When you’re planning a day out on the town in London, it helps to pick one specific spot and concentrate your day’s activities in and around that area. This will help you to maximise the time you have available in that you will spend more time exploring than travelling all across the city to get to a whole bunch of different places. It will also make you take a proper look into that area to find out what there is available to do and see – rather than simply hopping between the major tourist attractions and trends. This is a great way to make yourself look a little deeper into the lesser known places, which is exactly how one goes about finding a hidden gem.
This article is focused on the area surrounding Tower Bridge beyond visiting The Tower of London. I am not suggesting that the Tower of London is not worth a visit, but with its holding the Crown Jewels, Traitor’s Gate, Towers of Lanthorn, Salt, Green and Royal Armouries White (and even the Tower of London Ice Rink from November until early January) I am simply assuming that you know of it and have probably been there already.
This article therefore focuses on some other landmarks and experiences that you could add to your day in this area on either side of The Thames. I am going to take a guess here and imagine that you are staying in some swanky 5 Star Accommodation in London City right in the middle of where all the action is. Perhaps at The Barbican Rooms Hotel? Lucky you. But with all the amazing Packages for a City Break in London, you can definitely treat yourself to some luxury accommodation. If my suspicions are somewhat correct, then you are likely based closer to the northern bank of the Thames, so we’ll start there before you make your grand crossing over the star of it all: Tower Bridge.
North Bank near Tower Bridge
I would not be doing my due diligence if I were to omit the obvious and most famous options that you definitely already know about – but maybe had not realised that you could see them on your “Tower Bridge Adventure Day” and hit two birds with one stone.
If you are staying somewhere near The Barbican, then there are two popular tourist stops that you could swing by on your way to Tower Bridge. The first is London’s most beloved relish-resembling building: The Gherkin. Despite its fame as a proud and distinctive member of the London skyline, The Gherkin is actually more of an office space than a tourist attraction when it comes to the inside. Fortunately for you, you can appreciate it in all its glory by just walking right past it – ticking another London must-see off your list.
The next would be Sky Garden, which will undoubtedly give you the experience of gazing across London as far as your eyes can see (which really does differ for all of us – but you can’t blame the building for that). Sky Garden hosts London’s highest public garden and really is a sight to behold both in terms of its exquisite décor and the indescribable view it offers. Sky Garden has two exceptional restaurants as well as two very vibrant bars. This place is often very busy though, so it would be best to check their times, make a reservation or make sure that you know when walk-in guests are welcome. Side note: you can also get a great view of The Gherkin from here should you wish to by-pass that walk and head straight here.
Moving closer to The Thames is a London treasure that should be on everyone’s radar: St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden. The Church of St Dunstan had a really rough time what with the Great Fire of London and then later being bombed. Fortunately, the additions of a tower and steeple by Sir Christopher Wren survived (on a serious note, how did this guy find the time to design half of London? It’s actually harder to find significant buildings that he did not contribute to), but the City of London opted not to rebuild. Eventually it was opened for all to enjoy as a public garden: but a garden with a twist, or rather, that the garden itself twists around the beautiful ruins that formed part of the church. It really is beautiful in all seasons and is a unique and precious part of London’s offerings.
South Bank near Tower Bridge
Another place of luscious greenery that I am very fond of is Potters Fields Park on the south bank. It is pretty standard as parks go but is beautifully kept with lovely seasonal flowers and is usually completely packed (but in a nice way) on days when the sun is out. It is a great picnic spot after work where you can see people from all over pulling up a piece of grass with their bag of snacks and drinks from the local express store to have a chat with their friends and watch the sun go down as London begins to light up over The Thames.
It is widely regarded as being one of the best places on the ground to get amazing photographs of the London Skyline and also happens to be right next to City Hall. Personally, I have never felt the urge to go inside the building, but I’m glad I’ve seen it.
Another typically touristy thing to do in the general vicinity is to visit The Shard: although it is closer to London Bridge than Tower Bridge, it is less than a mile away from the latter so if it is on your “Must-see List” then this would be an excellent opportunity to visit. There is minimal confusion as to why everyone makes such a fuss over The Shard because it is as architecturally beautiful as the view that it proudly shows you. There are six different restaurants and bars within the building and each one is determined to give you the experience of a lifetime. They also specialise in extravagant proposals if anyone is finding that their knee is becoming rather wobbly and are on the hunt for the perfect romantic gesture to ask their partner the ultimate question.