Type: Towns & Villages
The River Thames flows through Central London and provides a stunning backdrop to many of the city's top tourist attractions. The 2,000-year-old river harbours much of London's history, as well as providing a host of sporting and leisure activities you can do on and around London's waterways. The Thames through London is a tidal river and is one of the cleanest rivers in Europe.
The Thames also provides inspiration for world-renowned sporting events such as the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race which was first raced in 1829 and is amongst the oldest sporting events in the world. Watch from the banks of the Tideway between Putney and Mortlake. September is ‘Totally Thames’, an exciting month-long celebration of London’s river featuring arts, music and community festivals; colourful regattas and thrilling river races.
The Thames in London offers river tours and cruises that feature sightseeing and commentary and Oyster and Travelcard holders can get discounts on many routes and hop-on, hop-off tickets may be available.
River Bus services run from early morning until late evening and the River Bus Express is a dedicated service running before and after events at the O2 in North Greenwich. Five River Bus routes operate from 20 piers between Putney and Woolwich, where the Woolwich Ferry crosses the river between Woolwich and North Woolwich.
London Thames-side attractions
There are many famous places along the River Thames in London: Hampton Court Palace, Ham House, Syon House, Kew Gardens, and Battersea Power Station and in central London, there’s Lambeth Palace, Palace of Westminster, London Eye and the Tower of London.
See the sights from the Thames
See the sights in comfort with London’s No 1 sightseeing tour. City Cruises offers hop-on/hop-off tickets and great special packages combining a tour and visits to top London attractions such as The London Eye and the View From the Shard. Or take the most extreme ride on the river on Thamesjet, the fastest boat in the fleet. Blow away the cobwebs and enjoy a fun filled, adrenaline fuelled experience.
Alternatively, take a tour with the Original Westminster to Greenwich Pleasure Trips operator Thames River Services, who operate boats from Westminster to Greenwich and the Thames Barrier calling at St Katharines, by the Tower of London and in between.
Float leisurely along the Thames or canals and paddle London from a unique angle in your own Kayak with London Kayak Tours. You can view the historical Hampton Court Palace, see the wildlife along Regents Canal. All Tours are guided by a friendly BCU Instructor. Tuition given at the beginning of Tours by a qualified British Canoe Union Instructor.
Enjoy the Arts
Southbank Centre is a world-famous arts centre on the South Bank of the Thames. Created in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, Southbank Centre draws on its heritage as a festival site, with art and activities inside and outside. Take part in free activities and events and enjoy a wide range of restaurants, cafes and shops. Southbank Centre includes Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, the Hayward Gallery, and The Poetry Library.
Take a Walk
The Thames Path National Trail’s London section covers 40 miles (64 km) of easy, level walking on both sides of the river from Hampton Court Palace, through the heart of London to the East India Dock on the north bank and the River Darent on the south bank. From the leafy green areas of Richmond and Kew, the route changes to a more urban environment and an interesting mix of historic and contemporary architecture. Finally, on the approach to the Thames Barrier, you pass by the restored warehouses and the working wharves of London Docklands.
The route is well marked by the National Trail symbol (an acorn) from west of London to the end of the National Trail at the Thames Barrier in the London Borough of Greenwich (on the south side) and at Island Gardens (on the north side).
Read Alison’s blog post ‘Snapshots of London from the Thames’ to see how her family enjoyed a City Cruises tour.
Thames River Services and Circular Cruise Westminster0.97 miles away
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