15 best Thames river cruises and boat trips in London

Whether you opt for a luxurious dining cruise or an adrenaline-pumping speedboat experience, see London's most famous sites on a Thames river cruise.
Visit London Editors
Written by Visit London Editors Edited by Hannah Cornish 05 July 2024
Two women are laughing standing on the top deck of one of City Cruises boats in London.
Explore London at your own pace using City Cruises sightseeing day pass. ©London & Partners/Michael Barrow

The river Thames is the perfect vantage point for some of London’s most iconic sites come rain or shine. Escape the crowds and experience London’s beautiful scenery glide by with a Thames river cruise by day or night.

From sightseeing trips with expert guides to fun dining experiences, find out about some of the best London boat trips, Thames river cruises and canal tours. Enjoy the capital from every angle on a Thames river cruise as you sail past some of London’s top landmarks.

1. City Cruises hop-on hop-off river cruise tour

Travel to tourist hotspots including the Houses of Parliament tour, the London Eye and Tower Bridge on one of City Cruises’ regular Thames river sightseeing boats. Explore the city at your own pace and hop on and off as often as you like with a 24-hour pass offering unlimited access.

Book a City Cruises hop-on hop-off river cruise tour now.

2. City Cruises Thames river cruise afternoon tea

Two people sitting in a City Cruises boat with sandwiches and scones on the table.

Satisfy your desire for London afternoon tea with this Thames river cruise. Afternoon tea is served with jam, a generous dollop of cream, plus plenty of finger sandwiches, cakes and, of course, a side helping of stunning views! Settle back and relax aboard this London river cruise, and be part of this British tradition. 

Book a City Cruises Thames river cruise afternoon tea now

3. City Cruises Thames dinner cruise

One of the best nights out in the capital is aboard the City Cruises London dinner cruise on the river Thames. Get your glad rags on and dance the night away on this "London Showboat" cruise, with top tunes from a live performer and a free glass of bubbly on arrival. Take a break from the dance floor and enjoy a delicious four-course dinner, including the likes of smoked salmon mousse to start, and roast chicken wrapped in Parma ham for the main.

Book a City Cruises Thames dinner cruise now.

4. Evening cruise on the river Thames

Gaze at London’s twinkling skyline as you glide past the city’s iconic sights on an evening cruise on the Thames. Tuck into delicious canapes throughout the evening, glass of bubbly in hand, while you admire the gorgeous riverside views of London from the upper deck, on this two-hour Thames evening river cruise.

Book an evening cruise on the river Thames now.

5. One-day river roamer boat trip ticket with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

The Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river bus floats along the river Thames past the Old Royal Naval College.

London boat trips operators Uber Boat by Thames Clippers leave every 20 minutes from piers all along the Thames, so you’re never too far away from a departure point. Purchase a river roamer boat trip ticket for unlimited river travel, and combine your ticket with entry to riverside attractions, such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tower of London

Book a one-day river roamer boat trip ticket with Thames Clippers now.

6. Thames lunch cruise with City Cruises

Enjoy lunch on the Thames aboard this fine London river cruise. Take a relaxed mini voyage through the heart of London and see Big Ben, historic London Bridge and other important London landmarks, while listening to audio commentary. Enjoy a two-course lunch that includes roast chicken supreme with creamy leek sauce or baked field mushroom stuffed with veggie delights, and a dessert of chocolate truffle cake. Stroll on the deck afterwards and take advantage of the fully stocked bar.

Book a Thames lunch cruise with City Cruises now.

7. London Eye river cruise with City Cruises

See spectacular views of London from above and from the water with a London Eye and river cruise package, which combines a ride on the iconic London Eye with a 40-minute London Eye river cruise. Enjoy incredible 360-degree views over the capital from the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, before taking to the water for a relaxing, circular sightseeing Thames river cruise.

Book a London Eye and river cruise ticket with City Cruises now.

