For those new to the city, a London boat tour is the ideal way to see everything, from St Paul’s to Greenwich, without having to navigate yourself. And for those who’ve already been there and done that, why not travel down the Thames in style with a glass of bubbly in your hand?
Suitable for everything from family trips to romantic evenings out, this list of London boat tours gives you the chance to steer your 2023 in an exciting new direction.
So without further ado, here’s our collection of best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to try – anchors away!
Best London boat tours and Thames River cruises at a glance:
• Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London, from £14
• Thames 24 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off River Cruise, from £23
• Thames Afternoon Tea Cruise for Two, from £62
• Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise for Two, from £162
• River Thames Murder Mystery Three Course Dining Cruise for Two, from £171
• Thames Rockets Break the Barrier Experience for Two, from £99
• Three Course Meal at a Marco Pierre White Restaurant and Thames River Sightseeing Cruise for Two, from £76
• Evening Thames Cruise for Two with Bubbly and Canapes, from £69.30
• London River Cruise with a Three Course Dinner and Elvis Tribute Act for Two, from £162
Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023
Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London
Ever wanted to see all of London’s best landmarks in one day without lifting a finger? Then we present to you this sightseeing cruise of the Thames. Perfect for London beginners, this boat trip will take you past all of the best sights, from the Palace of Westminster to Shakespeare’s Globe, past the Tower of London and ending at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
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All the while, visitors will be treated to live commentary on the history of these well-known attractions.
Buy Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London from £14 at Viator
Thames 24 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off River Cruise
If you fancy taking your time and seeing the sights up close, this hop-on hop-off cruise allows you to be your own captain. Running boats from 10am and lasting all day, this flexible tour encourages you to alight at each major landmark and re-join another boat when you’re ready to move on. Recorded commentary is provided and a bar is on deck to enhance your experience of the stunning views.
Buy Thames 24 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off River Cruise from £23 at Viator
Champagne Afternoon Tea and Thames River Cruise for Two
Is it jam or cream first? Feel free to argue over that one, and the correct pronunciation of scone, while gazing out at the gorgeous views of the riverside. This unique experience will give you and a loved one the chance to cruise down the Thames as if you were in an 18th century novel.
With cakes, sandwiches and, of course, scones provided, plus tea and coffee, you won’t want to miss this tranquil trip through the city.
Buy Champagne Afternoon Tea and Thames River Cruise for Two from £62 at Virgin Experience Days
Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise for Two
For an evening of smooth sailing, why not pick this Thames cruise accompanied by the swinging sounds of a five-piece jazz band? Upon entry to the boat you’ll be greeted by a glass of sparkling wine and the soothing sounds of the blues. Then the quintet will play you through a three-course dinner, with a twinkling view of London at night.
Buy Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise for Two from £162 at Virgin Experience Days
River Thames Murder Mystery Three Course Dining Cruise for Two
The unofficial sequel to Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile is this thrilling murder mystery experience on the River Thames. With drinks and a three-course meal to die for, you’ll have a frighteningly good time until you and the other guests discover the shocking truth – there’s been a murder on board.
You and your loved one will have to use your elementary skills to root out the killer - although don’t get so swept up in the bloody dealings of the case that you forget to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Buy River Thames Murder Mystery Three Course Dining Cruise for Two from £171 at Red Letter Days
Thames Rockets Break the Barrier Experience for Two
If cruises are a bit slow for you then you might prefer this for a more whistle-stop tour of the city. Jump on a speed boat and experience the Thames like James Bond, with twists, turns and 40 minutes out on the water.
With their 880 horsepower engines, Thames Rockets go at a speed of 30knots (or 35mph), so we’d recommend this for the adrenaline junkies out there. Whizz past the O2, Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the Thames Barrier, although we can’t guarantee you’ll see too much.
Buy Thames Rockets Break the Barrier Experience for Two from £99 at Red Letter Days
Three Course Meal at a Marco Pierre White Restaurant and Thames River Sightseeing Cruise for Two
For a full day of decadence, try this Thames sightseeing cruise followed by a meal at London Steakhouse Co. Headed up by culinary royalty Marco Pierre White, you’ll be greeted by a cocktail and a delicious three course meal. Two stylish London experiences rolled into one, this is not something to miss.
