Southbank Book Market


One of my all-time favourite places in London has to be the Southbank Book Market. Although not technically a bookshop, it is one of the most vibrant and buzzing book places in London and on a warm, sunny day it is the only place I want to be at! Situated alongside the river, under the Waterloo Bridge and opposite the BFI Southbank on Queen’s Walk, it can vary depending on the weather and the day. The Book Market is usually at its biggest and busiest on dry sunny weekends or bank holidays, with numerous stalls selling second-hand books, comics and prints of a bygone London. On quieter days, when the weather is dreary and bleak, there may be one or two tables set up if your lucky.

The ‘book-trunks’ that line the river – presumably where all these books are stored

As one of the only permanent outdoor book markets in Britain (so my research tells me), it is a truly unique experience whether you are looking for a secondhand bargain (though books are typically a bit more expensive than your usual secondhand bookshop, at around £3 upwards) or just enjoying a lovely stroll along the South Bank. I visited the market twice last month, mainly as a little pit-stop to my main destinations, but it reminded me of how many great sights there are to see along this side of the river. Not only is there the London Eye on one side, but there is the amazing Royal Festival Hall which hosts so many free events almost every weekend that there is always something to do. Behind the Festival Hall there is normally a lovely food market. Last month I went to the Alchemy Festival to see a great mix of Indian-infused dance and then went outside to eat some authentic and home-made Indian food. This month I visited the KERB food festival and (again) ate some of the best vegetarian Indian food I have ever tasted as well as trying the strange, but wonderful, Cronut (croissant and doughnut). There is also a beautiful rooftop garden above the skate park on the South Bank where you can enjoy a drink whilst looking at the breathtaking sights of London – the Houses of Parliament on one side and St Paul’s Cathedral on the other!

As I didn’t make any purchases because of my impending move to Hong Kong (although I did immediately spot Martin Booth’s Gweilo: A Memoir of a Hong Kong Childhood, which I included in a post on my Hong Kong reading list) I thought I would share some of the pictures I took of the Southbank Book Market. This will certainly be one of the places I will miss most about London!

south bank book market




13 Replies to “Southbank Book Market”

  1. I love the South Bank and the book market – both such atmospheric places. The Royal Festival Hall is very special – I always feel like I’m stepping back in time to the Festival of Britain when I visit it!

    1. It is isn’t it! It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing places in London but it has so much character!

  2. I have missed the news of you moving to Hong Kong. How exciting!

    I love the South Bank so much. Nice to visit with a friend, a partner or with family. So much variety of life and I must get round to looking through the Book Market one day.

    1. Yes, I move in August to teach for a year! Very nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time!

      There is definitely something for everyone at the South Bank.

  3. Love this market and the whole Southbank Centre concept, it is so people friendly and vibrant and embracing of all, all those creative minds coming togehter and meeting and exchanging ideas and then of course the entertainment and the ambiance.

    I so want to read Martin Booth’s memoir, his The Industry of Souls is my all time favourite book and Islands of Silence is great too. I was devastated when he passed away so soon after I had discovered his work and would love to know more about those early years he spent living in the East.

    1. It is a really great place full of creativity!

      I only heard of Martin Booth when looking up books to read on Hong Kong. I can’t wait to discover him now for myself!

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