From Paris to Moscow, great rivers are often the spine of a city. Sadly, so many city riversides are neglected and London is a perfect example-much of the bankside space of the Thames through the capital is given up to ugly office buildings and endless blocks of apartments. However, happily, there is a stretch where imagination has been allowed some elbow room.

Twenty years ago, London’s South Bank was a place to visit for a quick culture fix, but woe betide anyone who lingered. Badly lit at night and with a reputation for attracting opportunistic ne’er-do-wells, it was a dreadful waste of one of the best pedestrian walkways along the river. In 2013, the same stretch is unrecognisable: the beach has been resurrected, for a start. A potted community garden meanders alongside the water by Waterloo and the National Theatre’s pop-up bar is stuffed with props from past productions.

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It’s the perfect place for the stiff drink you’ll need after seeing its brilliant Othello. Climb the winding concrete stairs, and you’ll find yourself in a rooftop garden filled with wildflowers and grasses large enough to get lost in as you watch the sun set over the river with a glass of English fizz. As the rosy memories of last year’s Olympics continue to glow it’s nice to know London is still making an effort.

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