Southwark is nestled on the south bank of the Thames, and among its luxury riverside apartments and ultra-modern offices, are some of London’s biggest icons. This area is rich in culture, architecture and entertainment, charming millions of visitors (and residents) each year. For the best scenery, criss-cross one of the bridges that straddle the river, including London Bridge, Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge. All are a joy to stroll or drive over, thanks to sweeping views of the water, and the buildings that chart hundreds of years of the capital’s history.
Of all the landmarks, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern command the most attention, and rightly so. The Globe is a magnificent, Elizabethan-esque structure, a careful rebuild of the site where the famous playwright’s creations were first performed back in the 16th century. Nowadays, you can enjoy guided tours and exhibitions, along with exceptional theatre. As for the Tate, it’s easy to spend hours in this contemporary art institution, discovering the dreamy works of Warhol, Monet and Picasso.
Head away from the waterside, and The Shard, Europe’s tallest building, dominates the skyline. This 300-plus-metre skyscraper is a mixed bag of offices, hotel suites, and bars and restaurants. In fact, it’s the way of many of the imposing buildings here. Dedicated to both work and play, they’re comprised of company HQs, posh-nosh brasseries and classy rooftop bars.
Southwark has emerged as a real foodie destination over the years. Just over the road from The Shard is Borough Market – London’s oldest food market, and still one of the capital’s best. Its myriad of stalls never fail to treat tastebuds, whether you’re in the mood for a harissa-soaked North African stew, or a Spanish ‘bocadillo’ stuffed with serrano ham and melty cheese. Outside, both old and new establishments pepper the streets, age-old pubs full of curiosities rubbing shoulders with elegant Italian restaurants and cosy tapas nooks. Try lively Bermondsey for a village feel and some of the best independents eateries around.
Southwark’s transport links are impressive. London Bridge Railway Station makes it easy to get to cities like Cambridge and Bedford. And three underground stations service the area – Southwark, on the Jubilee line, Borough, on the Northern, and London Bridge, which has trains running on both. But with London’s best bits on your doorstep, who could blame you for staying put?