17 Most Famous Bridges in London You Should Cross

There are many ways to soak in the sights of London. 

Like many classic European cities, London was built around a network of rivers. The most notable, River Thames, weaves through many of London’s busiest neighborhoods and connects the northern and southern parts of the city.

You will inevitably cross many bridges as you explore the city. The famous London bridges are sights in themselves.

You may wonder how many bridges are there in London? There are currently 35 bridges in the city. With so many options, it can be hard to decide which are worth the journey.    

Aerial view of London with the River Thames and Tower Bridge at sunset

Here, we’ve compiled the most famous bridges in London you should cross. You’ve probably heard of Tower Bridge or London Bridge. Still, there are many others, such as Millennium Bridge, Westminster Bridge, and the oldest bridge in London, Richmond Bridge. Some have fascinating histories, others have funny architectural quirks, but all are remarkable in their own right. 

Whether by vehicle or foot, get ready to traverse the Thames with some knowledge in hand.  

1. Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge in London, the UK. Sunset with beautiful clouds

The most famous bridge in London is Tower Bridge. It crosses the River Thames right by the Tower of London. 

This iconic bridge symbolizes the city and has been around since the late 19th century. It was designed to look even older, giving it a regal, fairytale-like quality. 

The city received many designs before choosing to go with the architect Sir Horace Jones in 1884. 

The two levered sections are called bascules, cleverly named from the French word for see-saw. At the time of construction, it was the most sophisticated bascule bridge globally. 

The two walkways on the higher level were meant for pedestrian crossings. Rumor has it these stretches became more of a red-light district and center for ladies of the night. They closed to the public in 1910. 

Today, pedestrians are still allowed to cross on the lower levels and can pay to access the higher walkways. The bascules raise for ships about twice a day, with boats getting priority over vehicles. 

The Bascule Chambers counterbalance the bascules. They also host occasional concerts and a museum for those curious about the bridge’s architecture. 

2. London Bridge

Early morning at London Bridge.

While the London Bridge has a famous name, the bridge’s design is more functional than eye-worthy. 

However, it has an exciting history and prime location, making it one of the most crossed bridges over the Thames in London. 

The origins of the famous nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down” are unknown. Some speculate that it could have been from an attack weakening the structure, the Great Fire, or bodies buried inside as a superstitious form of protection. Nothing is proven, but it does leave an air of mystery.

The original bridge was constructed by the Romans. It was demolished to give way to the Modern London Bridge which opened here in 1973. 

The pop star Fergie’s hit song, “London Bridge,” was named after this landmark. However, the music video actually features Tower Bridge. Confusing the two is a common mistake among foreigners.

3. Millennium Bridge

St. Pauls cathedral and Millennium Bridge, London, UK

Millennium Bridge, also known as London Millenium Footbridge, is a famous bridge in London.

This steel suspension bridge is more modern than many of the city’s bridges. It was constructed in 2000 as a pedestrian bridge. 

It was quickly dubbed the “Wobbly Bridge” after pedestrians noticed some precarious swaying upon opening. Further repairs solved this issue, and it was successfully reopened in 2002, but the nickname remains. 

No vehicles make this bridge the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. Its location is appealing as it connects a few picturesque landmarks in London. St. Paul’s Cathedral sits on the north side, with Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern on the south. 

4. Waterloo Bridge

City of London in late afternoon light. This view includes: St. Paul`s Cathedral, The Gherkin, Tower 42, and Waterloo Bridge.

One of the famous bridges in London is the Waterloo Bridge. 

Waterloo Bridge has taken on many nicknames over time. It was initially supposed to be named Strand Bridge. It changed to Waterloo to commemorate the king’s victory in the Battle of Waterloo.  

It is also called “The Ladies’ Bridge.” The bridge required repair during WWII. With most men at war, a predominantly female workforce rebuilt the modern bridge. 

Waterloo Bridge has a simple, clean elegance to it. It might help that it is made of Portland stone which can clean itself when it rains. 

5. Westminster Bridge

The Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge in London.

Westminster Bridge crosses the River Thames and connects Westminster to Lambeth. You can see historical sights such as the Palace of Westminster and an iconic view of Big Ben as you cross. 

The bridge is painted a beautiful light green to match the seats in the House of Commons. 

Clusters of ornate glass lamps add a nice touch as you walk along. 

The decorative stonework features three connecting circles, which play a risque trick on the eyes if one is paying close attention at the right time of day.

Businesswoman commuting going to work on Westminster bridge street early morning.

Westminster Bridge is featured in Bond films and Doctor Who. You might remember it from the eerie opening scene of the post-apocalyptic 28 Days Later.

6. Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges

The Hungerford footbridge over the River Thames in central London

Hungerford Bridge is an excellently located railway bridge. Two pedestrian walkways, the Golden Jubilee Bridges, were added on either side and named in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s fiftieth anniversary. 

Golden Jubilee Bridges are in the heart of London’s tourist attractions. Walk along the bridge to listen to street musicians or see local artisans selling their work. 

On the east side, you’ll view the Shard and St. Paul’s Cathedral. On the west side, you’ll catch Big Ben, the House of Parliament, and that perfect photo of the London Eye. Head there after dark when the bridge lights up to catch a glimpse of London by night.  

Locals often call them the Hungerford Footbridges, so bear this in mind when asking for directions.

7. Richmond Bridge

Thames River at Richmond Bridge

The oldest bridge in London is the Richmond Bridge. It was finished in 1777 and maintains its original design despite some enhancements. 