Buy Three Course Meal at a Marco Pierre White Restaurant and Thames River Sightseeing Cruise for Two from £76 at Virgin Experience Days
Evening Thames Cruise for Two with Bubbly and Canapes
Not much matches the beauty of London at sunset and now, you can experience that in the classiest of ways by going on this evening tour of the River Thames. Accompanied by live music, a glass of bubbly and canapes, this trip is ideal for a romantic night out. The boat will also have a full bar and an open-air deck to capture the perfect Instagram moment.
Buy Evening Thames Cruise for Two with Bubbly and Canapes from £69.30 at Virgin Experience Days
London River Cruise with a Three Course Dinner and Elvis Tribute Act for Two
For a little less conversation and a little more rock and roll, take this cruise down the Thames with an Elvis tribute act. There to serenade you through your three course dinner, you’ll be all shook up by how good he is. A truly unique experience and perfect for any Elvis fans, you’ll be able to enjoy the history of London and the history of rock and roll at the same time.
Buy London River Cruise with a Three Course Dinner and Elvis Tribute Act for Two from £162 at Red Letter Days
How to book boat tours and river cruise tickets in London
In London, everything tends to get booked up very quickly, so your best bet is to make bookings online and far in advance.
If you decide to book one of these experiences, simply go to the respective website and redeem your voucher by entering the code and/or pin provided. You can then pick the date and time you’d like to book and will be sent all the information you need. You can also call the booking company up and make your booking over the phone.
How long do London boat tours typically last?
For the more basic sightseeing bookings, tours typically last one hour to 70 minutes, provided you don’t want to get off and see the sights. But if you’re thinking of planning a fancier evening out, whether it be a meal, a murder mystery or an Elvis tribute act, your experience is likely to be longer at around two and a half hours. Make sure you plan accordingly and take precautions for anyone who gets seasick!
For more nautical themed days, try this list of Cambridge Punting tours, and if you're looking for a high-class day out, check out this list of Downton Abbey tours.
Is there a dress code for Thames river cruise? ›
Lunch and Afternoon Tea is smart casual. Dinner Cruise is smart formal. Both ladies and gentlemen are asked to dress in a manner appropriate to a smart formal occasion. Sports shoes and leisure wear are not permitted.Do you need to book a Thames river cruise? ›
Generally, you need to buy your ticket in advance online or at a pier ticket office before boarding a boat.Are there river cruises from London? ›
The London Eye River Cruise is a 40 minute circular sightseeing tour, along the River Thames. Departing from The London Eye pier you will be taken on route to see the House of Parliament, though to The Tower of London and Tower Bridge, where you will return back to The London Eye Pier.How much does it cost for a river cruise on the Thames? ›
Prices start at £10.80/adult (16+), £7.05/child (5-15), free for infants 4 and under. See their full list of single and return ticket prices here. If you are planning on taking at least two rides, we recommend that you buy a River Pass. This pass gives you unlimited travel between their piers.
On formal nights, proper attire includes tuxedos, suits or slacks (jackets required) for men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or dressy pantsuits for women. Jeans are welcome in all dining venues during the day, but they're not appropriate in any public venues for dinner or cocktail hour.Can I wear jeans to dinner on a Viking river cruise? ›
Basically, it means you should dress casually and comfortably, but not sloppily. Men can wear any type of well-fitting slacks, jeans or even shorts in warm weather.Is there a toilet on Thames cruise? ›
There are toilets with accessible facilities on board most of the fleet. Our larger boats also have baby changing tables.What do you see on a Thames river cruise? ›
What can I see from the boat? From the comfort of the sightseeing boat, you can see many of London's most famous buildings and cherished landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe, the Tate Modern, Cutty Sark and The Shard.How much does the London Ferris wheel cost? ›
You can also combine a ride on the London Eye with a guided boat tour. Standard admission for adults starts at 24.50 pounds (around $33.50). Keep in mind that if you book your ticket in advance online, you'll save a few pounds.What is the most popular river cruise in Europe? ›
Danube River, Europe
The Danube is Europe's most popular cruising river. It flows through Germany, Austria, Hungary and other counties on its 2,000-mile route, and you'll find itineraries that include Vienna, Munich, Prague, Budapest and other don't-miss cities.
