There are few better things in life than a leisurely stroll in the sun along London’s South Bank. Well, apart from taking your socks off having already got under the duvet…but let’s be honest, nothing is better than that. But as we all know, the South Bank (especially in the sun) can get preetttyyy busy (an estimated 14 million people come this way a year)! So if you want to steer clear of the overpriced attractions and bumbling tourists, here goes…
1. The Green Room
Located behind the National Theatre, The Green Room is a neighbourhood diner, bar and garden serving scrumptious (and ethically-sourced) British diner food. Surrounding this unique brainchild of the National Theatre and local social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders is an urban oasis; a sustainable garden designed and maintained by the Bankside Open Spaces Trust with volunteers from the theatre and local area. Delightful! If the sun is getting a bit much for you though, you can head into their beautiful restaurant space which features props and scenery recycled from National Theatre shows.
101 Upper Ground, SE1 9PP
2. Maltby Street Market
Borough, Schmorough. Just around the corner, Maltby Street Market, Ropewalk, is a small but bustling market open every Saturday from around 9am-3pm that, in our eyes, has taken the food market crown. Nestled in amongst the railway arches of of southeast London, Maltby offers an incredible array of seriously top-knotch food sellers such as Bad Brownie, Neal’s Yard Dairy, the under-arch Tozino tapas bar and (if you’re more of a boozie than a foodie) Little Bird Gin. There is something for everyone (well, those who know about it, anyway).
Ropewalk, SE1 3PA
3. Comida Fest
From one food market to the next, Comida Fest is a Latin American street food market (with drinks and music, too) along the South Bank. Although it is only here for one weekend (the 21st-22nd May) we thought it was definitely worth a mention considering there are Rumba, Zumba and Spanish classes as well as a whole load of Spanish street food vendors including Café Pacífico Restaurant (Mexican food and Agave Bar), Agua na Boca (Brazilian snacks), Pachamama (Chilean inspired dishes) and The Ice Cream Union (Latin flavours inspired ice creams). Arrrrrriba!
4. The Poetry Library
Need some peace and quiet? Want to get your hands on a good read but can’t face the book market on a Saturday? Look no further. The poetry library may not be as ‘cool’ or ‘outdoors’ (not sure why that’s in inverted commas, it’s definitely indoors), but it’s free to join, a cosy hideaway and houses over 200,00 items. AND being on level 5 of the Southbank Centre, you can get there in a singing lift. Beats sharpening your elbows ready for a book struggle, if you ask us.
Level 5, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX
5. Udderbelly Festival
Ok, so not much of a secret…you can’t really miss the humongous purple upside-down cow in the middle of the South Bank. BUT, the 14 and a half-week extravaganza of comedy, circus, family entertainment and one of London’s largest bars (hello) returns for its 8th year and it’s going to be pretty moo-vellous. Udderbelly brings with it this year Closer by Circa, Comedy in the Dark, Sh*t Faced Shakespeare and The Beta Males, as well as mannnyyyyyy more. But it doesn’t have to all be a barrel of laughs. Just fancy a bite to eat or a drink by the water? Enter into Udderbelly’s pasture and enjoy the atmosphere for free!
6. The Scooter Caffé
This stylish bar on Lower Marsh is, shall we say, ‘cosy’ on the inside. But with a resident tabby cat and a Piatti scooter in the window it is well worth a visit! Tuck yourself into a corner to sip coffee or beer and watch the bohemian clientele chat about sonnets, synthesisers or some such. Actor Ethan Hawke supposedly pops in when he’s in town. Eeek!
132 Lower Marsh, SE1 7AE
7. The Deck at the National Theatre.
If, as we suspect it will be, the Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden is rammed to an inch of your life, take the lift to the Olivier Circle level of the National Theatre, and there you’ll find a long balcony with benches, seats and simply stunning views. With a bit of quiet.
Featured Image Credit: AmsterdamHotel