Waterloo Station in London may look like a welcoming historic building from the outside, but inside it’s an echoing glass and metal chamber that’s not the most pleasant of places to spend a few hours. The good thing is, you don’t have to stay there sitting on a hard bench, getting a headache while waiting for your next train to arrive.
Waterloo, or London Waterloo as it’s usually referred to, is right in the heart of the city and you can do and see some amazing things without having to go very far from the station at all. In fact, many of the British capital’s top attractions are nearby, so you can turn your waiting time into a mini-sightseeing tour of London.
Before you head out to explore between trains, store your luggage with Bounce first. That way, you can travel light and make the most of the limited time you have to visit all the best things to do near Waterloo Station.
What Can You Do Near London Waterloo
All of the following London attractions are either within walking distance or a short underground ride from Waterloo Station. You’re not going to be happy if you’ve only got a couple of hours to spare as you’ll want to see them all.
The London Eye
The London Eye is London’s 135-meter tall ferris wheel. The wheel is located on the South Bank of the River Thames and a quick seven-minute stroll from Waterloo Station. Because you’ll have limited time, you won’t want to hang around lining up for a pod, so book online before you get there. Rides on the wheel take 30 minutes to do the full circuit.
London Eye River Cruise
You don’t need to go any further than the London Eye to be able to jump aboard a 40-minute cruise down the River Thames. The London Eye River Cruise operates from a pier right by the Eye and does a nonstop circuit that takes in the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. If you have enough time to do both activities, you can purchase a combined ticket for a discounted price.
Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster
Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, also called the Houses of Parliament, are a 15-minute walk from Waterloo Station. It’s an interesting walk that will take you across Westminster Bridge and into one of the city’s more historic areas. Also of interest nearby that you might want to see if you have time are Westminster Abbey, the Imperial War Museum, and the Cenotaph War Memorial.
Sea Life Centre – London Aquarium
If you’re traveling with kids and they’re really not into historic buildings, then they’ll probably enjoy a visit to the Sea Life Centre – London Aquarium. The aquarium is right next to Westminster Bridge, so it’s only a ten-minute walk from Waterloo Station. You might not get to see all of the 14 various aquarium zones if you have time constraints, as they cover three entire floors, but the kids will be thrilled, so it’ll be worth it.
Trafalgar Square is one of the iconic London attractions, and if you haven’t fed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, then you haven’t been to London. From Waterloo Station, you can walk to Trafalgar Square in about 15 minutes if you don’t dilly-dally on the way. Take this route, and you’ll cross the River Thames via the Golden Jubilee Bridge, from where there are great views of the river and the city skyline.
Florence Nightingale Museum
Florence Nightingale was a pioneering woman of the Victorian era who founded the basis of modern nursing. She was also a renowned leader of her time for her work with statistics and infographics as well as being a forward-thinking social reformer.
You can find out more about her by visiting the Florence Nightingale Museum, that’s located in Lambeth Place next to St Thomas Hospital and is just a ten-minute walk from London Waterloo. It’s not a huge museum, and you can tour it in around an hour and a half.
When you don’t have money to spare or just want a leg stretch, walking along the Victoria Embankment is a great way to spend an hour or so. The Embankment is around a seven-minute walk from Waterloo and can be reached by crossing the Golden Jubilee Bridge.
It’s a scenic walk with plenty to look at, including the Royal Air Force Memorial and a statue of Boudica, a Celtic queen, the Westminster Piers, and Big Ben. You can make it a circular walk if you return to Waterloo via Westminster Bridge. To complete the entire route will take you about an hour.
The Graffiti Tunnel
If you only have a short while to wait for your train and you can’t go into London itself, you can still see one of the city’s craziest attractions. A five-minute walk from Waterloo Station is a 300-meter-long tunnel that has been daubed to life by some of the best graffiti artists in the country.
After the world-famous UK street artist Banksy decided to hold a festival in the Leake Street Tunnel, painting there was made legal. That was almost 15 years ago, and the tunnel has now become a place where street artists go to get their work seen, although that often means painting over someone else’s creation.
It’s an ever-changing gallery, so even if you’ve been before, go again as there’ll be something new to see and who knows, you might run into the man himself without knowing it.
Having to wait for a train at London Waterloo is an absolute bonus because the station is so central to all of the city’s main attractions. You can be at some of London’s top sights by walking for just a few minutes. Take photos of everything you see for your social media accounts, and your followers will think you’ve been in London for a week rather than a couple of hours, so don’t tell them any different.