12+ Things to Do in Southwark (Beyond Seeing The Shard)

CityDays' guide to finding interesting, fun and quirky things to do in Southwark.

Looking for things to do in Southwark that are a little out of the ordinary? You’ve come to the right place.

There’s a lot to love about Southwark. After all, it’s home to what are arguably some of London’s most famous attractions and landmarks, including The Shard and Tate Modern Gallery - but what do you do after you’ve seen and done the famous things?

things to do in Southwark 01

We’ve curated a list of things to do in Southwark that aren’t featured in most places. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, a foodie or just looking to stave off boredom, we’ve got you covered.

Read on to discover our favourite things to do in Southwark!

And just so you know, nobody pays us to be featured on this list. No affiliate links here: they’re just our recommendations to you, so you can find the best things to do in London.

Fun Things to Do in Southwark

Go on a Treasure Hunt to Sniff Out Southwark’s Sordid Secrets

Things to do in Southwark 02

For most of us, Southwark is the picture of modernity. But in actual fact, Southwark is South London’s oldest borough - and you’d be surprised to hear some of the stuff that used to happen around here “back in the day”.

And if that sounds like your kind of thing, give All Gone South a go.

This treasure hunt unveils the darker, hidden side of Southwark and exposes some saucy secrets along the way. With nothing but each other and your phones, you'll have to solve riddles and puzzles, follow clues and experience around a thousand years’ worth of history in just a couple of hours.

While it’s an unconventional way to explore Southwark, you’ll be plunged into its rich and, at times, notorious history - and be introduced to some shady characters along the way. 

Perfect for those who fancy a blend of history, mystery, and a bit of outdoor fun, Southwark’s secrets beckon - as long as you’re up for a challenge! 

Get a Speedy but Delicious Meal at Vinegar Yard

Things to do in Southwark 03

Looking for things to do in Southwark that stop your stomach rumbling? Head to Vinegar Yard.

Perfectly situated near London Bridge, this vibrant urban space is my go-to spot for delicious food in a relaxed setting. 

Vinegar Yard has an eclectic mix of food stalls, offering everything from gourmet burgers to international cuisines (I have a soft spot for the dumplings at Nik’s Kitchen), so whether you’re a foodie or a fussy eater, you’ll find something you like. 

As for what you can do here besides eating, you can book your table in advance (which you absolutely should do because this place can get very busy) or take your chances on the day, watch live sports games or even visit the flea market on weekends between 11am and 5pm. 

Soak Up The Views of Tower Bridge From Potters Fields Park

Things to do in Southwark 04

If you’re looking for things to do in Southwark that take you out of the mayhem of crowded streets and concrete, head to Potters Fields Park. 

Apart from being the perfect vantage point for admiring Tower Bridge, this tranquil green space provides a picturesque backdrop for leisurely walks, picnics, or simply soaking up the panoramic views of the bridge and the London skyline. 

Personally, I like to bring a book along here and enjoy some peace and quiet, but I especially recommend this place if you’re a keen photographer (towards the evening, you can get some stellar pics of Tower Bridge lit up).

PSST: During the summer months, it’s not uncommon to find ice cream vans parked up nearby and there’s loads of restaurants and cafes nearby if you get hungry. 

Check Out One of Southwark’s Underrated Art Galleries, Bankside Gallery

Things to do in Southwark 05

Bankside Gallery, nestled in the heart of Southwark, is an underrated treasure trove of contemporary art. 

As the home of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, it boasts an ever-changing array of exhibitions that showcase the very best in watercolour, printmaking, and contemporary art. 

This intimate gallery provides art lovers with a serene environment to appreciate the works of both established and emerging artists, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant Southwark art scene.

PSST: If it’s raining cats and dogs or you just need a bit of quiet, this is the place to come. It’s free to enter and I’ve always found it to be super peaceful here! 

See For Yourself What England’s First Ship to Circumnavigate the World Looks Like Aboard The Golden Hinde

Things to do in Southwark 06
- ©Geoff Henson via Flickr

Ever wondered what life aboard a 16th-century ship would look like? Find out for yourself by stepping onto (and into) the Golden Hinde, a full-sized reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's historic ship, the first English vessel to circumnavigate the globe. 

Located in the heart of Southwark, this floating museum offers a rare opportunity to step aboard and experience the life of a 16th-century explorer. 

The original Golden Hind saw plenty of action, from reaching far-flung shores to being the venue of a gift giving ceremony with Queen Elizabeth I herself. With this Golden Hinde though, it’s your turn to experience the adventure. 

Take a tour, attend an event or workshop or, if you have kids, stay onboard overnight as a family - find out what’s on and get ship-savvy!

Visit A Pub Mentioned In Dickens’ Little Dorrit

Whenever you think you’ve visited all the places in London tied to Dickens, there’s always one more - and this one is absolutely worth the effort. 

As one of London’s oldest surviving coaching inns, The George is a classic English pub that offers more than just a pint and bragging rights at your book club. It's a chance to immerse yourself in the atmosphere that once inspired one of England's greatest novelists - and, if history is to be believed, has been visited by everyone from Princess Margaret to Winston Churchill, Beyonce and Madonna.

Packed with traditional charm and rich history, The George is a great place to stop for a pint and appreciate London’s long and occasionally bizarre history. If you’re hungry, you can also get your hands on top notch pub grub here - the Sunday Roasts are especially legendary. 

Quirky Things to Do in Southwark

Pay a Visit to The Old Operating Theatre

Things to do in Southwark 07
- ©Andrew Stawarz via Flickr

Who’d have thought that Europe’s oldest operating theatre was right here in Southwark? Well, it is - and its doors are open for you to have a rummage around. 

