Tourist Information Guide

Visitor's Guide To London's Waterloo

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The London Eye from the Southbank
The London Eye from the Southbank
Waterloo is an area with a lot to offer. It is often incorrectly considered to be simply a transport hub for London. However, in terms of attractions for tourists, you could have a whole holiday in London without ever leaving Waterloo. In terms of culture it is second to none - the Southbank is a hive of activity, brimming with museums, galleries and other attractions. For places to eat, you will find an interesting selection of big players and independent one-offs. For night life, clubs are not always top of the agenda, but there is a reasonable selection of bars.

On this page you will find an overview to what to expect on a trip to Waterloo. You will find a guide on how to get there. Plus, there are links to more detailed pages on the cinemas, bars and places to eat in the area. The links we provide will bring you through to a listings page providing locations, contact details, descriptions, ticketing information and booking advice for the relevant establishments.

Waterloo: what to expect and what makes the area special

An art display on the Southbank
An art display on the Southbank

Waterloo is a large area, made up of distinct areas that have its own character and appeal. Here I will describe the different areas of Waterloo:

The Southbank: is a section of the Thames river bank that is full of places to eat and cultural activities. You can walk to the Southbank from Waterloo station in under five minutes. Once you are there you will be able to head for attractions including the Royal Festival Hall, the London Eye, the London Aquarium and the National Theatre. For a our guide to the Southbank, with links to pages dealing with each attraction individually, see our Guide to the Southbank in London.

The Cut: This street is the home to two famous London's theatres:

The Old Vic and The Young Vic

The two theatres instill a cultural atmosphere on the tree-lined street that they are situated on. There is also a good selection of bars and restaurants in their wake. It takes less than two minutes to get from Waterloo station to The Cut.

Lower Marsh: Lower Marsh has a similar atmosphere to The Cut. It is lined with small and independent shops, bars and restaurants. There is also a food market there during the day.

How to get there

Waterloo sits in the South of London, right next to the River Thames. It is best to use public transport to travel to the city centre, as there is often lots of traffic and parking can be difficult (but, if you do need to get into Waterloo using your car, see the information below on where to park in the area). Waterloo has a tube stop (see below for a guide to the tube station) ensuring that you can arrive right in the centre of Waterloo. Once you arrive at the Waterloo underground stop, simply leave the station from one of its multiple exits and you will find yourself in the heart of the area and in easy walking distances of areas such as the Southbank, The Cut and Lower marsh.

Tube Tube: Waterloo (Black Line / Northern Line, Brown Line / Bakerloo Line, Grey Line / Jubilee Line and Pink Line / City Line)

Cinemas in the area

Waterloo offers something more than your average multi-screen when it comes to cinemas. Not only is the area home to the BFI (the British Film Institute), it is also home to an affiliated IMAX cinema, with one of the largest cinema screens in the country. Therefore, if it's a big Hollywood blockbuster you're after, it is better to head to areas such as Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. But if you fancy checking out some more art house or interesting options, the BFI offers some interesting ideas.

For a guide to the BFI, where you will find a cinema alongside a museum and other attractions, see our page on BFI on the Southbank.

And for details of the BFI IMAX cinema screen, including ticketing information, location and what to expect, see our page on the BFI IMAX cinema.

Places to eat

Waterloo is a popular area to head to if you fancy having a meal out. The area is peppered with streets and neighbourhoods where you can try a manner of dining treats. If you head to the Southbank, you can either try out some brand chain restaurants or some family-friendly places to eat. In areas such as The Cut and Lower Marsh you will find small and independent restaurants offering something a little bit different. And throughout the area you will have the opportunity to find affordable meals and special dinner deals. For information on what to expect and links to more detailed restaurant pages, see our page on restaurants in Waterloo.

To find out specifically about the restaurants that are available on the Southbank, see our Guide to the Southbank in London.

Bars and pubs

Cubana Bar in Lower Marsh
Cubana Bar in Lower Marsh

Compared to areas such as Leicester Square or Shoreditch, Waterloo has less of a late night club scene. However, it does offer a host of pubs and bars where you can enjoy a night of socialising with friends. In areas such as The Cut and Lower Marsh you will find a selection of pubs and bars with a jovial atmosphere. There are also some pubs just around the station that attract a lively after work crowd. For some drinks and chatter in a pub with an enjoyable outdoor area, try The Fire Station Pub.

Or is you fancy a night of tacos, margheritas and salsa, head to Cubana Bar and Restaurant.

If you fancy going slightly more upmarket, it is worth heading to the Southbank. Places such as the National Theatre, the OXO tower and the Royal Festival Hall are home to cocktail bars with stunning views over the city. Check out our page on The Skylon Bar in the Royal Festival Hall.

Waterloo underground station

Waterloo train station main entrance
Waterloo train station main entrance

The tube station in Waterloo brings you into the heart of Waterloo and right into the main train station building. It is a convenient tube station as it is on four different tube lines: the Bakerloo line (brown line), the Jubilee line (grey line), the Northern line (black line) and the Waterloo and City line (pink line).

Waterloo Underground Station
London Underground Ltd
York Road

Website: Official Website for Waterloo underground station

Parking nearby

If possible it is best to avoid driving into the centre of London - taxis, buses and tubes in the city centre are affordable and convenient. But, if you do need to drive into the centre you will find a small selection of car parks where you can leave your car. Most of them can be found around the Southbank centre.

For more information see the Southbank Centre Official Website Parking page.

Waterloo is a popular place to head to for some fun if you are South of the river Thames in London. It offers an high concentration of theatres, museums, galleries and restaurants. Most parts of the area are in easy walking distance of each other, so do a little research of where everything is before you head to the area and you can plan a little route for yourself. Culture vultures beware - you could arrive in Waterloo and never want to leave!

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