It connects both halves of the Borough of Richmond, a pleasant London suburb.

Richmond is the place to go if you are looking for a slight reprieve from the chaos of the city. Enjoy a peaceful walk through gardens, stop in independent shops, or grab a pint in a historic old pub. 

8. Vauxhall Bridge

The statue of Education (Sculpture by Alfred Drury) on Vauxhall Bridge
Editorial credit: Chris Lawrence Travel / Shutterstock.com

If you’re walking across this central London bridge, take a moment to peer over the side and observe the eight bronze statues built into the wall. 

These figures represent different themes: agriculture, architecture, engineering, pottery, science, fine arts, education, and local government. The Architecture statue is even holding a replica of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

9. Southwark Bridge

London Southwark bridge in Thames river UK.

Southwark Bridge gets less traffic than most bridges in London. It has a cycling section and a comfortable walking path.

The bridge is painted a striking turquoise and yellow, which might be unusual. Still, I think it adds a splash of color to the surrounding grey buildings. 

This is the site of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre. You can find stonework details built into the bridge and area in memory of this historical location.

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the broomstick flight scene takes place over this bridge. It was also featured in the 1964 Disney original Mary Poppins.

10. Putney Bridge

Putney Bridge, close to the finish line of the annual boat race in the Thames river.

Putney Bridge connects Fulham and Putney in London. It is sandwiched between two medieval churches, All Saints Church and St. Mary the Virgin. 

People gather on this bridge to watch the start of the Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Races. This spot is the perfect place to see the teams gearing up for the yearly competition that first began in 1829.

11. Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge is a crossing of the River Thames in west London, just south of the Hammersmith town centre

Hammersmith Bridge is a famous suspension bridge in London. At 12 feet above the water, it is the lowest bridge that crosses the Thames. 

It might also be one of the weakest. Driving across it isn’t advisable, so it has since become a pedestrian and cyclist route only. 

What it lacks in functionality, it makes up for in beauty. It was painted with a rich green palette at the turn of the century and boasts detailed crests on its facades.

12. Lambeth Bridge

London, UK Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and Red bus on Lambeth Bridge at dusk.

Lambeth Bridge might not get the credit it deserves. Charles Dickens Jr. once referred to this famous bridge in London by saying it was “perhaps, on the whole, the ugliest ever built.” 

There’s something unexpectedly interesting about this bridge. Two obelisks at either end are topped with ornate pinecones. The bridge’s unique red details match the leather benches of the nearby House Of Lords. 

This narrow bridge is only 18 meters wide, making it prime for some Hollywood chase scenes. It was featured in the Fast and the Furious 6, James Bond’s Spectre, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban.

13. Rolling Bridge

In London's Paddington Basin sits The Rolling Bridge foot bridge.
Editorial credit: MACH Photos / Shutterstock.com

Rolling Bridge sits along a narrow portion of the canal in Paddington Basin. It might not be as old or historical as many bridges throughout the city. However, its clever design makes this bridge unique. This caterpillar-esque bridge rolls out for pedestrians and can curl up when not in use.   

Watching it open and close is a sight in itself. The 39-foot bridge retracts and extends silently, adding to its allure. It doesn’t happen too often, though, so you’ll need to ask savvy locals about the current schedule.  

14. Albert Bridge

 Albert Bridge

One of the most famous bridges in London is Albert Bridge. While beautiful any time of the day, it really shines at night. The length of its bridge is lit with hundreds of lights, making for a great nighttime photo shoot.

It’s seen many colors during its time and is currently painted pink, blue, and green.

There aren’t many green spaces north of the bridge, but Battersea Park is just south. This forces dogwalkers to cross over, causing a bit of a dog urine problem on the way, especially considering the bridge’s partially wooden structure.

15. Blackfriars Bridge

An image of Blackfriars bridge

Blackfriars Bridge was named after Dominican friars who would wear black gowns in the nearby areas. It has wide walkways and an excellent view of the city, making it worth crossing by foot.

This London bridge is famous for being the site where the Vatican bank’s Robert Calvi’s body was found hanging in 1982. First considered suicide, it was later discovered to be a mafia-related homicide.

16. Blackfriars Railway Bridge

Blackfriars Railway Bridge on the river Thames, London, United Kingdom

This bridge passes between Blackfriars Bridge and Millenium Bridge. While not accessible by foot, you may cross by train if you’re headed further out of the city.

It might be called Blackfriar, but environmentally speaking, this bridge is quite green. Blackfriar’s railway bridge is the world’s largest solar-powered bridge. 

17. Chelsea Bridge

Chelsea Bridge over the River Thames, opened in 1937 with the Grosvenor railway bridge beyond.

The Chelsea Bridge connects Chelsea to Battersea in west London.

When constructed, workers found Roman and Celtic weapons along with human skulls. This points to the idea that Julius Ceasar crossed the Thames at this location in 54BC.

The bridge used to be painted a bold red and white. The local football fans of Chelsea FC were not pleased by the site of their rival team’s colors paraded on their bridge. Later, it was repainted a more appeasing white with red trim and greyish-blue detail. 

In the mid-1900s, this bridge was also a hot spot for motorbike groups. While mostly peaceful, one meetup ended in a famous riot between opposing gangs in 1970. 

Aerial view on thames and london city

London bridges are both functional and fascinating. The architectural features tell a story of each bridge’s history while the beautiful details and fun facts add entertainment value. 

But don’t take our word for it. Cross these famous bridges in London to see for yourself.

    

  

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