A Walkable London: A Day Around Tate Modern and Tate Britain Museums.
Updated: Aug 25, 2022
Trail Head: Put in at Regency Cafe.
If you're looking for a quintessentially British start to the day then start your day at Regency Cafe. There are no toilets in here. Just head up north on Regency Street and it's at the next intersection. The line that never really takes that long to get into this place is hit or miss, as far as that goes, but don't worry about it. It moves fast.
Trail Stop 2: The Tate Britain.
Oh yeah, the young, free spirited Tate Modern has an older sister who cannot only offer deeper, more mature conversation, but is just as beautiful as her younger sister and in fact is the one who showed her little sister how to do everything.
Out of Regency Café, head east on Page Street through the buildings that are checkerboards for giants and then take a right to head south on Marsham Street and keep going straight as Marsham becomes Herrick Street and then you'll come to a little park called Millbank Gardens. You can go in for a sit or an outdoor elliptical, if you're core is feeling a little stretched and loose after Regency Cafe and you're looking to wrench it back into place with a pony tail swishing work-out in a London park.
Cross the garden and on the east side of the park (or you can go around it if you want but where's the fun in that), there's the back wall of the Tate Britain. Just take Atterbury Street around the side of the Tate Britain and there's the river and the steps to the museum of five hundred years of British art. So what's fun here, because you really can't find it anywhere else in the world that I know of, is their walk-through-time rooms. It's British art from the 1500's to today but it's not organized in any of the lame ways that other big museums do it like having an impressionism section but rather it's organized chronologically. The collection of Turners here is the largest collection of Turners in the world.
Trail Stop 3: The Tate Modern.
From the steps of the Tate Britain, cross the street and before you step into the River Thames turn left on the walkway and in a minute or maybe less there is a sign for Millbank Millennium Pier. Go down to the pier for the Tate boat which runs every forty minutes between the two Tates. There is a kiosk where you can buy tickets with your credit card. It will ask you for your destination. You're going to Bankside Pier. The boat will be there shortly. Or you can ask the people at the front desk at the Tate Britain when you get there. They'll know what to do and make sure you don't miss a boat.
Your boat ride on the river Thames will backstroke you past things like the Eye, etc.. From Bankside Pier, take a right along the river and at Millennium Bridge (the one the Death Eaters knock down in Harry Potter) is the Tate Modern. Also Borough Market is here if you want a little something to eat, like maybe a curry to share. Stopping at Borough Market is always a good idea, if you need justification. Plus it's quick, if you want it to be, and cheap, if you want it to be. The Tate Modern is a free museum in an industrial power building that used to power London with electricity and in my opinion and in that of the association of lame metaphors still does. Head for the top of the Tate Modern (floor ten of the Blavatink building), where an observation deck is about as close to the Empire State Building experience in New York as you can get in London and is like the ice water you dip your blanched soul into so that it doesn't overcook in the boiling water of modern art. Speaking of boiling, on floor six of the Boiler Room building there's also a cafe with beer and coffee and a directly-across-the-river view of St. Paul's. Beat that in the world.
Trail Stop 4: Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel.
Do you see where I'm takin you yet? We did traditional England at Regency. Then we did past England at Tate Britain. Then we did modern England at Tate modern. Now, it's heading onward and upward but mostly upward to the 35th floor of the modernly designed Shard, the tallest building in the UK, for London's future at tea in the Shangri-La hotel.
(Alternate Trail Stop 4: Borough Market.)
You can do Borough well for 10 bucks. Borough Market is the best of England under one roof. The fact that it has no walls is a metaphor to its endless possibilities. Curry. Venison vurgers from farms two hours north. I’ve probably stopped at Borough Market more times than any other place in Europe. Sometimes twice a day. It’s lovely. It even includes a place to use the bathroom. I recommend ushering this day into the beginning side of your London lineup, because up here, when the dry ice is poured and the smoke fogs over the table like a Kiss concert, I'm soothed with one realization: I am a guest in a city that is on the absolute cutting edge (speaking of being in a giant glass shard). Hey-oh.