything else in London for that matter.
Coming up is another one of London’s most famous Bridges – the Millennium Bridge, the bridge is famous because of its appearance in the Harry Potter film the Half-Blood Prince, so if you’re a Harry Potter fan looking for the Harry Potter places to see in London, be sure to get your camera out and head up onto the bridge.
Side Note – If you are a Harry Potter fan there are lots of Harry Potter Tours you can do in London, here are 3 of the best with the most reviews and they’re all a really good price:
Even if you are not interested in the Harry Potter London locations, it’s still worth going up onto the River as the view of St Pauls Cathedral at the end is one of London’s most iconic views!
Next up is the building that helped change the face of the Southbank- the Tate Modern art gallery. You can tell from the shape of the building that this used to be a power station, the decision was made to turn this building into an international modern and contemporary art gallery in London in 1994 and it opened in 2000. The Marco Polo London Guide informed me that this was a real turning point for the regeneration of the area!
If you want a free London viewpoint you have to go inside the Tate Modern, walkthrough into the back building and go up the lift, or stairs, to the 11th floor. Here you get an impressive 360 view of the City including an amazing view towards St Pauls Cathedral and the South of London.
From the Tate Modern keep walking along the river and this is where the Southbank really comes alive and becomes really good fun. During the Summer months, there are lots of pop up food stalls and bars so be sure to rest your feet enjoying one. Out of season, there’s also plenty of pubs and quintessentially English pubs if you’d rather get a drink in one of those and be inside for a bit.
Alongside the South Bank Centre which will soon appear, is the Southbank Stakepark, it’s another really popular thing to see in London because children and teenagers have been skating here for over 40 years!
Around here is also where the Southbank street performers start. People with incredible voices are singing, magic shows are happening, and if you’re lucky, or perhaps not lucky, you might get pulled in one of the performances with them! Watching the performers are one of the fun things to do with children on the Southbank, as well as the Starflyer swing swinging through the sky!
The London Eye soon comes into view! If you want to go on the London Eye you need to book tickets in advance with a specific time, this will save you queuing on the day although note you’ll probably still need to queue anyway because it is London’s top attraction and one of the best things to do in London. I’d personally say that the London eye is worth the wait too!
I would recommend crossing the Bridge in front of the London Eye which is Golden Jubilee Bridge, I recommend this as the crowds around the London Eye and onto Westminster Bridge get ridiculously busy whereas crossing the Golden Jubilee Bridge enables you to avoid the crowds and you’ll still get an amazing view of the River, London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from the Bridge.
If you’re still looking for a food or drink stop, you should get a drink and/or fish and chips on the Tattershall Castle Pub which is a pub on a boat on the River Thames looking directly at the London Eye.. pretty cool hey!
It’s a great spot whether you’re a tourist to London and or a local Londoner I think!
From here you can walk along the river towards the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Station or you could continue to walk straight into Covent Garden which isn’t far from the Thames at all!
Related Post: Things To Do in Covent Garden.
Or you could see the Thames from another perspective by getting on a boat and going back to Tower Bridge where you started, or all the way down to Greenwhich.
Accommodation on the River Thames.
If you want to keep your trip to London along the River Thames or you’re looking for a good location in London to stay in, I stayed at YHA Thameside Hostel. They offer dormitory rooms and private rooms making it a London hostel perfect for all budgets!
I really enjoyed staying at YHA Thameside in this South London hostel because it’s located close to Canada Water in a very local and residential area which gives guests a unique look at London away from the busy, touristic centre.
I also really loved YHA Thameside’s common areas which were light and colourful and that I had access to a self-catering kitchen which is a great way to stick to a budget when visiting London!
Marco Polo London Guide.
If you’re visiting London as a tourist I’d recommend purchasing the London Marco Polo Guide before your visit! It’s full of really great London Discovery Tours like this one which gives you a good insight into the different areas of London, as well as the chance to learn about London as it’s such an interesting and historic city, but also such a modern city at the same time!
For more of my London Guides and Posts see:
This post is sponsored by Marco Polo Guides however all thoughts and opinions are my own. I was hosted by YHA Hostels to stay at YHA Thameside but based on my experience I truly recommend the hostel to you.