The River Thames is one of the most iconic waterways on the planet and visitors to London can be assured they will see some of the best attractions that the English capital has to offer when booking a cruise down this famous stretch of water.
Unique views of some of the capital’s most popular attractions can be gained when booking a waterways cruise and guests will not be disappointed by the plethora of landmarks and interesting sights that will grab their attention.
Expert guides will help visitors make the most of their time in the English capital by pointing them in the right direction for great things to see and do, while the swell of the river and the roll of the boat can be the perfect way to relax after a hard day’s sightseeing.
Cruises can last from one to three hours, making a water-based getaway a great way to spend some time away from the crowds and hustle and bustle of the busy London streets.
Top facts for the River Thames
Visitors to London will no doubt have heard of the River Thames, but what they might not realise is that the river begins its journey to the coast in the heart of the English Cotswolds, some 210 miles inland and passes through some of the nation’s most picturesque towns and villages before reaching the capital.
This was just one interesting titbit of information that visitors to London might be happy to learn, so here are a few more top facts and trivia to whet the appetite of anyone hoping to see the English capital along its famous waterway:
- A non-tidal river, the Thames is home to more than 25 individual species of coarse fish, making the river a perfect destination for lovers of angling.
- The Thames Path – running the course of the Thames from start to finish – is the longest unbroken river path in the whole of Europe and covers 184 miles.
- The origins of the name of the river are believed to either come from the Sanskrit Tamas, meaning ‘dark’, or from the Roman terms Tam and Isis, meaning ‘wide’ and ‘water’.
- A total of 45 locks are located along the length of the River Thames.
- Famous for its annual regatta that dates back to 1839, Henley-on-Thames was also the setting for the first Oxford versus Cambridge boat race.
Where can I find a River Thames cruise?
Spanning the length of the River Thames in London are several drop-off and pick-up points that act as the main areas for embarkation and debarkation for Thames River cruises.
Offering easy access to certain attractions and famous landmarks, each of the following destinations are great places to start or end a trip on the river:
Westminster Millennium Pier: The Westminster Millennium Pier is one of the main jump-off points cruising along the River Thames and is a popular place to start one’s sightseeing tour. In close proximity to some of the capital’s most historic and noteworthy attractions, travellers can be assured they will enjoy a different perspective on London during their time onboard.
Coca-Cola London Eye: The Coca-Cola London Eye is a renowned attraction in its own right – offering exquisite views across the whole of the city – but it is also a great place to embark on a River Thames cruise. Services regularly run from the pier, with operators on hand throughout the day to take bookings and point visitors in the right direction.
Tower Bridge: Built in the late 19th century, Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic London landmarks and a great place to start or end a river cruise. The pier is just a short walk from the bridge itself and is easily accessible for all travellers.
Greenwich: Situated just outside the centre of London, Greenwich Pier is often a less busy option for individuals seeking a River Thames cruise. Linking to the rest of the city with ease, however, travellers are easily able to reach the city’s many other river stop-offs from Greenwich Pier.
Great sights to see on a River Thames cruise
Some of the most popular and iconic attractions for visitors to the English capital can be seen from the rolling waters of a River Thames cruise, with plenty of things to keep visitors enthralled during their jaunt on the water.
The capital’s rich history is there for all to see during a trip on the River Thames, with central London in particular chock-full of fantastic and popular places to visit.
Some of the standout landmarks that can be viewed and visited during a cruise down the River Thames include the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, HMS Belfast, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, Tower Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, Cutty Sark, Tate Modern and many more.
Visitors will be left blown away by the vast array of wonderful attractions on offer during their time on the water, while the relaxed atmosphere and refreshments on offer can make Thames River cruising a great alternative to seeing these sights on foot.
Travel options for River Thames cruise enthusiasts
All those hoping to enjoy a River Thames cruise during their time in London should plan their journey in advance, to ensure they reach their chosen pick-up point in plenty of time before their scheduled departure.
The London Underground is a swift and easy way for visitors to traverse the English capital, with a wide variety of stations located along the route of the River Thames. Here are some of the best places for travellers to head to:
- Ravenscourt Park (Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines)
- Hammersmith (Circle and Hammersmith & City lines)
- Putney Bridge (District line)
- Sloane Square (Circle and District lines)
- Pimlico (Victoria line)
- St James’s Park (Circle and District lines)
- Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines)
- Covent Garden (Piccadilly line)
- Holborn (Central and Piccadilly lines)
- Chancery Lane (Central line)
- Lambeth North (Bakerloo line)
- Waterloo (Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City lines)
- Southwark (Jubilee line)
- Borough (Northern line)
- London Bridge (Jubilee and Northern lines)
City of London
- Barbican (Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines)
- Liverpool Street (Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines)
- Bermondsey (Jubilee line)
- Canada Water (Jubilee line)
- Canary Wharf (Jubilee line)
- North Greenwich (Jubilee line)
Visitors hoping to make use of other public transport options can also find full details of local bus services, timetables and more by heading to the Transport for London website.
River taxis are another great way to quickly get from one place to another along the River Thames, with pick-up points located at the O2 Arena at North Greenwich and running to the nearby areas of Putney and Woolwich.
Parking is also available in many areas of the English capital, although individuals planning to drive during their time in London are advised that traffic volumes can be high and spaces for parking can be limited.
It is therefore recommended that drivers plan their journeys in advance to avoid the morning and evening rush hours, as well as booking parking spaces before they set out.