Looking for a way to spice up your cultural experiences in London? Take a look at these art galleries in London Bridge for a great alternative to the bigger galleries in one of the city’s most popular areas, and a few cheap places to eat after!
In this guide we’ll be looking at some of the best contemporary galleries in the area, as well as a handful of foodie stops along the way. As you’ll soon see, London Bridge is a great area for visitors: it’s artistic, offers a wealth of dining options, it’s well connected thanks to London Bridge mainline and tube station, it’s an easy walk to central London attractions, and there are some great hotels in London Bridge to wind down and relax in after a long day of sightseeing!
Since I moved to London almost a year ago, I’ve enjoyed exploring the surrounding areas closest to my home in Regent’s Park. While it’s a lovely residential area, I don’t get much of a chance to explore other great neighbourhoods, especially ones so close by! Now I’m on a mission to discover areas I wouldn’t normally explore in my free time – and see what I can find!
Disclaimer: The spending money for the excursions and recommendations in this post was kindly gifted by Hotels.com, but all views, words, and photos are my own.
Art Galleries In London Bridge
When I’m new to a city I love exploring art galleries. Living in a city known worldwide for its art scene, I’m spoiled for choice! I chose to immerse myself in art around London Bridge as it’s an area I’ve visited but not really explored in depth. Sure there’s HMS Belfast and the Shard, but I wanted to really dig into the hidden gems and find the character that makes this area so popular!
I spent the majority of my time exploring the art galleries on Bermondsey Street – the artiest area of London Bridge. The whole street is jam-packed with art spaces, quirky coffee shops, boutique stores, all within some seriously aesthetic London architecture. What more could you want?!
First up, is the The Underdog. This art space, bar, and music venue is the ultimate quirky spot in London Bridge. The unassuming art pieces are so seamlessly integrated as the furniture and interior design you could easily mistake it for just a bar with a very particular style!
Don’t visit The Underdog expecting classic works or tasteful contemporary designs – it’s a haven for the weird and wonderful as proven by the current Occult and Symbolism group show. Despite the dark and mysterious impression, we were welcomed by friendly staff happy to help and chat.
Although not your traditional gallery experience, I’d recommend seeing what exhibitions are on at the time of your visit, and pop your head in for a nose around and maybe a pint! They also put on live music, so be sure to stick around and discover some new artists while you’re at it.
As part of St Thomas’ Hospital and in association with King’s College London, the Science Gallery is a unique twist on art and science collaborating to showcase informative and creative works. At the time of my visit, the exhibition “Spare Parts” was displaying pieces that demonstrate how technology and developing scientific techniques are able to further our abilities for tissue regeneration and organ transplants. It’s pretty eye-opening stuff, and not one we’d usually come face to face with, so I appreciated the education!
The Science Gallery is an ideal place to bring the family for an all-round experience. There’s a cafe and small gift shop, and the exhibition covers all sorts of topics across science, art, ethics, and technology. There are even the odd interactive works to keep curious hands occupied.
It’s important to be aware that some works can be a little startling to witness (think watching an episode of 24 Hours in A&E, but in real life), but there are clear signs to alert you of any footage or artworks that might be not everyone’s cup of tea. As a total wuss when it comes to needles and blood, I was grateful to politely bypass those sections!
The White Cube art gallery is by far my favourite art gallery in London Bridge. It’s got the sprawling, raw feel of the Tate Modern, but without the crowds, and a more selective curation.
The contemporary pieces are impressive both in scale and impact – I loved the bright vivid colours of each room! The exhibitions at my time of visiting were by Sarah Morris – Machines do not make us into machines, and Zhou Li’s Original state of mind. Both were very different styles, but each entirely captured my attention.
Cleverly, none of the art works have their title next to them – something I really appreciate (you can learn about the works from a flyer at the entrance instead). For me, this offers the viewers room for interpretation and the chance to focus on the work itself rather than any possible distractions.
My favourite part of the White Cube gallery was the film by Sarah Morris – Abu Dhabi. Here, I watched on a ginormous screen as footage of rolling sand dunes and incredible scenery capture the essence of this Middle Eastern country. Alongside the rousing music, I could have watched the entire duration (a whopping 68 minutes!) had I more time!
The smallest art gallery in London Bridge (or dare I say, in London?!), is a rather unusual one. Sat in Bermondsey Square, it’s basically a window with the artworks inside a narrow passageway, so you observe from outside looking in – meaning it’s accessible 24/7. It reminds me of a storefront window, and while the gallery is of course limited I thought it was a truly unique idea and a chance for artists to use a space that is less conventional than other galleries.
How could I visit London Bridge without checking out the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition? Just a short walk from the station sat right outside City Hall are displayed the entries for the annual competition, including those receiving commendations and the winners themselves. I found meandering through the walls of photos hugely inspiring – of course as a travel blogger they evoke a curiosity for the destination, and as an art-lover an awe for such refined skills!
The various categories of the competition covered all sorts of photographs including people, wildlife, and landscape. With such a stunning backdrop I continued on my way through London Bridge thinking that I really must up my photography skills!
The only paid art space I explored on Bermondsey Street was at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Situated in a bright orange building that you certainly can’t miss, the museum offers an insight into the history, ideas, passions, and pieces of the fashion industry. The exhibition I saw focussed on Swinging London – looking specifically at the works of Terence Conran and Mary Quant who are heralded to have initiated the groundbreaking “Pop” revolution.
