7 Best Thames River Cruises and Tours

Bridget Coleman is the founder of a travel website empowering solo travelers to travel the world safer, smarter and in style. Find out more

London is a city that is best appreciated from the water. 

The River Thames has been the lifeblood of the city since the first settlers and is synonymous with London itself.  Flanking the north and south banks of the river are some of the city’s most iconic landmarks — from Maritime Greenwich in the east to the Palace of Westminster in the west. 

Taking a cruise along the Thames allows you to gain a different perspective of these famous sights, as well as being an enjoyable way of getting from A to B. 

Let’s take a look at the best Thames River boat trips and tours in London. 

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Take a sightseeing cruise on the River Thames

London Eye Pier opposite Westminster

For the quintessential boat trip along the Thames, take this Westminster to Greenwich river cruise.

Starting in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben at Westminster Pier, this leisurely hour-long river cruise winds its way to Royal Greenwich. There’s an open deck to take in those epic London views, and an audio guide to help you understand your surroundings and get the most out of your experience.

For a perfect London day out, take in the views from the London Eye, one of the world’s tallest observation wheels, before jumping on your boat. As this is one of London’s most popular attractions, it’s best to buy your ticket in advance

When you disembark, make sure you leave enough time to explore Maritime Greenwich, which is one of London’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Naval College, with its restored Painted Hall the so-called Sistine Chapel of the UK is a great addition to your London itinerary. 

Arrive at the Tower of London by boat

Tower of London

If you are pushed for time, take the shorter Thames boat trip from Westminster to the Tower of London. This one has a live guide. 

The Tower of London is one of London’s must-visit sights, and arriving by water just as visitors did in the gory times of executions under the reign of Henry VIII seems fitting. But don’t be a hostage to fortune; buy your ticket for the tower of London in advance.  

Roam the River Thames at your own pace

A Thames Clipper

Whilst the Tube is a fast and efficient way to navigate London, few people will claim that it’s scenic. For a more leisurely way of getting from A to B, grab a Thames Clippers River Roamer day ticket.

These panoramic clipper boats depart every 20 minutes from various locations along the Thames from the iconic towers of Battersea Power Station in the west to The O2 in the east. The freedom of the river is yours for a day.

To make your day extra special, get your hands on a combination ticket for the Thames Clippers River Roamer & Emirates Airline. The criminally underused Emirates Air Line cable car glides high over the Thames at London’s docklands and the views are wonderful. 

Get your pulse racing on a RIB on the River Thames

After watching people squealing with pleasure from RIBs racing along the Thames, this activity was pretty high up my London bucket list. 

A Thames RIB experience starts with a sedate loop from Tower Bridge, passing the Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral, and HMS Belfast. Then the thrills start as the boat revs up for a high-speed ride downriver to The O2, aka the Millennium Dome.

To raise your adrenaline levels even higher, climb the roof of The O2. This urban mountaineering adventure rewards you with one of the best views in London. 

Take tea on the Thames

Take tea on the Thames

Afternoon tea is one of the best British traditions. This is more than just a meal, it’s an experience. 

It includes delicate small sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes, and tea, of course.  The delicious treats are typically arranged on a tiered platter and sometimes served with champagne.

Why not combine this delicious tradition with a spot of sightseeing on an afternoon tea cruise on the Thames? Sit back and enjoy London’s landmarks as you tuck into tea and cake on a Thames cruise between Tower Bridge and Westminster. The champagne option is available too. 

Watch the sunset from the Thames

Big Ben at Sunset

If you like the idea of sipping a glass of bubbly on the Thames but aren’t so keen on the cake, take a sunset cruise where canapes and bubbles are served. 

Watching the sunset over London is something that you will never forget. And as nature’s light glows and dims, those of the city come alive. There are few London views more glorious than Tower Bridge illuminated at night.

Spend an evening on the Thames with dinner and jazz

Live show at night

There are few better ways to appreciate London at night than from the River Thames. Make this extra special with a Thames dinner cruise with live jazz. 

Enjoy the lights of London as you tuck into a gourmet meal to the lively soundtrack. It’s a special way to spend an evening in the city. 

Bridget Coleman is the founder of a travel website empowering solo travelers to travel the world safer, smarter and in style. Bridget is a Londoner born and bred and gets a kick out of sharing her favorite places in the city, including London’s famous landmarks

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