Thameside stunners: terrific attractions to discover along the river

Panoramic aerial view of Bridges in London

The heartbeat of London Town, the River Thames is the ancient old river that flows right through the UK capital. No surprise then, there’s a plethora of riverside attractions to enjoy – here are five of the finest…

Tower Bridge

(Tower Bridge Road SE1 2UP)

An utter icon of the capital, Tower Bridge is also a marvel of Victorian-era engineering, which is actually the biggest reason for giving this grand old bridge a visit. It looks terrific too, of course; its gothic-revival twin balustrades echoing the castle-like appearance of the medieval majesty of the Tower of London that’s just a few steps away (the two of them together being just a short hop on the Tube from the Montcalm at the Brewery London City). However, Tower Bridge really comes alive once you step inside, courtesy of its fascinating exhibition. Here you’ll discover just how the thing was actually built and how it still works – and get to stroll along the high-level walkways and enjoy the fantastic vistas of Central London they afford.

Tower Bridge on the River Thames

Shakespeare’s Globe

(21 New Globe Walk SE1 9DT)

A little further upstream from Tower Bridge lies this serene and, by now, established home of terrific theatre and celebration of all things Bard-related. Constructed in the 1980s and ’90s and conceived as a venue where ordinary members of the public – and visitors from all over the world – could inexpensively experience Shakespeare’s plays in the sort of environment they were intended to be experienced when written, it’s proved over the last 20 years to be nothing but a roaring success. A great venue for a nigh out on a warm, summer’s evening (yes, it’s entirely open to the elements), it’s also worth visiting for its fascinating exhibition and recently added intimate, candlelit Jacobean-style performance space. Just the treat to throw into your London trip’s mix should you already be taking advantage of London hotels packages or the Montcalm Club deals.

Tate Modern

(Bankside SE1 9TG)

A mere stroll eastwards from the Globe and you come across the magnificent monolith that’s the Tate Modern; a relatively recent addition to London’s list of absolute top attractions, but one that in its short history has become one of the world’s premier modern art galleries. The Tate Modern has played host to exhibitions of works – many acclaimed to the skies; others controversial and generating enormous publicity – by many of the 21st Century’s greatest artists, including Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Olafur Eliasson. And its permanent collection holds artworks by true icons – everyone from Pablo Picasso to Paul Klee to Auguste Rodin.

OXO Tower Warf

(2 Barge House Street SE1 9GY)

Just a hop, skip and jump from the Globe is another favourite of the fabulous tourist-trap that’s the South Bank. Originally the home to a small power station and then rebuilt in an art deco style in the early 20th Century (contrary to public opinion, the building and its tower has never had anything to with the Oxo gravy granule brand), it now enjoys mixed use as an entertainment venue. Its ground and first floors are filled with design, arts and crafts shops and two galleries, the BargeHouse and gallery@oxo. However, the building’s become most celebrated for the acclaimed restaurant, bar and brasserie to be found on its eighth floor with its fine and casual dining and access to an sublime viewing gallery.

Thames Rockets

(Boarding Gate One, The London Eye Pier SE1 7PB)

Finally, if you’re an adrenalin junkie then this’ll be right up your, well, waterway. It involves powerboating your way down the Thames, right through the heart of London, at high-speed, holding on tight as you pass iconic landmarks on the way and finishing up at either stylish Canary Wharf or the stunning Thames Barrier. Departures are hourly from the pier beside the South Bank’s London Eye and it’s said to be suitable for all ages (however, exposing yourself to such high speeds and the elements as you would on this ride – despite wet-weather clothing being supplied – is surely advised at your discretion!). All told, the experience lasts around 50 minutes and it’s best to contact the operators to book in advance as a seat on each ride is subject to availability.