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7 Best Thames River Cruises in London

Cruising the waters of the Thames and enjoying the sights of the city while taking a relaxing boat ride will be the highlight of your trip.

Vicky Del Moral

Vicky Del Moral

8 min read

7 Best Thames River Cruises in London

Thames River Cruise | ©Jose Carlos Bartolome

From the water, you'll see a different side of London and learn about its history. Thames river cruises can be closed tours or operate as a sightseeing 'bus' on England's most important river.

There are many tours organised on the waters of the River Thames, from the most economical to the most exclusive, with on-board services such as dinners and live shows.

1. River cruise on the Thames with live narration

Thames Riverboat| ©Scott Anderson
Thames Riverboat| ©Scott Anderson

Departing every 30 to 40 minutes, the one-hour Thames River Cruise from Westminster to Greenwich is an hour-long, closed boat tour, priced at around £20, and a great way to see London's skyline and up to 13 of its major riverside attractions.

Departing from Westminster Pier, you can relax on deck or inside the boat to admire and take pictures of the city's landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, among others, while a guide, whose audio is also available in English, will explain everything you see. And once the cruise is over, you can go and see Westminster. See tickets for Westminster Abbey.

Why I like this option: It's a great way to enjoy the experience at a reduced price and without having to spend too much time either. You'll be able to see London's main attractions from the river while you relax.

Recommended if... You don't have a lot of time or don't want to spend a lot of money on this experience but want to enjoy the highlights of the city as seen from the river.

Book a Thames River Cruise

2. Thames Sunset River Cruise

Thames River Sunset Cruise| ©Mica BunnyAttack
Thames River Sunset Cruise| ©Mica BunnyAttack

Another ideal option is to take a 2 hour sunset cruise. This way, you'll be able to see landmarks such as the London Eye, HMS Belfast, The Shard, Big Ben, Tower Bridge and Cannary Wharf as the sun sets, and you'll also have the opportunity to enjoy a glass of sparkling wine and an aperitif.

Discover London's iconic sites and landmarks from a different perspective and in a different light for around €45. And when you disembark it's a great time to grab a bite to eat. So here are 10 places to eat near the London Eye.

Why I like this option: The evening light allows you to see the city from another point of view.

Recommended if....: You feel like relaxing after a busy day of sightseeing.

Book a sunset cruise on the Thames

3. Thames Sunset Cruise with Lunch

Thames River Boats| ©Angel Alicarte
Thames River Boats| ©Angel Alicarte

And if you want to enjoy a Thames river cruise while you enjoy a tasty meal, you can do that too. So, while you cruise along the river and enjoy the view of major landmarks such as Tower Bridge, the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, you'll enjoy a delicious two-course lunch with tea or coffee to give you the strength to go and see the Tower of London at the end of your cruise. See what to see at the Tower of London.

A 1.5 hour tour that costs around €55.

Why I like this option: It's a very fun and adventurous option to get you into the Thames.

Recommended if....: Ideal if you are in a large group and occupy the boat.

Book a Thames river cruise with lunch

4. Dinner cruise with live music

London Eye from the boat| ©Marce de las Muelas
London Eye from the boat| ©Marce de las Muelas

And if you want to spend an unforgettable evening, I recommend the Thames dinner cruise with live music. This tour, aboard a luxurious boat that will start in Westminster, will last approximately 3 hours and will cost around 150€.

Throughout the cruise, you can enjoy a gourmet style dinner with 3 to 5 courses, including cheese and meat specialities. However, there is a special menu for vegans or people with food intolerances or allergies. What are you waiting for? Enjoy exquisite wine, background music and live entertainment while taking in the spectacular views of the city. Plus, if you're looking for an after-plan, you can see the London Eye at night.

Why I like this option: The gourmet menu is excellent.

Recommended if you....: You fancy enjoying live music.

Book a Thames cruise with dinner and live music

5. Thames cruise with free Stopovers

Day Cruise| ©JOSE MANUEL CANDELA
Day Cruise| ©JOSE MANUEL CANDELA

This option is ideal if you are looking for freedom, as for approximately 30€ you will have at your disposal a pass valid for the whole day and you can either take the whole tour, which lasts approximately 1 hour, or disembark whenever you want to visit the main monuments, such as the Tower of London, Shakespeare's Globe theatre or the famous London Eye, and re-embark whenever you want throughout the day.

Plus, through the City Cruises mobile app you'll have the opportunity to listen live to the history of the most emblematic places and main points of interest.

Why I like this option: The freedom it offers as you can stop wherever you feel like it and hop back on throughout the day.

