On the list of must-do things in London, there are, well, a lot. But few experiences are more quintessentially British than stepping into a pub, ordering a pint at the bar, and posting up at a small wooden table to take a load off and enjoy a good conversation. Pubs are a central part of British culture, and even pubs in the heart of Central London can still have a bit of that magic if you know where to go.
Bankside is a small area in central London, located on the southern shores of the Thames. It’s home to the Shard, Borough Market, and the Golden Hinde, and is defined by several iconic bridges: Millennium Bridge, London Bridge, and Tower Bridge. You really can’t go wrong spending at least part of your London itinerary in Bankside, since it’s small, walkable, and has a ton to offer visitors.
Combining the two, here are some of the best pubs in Bankside. On this list you’ll find the full range, ranging from national chain pubs that are heavily touristed to historic spots a bit more off the beaten path. Each one is unique, so it’s just a matter of finding one that suits your travel style.
Best of all, London pubs almost always offer food; if you’re looking to combine your pub experience with a plate of traditional London foods (or you just don’t drink but still want the experience), here are the pubs in Bankside you need to visit.
The Founder’s Arms
Photos courtesy of The Founder’s Arms
If you are looking for the best pubs in London’s Bankside, The Founder’s Arms should be at the top of your list. It is conveniently located near many of the best things to do in Bankside, including the Tate Modern and the Millenium Bridge.
The real gem of the pub is the outdoor terrace. With stunning views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Thames, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a drink on a balmy summer’s evening.
As for drinks, the pub has a wide selection, including local craft beers, international gins, and an extensive wine list. If you’re in the mood for a traditional English Sunday lunch, you will love their menu of roast meat, perfectly cooked vegetables, and fluffy Yorkshire pudding.
Swan at the Globe
Photos courtesy of The Swan at the Globe
Are you looking for a charming pub with stunning views of the London skyline? Look no further than The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe, the iconic Bankside theater. The pub has been a partner of the Globe for over a decade and has a strong connection to the local theater scene.
From craft beers to specialized gins and seasonal cocktails, there’s a drink to suit every taste. The Swan serves classic pub food like bangers and mash to steak and ale pie and also offers a sophisticated afternoon tea menu.
It’s not just the food and drinks that make The Swan special – the pub also hosts cultural events throughout the year, including live music, poetry readings, and theatrical performances.
The Old Thameside Inn
Photos courtesy of Kake via Flickr and The Old Thameside Inn via Twitter
If you’re new to London, The Old Thameside Inn is a great place to start your search for the best Bankside pubs. It offers delicious pub food, many drink options, a friendly atmosphere, and a large outdoor terrace providing panoramic views of the Thames River.
The pub is near the famous Clink Prison Museum and offers an old-fashioned, traditional English pub experience. It boasts an impressive selection of cask ales, including its own Nicholson’s Pale Ale, which is definitely worth a try.
Plus, with the remains of a 16th-century spice warehouse still visible behind the pub, you can even learn a little bit of history while enjoying your pint.
Photos courtesy of The Anchor
The Anchor is one of the oldest and best pubs in Bankside. This historic spot has been around for over 800 years and was once frequented by smugglers and pirates crossing the River Thames. The pub boasts an impressive selection of drinks, from wines and whiskies to rums and lagers. Plus, their classic pub grub menu will satisfy any craving.
The Anchor is a popular spot during the summertime when everyone wants to hit the sun-kissed terrace. If it’s a themed night you’re out for, join a quiz night or join in the festivities as they show all the Six Nations rugby.
The White Hart (Southwark)
Photos courtesy of The White Hart
The White Hart is another excellent pub dating back to 16th century London, previously built as a coaching inn. Inside, you’ll be transported back in time with the pub’s classic interior, featuring exposed brick walls, wooden beams, and a roaring fireplace.
The pub offers quality food, including its famous Sunday roasts. You can also indulge in their wide selection of beers, cask ales, and a wine list with over 30 bottles to choose from. During warmer months, take advantage of their lovely outside seating area and soak up the lively Bankside atmosphere.
The Old King’s Head
Photo courtesy of emdjt42 via Flickr
The Old King’s Head is a good old-fashioned pub with great food, various drinks, and a heartwarming atmosphere. The pub has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. It’s said that William Shakespeare himself used to drink here back in the day.
Today, The Old King’s Head hosts various events throughout the year, including live music, quiz nights, and themed parties. If you’re looking for a unique space for a private event, the pub’s quirky function room, complete with Titanic memorabilia, is sure to impress.
Photos courtesy of The George
Located just a short walk from London’s famous Borough Market, you will find The George, one of the best pubs in London. It is just a stone’s throw from popular attractions like The Shard and London Bridge, making it the perfect spot to take a break from sightseeing.
The George dates back to the 17th century and is London’s last surviving galleried inn. Charles Dickens himself was a fan of the pub and even mentioned it in his novel “Little Dorrit.” It’s not hard to see why — with its cozy, welcoming atmosphere and dog-friendly policy, it’s a great place to relax and have a pint or three.
Ready to raise a glass and take a load off after a day of sightseeing in London? Let me know any questions you have about these top pubs in Bankside in the comments below.