A London Walking Tour Along the Thames - Travel Addicts

Top Menu

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Pinterest Instagram RSS

A London Walking Tour Along the Thames

A view of Parliament on the Thames River on a London Walking Tour.

“The history of the city is permanently linked to the river,” our guide Emily explained. And while that’s true of most riverside cities in the world, we never really understood the relationship until our London walking tour of the South Bank of the Thames River. Along the way, we realized that the best way to enjoy and appreciate this city is from the banks of the Thames.

The Tower Bridge over the Thames River in London.

Any good story starts at the beginning, and the roots of this modern city began at the Tower of London. This fortress and royal palace is situated at one of the narrowest points on the Thames River. Since it is England’s longest river, this was a critical trade route. Having a strategic fortress to guard the river (which is actually a tidal estuary at this point) was very important to the Crown.

Pudding Lane in London, where the Great Fire of London started.

Before our Thames walk, we stopped to see Pudding Lane and Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London. The fire, which started on September 2, 1666 in Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane, ultimately spread to engulf most of the city of London. By the end of the fire three days later, over 85% of inhabitants had lost their homes and the city was decimated. London hasn’t had an easy time of it.

The Monument to the Great Fire, one of the first stops on our London Walking Tour.

The tides of time have changed the city’s fortunes for the better. These days, the North Bank area around the Tower, Pudding Lane and London Bridge are filled with fashionable offices. However, around little corners, you can still find a relic of London’s storied past.

Around one corner, we came on the ruins of St. Dunstan in the East. This church was destroyed during the Blitz of World War II and ultimately not rebuilt, instead being turned into a church garden. During our weekend visit, a fashion model was having a photo shoot in the garden, but during the week, it’s a popular lunch spot with local office workers.

Encountering the ruins of St. Dunstan in the East, a quiet find on a London walking tour.

After crossing London Bridge over the Thames, we encountered the South Bank, which has a much different vibe than the other side of the river. This area has experienced massive revitalization in recent years. Once industrial, this area has trendy restaurants and a beautifully designed promenade to walk along the Thames. Many of England’s great cultural institutions are now located on the South Bank.

Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London on the South Bank of the Thames River.

In 1997, The Globe Theatre of William Shakespeare’s fame re-opened after a 384 year hiatus. This theater-in-the-round features performances of Shakespeare’s plays for standing patrons. While visiting England in 1998, Laura was lucky to have attended a performance here.

Not far up river, the Bankside Power Station houses the Tate Modern museum and just beyond it is the National Theater (complete with the popular, but completely out of place skateboard park).

The industrial looking National Theater on London's South Bank.

As our unscripted London walking tour came to a close at the London Eye ferris wheel, we realized we’d just blazed through nearly three hours on our Thames walk and covered hundreds of years of the city’s history. This was my first real trip to London, and our guide Emily did a wonderful job orienting us to this city…and its important river.

The London Eye, an icon on London's South Bank of the Thames River.

A London Walking Tour of the South Bank of the Thames

When

This London walking tour runs on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00am and last around 2 ½ hours. Please consult the website for exact dates.

Cost

£80 per person for a small group (which is never more than six people); £360 for a fully private tour.

Location

The meeting point for the tour is near the Tower of London. The nearest underground stop is Tower Hill (on the Circle and District Lines) or Tower Gateway DLR station. The tour will end near the London Eye, which is close to the Waterloo underground (on the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City lines).

What to Bring

While the walk is not strenuous, comfortable shoes can be very helpful. The tour runs rain or shine, so if rain is expected, be sure to bring a jacket. Context Travel requests no umbrellas.

About Context Travel

The company focuses on very small group tours that are led by Masters and Ph.D. credentialed docents, providing both overview tours as well as intense topical immersion.

Website

See the Tides of Time – A Riverside Stroll walking tour.

Tip

After the tour, walk across the Golden Jubilee Bridge, hang a right onto Embankment Place and follow it around the curve to the left, which is Villiers Street. At the first alley on the right, go down the steps into Gordon’s Wine Bar. Gordon’s serves wines by the glass and bottle, along with cheeses and other edible delights in a candle-lit, cave-like space. It can be mobbed with people, but is well worth it!

Where to Stay

London has a ton of hotels, although the city is known for being very pricey. We’ve found some sites that you may want to check out that offer good London hotel deals.

We were the guests of Context Travel’s London walking tours. As always, all opinions of the inspiring and impressive are our own. Note: Some links may be affiliate links, which means Travel Addicts may earn a few pennies if you buy something – all at no additional cost to you.

Need Another Hit? Related Posts

Subscribe to our email newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Get exclusive content
  • Receive personal updates
  • Sneak peeks of future trips

What do you think about A London Walking Tour Along the Thames?

  1. Drew January 21, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    Great advice for what to bring and what you can expect on your walking tour. I have never been on one before so this was really helpful. Thanks so much for sharing!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

511 Shares
Tweet
Share198
Pin313
Flip