Flowing right through the heart of central London, the Thames River offers a dramatic backdrop to the city's famous skyline with landmarks lining its shores. Walk along the riverfront from Westminster to Tower Bridge and you'll pass London icons such as the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, Southbank, Shakespeare's Globe, and the London Bridge.
A boat ride along the Thames River is a quintessential London experience, with popular choices including city cruises, afternoon tea or dinner options, RIB (rigid-inflatable boat) excursions, London duck tours, and hop-on hop-off boat tours. Many Thames River tours even run all the way to Greenwich, passing Canary Wharf, Waterloo, and Cutty Sark.
Things to Know Before You Go
- It can get chilly, especially at night, so bring warm clothing if traveling on an open-air boat.
- Most boat cruises are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance.
- Other boat tours operating on the river include the Thames Clippers and River Roamers ferries, London showboats, and the Tate-to-Tate boat, linking the Tate Modern with the Tate Britain.
How to Get to the Thames River
It's impossible to miss the River Thames on any sightseeing tour in London—it runs right through the center of the city, with cruises typically leaving from Embankment, Westminster Pier, or Greenwich Pier. The river meanders for 215 miles (346 km) from the Cotswolds in the west, through Oxford and London, all the way to the coast at Southend-On-Sea.
When to Get There
Thames River cruises run regularly all year round, but for the most atmospheric views, opt for a sunset sightseeing cruise or a night cruise. And for an unforgettable holiday experience, book a Christmas cruise to admire the waterfront illuminations, or take in a spectacular view of fireworks and festivities on a New Year cruise.
Where to Find the Best Views of the River Thames
Look out along the Thames as you walk over the Millennium Bridge, admire the waterway and city skyline from the hilltops of Greenwich Park, or relax in a riverfront pub in neighborhoods such as Kew, Putney, or Richmond. For an aerial view, head to the top of The Shard, London's tallest building; ride the London Eye; or soar overhead on a helicopter tour.