Of all the bridges over the Thames, London Bridge has the longest and most turbulent history. It was the only bridge over London's river until Putney Bridge opened in 1729. The opulent Tower Bridge, a little further down the Thames, is often mistakenly called "London Bridge", however London Bridge does offer unparalleled views of its pretty counterpart.
The first London Bridge was built by the Romans. It was destroyed by Boudicca in 60AD. The second bridge fell into disrepair when the Romans withdrew from Britain. Almost a millennium later, both the Saxons then the Normans built short-lived bridges. This was followed by the construction of a large stone bridge, upon which shops and houses were located as well as a road. During the 16th century the bridge's imposing southern gatehouse was notorious for its large metal spikes, upon which the heads of traitors were impaled.
This bridge grew increasingly dilapidated and was eventually replaced in 1831. Less than 150 years later it was again rebuilt, and the present London Bridge opened in 1973. The bustling surrounding area is now full of hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, and has excellent public transport links. You can travel to both Luton and Gatwick airports from London Bridge station.
London Bridge Station and The Shard
London Bridge station is part of the overland rail network and from here you can access Kent, Sussex, South London and London Cannon Street. London Bridge is a Tube station on both the Jubilee and Northern lines. You will also find a huge selection of buses from London Bridge that will take you all over London.
The London Bridge skyline is dominated by the Shard, which is the tallest building in Western Europe. Opened in early 2013 it offers a viewing gallery with restaurants and shops to follow. Next to the station you will find a range of exciting attractions. Thrill-seekers will love the terrifying London Bridge Experience on Tooley Street and the Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret, in which you can see where 19th century surgeons performed operations without anaesthetic.
Visit the Scoop at More London and relax by the river and maybe catch one of the frequent special events, theatre performances or film screenings. Head further east to explore contemporary design at the excellent Design Museum, then learn about some of the materials used at the nearby Fashion and Textile Museum. If you have kids, don't miss the brilliant Unicorn Theatre, which presents shows for audiences aged 2 to 21.
London Bridge and the River Thames
There are plenty of things to do on or above the river Thames near London Bridge. HMS Belfast, the last remaining warship of its kind, is a great place to take the whole family for an interactive experience of Britain's naval history.
Further downstream, the Tower Bridge Exhibition explains how the world-famous bridge works, and allows you to venture out along the high walkway to admire the stunning views over London. From here, it's also just a short walk to the historic Tower of London. To explore the river by boat, take a Thames Clipper from London Bridge pier, or an evening City Cruise from Tower Bridge pier.
London Bridge was the only bridge over the Thames until Putney Bridge opened in 1729
Food and Drink near London Bridge
Not only are the delights of Borough Market close by, but there are plenty of superb dining opportunities nestled around London Bridge.
Butler's Wharf Chop House has bridge views and is a great destination for British cuisine, as is the Larder. You can also dine with a view of the Thames at Le Pont De La Tour or the Design Museum's Blueprint Café. Head to funky Bermondsey on a Saturday and you'll find the Maltby Street Market, featuring excellent fresh produce and a chance to sample local beers from the Kernel Brewery.
London Bridge is a great base for exploring the capital. The Hilton London Tower Bridge or the London Bridge Hotel are both very close to the station, or you can take a look at our hotel finder for more great options.