Where is Shakespeare’s Globe?
The Globe Theatre couldn’t be easier to access, nestled on the bank of the River Thames in the Bankside Cultural Quarter. It’s next to the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge, with St Paul’s Cathedral on the other side of the water. That means you can cover all three attractions on a perfect London day out.
Getting there by train
The nearest train stations are London Blackfriars, London Bridge and London Cannon Street. To take a train to Shakespeare’s Globe, ride to either station and enjoy the short walk to the theatre from there. From London Blackfriars, it’s a 10-minute walk, while London Bridge is a 15-minute walk away. London Waterloo station is another easy option, a 20-minute walk from Shakespeare’s Globe. With so many train stations within walking distance, visitors can arrive at the theatre from many parts of the UK.
The closest tube stations
If you’re already in London, it might be easier to hop on a un underground train (tube) to Shakespeare’s Globe. Tube services run every couple of minutes, with more than 250 stations scattered around all parts of the city.
The nearest tube stations to Shakespeare’s Globe are Blackfriars and Mansion House on the District (green) and Circle (yellow) lines, Southwark on the Jubilee line (grey) and St Paul’s on the Central line (red). All these stations are a 10 to 15-minute walk away.
What’s in this guide?
- What to see at Shakespeare’s Globe
- Globe Theatre history and facts
- Restaurants, bars and shops at Shakespeare’s Globe
- Opening times and ticket prices
What to see at Shakespeare’s Globe
The best way to see Shakespeare’s Globe is by taking a guided tour, followed by a show. The Globe Theatre is an accurate reconstruction of the open-air playhouse where Shakespeare worked, for whose stage he wrote many of his most famous plays. You can combine your tour with an afternoon or evening performance to make the most of your visit, a perfect chance to see the renowned theatre in action.
A ‘wooden O’
Shakespeare called his open-air theatre a ‘wooden O’. Because of its circular shape, the original Globe would have looked like an O from above. The Globe Theatre in London is a faithful reconstruction of the original, so you can expect the same 360˚ layout when you visit today.
As an open-air theatre, performances were (and still are!) influenced by weather conditions. They always go ahead, but a little sun, rain or snow can add extra drama to the action below. The audience section is covered, but visitors should still remember to dress for the weather!
Seats are arranged all around the circular stage, so you’ll be able to see your fellow audience members while you enjoy the performance. The Globe is a unique theatre where the audience is a part of the performance.
A centuries-old viewpoint
When you walk into the theatre on a guided tour, your eyes will be drawn upwards. Stand in the pit (the stage area) and look up at the timber frames, columns, balconies and the underside of the thatched roof, all surrounding the sky above. This is what Shakespeare’s cast would have seen centuries ago!
Authentic materials and methods
As a faithful reconstruction of the original Globe, today’s Globe Theatre was built over four years using accurate materials and techniques. Each beam is made from unseasoned oak, sourced from all over the UK. Finding straight enough logs to support the 32-foot structure was a challenge – English Oak usually grows bent and crooked, making each of the Globe Theatre’s a rare find.
Every oak beam in Shakespeare’s Globe was hand-cut and carved in Berkshire before being assembled on-site. They’re held together with 12,000 wooden pegs, just like they would have been in the original Globe!
The Globe Theatre’s timber frame is its skeleton, covered with plaster walls and topped with the first water weed thatched roof in London since the Great Fire of 1666.
Faithful to the original
Wondering how the Globe Theatre was made so faithfully to the original? Lots of research! The design was figured out from maps, drawings and written accounts of the original Globe. It was also important to study other surviving 16th century buildings to see how carpenters and builders worked at the time.
Of course, Shakespeare’s Globe isn’t a total recreation of the original building. It meets modern safety standards with additional exits, flame-retardant thatching and a discreet sprinkler system.
Bringing Shakespeare to life
The best way to appreciate Shakespeare’s work is to see it brought to life in the Globe Theatre. Many of his most famous plays were written to be performed in the original Globe, factoring in the circular shape and audience presence. The theatre becomes a part of the production, a perfect backdrop to these iconic stories.
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
There’s more than just one unique performance space at Shakespeare’s Globe. As well as the faithful recreation of the original Globe, there’s the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, a dramatic, candle-lit theatre based on the various theatres of Shakespeare’s London. It’s not a reconstruction of a specific venue; it’s loosely based on the Blackfriars Playhouse, which the Shakespeare Company used in the early 17th century.
This intimate playhouse is lit by more than 100 beeswax candles, a stunning backdrop to the plays, concerts and events hosted there throughout the year. Whether you enjoy a dramatic performance or music by candlelight, visiting this indoor venue is a perfect way to end your tour of Shakespeare’s Globe.