What is the best time of year to go on a river cruise? ›
Shoulder seasons occur on either side of the peak season—from April through mid-June and September through mid-November. A river cruise during these times allows the traveler to experience the beauty of these spectacular waterways with fewer crowds, fewer children, and fewer dollars spent.Where do London river cruises go from? ›
With over 50 years' experience, we operate a daily sightseeing river cruise service from Westminster Pier to Greenwich Pier calling at Embankment Pier, Festival Pier, Bankside Pier and Tower Bridge Quay.Which river to visit in London? ›
London's river Thames is famous for landmarks such as Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Shakespeare's Globe. Take a river cruise all the way to the Thames Barrier or drift back from Hampton Court Palace.Are flights included in river cruises? ›
Most river cruises also include flights and transfers in the price and some also include excursions.How long is the London Eye ride? ›
30 minutes up high in one of our 32 pods. 360° moving views from the heart of the city. Get up close to London's iconic landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
- Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.
- Sharp Objects, including all knives and scissors. ...
- Illegal Drugs & Substances.
- CBD Oil / CBD Products.
- Candles, Incense, Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, Travel Steamers & Hot Plates. ...
- More Than One Plate at a Time. ...
- Cross-contaminated food and utensils. ...
- Communal condiments. ...
- Stale pizza. ...
- Scrambled eggs. ...
- Soft-serve ice cream cones. ...
But you don't have to wear a tuxedo to enjoy the evening. Women can simply wear a cocktail dress or a nice blouse with pants. For men, it's fine to wear a suit, or even a buttoned-down shirt and a pair of slacks if you don't want to get too fancy.Is the mini bar free on Viking River Cruises? ›
Minibars that include complimentary alcoholic beverages as well as soft drinks, water and snacks (replenished once daily). Complimentary clothes pressing and shoeshine services. A welcome bottle of Champagne. Earlier access to cabins on embarkation day.How many outfits do I need for a 7 day cruise? ›
Bottom Line: As a rough guide, for a 7-night cruise you will need to bring enough clothing for at least 4 formal or semi-formal nights, a couple of casual evenings, pool and loungewear, and practical clothing for excursions on dry land.
How dressy are Viking River Cruises? ›
Though there are no formal nights on-board Viking River cruises, evening dress is elegant casual across all dining venues, performances and special events. This includes: Women – Dress, skirt or slacks with a sweater or blouse. Men – Trousers and collared shirt with a tie and jacket being optional.Does Thames river still smell? ›
The smell of London's sewage can still be smelt today, with sewage still entering the Thames when the system reaches capacity at overflow points along the river, such as at Blackfriars. As the population of London continues to increase, so does the amount of waste and the use of these overflow points.What happens if you need the toilet on the London Eye? ›
Toilets are located in the ticket office at the London Eye by the VIP desk.Why does the Thames look so dirty? ›
The River Thames appears brown because there is silt on the riverbed. This silt is made up of fine particles which disperse in the water and make it look muddy.What is the most unusual thing found in the River Thames? ›
Maybe the most recent strange item found would be a 5,000-year-old human bone found this year (2022). The slightly dark object dates all the way back to the stone age and is a key part of history.Do you get wet on Thames speedboat? ›
Thames Rockets do not operate a 'get wet' water experience, however, in windy conditions it is possible for spray to blow across the decks and if it rains the boat is open to the elements. We provide waterproofs and (weather permitting!) all our passengers leave us as dry as they arrived.Is riding the London Eye worth it? ›
Is the London Eye worth the views? The simple answer is yes. This is London's equivalent to the Eiffel Tower and there's no denying that London has one of the most impressive skylines in the world. On a clear day you can see as far as Windsor Castle, over 20 miles away!Should I buy London Eye tickets in advance? ›
Tickets for the London Eye must be pre-booked on our website. We strongly recommend pre-booking your tickets in advance to guarantee entry.Is the London Eye better at night or day? ›
Avoid peak times
The London Eye is busiest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the UK school holidays, and is quieter at the beginning and end of their opening hours, which vary throughout the year.
