The South of the Thames Guide
Admittedly, most of the action in London takes place north of the Thames, though South London boasts many hidden gems that are all the more rewarding upon their discovery. Borough Market, the Tate Modern, and Southbank Centre are the main attractions but dig a little deeper to discover incredible food producers at Maltby Street Market and Spa Terminus in Bermondsey, off-the-beaten path foodie destinations in Clapham and Tooting, an idyllic country getaway at Petersham Nurseries, and a true cultural melting pot at the bars and shops of Brixton. While there aren’t a lot of hotel options down here, the Mondrian is a notable (and very cool) exception, and it’s right on the water.
Bermondsey Antique Market12 Bermondsey Sq., Bermondsey | +44.20.7234.0805
Go early (5am, they open at 4) to shop with collectors and dealers for Victorian and Georgian silver, china, glassware, furniture, and more.
London Duck ToursBelvedere Rd., Lambeth | +44.20.7928.3132
Kids love these fun duck-themed tour buses-slash-boats, which are a wonderful and unique way to see the city. They offer great views from the river of many of the major sites adults want to see, making it fun for the whole family.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre21 New Globe Walk, Southwark | +44.20.7902.1400
The reconstruction of the original Shakespeare theater is one of the Bankside's most beautiful and character-laden structures. Much of the theater is standing only, which just adds to the authenticity. In addition to shows, tours of the building and exhibitions on Elizabethan theatre and Shakespearean London are on offer.
Tate ModernSouthwark | +44.20.7887.8888
The Tate features modern and contemporary art from 1900 to the present day in a huge renovated power station on the Bankside of the Thames. The outstanding Tate Collection, which is free to visit, is complemented by a series of contemporary art exhibitions that rotate through. Of course, London has it’s fair share of quality museums, but the Tate Modern is at the top of the list, especially following the museum’s recent renovation and expansion, which were completed this summer. After browsing the galleries here, follow GP’s favorite London walk: Head down to the river and then meander east along it toward Westminster Bridge. Take the foot path over the iconic bridge (you’ll see Big Ben on the other side), and then continue into historic, beautiful St. James Park, which leads to Buckingham Palace. After you see the royal home, head back in the other direction, taking Pall Mall, which connects to the central hub of Trafalgar Square.
Treetop Walkway at Kew GardensSouthbank Centre, Belvedere Rd., Kew | +44.20.8332.5655
Kew Botanical Garden's Treetop Walkway literally lets you amble through the trees. The path leads underground first, to the Rhizotron, where an installation teaches you about tree roots. Then, you'll head 59 feet up to walk amongst the lime, sweet chestnut, and oak trees and mingle with the resident birds and bees. It's a very special experience for adults and kids alike. During the holidays, they do up the entire place in lights and guide after-dark tours along the path as well.
White Cube Gallery144-152 Bermondsey St., Bermondsey | +44.207.930.5373
Credited with bringing London back to the fore of the contemporary art scene, White Cube offers a taste of the best and biggest artists and exhibitions. Owned by Jay Jopling, White Cube is famed for giving many of the Young British Artists their first solo shows and for representing the likes of Gilbert and George, Antony Gormley, Andreas Gursky, and Anselm Kiefer. The original Duke Street space closed back in 2002, but their two newer London locations (including a very large gallery on Bermondsey) certainly won't disappoint.