If you’re planning a trip to London soon and on the look out for things to do, see, eat and drink in the London Bridge area, Laura has compiled a list of places not to miss.
There is so much to do in this one area that you could definitely make a weekend of it so why not scout out one of the wonderful hotels in London Bridge before your trip.
Read on to discover what Laura got up to on her day in the capital…
We started our day in London Bridge at London Grind, a buzzing cafe ideal for breakfast or brunch on the south side of London Bridge. But be warned, this place is popular and there are regularly queues out the door – a testament to how good it is!
We joined a small queue to get in and were told that it’d be a 20 minute wait for a table, or we could sit at the bar. I really didn’t mind the latter so we perched on tall leather stools (we actually got a great view of the whole restaurant from the bar) and grabbed a menu. All of the options sounded delicious, but even though we were sat right in front of some enormous and very tempting croissants, we just went for drinks as our next stop was Borough Market for lunch!
My boyfriend went for a latte which came complete with very pretty latte art on top, and I plumped for my fave, a Bloody Mary (it was 5 o’clock somewhere…!). As we were sat up by the bar we could see everything being made and my cocktail was being mixed by our skillful barista by pouring it from cup to cup from head to hip height, just like Chai wallahs do – it was mesmerising! It tasted delicious too. I like knock-your-socks-off spicy Bloody Marys and this one was on the money, really earthy and peppery!
Even though it was busy I really enjoyed the buzz, we were served quickly and all the staff were really friendly. London Grind also turns into a cocktail bar after 18:00 and has a separate dinner menu if you feel peckish later on. I’ll definitely be going back to try out more of their cocktail menu!
Our second stop was Borough Market for some lunch. I love it here – the smells, the shouts, the hum of chatter, the cobbles, and the fact you know you’re about to eat something really tasty! The outdoor part of the market is in two halves essentially, one side is stalls full of things you can eat later (sauces, cheese, coffee, tea etc.) and the other is things you can eat then and there.
We did a quick walk round to try and decide what we wanted for lunch and my boyfriend (who is much more decisive than I am) went for a roast Herdwick lamb salad with peas and feta which was divine! The creamy cheese really went well with the peas and made it quite summery.
After much deliberation (and realising that the queue for Pad Thai snaked round the back of the stall!!) I finally decided on stir fry rice noodles with prawns and some chicken and veggie gyoza dumplings from a stall called L’ailOlive.
I very much suffer from food envy, but on this occasion I was very happy with my decision! The prawns where huge and the gyoza were crispy and packed full of filling. Mine came to £12 with the dumplings, which sounds slightly pricey but the portion you get would easily feed two people if you were after a light lunch on the go, and there are options to suit all budgets as well as tastes.
We wandered around some of the other stalls and drooled at the cakes and treats on offer that unfortunately couldn’t fit in. My favourite stall is called Drunk Cheese who perfectly infuse the flavours of different alcohol into their cheeses. I bought some Prosecco cheese for Christmas last year and the flavour was amazing!
The Clink is a small but very informative museum that teaches visitors about the once notorious prisons that used to stand in its place from 1129-1780. It’s full of life-like wax figures and replicas of weapons and implements of torture, so probably not the best if you have little ones with you, but I thought it was great in a macabre sort of way!
We stumbled across this charming and effortlessly cool vintage market by accident because we saw enormous ants on a train carriage and had to go and investigate!
Turns out it’s an art installation by artist Joe Rush who also has a studio at the site. The market is situated on St Thomas Street behind big, bright yellow panels and as you enter the vibrancy doesn’t stop. You’re met with the smells of various food stalls and the chatter of friends sat on long tables enjoying a drink and a bite to eat in the shadow of the Shard. Walking passed the food stalls you come to a second market where there are several vintage stalls selling everything from clothes to classic movie memorabilia. I could spend hours in vintage shops so I loved it here!
Maltby Street market
Another amazing assault on the senses is Maltby Street market, one street hidden under railway arches dedicated to gourmet street food, fresh produce and real ales.
