Days grow shorter and we slowly but surely start counting the days to Christmas even if autumn is a quite exciting time along the Thames! Mist gently wraps around The Tower of London in the morning and gives way to the enchanting autumn colours that brighten up the Southbank in the evening. What lies between these hours is a mysterious and adventurous day out along the Thames.
best cruises near tower bridge in london

Here are some of our favourite things to do, from colourful outdoor to artistic indoors, misty to mysterious, quirky to cosy, active to chilled. Jump aboard and enjoy the different view of autumn in Central London.

Colourful outdoors and artistic indoors

Coming into autumn, London turns even more colourful than usual. The fabulous green spaces along the river change with the season and Southbank never disappoints with its great variety of art and entertainment. In autumn, the outdoor spaces turn into a painting like setting itself. And when the suns sets the Illuminated River, an open air art installation, adds soft shades of pink, orange and blue onto the river. The best seats on the river to enjoy this spectacular view is on board of The London Showboat, an enjoyable dinner cruise with a delicious 4-course meal, live performance and spectacular views. Some might even call it the “Best night out on the river”
Art galleries and museums along the Southbank are open again. The Tate Modern presents an exhibition on Andy Warhol until 15 Nov 2020 to display “A new look at the extraordinary life and work of the pop art superstar”. A different type of superstar, the “Everyday Heroes” are presented in various open spaces around the Hayward Gallery and the Southbank Centre celebrating key workers in a vivid series of art and poetry commissions. Since 1st September the large-scale displays can be seen for free featuring artists’ inventive approaches to image-making and poetry while reflecting on the everyday heroes who have helped hold society together during this time.

Misty and Mysterious

Autumn mist is the best setting to venture out on a more unusual walking tour. The last launch of David Father’s illustrated walking guidebooks “Bloody London” takes an interesting twist to walks in central London and along the Thames. According to the Londonist, the author “invites you to traverse city streets brimming with blood-curdling stories and tragic tales.”
Equally mysterious than the streets of London is the Thames itself. Considered to be dead waters just a couple of years ago, the Thames is now teaming with wildlife. Some 125 types of fish call the Tidal Thames home now. The likes of trout, salmon and pike are amongst the residents as well as eels, which travel as far as the shores of Greenwich. And if you spot a head popping out of the misty autumn Thames, don’t worry, it might be a seal! London Zoo has introduced a Mammal Map for all urban wildlife explorers. Our captains are also contributing to this wildlife tracker on a regular basis, as the wheelhouse is definitely one of the best places to spot wildlife in the Thames.

visit the zoo in london

Active and chilled

For those who can’t get enough of a certain shiver down their spine, we recommend to get off at Tower Pier and embark on a spooky walk across the City. Free Tours by Foot are offering self-guided or downloadable audio guide tours along the streets of London that where roamed by one of London’s most famous criminals, Jack the Ripper.
However, there is no need to go any further to learn more about criminals and death. Just stay on board and listen to the captain! There are many stories to tell about the Tower of London and our captain knows quite a few. For example: the words “Entry to the Traitor’s Gate” are painted on the river’s north embankment, not far from the pier. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry the Eighth, may be the most famous prisoner who was beheaded on Tower Green.

Quirky and cosy

While City Cruises captains are not only knowledgeable waterman, they are also “most charming”, to quote customers. However, for those looking for inspiration for Halloween, here are our recommendations of quirky and slightly spooky captains:
1st place:       Captain Sparrow, we think:
very eccentric and remarkably well groomed for a pirate!
2nd place:      Captain Morgan, we think:
just as one imagines a pirate captain, fully equipped with a “barrel!
3rd place:       Sir Francis Drake, we think:
the gentleman pirate and confident of Queen Elizabeth the First, definitely need to be on the list!
An exact replica of the Golden Hinde, the flagship commanded by Sir Francis Drake on his historic voyage around the world can be found nestled amongst the modern buildings on the South Bank. Learn more about the secret mission and the outcome from one of our charming captains on board one of our sightseeing cruises.

francis drake london

And what would be a pirate inspired cruise without a spooky pub! Leaving the river behind, crossing the City, The Rising Sun near St Bartholomew’s is definitely worth the walk. It’s said to be haunted by the poor souls of innocent punters being drugged and murdered by bandits who sold the bodies to the nearby hospital for medical research. Pretty doomy story just like the Prospect of Whitby. An amazing historic pub on the north shore of the Thames, is also known for the rope handing form a gallow just outside the pubs riverside terrace. A detail best spotted from our upper deck on the Evening cruise on the way to Greenwich. And yes, there is a human head in the water! Well, kind of, it is one of Anthony Gormley’s famous art installations. So no need to worry.

We’re Good to Go

All jokes and spooky stories aside, Health and Safety was always on top of our agenda but like many London attractions, we have introduced extended cleaning regimes. The safety standards of Visit Britain’s “We’re Good to Go” and the AA’s “Covid-19 confident” make sure visitors can trust that all precautions were taken to apply the government advice. City Cruises has earned both of these renowned tourism standards and has also adjusted operations to provide social distancing and additional hygiene protocols. For more details please watch our health and safety video.
Additional content
For more inspiration have a look at our blog on “Indoor things to do in London” or our “Day Out in London” article