My wife and I just spent 4 days in London with our 1 year old child (although he can’t talk yet, we think he liked it!). This post is part 2 of a 3 part series, with suggestions for how to make the most of your time in the EU’s biggest city.
On our second day in London, we decided to visit the Bankside and Lambeth boroughs, located in central London on the south side of the River Thames. This area is home to several popular attractions, but we focused our attention on two specifically – Tate Modern and the London Eye.
Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and is the most visited such gallery in the world, with roughly 4.7 million visitors per year. The building has been converted from what was formerly the Bankside Power Station, which closed in 1981. Perhaps the most observable reminder of the old power station is the Turbine Hall in Level 1, which used to house electricity generators, but today displays large specially-commissioned works by contemporary artists.
The five story building opened in 2000, with three of five levels hosting permanent collections, while other areas house temporary exhibitions. Many famous art works dating from 1900 to present are available for viewing. There’s also an interactive kids play area for parents, and admission is free for all ages. Due to Tate’s recent popularity, it is currently undergoing a massive extension, which is scheduled to open in 2012, prior to the Summer Olympic Games.
Access Tate from the Southwark tube station and follow the signs.
Next up, take a leisurely ten minute stroll along the Thames riverbank towards an attraction you can see from anywhere in the city, the London Eye. The London Eye is one of the world’s tallest Ferris Wheels, standing at 135 metres tall. When it opened in 1999, it was in fact the tallest in the world, but has since been surpassed by two other structures in China and Singapore.
The wheel is constructed with 32-dome like structures (pods) which hold up to 25 persons each. The entire wheel rotates ever so slowly, just less than 1km/hour in fact, which is slow enough that it doesn’t need to stop and people can load and offload with ease. One revolution takes roughly 30 minutes, giving you an unbeatable view of London from above. You can save a little on ticket prices if you pre-book online, and for those who are interested, you can book the champagne experience, enjoying a glass of bubbly from up above London (if you are afraid of heights, you may need it). It’s also possible to experience the London Eye at nighttime, offering a lights-of-London perspective from above.
Tate Modern and the London Eye are just a few minutes walk from one another. If you still have time and energy to spare after visiting both, I recommend crossing over the Millenium Bridge and making your way towards the Palace of Westminster.
Check out Day 3 of 3…