With plenty of handy info and pieces to admire, I enjoyed exploring this comprehensive dive into a topic that I actually know next to nothing about!
Even More Art Galleries In London Bridge…
There are SO many art galleries in London Bridge I honestly couldn’t fit them all in! The ones that remain on my To-Do List are:
- Menier Gallery – Part of the historical Menier Chocolate Factory, hosting various contemporary exhibitions from around the world.
- Anise Gallery – Another contemporary gallery, this space focusses on architectural design from primarily emerging artists and designers. This art gallery in London Bridge is also known for its use of Virtual Reality in exhibitions.
I honestly would have visited them too if I could, but do be aware that both of these galleries are closed on Sundays, so plan your trip accordingly!
A couple of arty places in London Bridge that aren’t specifically galleries include:
- London Glassblowing – A place to learn about the art of glassblowing and admire some of the experts’ handiwork.
- Old Operating Theatre – Not quite an art space, but an honourable mention for the oldest surviving operating theatre in Europe – which during its time was likely the place of some considerable artistic licence from surgeons!
I’m pretty sure this is by no means an exhaustive list of art galleries in London Bridge, but it’s a good start! As you can see, there’s plenty of choice in this arty area of central London.
Why Visit Art Galleries In London Bridge?
While most of the art galleries in London Bridge focus on contemporary art (I mean, the Tate Modern is right down the Thames!), they certainly offer a much more personal experience than the big galleries further along the Southbank. With local and visiting artists exhibiting, you’d be guaranteed to find something unique and worthy of your time.
I often find that smaller art galleries have a number of benefits, you’re not only supporting a local and independent business, but you might find them much quieter than the cavernous galleries elsewhere! Rather than queueing to head inside and getting lost repeatedly through various rooms, these art galleries are simple, easy to navigate, and you’ll practically have the space to yourself.
As well the space and art itself, entry to these art galleries in London Bridge were almost entirely free, and almost all are indoors. These make for not only a cheap day out, but a very family-friendly and rainy-day appropriate one!
Cheap Places To Eat In London Bridge
After all that culture you’re sure to be in need of a bite to eat, and something to wash it down! Where better to reflect on your favourite art galleries in London Bridge that you’ve visited than these delightful eateries and watering holes that can guarantee bang for your buck?
The Vinegar Yard is an open-air food court with a selection of great street food vendors sat alongside a charming vintage market. Grab a hot chocolate and croissant at The Gentleman Baristas after heading down Bermondsey Street to admire some art!
You can even mosey around the flea market and use your new-found artistic eye to pick up a souvenir… or two! Best of all, there are free toilets available towards the back of Vinegar Yard, so make the most of those!
Right next to the Vitrine Gallery is a charming little coffee shop called Hej – a Swedish coffee establishment with its heart in London Bridge. They even roast their coffee beans just down the road in Elephant & Castle!
Excuse the rather brash language, but who doesn’t enjoy a pun? Don’t be fooled by the moody interiors and alarming name, you can find the most cheery (and tasty!) rainbow cake and fun smoothies in this popular joint on Bermondsey Street.
The Horniman at Hays
No trip to London is complete without checking out at least one Nicholson’s pub – the chain own public houses across the city and the UK . Thankfully, The Horniman is right on the riverfront at Hay’s Galleria and despite the elegant interior offers some excellently affordable prices. A perfect spot for a quick pub lunch or pint, you can’t go wrong!
One of London Bridge’s coolest coffee shops has to be London Grind. It’s ideal for brunch, lunch, a coffee, or a cocktail – so you could stay there all day! With chic interiors and a simple but crowd-pleasing contemporary menu, you’ll feel like you’re back in an art gallery whilst enjoying your chai latte!
How could you visit London Bridge without getting a cheap bite to eat at Borough Market?! Borough Market is a foodie dream with stalls and vendors offering every delectable delight under the sun. Although the main market is closed on a Sunday, a few sneaky street food stalls are open just under the bridge alongside Southwark Cathedral. Follow your nose and head down the steps to find a hidden treat!
The creamiest, cheesiest mac’n’cheese can’t be beaten, and at this affordable price it’s probably the cheapest place to eat in London Bridge while also filling you up! There’s limited seating by the stalls so head around the corner to sit in the courtyard of Southwark Cathedral and enjoy the juxtaposed old and new architecture of the cathedral and the Shard while you chow down your food. Yum!
Roasting Plant Coffee
Right next to London Grind on London Bridge itself (and just opposite the station!) is Roasting Plant Coffee. This fresh and breezy coffee shop is ideal for on-the-go healthy foods to munch while sat enjoying the views, thinking over all the great art you’ve enjoyed.
If you’re feeling a salad then this is the best place to eat in London Bridge at a cheap price. And for all the coffee fiends out there, you’ll enjoy this US import where the coffee is roasted on site and given pride of place in the centre of the store!
As London Bridge is a bustling business area of London, there are a lot of bars, and restaurants that are closed up on a Sunday (also to give the hard-working staff a day off!). As mentioned above, make sure you check ahead to avoid disappointment but as you can see there are a ton of cheap places to eat in London Bridge that are open all week!
Have you explored the art galleries in London Bridge, or found any great places to eat in this part of London? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!
For other great things to do in London, take a look at how I spend a usual weekend day in London enjoying other incredible areas of the city!
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