I loved that there were so many strings of bunting and flags over the top of the street, creating a makeshift, bohemian roof. Some stalls are there for the long haul, but others are rotated meaning you’ll never grow old of this eclectic place. You can grab food here from all over the world, I wanted to try it all!
We wandered a little around Maltby Street and stumbled on some tiny microbreweries in the other side of the archways with seating outside – perfect for a pint in the sunshine!
The Old Operating Theatre
This gem was recommended to me by Keri and I’m so glad we followed her advice! If you weren’t looking for it, you’d miss this tiny museum. To get to it you must climb a tiny 52-step spiral staircase (which is the only way in and out so I’m not sure what happens when there’s a jam!) to the attic of the old St Thomas’ Hospital church.
Once at the top and you’ve stopped feeling dizzy, you find yourself in the shop and reception. Adult tickets cost a very reasonable £6.50 and children can enter for £3.50. Tickets bought, you’re shown through a door to the rickety rafters. The attic was heaving with Victorian medical paraphernalia, baskets of herbs, spices, seeds and flowers, and bottles of lotions and potions – I could have spent hours in here!
Through a small doorway and across another creaky landing you find the operating theatre where Victorian surgeons performed all sorts of operations and dissections. There are even some organs in jars in the attic, which I found fascinating, but I know won’t be for everyone!
The museum puts on talks in the theatre at weekends and due to their popularity, there will be two a day starting from 1st July 2019 and you can buy tickets on the website. We missed this during our visit, but I’d definitely go back to catch one.
Tower Bridge experience
Just a 15 minute walk along the South Bank from London Bridge is Tower Bridge. My boyfriend and I visited the Tower Bridge Experience last year, which is definitely another great attraction to put on your ‘Things to do in London Bridge’ list.
Adult tickets are normally £9.80, but there are discounts for booking online, and you can also use any Tesco points you may have. On the self-guided tour, you get to climb up inside the bridge to the horizontal walkway at the top where you’re afforded spectacular views of the river. There is a glass floor too where you can see the bridge rise to let larger boats through at certain times of day.
Even if you’re not interested in the history of the bridge, the sheer feat of engineering is bound to take your breath away as you learn what the construction workers had to battle in the eight years the bridge was being built.
You get to see the engine room too, complete with authentic machinery that once lifted the bascules of the bridge. The thing I loved most are the figures that sit on the girders if you look up into the rafters. They represent the unsung heroes who built the bridge, working, laughing and drinking cups of tea – a lovely touch!
The Hide Bar
After a few hours walking around the London Bridge area in the sunshine, we were parched so popped into The Hide Bar on Bermondsey Street for a quick cocktail before we headed for dinner. I adored it as soon as we walked in. This Wes Anderson-style bar has such a laid back atmosphere, with hand drawn maps of the area and neon signs on the walls and hundreds of gin bottles adorning the bar – I was in my element!
I chose a Primrose Hill Fix and my boyfriend plumped for a Victoria Park Punch, which came with a chocolate truffle (I am all for food garnishes for drinks!), and both were delicious – I could have had four at least!
As it was slightly early for the nighttime revellers, the bar was fairly empty which was great because we could have a proper conversation (yes, I know, I’m old!), but we could also listen to the awesome playlist that was on in the background. The LAs, The Coral and The Cult created a perfect backdrop to a very relaxed afternoon.
For dinner, we decided to try Burger and Lobster on Threadneedle Street near Bank. It wasn’t busy at all as it was still quite early so we didn’t need to make a reservation, but I’ve heard it gets booked up quickly especially at the weekends.
The decor in the restaurant was sleek and modern and behind the reception desk were tanks full of lobsters so you could have the option to pick one if you wanted. I know I’d spent a lot of the day walking around gory museums but this seemed too cruel for me to do! I opted for the lobster roll with fries and my boyfriend went for the the B&L combo – a 1.25lb lobster and a 5oz burger!
I love lobster and this meal really didn’t disappoint! It is slightly more expensive here than some chain restaurants, but it was so tasty and the spectacle of putting our plastic bibs on and cracking the claws with the lobster crackers was great fun!
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Have you ever visited London Bridge? What were your highlights?
Full Disclosure: the spending money for our day in London Bridge was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.