Evening view towards the Houses of Parliament from South Bank. Photo: Britain On View
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It's easy to overlook London south of the Thames River, but if you're after great views and one of the world's foremost arts and entertainment complexes, then abandon the West End for the South Bank. The recently renovated Royal National Theatre is one of the world's best venues for both contemporary and classic plays and has a walkway that allows you to peep backstage from the street. See nationaltheatre.org.uk


If you're ever going to tackle the mysteries of modern art then do so at Tate Modern, inside a former power station. Start with early 20th century masters such as Matisse and Picasso and move on to accessible pop art icons before girding your mind for the bizarre and bemusing. You'll find painting, sculpture, video, performance and more. The Turbine Hall usually has a humungous and controversial changing installation. See tate.org.uk


The London Eye, launched for the new millennium, has become as much of a symbol of London as Big Ben across the river. As it slowly turns you can pick out most city landmarks – including Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament – and see 40 kilometres clear across the urban sprawl. See londoneye.com

Artwork in the lift at the Mondrian Hotel.
Artwork in the lift at the Mondrian Hotel. Photo: Niall Clutton


Shakespeare's Globe puts on quality performances in a reconstructed Elizabethan-era theatre. Visitors can also get a first-hand look at 16th-century building techniques and crafts (make use of the informative audio-guide) and tour the permanent exhibition, which looks at Shakespeare's London and the theatre world of his day. See shakespearesglobe.com


Promenades run along the Thames' south bank from Westminster Bridge past arts venues and tourist attractions all the way to Southwark Bridge, providing a great evening walk or morning jog. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the cultural activity, cosy pubs and lively streets of strolling locals, buskers and skateboarding teenagers.


Venerable George Inn is a former coaching inn and still-operating heritage pub, one of London's oldest, with parts of the building dating from 1677. Its interior has a low-beamed ceilings, fireplaces, warped walls, oak furniture and copper kettles, creating a cosy Jacobean atmosphere. The upstairs restaurant has good pies and other pub grub. See nationaltrust.org.uk


Mondrian London at Sea Containers sits right on the Thames and, with a passing nod to maritime-themed decor, is wildly chic and contemporary. A punk rocker and Queen Elizabeth I eyeball each other in the lift. The lobby is clad in copper, and bespoke art and furniture is everywhere. Many rooms (and a suave rooftop cocktail venue) have sweeping London views. You'll also find a cinema, spa, sleek Anglo-American restaurant and excellent breakfasts. See morganshotelgroup.com


Leave time for the retro afternoon Wyld Tea at Dandelyan​ at the Mondrian from Thursday to Sunday. It takes an old-fashioned concept to a new level with four courses including the likes of lobster and crab rolls, smoked duck nibbles, scones with grape and sherry jam, and Earl Grey custard tarts – accompanied by cocktails, of course. See morganshotelgroup.com


Restaurant Story offers whimsical and inventive modern British fare with plenty of New Nordic influences. Tattooed chef Tom Sellers, who has retained its Michelin star since 2013, once worked for legendary Copenhagen restaurant Noma. There's no menu, only an eight-course tasting lunch or 11-course dinner of small, beautifully presented dishes. See restaurantstory.co.uk



IMW London, formerly the Imperial War Museum, has plenty of military hardware and uniforms and interesting galleries from both World Wars. The four-screen British Film Institute serves up classic, arthouse and foreign movies, often accompanied by talks. See iwm.org.uk; bfi.org.uk

Brian Johnston travelled as a guest of Viking Cruises, Visit Britain and Mondrian London.

from traveller.com.au