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is on the same site as the Globe Theatre, so you can enjoy a tour of Shakespeare’s famous venue before enjoying a show in either space.
Shakespeare’s Globe history and facts
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre celebrates the playwrights legacy and impact on the world. It’s hosted every play in the Shakespeare canon, some of them several times in different performances throughout the venues more-than-20-year lifetime.
The story of the original Globe
Shakespeare’s Globe in London reconstructs the original Globe, where the playwright worked and hosted performances in his prime. The story of this centuries-old playhouse starts with The Lord Chamberlin’s Men, the acting company of which Shakespeare owned a part. He was also an actor and resident playwright for the company, who performed at another playhouse called The Theatre in Shoreditch.
In 1598, the theatre’s landlord cancelled The Lord Chamberlin’s Men’s lease. He owned the land but not the materials the theatre was made from. The theatre company owners, actors and volunteers deconstructed the building. Taking advantage of the loophole, they carried it over the River Thames on boats. They rebuilt the new theatre there as quickly as possible.
Why’s it called The Globe?
By 1599, the new round theatre was ready to open. It might surprise you to learn the theatre wasn’t named The Globe because of its shape. Instead, it gets its name from the iconic image of Hercules carrying the earth on his back – just like the theatre’s pieces were taken across the Thames!
The first performances
Shakespeare’s first plays at The Globe include Henry V, Julius Cesar, As You Like It, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Anthony and Cleopatra. The Lord Chamberlin’s Men were hugely successful thanks to the production of these plays; in 1603, King James I became a patron of the company, and the name was changed to The King’s Men.
Disaster, rebuilding and disaster again
In 1613, during a performance of Henry VIII, a cannon used in the show set fire to The Globe’s thatched roof. The entire building burnt to the ground in an hour.
The theatre was rebuilt by 1614 with more extravagant decorations and a tiled roof instead of thatched. By this time, Shakespeare was spending more time in Stratford-upon-Avon.
In 1962, parliament ordered the permanent closure of London theatres; the Globe was taken down and the land sold for building.
Samuel Wanamaker, an American actor and director, set up the Shakespeare’s Globe Trust in 1970. His goal was to reconstruct the original Globe Theatre; he fought to get the money, permissions and information needed over the next three decades.
Their dream came to life in 1997. The new Globe Theatre opened just one street away from the original location, a living, breathing monument to Shakespeare.
Restaurants, bars and shops near Shakespeare’s Globe
It’s easy to make a day of your trip to Shakespeare’s Globe. The unique theatre sits on the bank of the River Thames, close to many of London’s best eateries, some great bars and pubs, other attractions and shops.
The Swan Restaurant
You don’t need to look far for food when you visit the Globe Theatre; there’s a restaurant right on site! The Swan Restaurant boasts beautiful views over the Thames, so settle in and soak up your surroundings. The menu makes the most of seasonal ingredients, while weekend brunch, afternoon tea and a lighter bar menu mean there’s something for every occasion.
The Globe Theatre Shop
Pick up a gift for a loved one back home or treat yourself after the performance; the Globe Theatre shop is a treasure trove of Shakespearean merchandise. Find DVDs of past performances, clothes and bags with quotes from the playwright, books, homeware, prints and more in the on-site shop.
Most products in the Globe Theatre Shop are exclusive to the venue, and every purchase goes to support the continued work of the playhouse.
Shakespeare’s Globe opening hours and ticket prices
You need tickets to visit Shakespeare’s Globe, whether you’re seeing a performance or enjoying a guided tour. The theatre is open for specific times depending on what’s on.
The Swan Bar and Restaurant is open from 12:00 to 21:45 on Monday to Saturday, closing at 18:00 on Sundays. The shop is open between 10:00 and 17:00, Thursday to Sunday and closed the rest of the week.
To buy tour or performance tickets in person, visit the box office between 10:00 and 18:00 Monday to Saturday or 10:00 to 17:00 on Sunday.
Children (under 16)
Family (2 adults & up to 3 children)
Performance ticket prices vary by show and which area you choose. Seated tickets cost between £25 and £62, or you can stand for just £5. Only select a standing ticket if you’re happy to be on your feet for the entire show!
Travelling to London by train?
With many high-speed rail connections available, you can easily reach London by train from within the UK, as well as some European cities.
If you're planning a day trip or weekend in London from within the UK, you can get from Edinburgh to London by train in just 4 hours, from Manchester to London in just 2 hours and 3 minutes, from Glasgow to London in 4 hours and 28 minutes. Some of the most popular international routes include Paris to London (2 hours and 17 minutes), Brussels to London (2 hours and 1 minute).
Want to find out more about travelling to London by train? Check out our dedicated guide on trains to London.