Bournemouth Pavilion theatre

Best theatres in London and the south west

In this article, you'll learn the following:

Whether you’re a seasoned theatre fan or just in search of a memorable day out, you’re certainly in the right part of the world for it. There are so many incredible theatres to choose from across London and the South West, each with world-class entertainment and productions. No matter your budget or age range, there’s always a show for you. Simply hop on a South Western Railway train and see where your next adventure takes you.

From grand Victorian picture houses to quirky modern studio theatres, no two venues are quite the same. Our guide to the best theatres in London and the South West features some true treasures – all of which are easily accessible by train. Plus, when you travel with South Western Railway and book your tickets online through us, you’ll have access to all kinds of deals and discounts – including 10% off selected London theatre trips! That’s the joy of SWR Rewards.

Historic theatres in London

The Globe Theatre

21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT

Arguably the most famous theatre in London (or perhaps the world), The Globe Theatre is best known as the spiritual home of William Shakespeare. You’ll recognise The Globe Theatre as soon as you set eyes on it, with its thatched roof, white stucco walls and unusual round shape.

While The Globe Theatre we see today was built in 1997, it has been designed to look and feel exactly like as the two original Globes that London played host to. The first was built back in 1599 and destroyed by fire, while the second was built in 1614 but had closed within 30 years. While the building itself is a marvel, you can catch a whole calendar of entertainment that takes place at The Globe throughout the year.

How to get there: The nearest train station to The Globe Theatre is Waterloo. It’s just a 20-minute walk between the two, or you can catch the 381 bus towards Peckham, getting off at Lavington Street.

London Palladium

8 Argyll St, London W1F 7TF

With its majestic stage, The London Palladium is a proud home for world-class shows and musical productions. After opening on Boxing Day in 1910, it fast became renowned for its diverse variety acts and top-class theatrics. Book your tickets here to enjoy everything from classic favourites like Beauty and the Beast, to innovative performances inspired by a new generation of writers and producers.

How to get there: Situated in Soho, this theatre is easy to get to by public transport. Simply catch the train to Waterloo, then take the northbound Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus.

London Palladium
London Palladium

The Old Vic Theatre

The Cut, London SE1 8NB

Anyone who’s clued up on performing arts will know The Old Vic Theatre is one of the best in the business. Featuring big-name actors and top directors, The Old Vic has hosted endless thousands of performances since it first opened its doors under the name ‘Royal Coburg Theatre’ back in 1818. Its name was later changed to ‘Royal Victoria Theatre’ in tribute to (then) Princess Victoria, before becoming ‘The Old Vic’ as we know it today.

How to get there: The Old Vic is a gentle five-minute walk from Waterloo.

The Old Vic
The Old Vic Theatre (Image credit: © Manuel Harlan)

Unique theatres in London

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

The Regent's Park, Inner Cir, London NW1 4NU

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to see your favourite theatre shows in a blissful outdoor location? At Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the outdoor setting means that no two performances will be quite the same. Come rain or shine, the actors are ready to give it their all. The entire auditorium is uncovered though, so make sure you come prepared for whatever the British climate can throw at us.

How to get there: Regent’s Park is a quick ride on the northbound Bakerloo Line from Waterloo. The theatre itself is a gentle 10-minute stroll through the park from the Tube stop.

Regents Park Open Theatre
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (Image credit: © David Jensen, FEAST Creative)

The Vaults

Leake Street via, York Rd, London SE1 7NN

Hidden in the arches beneath London Waterloo, this underground theatre is quite unlike any you’ll have visited before. With its winding tunnels and dimly lit rooms, The Vaults offers an interesting and unique perspective on performance space. This theatre has previously been home to productions such as Alice Underground, The Twits and Goosebumps, and is the perfect place to call at if you’re wanting theatre with an edge.

How to get there: Exit Waterloo station via Exit Two, turn right twice and you should spot the theatre entrance.

Best theatres for families in London

Lyceum Theatre

21 Wellington St, London WC2E 7RQ

Built back in 1765, Lyceum Theatre is one of the old-but-gold theatres of London. Over the years the theatre has drawn crowds with performances from The Who, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Prince, to drop a few names. And as the current home of Disney’s top-rated Lion King show, it’s incredibly popular for families of all ages. Expect magical costumes, incredible special effects and an uplifting soundtrack by Elton John that’s bound to get everyone on their feet.

Recommended age: For the Lion King Show, the recommended age is six and above. Children under three aren’t permitted.

How to get there: You can walk from Waterloo to Lyceum Theatre in around 15 minutes.

Prince Edward Theatre

Old Compton St, London W1D 4HS

Prince Edward Theatre has been a firm favourite with families ever since it opened back in the 1930s. As the current home of the show ‘Mary Poppins the Musical’, -A guaranteed hit with the kids – you can expect a fun-filled afternoon or evening at Prince Edward Theatre. During the near three-hour performance, the audience is encouraged to get up and dance to film classics including Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and A Spoonful of Sugar. It’s a perfect pick if you have energetic little ones in tow.

Recommended age: The show is recommended for ages seven and above. Children under the age of five are not permitted.

How to get there: From Waterloo, catch the northbound Northern Line and hop off at Leicester Square.

Best theatres in the South West

Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre

Westover Rd, Bournemouth BH1 2BU

Set in a beautiful 1920s pavilion, Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre is easily the most popular performance venue in Bournemouth. Kid-friendly and with a wheelchair accessible entrance, this theatre makes for a great family day out or rainy day activity. Offering everything from comedy club performances to wrestling, the possibilities are endless.

How to get there: Hop on the train to Bournemouth station then catch the 5a bus towards Bournemouth, getting off at the Royal Bath Hotel.

Bournemouth Pavilion theatre
Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre

New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

20-24 Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth PO1 2DD

If you’re on the hunt for a good all-rounder, pay a visit to New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. This beautiful Victorian theatre knows how to put on a show with drama, comedy and live music shows aplenty, alongside an offering of workshops and classes in the performing arts.

How to get there: The theatre is a convenient four-minute walk from Portsmouth & Southsea station.

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

22-26 Commercial Rd, Southampton SO15 1GE

In search of a Southampton theatre that the whole family can enjoy? Then you’ll be well served by Mayflower Theatre. Among its busy schedule you’ll find something to entertain, impress, grip or amuse every member of the household from the youngest to the oldest. There’s even the optional treat of afternoon tea before or after your show, so it’s easy to make a memorable day out of your visit here.

How to get there: It takes just six minutes to walk to Mayflower Theatre from Southampton Central.

With so many amazing theatres to explore within London and the South West, all of which are easily accessible by public transport, why not plan your journey today? Book your train tickets to your chosen theatre in advance and browse our ticket types to find the right one for your journey. Looking to save some pennies? Check to see if you’re eligible for a Railcard or discount.

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