When visiting London, seeing the famous River Thames is an absolute must.

You can certainly take a simple stroll along the river banks to watch the boats and the Thames Clippers river buses cruise by, but planning a special excursion lets you discover this iconic London landmark in unique, one-of-a-kind fashion.

From informative sightseeing tours with City Cruises to flying high in the London Eye for a top-of-the-world view of central London, these novel ways to enjoy the Thames are sure to elevate your experience. Here are seven unique things to do along the River Thames.

A City Cruises boat going under the Millennium Bridge London England

1. Go on a sightseeing tour

Cutting right through the heart of London, the River Thames runs past many of London’s most famous landmarks. Instead of spending your day walking from one to another, why not check them all out with ease on a sightseeing river cruise?

On a Thames cruise, you’ll watch the best of the city slide by before your eyes, passing by buildings that encompass hundreds of years of history. Along the way, your captain will also provide informative commentary so you can learn more about what you’re seeing.

If you see something that catches your eye, you don’t even need to wait to go back and see it later. Grab a 24h hop-on, hop-off river cruise pass that allows you to get on and off the boat as you please for a full day.


2. Enjoy a nighttime river cruise

The only thing that could make London’s historic riverfront even more enchanting is seeing it all lit up at night.

On a nighttime river cruise along the Thames, see the bridges and buildings glow in their evening best, reflected in the inky black waters of the river. Later in the day, the hustle of the city center calms down for a peaceful, memorable experience. To make the evening even more special, you can also take a dinner cruise.

3. Explore cultural offerings along the river banks

Fancy catching a live music show at the Royal Festival Hall, or seeing one of the Bard’s timeless classics at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre? Perhaps you prefer the visual arts and want to admire contemporary art at the Tate Modern. No matter your cultural preference, you’ll find it just steps from the water, along both the north and south banks of the Thames.


4. View historic and modern architecture

Some of London’s best architecture and landmarks are located along the Thames’s north and south banks, especially historic national treasures like Big Ben. Some even span it, like Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and Westminster Bridge.

Boating along the Thames path or strolling the banks offers some of the best vantage points of these timeless masterpieces—and it’s not just historic architecture you’ll find. Modern architecture is alive and well here, from the revitalized Battersea Power Station to the bulbous silver orbs of the Thames Barrier.

Sunset Tower Bridge London


5. Get a bird’s-eye view from the London Eye

Soaring above the South Bank and overlooking Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, the 443-foot-tall London Eye sweeps riders high into the sky over the Thames River inside glass capsules.

With unobstructed panoramic views of the river and the central London skyline, the observation wheel has some of the best views in all of London. In the distance, you might even catch a glimpse of Buckingham Palace, the royal palace itself.


6. Have a classic afternoon tea on a River Thames cruise

Few things are more quintessentially British than partaking in the beloved tradition of afternoon tea.

Although you can enjoy tea at many restaurants and hotels around London, you can also combine this elegant experience with beautiful views of central London. Sign up for a tea-time cruise, and you’ll be sipping on bottomless tea and nibbling on unlimited finger food, such as sandwiches, scones, and miniature pastries, while you take in the sights along the River Thames.

Make the most of your time on the Thames.

Sightseeing, sailing, and incredible memories await when you use City Experiences to show you the best of this vibrant city.

FAQs – River Thames Things to Do (2024)

Why choose City Cruises for exploring the Thames in 2024?
City Cruises is renowned for offering the best Thames cruising experience, thanks to its wide variety of cruise options, exceptional service, and unparalleled views of London’s iconic landmarks. With flexible scheduling, dining options on board, and insightful commentary, City Cruises provides a comprehensive and enjoyable way to see the heart of London from its most historic waterway.

What makes City Cruises stand out from other Thames tours?
City Cruises stands out for its extensive fleet of comfortable and stylish boats, each offering panoramic windows, open-air decks, and on-board amenities that ensure a pleasant journey. Their cruises include live or recorded commentary by knowledgeable guides, shedding light on the history and stories behind London’s famous riverside sights, making them educational as well as entertaining.

Can City Cruises accommodate special occasions?
Absolutely. City Cruises excels at hosting special occasions, whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, or corporate events. With options for private boat hire and tailored packages, they can create a memorable experience for any event, set against the stunning backdrop of London’s skyline.

How does City Cruises contribute to a unique London experience?
City Cruises offers a unique perspective of London, combining sightseeing with the pleasure of cruising on the River Thames. Unlike walking tours or bus rides, a City Cruise allows you to see the city from the tranquil waters, offering a serene and picturesque experience that contrasts with the hustle and bustle of city life. The opportunity to dine or enjoy a drink while floating past historical and modern architectural marvels adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the sightseeing experience.

What types of commentary can I expect on a City Cruise?
City Cruises provides comprehensive commentary that covers the historical, cultural, and architectural significance of the sights along the Thames. Depending on the cruise, you might enjoy live commentary from a knowledgeable guide or recorded audio available in multiple languages, ensuring that you don’t miss any fascinating details about London’s history and landmarks.

Are there any themed cruises available with City Cruises?
Yes, City Cruises offers a variety of themed cruises throughout the year, including seasonal events like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas cruises, as well as unique experiences like jazz evenings, murder mystery nights, and fireworks cruises for special events like New Year’s Eve and the Lord Mayor’s Show. These themed cruises provide an entertaining and novel way to experience the Thames.

What activities can I do on the River Thames?
The River Thames offers a wide range of activities including sightseeing cruises, private boat hires, kayaking, and paddleboarding. You can also walk or cycle along the Thames Path to enjoy the river’s beauty from the shore.

Can I take a sightseeing cruise on the River Thames?
Yes, sightseeing cruises are one of the most popular ways to explore the River Thames. Companies like City Cruises offer various options, including hop-on-hop-off tours, lunch and dinner cruises, and special event cruises that provide stunning views of London’s landmarks.

Are there any historical tours available on the River Thames?
Absolutely. Many cruises offer guided commentary on the historical and cultural significance of the sights along the river, including the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Can I dine on the River Thames?
Yes, dining cruises are a fantastic way to enjoy the River Thames. You can choose from options like afternoon tea cruises, Sunday roast lunch cruises, and luxurious dinner cruises, all offering delicious meals with a side of spectacular views.

Is it possible to rent a private boat on the River Thames?
Yes, private boat hires are available for a more personal experience on the River Thames. Whether for a celebration, a corporate event, or simply a private sightseeing tour, you can enjoy the flexibility and exclusivity of your own vessel.

What are some landmarks I can see from the River Thames?
While cruising the Thames, you can see many of London’s iconic landmarks, including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Shard, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

Are activities on the River Thames suitable for families?
Yes, the River Thames offers numerous family-friendly activities. Sightseeing cruises and boat hires can be enjoyed by all ages, and many providers offer special rates or packages for families.

What is the best time of year to enjoy the River Thames?
The River Thames can be enjoyed year-round, but the best time is from late spring to early autumn when the weather is milder, and you can fully appreciate the outdoor and on-water activities. Winter cruises offer a different charm, with the city lit up and less crowded boat tours.

Original Post Date: December 7, 2022