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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.

What's Nearby

  1. ThamesJet


    The fastest boat in the fleet. Blow away the cobwebs and enjoy a fun filled, adrenaline fuelled...

    0.97 miles away
  2. Thames River Services and Circular Cruise Westminster

    Thames River Services and Circular Cruise Westminster

    Thames River Services and Circular Cruise Westminster

    0.97 miles away
  3. Westminster Passenger Services

    Westminster Passenger Services

    0.99 miles away
  1. Houses of Parliament audio and guided tours

    Houses of Parliament audio and guided tours

    Explore 1000 years of history, politics and stunning art and architecture with Houses of...

    1.09 miles away
  2. City Cruises

    City Cruises

    City Cruises is the No.1 sightseeing tour on the Thames! Our cruises departing every 30 minutes,...

    2.15 miles away
  3. Chas Newens Marine Co Ltd

    Chas Newens Marine Co Ltd

    Chas Newens Marine Co. Ltd has been established on the River Thames since 1978 evolving from a...

    5.71 miles away
  4. Thames River Adventures

    Thames River Adventures

    Why not take to the river with us and enjoy an exciting day out as you paddle the Thames, or canals...

    7.27 miles away
  5. River Thames Boat Project

    River Thames Boat Project

    River Thames Boat Project offers therapeutic cruises and educational activities on the River Thames...

    9.25 miles away
  6. Genevieve


    Enjoy classic cruises along the most picturesque and best-loved banks of the River Thames, for your...

    9.85 miles away
  7. Merry Pedaller Bike Tours

    Merry Pedaller Bike Tours

    A tour company specializing in one way guided bike rides and luggage transfer to historic places in...

    11.27 miles away
  8. Hampton Court Palace East Front

    Hampton Court Palace

    This magnificent palace set in delightful gardens was famously one of Henry VIII’s favourite...

    12.36 miles away
  9. Thames Skiff Hire

    Thames Skiff Hire

    15.47 miles away
  10. Shepperton Marina

    Shepperton Marina

    Situated in a delightful backwater between Shepperton and Sunbury locks, the Marina enjoys a...

    16.09 miles away
  11. Lee Valley Boat Centre

    Lee Valley Boat Centre

    Based at Broxbourne, Herts. (Near Hoddesdon), the Lee Valley Boat Centre is on the River Lee and is...

    16.54 miles away
  12. Bridge Marine

    Bridge Marine

    We are a family run business and have been operating since 1984, and have gone from strength to...

    16.64 miles away
  13. Nauticalia Shepperton – Weybridge Pedestrian Ferry

    Nauticalia Shepperton – Weybridge Pedestrian Ferry

    Nauticalia Marine Services are located at Shepperton Lock next to the River Thames.

    17.42 miles away
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The 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...

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