8. Clipper and cable car

One of the Emirates Air Line cable cars rises high above the Thames at sunset, with The O2 in the background.

Travel on an Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river roamer to North Greenwich pier before taking to the skies in an IFS Cloud Cable Car for stunning views of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, modern icon The O2 and the iconic city skyline.

Enjoy panoramic views on board popular Thames river boats and add this experience to your London boat trips list!

Book IFS Cloud Cable Car and Uber Boat by Thames Clipper river roamer now.

9. Thames speedboat tours

Get the adrenaline flowing with an exciting London speedboat experience. Whizz along to the soundtrack of James Bond on a Thames RIB Experience, or feel the wind whip through your hair on a Thames Rockets ride that is sure to induce FOMO among your friends! Speedboat Thames boat trips are an exhilarating way to experience the capital's iconic skyline.

Book a ride with Thames Rockets now.

10. Tate Boat

If you're planning a cultural day out, take a leisurely Thames boat ride between Tate Modern and Tate Britain on the Tate Boat (also known as Uber Boat by Thames Clippers' RB2 service). It’s a relaxing alternative to the Tube and a handy way to see some of London's finest classic and modern artworks in one day. Look out for other landmark buildings en route.

Book a one-day river roamer boat trip ticket with Thames Clippers now.

11. Uber Boat by Thames Clippers to Greenwich

Cutty Sark exterior, with a glass structure surrounding the hull and the original ship on top.

You can also venture outside of the city centre by booking a London boat tours experience. Travel to Greenwich via one of the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers and arrive in appropriately nautical style at the historic maritime area. Download its app to make use of an audio guide during the 30-minute journey from central London.

Book a one-day river roamer boat trip ticket with Thames Clippers now.

12. Turks Launches tour

Turks Launches' river boats have been travelling the Thames for 300 years. Embark on a captivating London river cruise and sail past picturesque stretches of south-west London during a round trip between Kingston and Richmond. Pass historic Hampton Court Palace as you meander along the river, without getting off.

13. Thames river sightseeing cruise

A white boat on Thames in front of Tower of London.

Marrying style with insight, Thames River Sightseeing provides tours along the river on spacious boats such as the 528-seat Thomas Doggett. Soak up some history with a multilingual audio system, which delivers commentary about iconic landmarks along the leisurely route from Westminster to Woolwich.   

14. Canal boat tour

Canal boat trips are a great way to explore the capital's waterways, so why not discover a different waterway route north of the Thames on a narrowboat trip along Regent’s Canal. Begin at Jason’s Wharf in Little Venice and find yourself in lively Camden's Lock Market by the end of the gentle 45-minute cruise each way.

15. Kayak tour

Navigate your own path and paddle on the Thames or around London's canals via kayak with London Kayak Co. Led by qualified instructors, navigate your way between Battersea and Greenwich at day or night, embark on a round trip from Greenwich to the Thames Barrier, or take a leisurely trip between Poplar and Tower Bridge. A kayak tour is a great alternative activity to the traditional Thames river cruise.

Booking London river cruise tickets

Pre-booking tickets is the best way to guarantee a place on board your Thames river cruise.

You can pick up tickets at pier ticket offices for some services, while other operators require pre-booking via an app or contactless payment when boarding  – if you have a Travelcard, you can get a third off some fares. Touch in and out with your pay as you go Oyster card for a discounted fare on Uber Boat by Thames Clippers services.

Browse through the London river cruises in the "All River Tours" link below, or find out how to use river bus services.

Where do you catch the Thames river cruise?

Most Thames river cruises depart from Westminster Pier, Tower Pier or the London Eye Waterloo Pier. London boat trips including Uber Boat by Thames Clippers services depart from several piers along the river, between Barking Riverside or North Greenwich and Battersea Power Station or as far as Putney.

Check specific departure points for your Thames river cruise or London boat trip on the booking page when you buy your tickets.

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