1. Viking. With its fleet of more than 50 contemporary "longships" on rivers such as the Rhine, the Danube, and the Seine, plus additional ships in Europe, Egypt, and Vietnam, T+L's top-ranked river cruise line for 2022 is often praised for its steadiness.
What is the number 1 cruise line? ›
- Norwegian Cruise Line. Score 78.98. MSC Cruises. ...
- Royal Caribbean International. Score 72.49. Carnival Cruise Line. ...
- P&O Cruises. Score 76.61. Azamara. ...
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Score 76.63. Star Clippers. ...
- Grand Circle Cruise Line. Score 89.47. ...
- Atlas Ocean Voyages. Score 88.78.
The European River cruising season runs from March through December, though the best time to take a river cruise in Europe is during the late spring (April-May) or early fall (September-October).How far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price? ›
Experts say it's best to book a cruise six to 12 months ahead for the best price, but you might be able to snag a better deal if you have the flexibility to wait a bit longer.What is the cheapest month to book a cruise? ›
The best time of year to book a cruise is often January through March. During this period — also known as wave season — industry-wide sales occur and the price of that cruise you've been dreaming of may drop significantly.Is Buckingham Palace near a river? ›
Thames, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park - Thames River.How long is the city cruise from westminster to tower? ›
Join us for a 40-Minute (Single) or 80-Minute (Return*) trip from Westminster Pier to Tower Bridge Quay (St. Katharine Pier). The cruise departs Westminster Pier & travels downriver through the City of Westminster & City of London before passing beneath Tower Bridge & arriving at Tower Bridge Quay.What port does Viking use in London? ›
Among the cruise lines with ships docking at London Greenwich are Viking OCEAN and Silversea. Currently, the London Greenwich cruise port has 3 moorings (docking sites) for smaller ships - "Tower Bridge Upper", "George's Stair Tier" and "Greenwich Ship Tier".What is the number 1 attraction in London? ›
1 – The British Museum
With one of the most varied and impressive collections of antiquities in the world, The British Museum is without a doubt one of the best tourist attractions in London.
- The Batman Building, More London, Bankside. ...
- Lancaster Road, Notting Hill. ...
- St. ...
- The Golden Lane Car Park, Barbican. ...
- Shad Thames. ...
- Brydges Place, Covent Garden. ...
- I Love U Boo at Frank's Café, Peckham. ...
- Leadenhall Market, City.
- Primrose Hill. ...
- Highgate. ...
- Mayfair. ...
- Marylebone. ...
- St Katharine Docks. ...
- Greenwich. ...
- Chiswick. ...
- Richmond. South of Chiswick, Richmond is one of the most beautiful places in the city, not only for its pretty riverfront but also for its stunning park.
What age group is river cruises for? ›
Even on family sailings, almost all river cruise lines recommend that children be at least 8 to 10 years old before cruising. Keep in mind that even if a ship accepts children, it might not have beds or other facilities for them.Is it cheaper to book through cruise line? ›
Travel agents can get better deals on cruises
Their service to you is usually free, though some may charge first-time clients a minimal fee. It's worth it. In addition to sharing their expertise, the agent may have negotiated group space at lower rates with the cruise line, which may save you money on the cruise fare.
Your cruise fare always includes food for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a cruise ship. However, not all venues that offer food will be free. The main dining room and cruise ship buffet will always be included in your cruise fare, though a few specialty items might cost extra.Which is better the Shard or London Eye? ›
Overall the Shard offers the superior views compared to the London Eye. Not only is The Shard over 100m taller than the Eye, allowing you to see much further than any other viewing point in the city.How much costs a ride on London Eye? ›
|Adult (15 years +)||INR 2,584|
|Fast Track (No Waiting)|
|Child (6-12 years)||INR 3,045|
|Adult (12 years +)||INR 3,506|
Best Time to Visit the London Eye
The early London Eye opening times from 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM has a lot of crowds, so it's best recommended to go right when the London Eye opens or just before it closes.