Recommended if....: You have a full day to visit the attractions on the banks of the Thames. Check Tower of London tickets, London Eye tickets, London Eye prices or Sea Life Aquarium tickets

Book a Thames cruise with free stopovers

6. Thames boat trip

Thames Boat Cruise| ©Rafael Llácer
Thames Boat Cruise| ©Rafael Llácer

And for the more adventurous, there is the option of a speedboat ride on the Thames. This fun proposal has an approximate duration of 45 minutes, an approximate price of 60 euros and a maximum capacity of 12 people.

So, while you sail along the River Thames at a maximum speed of 56 km per hour, an expert guide will give you all the details of the most emblematic places of the route such as the London Eye, Tower Bridge and the skyscraper The Shard. This is a totally safe option, as the guide will equip you with a safety waistcoat and mackintosh as soon as you get on. Of course, I'd like to take this opportunity to recommend 10 places to eat near the London Eye because I'm sure that after this adventure, you'll want nothing more than to eat.

Why I like this option: It's a very fun and adventurous option to go deep into the Thames.

Recommended if....: Ideal if you're going in a large group and you're occupying the boat.

Book a boat trip on the Thames

7. Thames River Cruise and Sightseeing Bus

River Thames| ©Antonio Campoy
River Thames| ©Antonio Campoy

To get to know the city in depth, I recommend you to choose the option of a Thames river cruise and tourist bus. This way, you can see the most important monuments comfortably while you enjoy the explanations of a local tour guide in a vintage bus and, later, you can get on board a boat to see the city from a different perspective.

The experience lasts approximately 3 hours and a half and costs between 75 and 80€.

Why I like this option: It is a very comfortable option.

Recommended if....: If you are going with elderly people or small children.

Book a Thames river cruise and sightseeing bus

We compare all options

  • Thames River Cruise
  • From £15
  • 1 hour
  • Without food
  • Book now
  • Thames River Evening Cruise
  • From £32
  • 2 hours
  • With wine and aperitif
  • Book now
  • Thames River Lunch Cruise
  • From £46
  • 1 hour 30 min
  • With lunch and tea
  • Book now
  • Thames River Dinner Cruise with Live Music
  • From £0
  • 2 hour 45 min
  • With gourmet dinner
  • Book now
  • Hop on Hop Off Thames River Cruise
  • From £27
  • 1 hour
  • Without food
  • Book now
  • Thames River Speed Boat Tour
  • From £56
  • 45 minutes
  • No food
  • Book now
  • Bus London Tour with Thames River Cruise
  • From £54
  • 45 minutes
  • With other attractions
  • Book now

How to get to the Thames river cruise embarkation areas

Views of Tower Bridge from the River
Views of Tower Bridge from the River

Most Thames river cruises depart from central London piers and are served by public transport nearby and in the case of the flexible cruise you can also get to any of the above attractions from any of their stops.

Embankment Pier

  • Embankment Underground
  • Charing Cross train or tube

Westminster Pier

  • Westminster Underground
  • Tower Pier
  • Tower Hill Underground
  • Tower Gateway DLR light rail
  • Fenchurch Street Railway Station
  • 15, 15H, N15 and RV1 bus routes

Greenwich Pier

  • Cutty Sark Light Railway (DLR)
  • Greenwich Railway
  • 188, 199 and N1 bus routes

London Eye Pier

  • Waterloo and London Waterloo Underground
  • Bus route RV1

Book a sunset cruise on the Thames

Why a Thames Sunset Cruise is worthwhile

Sailing under Blackfriars Bridge
Sailing under Blackfriars Bridge

For me, one of the great advantages of taking one of the many cruises on the River Thames is that you can give your tired legs a bit of a rest after a city with so much to see and do.

They also save you from the traffic jams you can suffer on the bus or the crowds of people crowding the underground.

These cruises are ideal to get an overall idea of the city's physiognomy or to see its monuments from a different perspective. I recommend them especially if you are travelling with children, as it is a fun and comfortable way to get an overall idea of what London is like and to visit some of its main points of interest.

It also links two of the city's main tourist attractions: the Westminster Abbey area, where the famous Big Ben and London Eye are located, with the City and St Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London.

Book a Thames river cruise with lunch

Other interesting attractions in London

Sunset on the London Eye| ©Stevieboy55
Sunset on the London Eye| ©Stevieboy55

If you have already decided to take the cruise, my advice is to take the opportunity to visit the Westminster Abbey area, from where you can embark to start the boat tour. Right there you will find the London Eye (this is the article I have written about it). London Eye Tickets: how to buy, prices and schedules), a few metres away Westminster Abbey (here is all the information about London Westminster Abbey Tickets: how to buy and prices) and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

If you are interested in walking around the city and enjoying it by understanding what you see, you can take a look at my article about the London Eye (here is the article I wrote about it). Top 10 Tours and Excursions in Londonwhich can help you choose a good guided tour of the city where you can also learn the best kept secrets of the big city.

Book a Thames river cruise with dinner and live music