London is a city that never sleeps, and even in the chilly month of December, it buzzes with energy and excitement. While many travellers associate the city with its iconic landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, one of the most underrated and captivating experiences can be found along the banks of the Thames River. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore the Thames River adventures and activities to try when visiting London in December.

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A Thames River cruise is a quintessential London experience, and December offers a unique charm. Wrap up warm and embark on a cosy cruise down the river, with views of the city’s stunning skyline illuminated by festive lights. Offering special Christmas-themed cruises it’s the perfect way to celebrate during the Christmas period with friends, family and work colleagues. The boats are decorated, and you can enjoy a scrumptious traditional festive menu with live music, mulled wine, and seasonal treats.

Tower Bridge Exhibition

Crossing the iconic Tower Bridge is a must, but did you know you can also explore the bridge itself? The Tower Bridge Exhibition allows you to walk across the glass-floored high-level walkways, offering breath-taking panoramic views of London. In December, the bridge is often adorned with festive decorations, making it a magical experience.

city cruises vessel going under tower bridge

Greenwich and the Royal Observatory

Take a leisurely stroll along the Thames Path to Greenwich, a historic neighbourhood with a maritime heritage. Visit the Royal Observatory to stand on the Prime Meridian and enjoy spectacular views of London. December’s crisp air and fewer crowds make this an ideal time to explore this part of the city.

Thameside Dining

London is renowned for its diverse culinary scene, and dining by the Thames in December is a memorable experience. Many restaurants along the river offer heated terraces and cosy blankets, allowing you to savour delicious food while enjoying the scenic views.

Riverfront Christmas Markets

London’s Christmas markets are famous, and several are located along the Thames. Southbank Centre’s Winter Market is a must-visit, featuring festive food stalls, unique gifts, and a jovial atmosphere. It’s a perfect place to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine.

riverfront christmas markets lit up at night

Kayaking on the Thames

For the adventurous traveller, consider kayaking on the Thames. Several companies offer guided tours that provide a unique perspective of the city’s landmarks. Paddling along the river in December might be brisk, but it’s an exhilarating and unconventional way to see London.

Riverside Art and Culture

The Thames banks are dotted with cultural institutions like the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Check their schedules for special December events, exhibitions, or performances. Enjoying art and theatre against the backdrop of the river adds a layer of cultural richness to your visit.

riverside art and culture building

Ice Skating at Somerset House

Located right on the banks of the Thames, Somerset House hosts a beautiful ice skating rink during the winter months. Glide gracefully on the ice with the grand neoclassical building as your backdrop. It’s a festive activity that epitomizes London’s winter charm.

Thames Path Walks

For a more low-key adventure, explore the Thames Path by foot. Choose from various sections of the path, each offering its own unique scenery and attractions. The crisp December air and quieter trails make it an ideal time for contemplative walks.

London in December is a city wrapped in a festive blanket, and the Thames River is at the heart of the holiday magic. Whether you’re enjoying a river cruise, savouring seasonal treats at a Christmas market, or embarking on an unconventional kayak adventure, there’s something for everyone along the riverbanks. So, bundle up, embrace the seasonal spirit, and discover the wonders of London’s Thames River adventures this December.