If you’re heading to the Big Smoke for a day out and are looking for an area which encapsulates the best of the city – multicultural, bustling, historic and forward thinking – then look no further than London Bridge. You won’t have to look far. In fact, this most famous of neighbourhoods is impossible to miss; just seek that massive Shard of glass piercing the sky or follow the river Thames until you come to the most iconic bridge of all. Easy, huh?
If you’re thinking of staying in the area and exploring, you couldn’t be better placed than here to see some of the best sites in the city. Fortunately, there are plenty of hotels nearby to choose from, making a weekend here as easy as you like.
You’re probably wondering how best to spend a day in the area, to capture all that’s quintessential about the culture and cuisine of the city? For what it’s worth, here’s our hottest tips; our things to do in London Bridge and Borough Market for the IDEAL day out.
The food options in the area are rightly revered, so it’s wise to get to London Bridge in time for breakfast. As if you needed any excuse. Newly opened bakery and wine bar Flor (sister restaurant of the brilliant, Michelin starred Lyles) opens at 9am and though it’s only had those bespoke ovens fired up for six months, the pastries sold here are already considered some of the best in town; head pastry chef Anna Higham is a real talent. A recent, seasonal lardy bun with rhubarb and vanilla was heavenly. On Saturday, a seriously foodie brunch is served from 11am; book to avoid disappointment.
For something a little different, in Borough Market, a perhaps even hotter ticket right now is Mei Mei (open from 10am). Though this compact collection of market stall and a few stools is primarily a Hainanese chicken over rice joint, the Singaporean brunch menu is superb too. Their Kaya toast – bread, butter, jam, coconut and so much more than that – is a snip at £3.50. With some sweet, milky coffee, this is just a lovely way to start the day.
If you intend your whole day to be foodie focused, then exploring Borough Market is a must. And it’s morning when this world famous market is at its best, when the fresh fruit and vegetables are abundant and the lunchtime crowds still at bay.
Simply strolling and checking out the tasters of cheese, charcuterie, olive oil and other delights is enough to keep even the most discerning foodie entertained. More high-end products abound too; Borough Market is one of the largest stall-based purveyors of truffles around, and you’ll find superb sun dried tomatoes, premium anchovies and aged Balsamic vinegar here, too. All of this adds up to a cracking morning spent under shelter.
Alternatively, if you can stomach the thrills this early, the London Bridge neighbourhood is London’s horror capital. The London Bridge Experience and London Tombs (‘officially the UK’s scariest attraction’) is an interactive, often theatrical and always terrifying journey into the gory history of the city. If you still haven’t got your adrenaline racing sufficiently, a ten minute stroll across Tower Bridge will have you at the Tower of London, famed for being the city’s most notorious prison, and the scene of executions and torture. As such, it’s known as one of the country’s most haunted places.
Phew, it must be time for lunch, right? London Bridge and Borough Market are blessed with both grazing options and the chance for a full blown, sit down meal. Our favourites right now for something quick, light and delicious – the perfect springboard for a further afternoon of exploring – are Bao Borough and Padella. The former is the third branch of the much loved, cult London restaurant, serving Instagrammable, insanely good steamed gua bao buns and other contemporary takes on the street food of Taiwan. Though the restaurant only takes bookings for large groups, service is prompt and the food fast; as such, you’ll likely land a coveted seat pretty quickly if you walk in.
Alternatively, and again not open to reservations, is Padella, London’s most famous purveyors of fresh pasta and positive vibes. Check out our review of Padella London Bridge for the lowdown!
Yep, we kept that lunch light for a reason. The London Bridge neighbourhood is blessed with forward thinking, endlessly fascinating opportunities to engage with the art world, all within walking distance.
And walk we shall; just a fifteen minute stroll from the station, along the south bank of the Thames, past Southwark Cathedral and Shakepeare’s Globe, is the Tate Modern. This is the UK’s premier modern art museum (and one of the world’s largest), housing national and international pieces and an ever changing cast of prestigious exhibitions. Currently, and until May 11th, the Tate is hosting Londoner Steve McQueen’s first display in over twenty years, as well as the incredible Infinity Mirrored Rooms by Yayoi Kusama; an immersive installation which needs to be stood within to be believed. Tickets for the former are £13 and the latter £5. Aside from that optional expense, entry to this fabulous gallery is free!
If you’ve still not had your fill of culture, on the other side of London Bridge is the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey. It’s a twenty minute walk from the Tate, but it’s a pleasant jaunt through a mostly pedestrianised South London, and Bermondsey itself is picture perfect. At the gallery itself, you’ll find three rooms of contemporary, engaging sculpture from some of the most exciting names in the art world today.
Though we’re heading back to the Borough Market area for dinner, we can’t resist stopping off at chef Jose Pizarro’s tapas bar José for a quick sherry and a snack. It’s just two minutes down the road from the White Cube so there’s really no reason not to indulge and imbibe. The specials board changes daily, but there’s always top quality jamon iberico on offer, as well as mixed cheeses, padron peppers and other delicious morsels to keep you going for that long, ten minute trek back to Borough.
Once you’re back on terra firma, the food options are almost limitless. Though we’ve already enjoyed a pastry at Flor, the bakery doubles up as a wine bar and as you’d expect of somewhere with a team of this pedigree, the evening menu is as confident and composed as they come. On our recent visit, grilled calcots with a romesco sauce was minimalist and refined in the best possible way, and a mussel flatbread had us cooing. The wine takes equal billing and a glass of the skin contact 2018 Sicilian Rosammare paired perfectly. As one of the current darlings of the London foodie scene, booking for an evening sitting at Flor is essential.
If that sounds a touch too stuffy, or making reservations brings out the commitment-phobe in you, then try out El Pastor on the peripheries of Borough Market for top quality tacos and tequila.
One more for the road? So, before we head home or to the hotel, it’s a quick glass at Bedales of Borough, a happening wine bar just down the road from Flor. Alternatively, you could splash out and take in the views of London at the same time, by checking out one of the Shard’s sky kissing bars. The loftiest, on level 52, is Gong; be aware that there’s a minimum spend of £30 per person, so before we bid you goodnight, we’d remind you to drink responsibly. And with that, we hope you enjoyed your day in London Bridge and Borough Market as much as we did. Until next time!
Spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are our own.