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Things to do | Posted 20 Oct 2020

Planning a stay in the capital city? London is jam-packed with brilliant places to visit, from famous historic landmarks and amazing museums to world-class shopping streets and iconic skyscrapers!

Despite most of London’s major attractions being indoors, the city is also blessed with dozens of alfresco activity options for those keen to enjoy a more outdoorsy staycation. Huge parks are in abundance, plus there’s a variety of wonderful walking routes which reveal plenty about the city’s long and fascinating history.

Another possibility is taking a self-guided tour of London’s bridges. Did you know there’s a total of 35 criss-crossing the River Thames?! Often providing the best routes to flit between attractions, London’s bridges are also worth visiting in their own right.

Here’s a few of the most intriguing London bridges to place on your itinerary, listed geographically from east to west:

Tower Bridge

This is perhaps the most iconic bridge in the entire city and one of the best recognised in the world! Known for its two grand towers, you’ll find Tower Bridge just a few minutes from the infamous Tower of London.

Tower Bridge was built in the 1880s and was an absolute marvel thanks to its two bascules – two seesaws like sides which allow the bridge to split in half and lift to let big boats pass underneath. The majestic structure is a mainstay on postcards of London, plus it actually serves as a museum in addition to a functioning road and pedestrian bridge!

You can book tickets in advance to enter the bridge’s North and South Towers where you’ll be able to learn more about its creation and even explore the Victorian engine room! If you’re not afraid of heights, head to the top of the towers to soak up panoramic views from the enclosed walkway which connects them together.

Getting there: Tower Hill is the closest tube stop.

Price: To enter the museum, it’ll cost £10.60 for adults and £5.30 for kids.

London Bridge

You’re probably familiar with the children’s nursery rhyme about this famous bridge! While its lyrics claim it’s falling down, the current London Bridge is very much still intact.

What you might not know is that there’s actually been a London Bridge on this stretch of the Thames for over 1,000 years! The one prior to the current bridge was dismantled, sold and relocated all the way to Arizona in the USA in the 1960s.

Perhaps the most famous variation of London Bridge, though, is the Medieval one which had various shops and houses built on it. The southern gatehouse was also decorated with the severed heads of traitors to help deter any criminals from entering the city!

Nowadays, London Bridge is both a pedestrian and road crossing which links up the City of London with Southwark. Make sure you stop halfway across as it offers up amazing vistas of The Shard, Tower Bridge and the dazzling HMS Belfast!

Getting there: Located in Central London, the closest tube stops are Monument on the north bank and London Bridge or Borough on the south.

Millennium Bridge

This is London’s most modern bridge which was unveiled, as its name suggests, in the year 2000. A real feat of engineering, the steel design was selected in a nationwide competition, and it’s supposedly strong enough to support up to 5,000 people at one time!

Millennium Bridge is the ideal bridge to include on a stroll down Southbank, with possible pitstops including the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. On the other side of the bridge, you’ll be just minutes away from the monumental St Paul’s Cathedral and the history-packed Museum of London.

Any Harry Potter fans among you? You might just recognise Millennium Bridge from the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film. Featured in the scene in which a pack of Death Eaters sweeps through London, they’re spotted destroying the bridge and sending it plunging into the river below.

Getting there: Reach Millennium Bridge in under 10 minutes from Blackfriars, St Paul’s or Monument stations.

Westminster Bridge

For those hoping to capture some great shots of Big Ben, perching yourself on Westminster Bridge is a great shout. The Victorian-era walkway over the River Thames connects up the Palace of Westminster with the awesome London Eye on the opposite bank.

In addition to viewing the well-known exteriors of Parliament, you’ll also have a chance to tour nearby Westminster Abbey. Alternatively, stroll across the bridge to the south bank where you’ll be within throwing distance of the London Aquarium and the spooky London Dungeons.

Getting there: Westminster tube station is the closest stop, although you could also access the bridge from the Southbank side via Waterloo station.

Chelsea Bridge

Keen to fit in some shopping during your staycation? Forget Oxford Street and head straight for Kings Road in Chelsea instead!

Before you get stuck into some retail therapy along this fashionable street, a stroll around beautiful Battersea Park should be on your agenda. Luckily, another of London’s bridges connects these two must-see sides of the city. We’re talking about Chelsea Bridge: an attractive 1930s structure with arched sides that are gorgeously illuminated after dark.

You’ll spot a few fascinating cultural attractions within close proximity of the bridge too, including the Saatchi Gallery, the National Army Museum and the Pump House Gallery. It’s also possible to walk along the embankments either side of the river for scenic views across the water.

Getting there: The closest tube stops to Chelsea Bridge are Battersea Park or Sloane Square on the opposite side of the river.

Richmond Lock and Weir

For those craving some time away from the crowds of Central London, definitely consider a stroll around Kew Gardens.

Located in West London, and in the suburb of the same name, Kew Royal Botanic Garden is one of London’s most idyllic green lungs which plays host to greenhouses teeming with tropical flora and fauna as well as tranquil treetop walkways. The garden borders the Thames, and you can stroll all the way along it until you reach the Richmond Lock and Weir.

Before WWII ended, it actually cost pedestrians a penny to cross this attractive 19th-century footbridge! You’ll still spot the original tollbooths and turnstiles at either end of the bridge. Dusk is a lovely time to wander across as you can watch the sunset over nearby Richmond…

Getting there: Catch the tube to Kew Gardens and walk through to the riverside or hop off at Richmond for faster access.

Where to Stay on your London bridge tour

Love the idea of seeing these beautiful bridges in person during a London city break? Check into a room at our luxe Leonardo Royal Hotel London Tower Bridge or Leonardo Royal Hotel London City to be within easy reach of central-located Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Alternatively, book to stay at the stylish Leonardo Royal Hotel London St Paul’s for quick access to the space-age Millennium Bridge.

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