What is it?
It’s London’s cultural hub, located unsurprisingly to the south bank of the River Thames in Central London.
5 – 8 / 9 – 12 / 12+
Babies / Toddlers & Preschool
It’s free to walk around and soak up the vibrant atmosphere – but some events, attractions and eateries will cost money!
What’s on offer
South Bank has so many varied things to do all year round, including great sights, good food, shopping, musical and theatrical events and family-oriented activities –the classic tourist attractions are an added bonus!
Festivals, street performances, buskers, food stalls, visitors simple taking a stroll through the Riverside Walkway, admiring the Thames – you can find everything you need at South Bank. Special children’s events and workshops are on at select times.
You can shop til your drop, try a rainbow of delicious dishes, enjoy the river view, enjoy the show or get into tourist mode by visiting one of the interesting museums or exciting an iconic family attractions.
Read our comprehensive reviews of the best to help you decide where your family should go:
South Bank has more to offer than it’s classic tourist destinations. Locals and visitors from the UK or even abroad will find something that suits them.
Culture lovers and older children will be excited by the film and DVD bookshop and movie screenings at the BFI Southbank and enjoy the daring theatre shows at The Old Vic and The National Theatre. The Southbank Centre is a three-venue cultural hub of art, music, dance and performance. Art fans will get a kick out of the nearby modern art showcase gallery@oxo.
Fans of the open road (or in this case, the open water) will definitely want to hop on board a Thames River Cruise. If you prefer to keep things on ground level or the little ones need to sit down, the Bernie Spain Gardens is a tranquil space to rest and re-cooperate by the river.
Shopaholics and foodies will want to head straight for Gabriel’s Wharf – which offers unusual stores selling furniture, accessories, paintings, jewellery and ceramics among others. It’s the perfect place to buy a token or a gift for a loved one, but not before you’ve chowed down at one of the fresh, healthy cafés or restaurants.
Young children haven’t been forgotten about, either. The Udderbelly Festival comedy club for kids rolls around each year and shows internationally renowned comedians providing the laughs – without the adult language. Other kids events include seasonal Easter Egg hunts at Gabriel’s Wharf, Halloween Storytelling and the Imagine Children’s Festival at Southbank Centre, and additional half-term events. Check the websites for dates, times and essential info!
Also, the views are amazing. It’s the classic London hotspot tourists hope to see on their travels and that locals already love.
What to watch out for
– Facilities are all over the place, because there are different areas and attractions all the way along the bank. Keep in mind that places with accessible public toilets include all three venues of the Southbank Centre, the BFI and Tate Modern. Tate Modern also have a baby-changing facility (on Level 0).
– The walkway can get really crowded – keep tight ahold of small hands, especially if they like to wander off.
– Safety tips for such a busy tourist zone include wearing a crossbody bag (so it can’t be stolen), keeping an eye on possessions and not flashing any valuables in public.
– Don’t let them run out into the famous South Bank Skate Park! It’s not a kids-play area.
– If your child gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the South Bank, prepare them with a clear plan of where to meet you in case of an emergency or a safety spot, such as by the front desk of one of the museums or centres.
What the owners say
“Experiencing the South Bank is a must-do in any London itinerary. Travellers will be visiting the cultural heart of London, an eclectic and creative area that is home to iconic attractions, stylish hotels and boutique shopping.
Within easy walking distance from Covent Garden, Soho, Westminster and the City of London , the South Bank stretches along the Thames from Lambeth Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge. It’s the perfect location for a relaxing stroll and a spot of people watching- away from the bustle of the West End. You can take in beautiful views across to the Houses of Parliament and St Paul’s, especially early morning and at dusk, and the packed programme of theatre, exhibitions, music, film and free events means there is plenty of inspiring things to see and do for all ages.”