If you’re looking for things to do in Southwark that pique a morbid curiosity within you, head to The Old Operating Theatre.

True to its name, a visit to the Old Operating Theatre is an opportunity to explore one one of the most unusual museums in London. Nestled in the attic of an 18th-century church, this place offers a glimpse into the history of medicine and surgery before the advent of anaesthesia and antiseptics. 

The original wooden operating table and the array of surgical instruments paint a vivid picture of a (thankfully) bygone era, and my favourite part of this museum, the Herb Garret, is everything you’d expect an old apothecary to be - cramped, stocked with intriguing bottles and packed to the rafters with strange objects.

Find Out What Links Shakespeare, Harvard University, A 14th-Century Poet, and a Native American Chief at Southwark Cathedral

It’d be way too easy to dismiss Southwark Cathedral as “just” another of London’s churches (they are all magnificent in their own way, in my opinion), but I really, really urge you not to. 

This ecclesiastical treasure, steeped in centuries of history, invites visitors to uncover the fascinating connections between unlikely historical figures and far-flung places. From Mahomet Weyonomo - Chief of the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut - to William Shakespeare, John Harvard, and many more, stories from famous names come to life at this sacred and serene place of worship.

PSST: If history isn’t your thing, it’s worth visiting Southwark Cathedral if only to get acquainted with Hodge, the second rescue cat at the Cathedral to hold the title of “Chief Mouser”. 

Unleash Your Curiosity by Visiting Kirkaldy’s Testing Works

Things to do in Southwark 09
- ©Richard Ash via Flickr

If, like me, you love figuring out how complicated things work, you need to visit Kirkaldy’s Testing Works.

This unique museum showcases David Kirkaldy's pioneering universal testing machine, built in 1865 to test the strength of materials. It's a rare opportunity to delve into the history of engineering and explore the development of technology that has shaped the modern world. 

Perfect for those with a keen interest in science, history, or engineering, Kirkaldy’s Testing Works invites you to unleash your curiosity and learn about the innovations of the past. And yes, the museum actually encourages you to do your own tinkering - even if that means breaking something! 

Uncover One of the Last Remaining Pieces of Medieval Architecture in London - Winchester Palace

Things to do in Southwark 10

If you’re looking for things to do in Southwark that give you a glimpse into London’s Medieval past, make sure you don’t unwittingly wander past what remains of Winchester Palace.

Nestled nearby the famous Clink Prison Museum lies one of London’s last remaining pieces of architecture in London, Winchester Palace.

Once the opulent residence of the Bishops of Winchester, these striking ruins evoke the splendour of medieval times. This hidden gem offers a tangible connection to London's rich past, providing a captivating glimpse into the lives of its most influential medieval residents.

Take a moment to look up at the magnificent rose window and admire that despite a thousand years’ worth of human activity, bomb damage and more, these bricks have stood the test of time to whisper stories of a London from long ago. 

Get a Glimpse Into The Lives of Londoners Past at Crossbones Graveyard

Things to do in Southwark 11
- ©Matt Brown

Bear with us on this one - it’s not everyday you suggest visiting a graveyard as an activity but you have to agree, it is up there with quirky things to do in Southwark.

Although it’s only small in comparison to some of London’s other famous cemeteries, Crossbones Graveyard is packed with history and offers a poignant glimpse into the lives of London's forgotten past.

This unofficial burial ground, dating back to medieval times, was the final resting place for the outcast and the marginalised, including many of Southwark's poorest inhabitants, most famously, unnamed sex workers who had been denied proper funeral rites.

Today, it stands as a memorial to those lost souls, with a vibrant garden and ongoing efforts to commemorate and honour their lives. A group of volunteers tend the beautiful garden and colourful memorials that have sprung up since the ‘90s when a renewed interest in the cemetery arose. 

PSST: Crossbones Graveyard is open Wednesday-Friday from 12pm until 2pm, so be sure to keep an eye on the time - this isn’t one you want to miss! 

Arrive Hungry to One of London’s Oldest Markets, Borough Market

Things to do in Southwark 12

Last but not least on our list of things to do in Southwark, a visit to Borough Market.

Located just a stone’s throw away in Borough, Borough Market is renowned for its vast array of gourmet foods, fresh produce, and international delicacies. As one of the oldest markets in London, you’ve probably heard about it (or seen it on social media) and there are several reasons you should pay it a visit if you’re in the area.

Whether you're in the mood to sample artisanal cheeses, indulge in street food from around the globe, or pick up ingredients for a special meal, Borough Market promises a feast for the senses. 

If you’ve already been to Borough Market, it’s worth adding that there are plenty of other markets in the area also worth checking out, including Maltby Street Market, Tabard Street Market, and Mercato Metropolitano.

Find More Fun Things to Do in London with CityDays

Things to do in London

So there you have it, 12+ things to do in Southwark you can do today, tomorrow, or whenever you fancy! 

Want to find more things to do in London?

Whatever your interests are, there’s always something new for you to discover. In fact, you don’t have to go out of your way at all to find them - you just have to know where to look. 

Discover London’s secret sights and noteworthy nooks by playing one of our London treasure and scavenger hunts, urban adventures, escape room games or walking tours.

You’ll find curated trails and hunts all over London, including Central London, Greenwich Mayfair, Shoreditch, Kensington and Southwark. 

All you have to do is team up with your partner, friends, family or whoever to solve riddles, complete challenges and answer trivia to lead you on an unforgettable journey around London’s most intriguing streets. 

The best part? We’ll recommend top-rated pubs, cafés and restaurants and give your team the chance to earn rewards by competing on our leaderboard.