A shortlist of the most eye-catching pedestrian bridges in London.
How often do you stop and stare at a bridge? I’m guessing probably not that often. With 35 bridges spanning over the river Thames, London truly is a city of bridges. Some look so inconspicuous you might not even take notice of them while others are so incredibly striking, they make you stop in your tracks. But besides the river crossings there are plenty of extraordinary footbridges that are architectural gems. This article lists my top 6 of most beautiful pedestrian bridges in London.
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Most beautiful pedestrian bridges in London over the river Thames
1. Tower Bridge
The first bridge in the list is far from inconspicuous nor unknown. This iconic London landmark is obviously the most famous of them all.
Located right next to the Tower of London – hence its name – the appearance of the seemingly old Tower Bridge is actually a deception. Because, built in 1894, during the peak of the Industrial Revolution, Tower Bridge is in essence a modern steel bridge.
The characteristic Cornish granite and Portland stone that cover the steel framework, are purely there for aesthetic reasons so it would match the over 800-year-older palace next to it.
The bridge is accessible for both motorised traffic and pedestrians who can cross it over the special pedestrian paths on either side of the bridge.
Make sure to look up when you walk halfway underneath the walkways that connect both towers of the bridge. Because there you’ll see 33.5 metres above your head, glass floors you can walk over when you visit Tower Bridge.
This is certainly an activity I’d recommend, because, how often can you inside a bridge? Let alone such an iconic one!
2. Millennium Bridge
With its ultra-modern looks, Millennium Bridge is the complete opposite of Tower Bridge when it comes to appearances.
Offering striking views of St Paul’s Cathedral on the north side of the bridge, it’s one of the most popular photography spots in London.
And looking towards the south, you can enjoy a good view of Tate Modern but also Globe Theatre, the replica of Shakespeare’s theatre that once stood nearby.
Also, don’t forget to look down when you walk over Millennium Bridge. Because else you’d be missing the dozens of miniature artworks by artist Ben Wilson. He has turned the flat pieces of trampled chewing gum pedestrians spit out here – how lovely – in mini paintings.
Due to its location near other famous London landmarks and its striking looks, Millennium Bridge appears in several films such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It’s just one of the Harry Potter film locations in London. To discover more locations, head over to my special Harry Potter blog post!
3. Albert Bridge
Though elegant looking during daytime, the true splendour of Albert Bridge doesn’t reveal itself till night time. Illuminated by 4,000 LEDs, the twinkling lights make for a magical sight and fierce competitor to the handsome Tower Bridge.
While the majority of the bridges over the Thames are made from stone, Albert Bridge is made of steel. And unlike Tower Bridge, it doesn’t have its industrial framework covered. Yet, thanks to its almost Disney-like turrets (which are in fact support columns) and lit cables and suspension beams, it scores surprisingly high on the romantic factor.
Located quite far west in Battersea, this isn’t an area tourists usually go to. But if you do have more time to spare, I highly recommend an evening stroll along this part of the Thames and marvel at the beauty that is Albert Bridge.
When you cross the bridge by foot, you’ll see a peculiar warning sign telling marching troops to break step when crossing the bridge. It refers to its tendency to shake and wobble when large groups of pedestrians and traffic cross it which gave Albert Bridge its nickname of ‘The Trembling Lady’.
They put up the warning sign to ensure its safety when soldiers from the nearby Chelsea barracks would march over the bridge. While the barracks have closed for several years now, the sign is still there. It’s just one of the many remaining quirky bits of London you’ll find everywhere if you keep your curious eyes peeled.
Beautiful footbridges in London
4. Adams Plaza Bridge
Located in the finance and business hub of Canary Wharf, this is another area tourists wouldn’t usually visit. The tall skyscrapers here can be seen from afar and symbolise the modern skyline of London.
Matching its contemporary surroundings, the futuristic Adams Plaza Bridge in Canary Wharf looks almost like a sci-fi portal to another dimension. It’s not though, I tried.
Instead, the overpass connects One Canada Square – the third largest building in the UK filled with remote working and office spaces, top-notch restaurants, bustling bars and more – to Crossrail Place. The latter being a stylish complex comprising Canary Wharf railway station, shops, cinema and a public roof garden.
5. Holborn Viaduct
Built in the 1860s in one of London’s most traffic-heavy areas, Holborn Viaduct is one of the least known pedestrian bridges in London.
Although it was a famous huge construction project at its time with even a royal opening attended by Queen Victoria, nowadays it’s mostly only known amongst commuters.
Since it’s not close to any London attractions or venues, I doubt many tourists lay their eyes on it. It even took me seven years to discover it! And what a delightful surprise it was indeed.
Thanks to its incredibly ornate details and eye-catching red-and-gold colours, the Victorian Holborn Viaduct might actually just be one of my favourite ‘secret London’ gems.
On top of the bridge, you’ll see dragons painted in red and gold sitting at the base of Victorian-style lanterns while all four ends of the bridge are guarded by impressive winged lions.
Lining both sides of the bridge you’ll find bronze female statues representing Agriculture, Commerce, the Fine Arts and Science.
Pedestrians can access underlying Farringdon Street via the stone staircases at either side of the bridge. You’ll find the stairwells in the handsome Renaissance-style buildings which are also decorated with statues.
The views from lower ground street level are equally surprisingly stunning, revealing the designers’ great attention of detail.
Do take your time walking underneath the bridge and taking in all the sights, from the ornate arches to golden-leafed pillars and Victorian-style hanging lanterns.
And for some contemporary delights, step into the fabulous Winemakers Club – wine shop and bar – which is inconspicuously tucked away underneath the arches.
6. Bridge of Aspiration
The last footbridge in this list of magnificent bridges in London must be the less conspicuous, despite being located in one of the most touristy areas in London. Looking down Floral Street in the heart of Covent Garden, you’ll find the outstanding Bridge of Aspiration seemingly floating in the air.
Unlike the other bridges in this article, the Bridge of Aspiration isn’t open to the wider public. That honour solely goes to the talented dancers of the Royal Ballet School.
Echoing the graceful dancers who glide through it, this elegant twisting elevated footbridge gives them private access directly from their school to the connecting Royal Opera House.
Because let’s face it, backstage artist entrances are so basic, don’t you think?
Which one of these beautiful London pedestrian bridges is the fairest of them all, you think?
Let me know in a comment below!
Thanks, Zarina xx
*Photo credit feature image: Amy-Leigh Barnard / Unsplash