River Thames Cruises

River Thames Cruises are a fantastic way to see the sights of London. If you want to beat the crowds, be sure of a seat, while also seeing some of London's most famous landmarks such as the Tower of London, The Houses of Parliament and the iconic Tower Bridge, then you should definitely try one of the many cruises offered on the Thames!

There are over 20 piers along the Thames, where it is possible to begin any one of the River Thames Cruises. Near to these piers, you will find many London sights, just waiting to be explored. Here's what you can see close to the Westminster, Festival, Bankside, Tower and Greenwich piers:

Westminster Pier -

Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Horse Guards Parade, Parliament Square, Downing Street, Cabinet War Rooms, National Gallery, Cleopatra's Needle, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Tattershall Castle - a former paddle ship turned into a bar moored on the Thames.

Festival Pier -

Festival Hall and Galleries, London Eye, London Aquarium, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royal National Theatre, Museum of the Moving Image, Haywood Gallery, National Film Theatre, Gabriel's Wharf, Jubilee Gardens, Florence Nightingale Exhibition.

Bankside Pier -

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, Southwark Cathedral, St. Paul's Cathedral via the Millennium Bridge, The Golden Hinde - a reconstruction of a Tudor galleon.

Tower Pier -

Tower of London and Gardens, Tower Bridge and Museum (you can even climb to the top to get a spectacular view of London from its covered walkway 42 meters above the Thames), St. Katherine's Yacht Haven, Dickens Inn Tavern, The Monument, Tobacco Dock Factory shopping complex, Little London Picture Parlour, HMS Belfast - find out what it's like to live and work aboard a warship, Traitors Gate - the last place many prisoners saw before entering the Tower of London to die.

Greenwich Pier -

Greenwich England is where you can find the Greenwich Royal Observatory, The Queen's House, the Fan Museum, Greenwich Park, Old Royal Naval College, and National Maritime Museum.

You can, of course, take River Thames Cruises without leaving the boat, but I think one of the more interesting ones are those that operate a 'hop-on hop-off' or 'rover' service. The ticket is valid for the whole day and is very good value, as you can leave the boat and explore anywhere you might find interesting, and then return and visit the next place.

There are many boat companies operating along the Thames, offering different types of cruises, but one of my favorites is:

Discount-London - With this boat line, you can buy "hop-on hop-off" tickets for around $21.00 with child's fare $10.00, starting at Westminster pier and traveling down to Greenwich pier. This is one of the best values you can get! The "hop-on hop-off" service begins at 9:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. every day, and is available from 13 piers. You could also have lunch on board, afternoon tea or even enjoy a cruise while taking in a show or dining.

Another great way to go on River Thames Cruises is to go to Priceline. You will find great bargains under Activities for London. There are many great combinations such as:

  • A cruise on the Thames with a visit to the Tower of London
  • A cruise on the Thames and a flight on the London Eye
  • Hop-on Hop-off bus ride to see the London sights, with a cruise on the Thames

Another favorite way of mine to take a cruise on the Thames is the combination tours offered by Expedia under "Things to Do" in London. They have many, but one of the more unusual and exciting ones is "The London Duck Tour". This is London's only land and water vehicle that departs from Chicheley Street, SE1, which is just behind the London Eye. You will ride in an amphibious vehicle used for the D-Day landings in 1944, driving past famous London landmarks such as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square before launching for a dramatic splashdown into the River Thames.

The London Duck Tour lasts about 75 minutes, with approximately 30 minutes on the river, and is accompanied by an entertaining commentary. The tours run daily and cost around $36.00 for adults, and $24.00 for a child. If you are a James Bond fan, you can take the James Bond tour running on the third Sunday of every month. You will visit many of the locations used in the films.

Top Tips:

  • Most operators offer a discount for booking River Thames Cruises online.
  • Some operators like you to print your own ticket when booking online, so make sure your printer is working!
  • If you are a family traveling together, then see if "Family" tickets are available, as these could save you come cash.

River transport is very reliable as it is not affected by variable conditions that may affect other forms of transport. You are also given a view of London that is just not seen from inland. With 29 bridges to admire, as well as many centuries of London's history to discover, I would definitely recommend River Thames Cruises.

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