Packing for a river cruise
Bring casual clothes that are comfortable – that's your main priority. Unlike ocean cruises where guests often dine in ballgowns and tuxedos, the dress code on a river cruise is much more relaxed and informal.
Daytime dress codes are comfortable and casual, with a dress or two for the formal evening occasions. Scenic advises guests to pack a comfortable pair of shoes for excursions and sandals for if the weather is warm. During specific Freechoice or Enrich events, bring a pair of smart shoes or heels.
There can be 1 to 4 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship's discretion. Our Chef's Table dining experience also enforces a formal dress code policy. Bare feet are not allowed at any time in any venue and tank tops are not permitted in the Main Dining Room or Specialty Dining venues for dinner.Do River Cruises have formal nights? ›
There are no formal nights on a river cruise, though some guests may choose to dress up for events such as the Captain's Welcome Dinner.
How much clothes should you pack for a 7 day cruise? ›
Bottom Line: As a rough guide, for a 7-night cruise you will need to bring enough clothing for at least 4 formal or semi-formal nights, a couple of casual evenings, pool and loungewear, and practical clothing for excursions on dry land.What can you not wear on a boat cruise? ›
T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps, and pool wear are not allowed in the main restaurant or specialty restaurants at any time. In addition, shorts and flip-flops are not permitted during the evening hours.How many outfits do you need for a 5 day cruise? ›
Women: One or two dressy outfits – dressy pants and blouse, cocktail dress. Some women still wear long formal dresses but not as often. Men: One sport coat or dark jacket, 2 ties, 1 or 2 collared shirts.Do you have to dress nice for dinner on a cruise? ›
If you want to attend a “cruise elegant” evening, bring a fancier, more formal outfit. Men can wear suits or dress slacks with a sport coat and dress shirt. For women, cocktail dresses, pantsuits or elegant skirts and blouses are appropriate. Some guests like to go all out with a tuxedo or ball gown.What should I wear on my first day of cruise? ›
What should I wear on embarkation day? Since you most likely will be doing a lot of walking and standing in line, comfortable shoes are key. Dress casually, and don't be surprised to see tropical wear on Caribbean cruises or even groups in matching T-shirts. Also make sure you check the weather beforehand.Do you have to wear pants to dinner on Royal Caribbean? ›
Royal Caribbean's dress code rules
Jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck. Shorts are welcomed for breakfast and lunch. Smart Casual: Think of this as a step up from your typical dinner wear.
Not permitted in the dining room during the Cruise Casual dinner for ladies and gentlemen: shorts, gym shorts, basketball shorts, beach flip-flops, bathing suit attire, cut-off jeans, sleeveless shirts for men and baseball hats. Cruise Elegant Dining Dress Code: Gentlemen - dress trousers, dress shirts.Do you have to wear a jacket for formal night on Royal Caribbean? ›
Think of our formal dress code as a night out in your best black-tie look — suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns are all acceptable options. There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship's discretion. Our Chef's Table dining experience also enforces a formal dress code policy.How far in advance should I book a river cruise? ›
The best time to book a river cruise is usually a year in advance if you want to sail in the peak summer months. That's when you'll find the sweet spot between price and availability. If you're going in the offseason, you'll see the best prices about nine months before you go.Can you wear jeans to formal night on a cruise? ›
You can get away with wearing jeans to the Main Dining Room on formal night. However, it's a good idea to make sure the jeans are fairly nice and do not have any holes or rips in them. A dark-washed jean will look more formal, although you will likely not be turned away with any type of jean.
What do you wear to dinner on a Viking cruise? ›
There are no “formal nights” in the evening; evening dress is “elegant casual” for all dining venues, performances and special events. On these occasions, required attire for ladies includes a dress, skirt or slacks with a sweater or blouse; for gentlemen, trousers and a collared shirt.