Waterside wonders: why families love the South Bank

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Why should you visit the South Bank, slap-bang in the centre of London? Here are five fantastic reasons…

The London Eye

london eye

Let’s face it; London can be a bit overwhelming; its sheer size and scale can get a bit mind boggling. So why not see it all at once? Yes, you really can do that (sort of) by having a ride on the 135-feet-tall London Eye. A ride (or, to put it another way, a full rotation) lasts an hour and affords you spectacular views of the world-famous skyline and miles beyond – day or night. A word of warning, though, the ‘Eye’ is one of London’s most popular attractions, so expect pretty long queues.

Sea Life London Aquarium

London Aquarium

Here, across 14 different zones on three floors, you’ll discover an absorbing underwater kingdom occupied by a vast array of beautiful, exotic, curious and extraordinary creatures. From seven species of shark to sleek rays and Green Sea turtles to shoals of spectacularly coloured fish, this is the place for anyone (even if they’re staying outside Central London in one of the hotels near Hounslow Central Station like the BW Plus Park Grand London Heathrow) who fancies getting up close to the world beneath the oceans’ waves – without getting wet!

The London Dungeon

Be honest, do your little tykes/ teenagers appreciate a bit of gore and mild horror? If so, then this – again, one of the top South Bank attractions – may be hard to resist. Taking you on a despicable jaunt through the capital’s blood-drenched history and heritage, it’s rich in tales of torture, imprisonment, plague and decapitation. Weird and wonderful characters (some real; others maybe not) are brought to life before your very eyes as you’re pulled into another time, but the same place – believe it or not!

The Golden Hinde

This full-scale reconstruction of the sailing galleon used by Sir Francis Drake on many of his notorious nautical voyages is simply perfect for families, not only because it’s an opportunity for kids to scramble about on the deck of an old-fashioned ship, but also because it’s open every day. Guided and self-guided tours are available and, yes, the vessel’s also a registered wedding venue.

And finally… walk along the waterside

As far as this blogger’s concerned, nothing in London beats a stroll along the South Bank. Once you’re past the crowds on Westminster Bridge and those in front of the London Eye, you’re free to check-out the charming, often bizarre street performers, step in and out of the stylish cafés and eateries, sample the smells and tastes of the street food carts, dip into the irresistible atmos of the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre and the BFI (even if you’re not intending to see anything in any of them), watch the skaters do their thing in the unique Undercroft and feel erudite as you browse the rows and rows of the book fayre under Waterloo Bridge. There’s nowhere quite like the South Bank – as you’ll find out!

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