The magnificent River Thames that flows through London has played a significant role in the development of the city.
It is also a great way of exploring London as many sightseeing cruises sail past landmarks and attractions, offering audio commentary about the history of each.
Book a lunch or dinner where you can see the city from a different perspective with a cup of tea or glass of prosecco in hand, or party the night away with unique live entertainment on the water.
River cruises are available in a variety of forms, from purely functional to luxurious and lavish.
The River Thames flows past the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, and the London Eye, so you'll be able to view the city in a whole new light.
The Best Thames River Cruises
Whether you want to book a sightseeing cruise or are looking for one of the many river-based dining experiences in London, you will find a Thames river cruise that's right for you. Here are some of the options you can choose:
You won't see too many of the sights along the river when you're traveling down the Thames in the city's fastest boats.
The Rockets travel down the Thames River at 30 knots, so pack your waterproof clothing and brace yourself for a high-speed ride in a 12-meter-long fiberglass boat.
The Red Rockets speed down the exclusive High-Speed Zone, blasting music.
You'll pass Tower Bridge, the HMS Belfast, St Paul's Cathedral, and the famous Tower of London, but be warned: this isn't a sightseeing cruise! It's forty minutes of pure exhilaration. Get your tickets online.
Credit: Bateaux London
This popular river cruise and steamboat restaurant offer dining experiences, like a lunch, dinner, or afternoon tea cruise or the famous three-course lunch and jazz cruise. You can choose between two vessels, the Glass Room and River Room.
The Glass Room has a fully stocked bar and lavish interiors designed by Tom Dixon, while the River Room boasts large windows and the largest outdoor rooftop observation deck on the Thames.
With food, drinks, and toilet facilities, you will definitely be comfortable as this river tour slowly makes its way past the many sites along the river.
It's one of the best dining cruises the Thames has to offer. Cruises depart from the Victoria Embankment, and you can book in advance online.
Credit: City Cruises
City cruises offer practical hop-on, hop-off boat trips throughout London. They run from Westminster, Waterloo, Greenwich Pier, and Tower Pier, with convenient stops at the city's various attractions.
North Greenwich Pier, for example, is the ideal point of departure for the Cutty Shark, Royal Observatory, and National Maritime Museum.
Tower Pier is a great spot if you would like to see Tower Bridge or the Tower of London. It's not only a great sightseeing cruise but a good option when you get sick of using the Tube.
Uber Boat by Thames Clippers stops at a whopping 24 piers between Barking Riverside Pier and Putney Pier. Services start early in the morning, and they operate until late at night.
The river is divided into the West, Central, and East zone, so make sure you have a valid ticket.
All of these hop-on hop-off river cruises are accessible to wheelchair users and parents with prams, except for Cadogan, London Bridge City, and the Wandsworth Riverside Quarter. Bring your bike along for free.
London Duck Tours
Credit: London Duck Tours
This unique sightseeing cruise uses WWII landing vehicles (painted in rubber duck yellow) and passes by all of the most beautiful sights in the city by road before splashing down into the Thames to travel past Docklands, Canary Wharf, and Greenwich.
It's not nearly as fast as some of the boats on the water today, but it's a unique experience you can't enjoy anywhere else.
Thames River Boats
Credit: Thames River Boats
The Thames River Boats will take you on a leisurely 22-mile journey from the Palace of Westminster to Hampton Court.
It's a three-hour cruise, where you can see the greener, quieter side of London along with the exciting hustle and bustle of its high-rises and busy streets.
Vintage Red Bus Tour and Thames River Cruise
If you'd like to explore the city at your own pace, book a combination ticket for the Red Bus and the Thames River Cruise. You'll be able to view the Globe, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace.
Why stop with the land and the sea, though? You can add a ticket for the London Eye as well, so you can see the twinkling lights of London from the sky as well.
Tate to Tate
Art lovers, pay attention! You can see two of the city's most iconic art institutions with the Tate to Tate Boat. You can see both the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain while passing the central London scenery.
YBA Damien Hirst has decorated the interior and exterior with his unique flair. It's the quickest and most original way to travel through the city. The Tate Modern is located in Bankside, while the Tate Britain is located in Milbank.
Both are close to popular tube stations, so you can easily see the rest of the city after paying a visit to either institution.
Thames river cruises are a great way to experience the city of London, whether you would like to take a slow and relaxing sightseeing cruise or board a music-filled party boat. A Thames cruise is a must for visitors to the city.