Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (2023)

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (1)

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

(Video) Are London's River Cruises WORTH doing? | Best Thames Boat Tour to choose

Thames 24 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off River Cruise

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (2)

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (3)

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (4)

(Video) Thames River Cruise | Experience London from a Boat

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (5)

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (6)

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.

(Video) 2023 top things to do in london #london #riverthames #thingstodo

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (7)

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (8)

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

Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023 (9)

(Video) Uber Boat by Thames Clippers London - Boat Ride Experience on River Thames

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.

How much does it cost for a river cruise on the Thames? ›

Single Tickets

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.

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.

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.

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.

Can you wear jeans to dinner on a cruise? ›

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.

Do you have to book Thames river cruise? ›

Fares and tickets

Generally, you need to buy your ticket in advance online or at a pier ticket office before boarding a boat.

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 is the best time of year to go on a river cruise? ›

To avoid crowds and experience cooler temperatures, consider traveling in the shoulder months of May and September.

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.

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.

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.

What is the best part of the Thames Path? ›

Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge

This section is our favourite because it contains so much of what makes London… London – history, culture, world-famous landmarks, food, people and vibrant atmosphere! If you walk the whole path from the Thames Barrier to Putney Bridge, you will notice this is the busiest section.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What should I wear on my first night cruise? ›

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.

What can you not eat on a cruise? ›

8 things to avoid at the cruise-ship buffet if you want to keep your stomach ship-shape
  • More Than One Plate at a Time. ...
  • Cross-contaminated food and utensils. ...
  • Communal condiments. ...
  • Stale pizza. ...
  • Scrambled eggs. ...
  • Soft-serve ice cream cones. ...
  • Sushi.
Aug 21, 2019

How much money should you take on a cruise? ›

What Is The Average Amount of Cash to Bring on a Cruise? On a cruise, most guests bring between $100-$120 in cash per day to be spent on transportation, tips, gifts, food, and shopping. In a survey of 850 cruisers, 71% stated that they took over $100 per person per day when cruising.

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.

Can you explore on your own on a river cruise? ›

Does the ship care? The answer: no. While most river cruise tours are included in the cost of the voyage itself, there's absolutely no obligation for you to participate in one or even all of them. If you so choose, you can do your own thing in every port of call.

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.

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.

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.

Why is Thames water so dirty? ›

During the Victorian era, industrial waste, untreated sewage, slaughterhouses' wastes – everything got routed into the Thames and, as a result, the river started to get polluted swiftly. World War II bombings over sewage treatment plant forced more sewage to spill the Thames.

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 month is best for Danube River cruise? ›

The Danube River is a charming destination to visit at almost any time of the year, though most travel experts agree the that best times to take a Danube cruise are Spring (April and May) and Fall (September and October).

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.

What river cruise line is rated the best? ›

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? ›

The best cruise lines in the world 2022
  • 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.
Oct 4, 2022

What is the prettiest place in London? ›

The most beautiful places to see in London, to raise your London sightseeing game.
  1. The Batman Building, More London, Bankside. ...
  2. Lancaster Road, Notting Hill. ...
  3. St. ...
  4. The Golden Lane Car Park, Barbican. ...
  5. Shad Thames. ...
  6. Brydges Place, Covent Garden. ...
  7. I Love U Boo at Frank's Café, Peckham. ...
  8. Leadenhall Market, City.
Jul 2, 2021

What is the prettiest part of London? ›

Lady's Guide to the 17 Prettiest London Neighborhoods
  • 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.

Which is the most beautiful city in London? ›

The most beautiful places in London: Shoreditch, Barbican Conservatory, and more
  1. Sky Garden. Image: Meira / Tripadvisor. ...
  2. Tower Bridge. Image: David Monaghan / Unsplash. ...
  3. Shoreditch. Image: John Dancy / Unsplash. ...
  4. Hyde Park. Image: V2F / Unsplash. ...
  5. Leadenhall Market. ...
  6. Barbican Conservatory. ...
  7. Highgate Cemetery. ...
  8. Windsor Castle.
Jul 27, 2022

How long is the queue for London Eye River Cruise? ›

The time slot you select is the time you are granted access to the queue for the London Eye. We ask guests to anticipate queues of around 45 minutes for standard tickets and a queue time of around 20 minutes for Fastrack ticket holders.

Is Buckingham Palace near a river? ›

Thames, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park - Thames River.

How long does London Eye last? ›

Standard Ticket

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. You can even see as far as Windsor Castle on a clear day!

Why can you not swim in the Thames? ›

The tidal Thames is a fast-flowing waterway and the busiest inland waterway in the UK accommodating over 20,000 ship movements and hosting over 400 events each year. It is for these reasons the PLA restricts swimming throughout the majority of its jurisdiction for the safety of swimmers and river users.

How many waterfalls are in the River Thames? ›

Unlike many other rivers, there are no river features such as waterfalls or rapids found along the River Thames.

Where do bodies wash up on the Thames? ›

Kew is bordered by the Thames so bodies of drowned people frequently were washed up along its shore. Originally such bodies would be taken to either facilities provided by the local Vestry or more often a local public house, although publicans were not required to receive dead bodies.

What time of year should I walk the Thames Path? ›

The weather is generally the same regardless of which section you are on. You can, of course, walk at any time. However, the driest time is May and September.

Do any tube lines go under the Thames? ›

The District, Victoria, Northern, Bakerloo, and East London lines all run under the Thames, and the Underground sees approximately 4.8 million passenger journeys a day.

Where should I stay when walking the Thames Path? ›

The Thames Head Inn is the ideal starting point for your walk along the Thames Path situated a 10 minute walk from the official source.

How should I dress for a river cruise? ›

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.

What is the dress code for Scenic River Cruises? ›

Scenic River

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.

How strict is Royal Caribbean dress code? ›

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.

What should you not bring on a cruise? ›

Prohibited items:
  1. Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.
  2. Sharp Objects, including all knives and scissors. ...
  3. Illegal Drugs & Substances.
  4. CBD Oil / CBD Products.
  5. Candles, Incense, Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, Travel Steamers & Hot Plates. ...
  6. Hoverboards.

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.

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.

Are gratuities included on scenic river cruises? ›

On all of Scenic's river cruises, all gratuities are included in your cruise fare. This includes gratuities for your butler and crew, as well as tips for on shore activities.

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.

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.

What should I wear on a Royal Caribbean cruise everyday? ›

Royal Caribbean encourages you to “Wear Your Best” whenever you want. This means that you can dress casual with jeans, polos, and blouses for our restaurants, but please do keep the swimwear, tank tops and bare feet to the pool deck.

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.

What do you wear to dinner on a Viking river cruise? ›

There are no formal nights on Viking so there's no need for long dresses for women or dinner jackets for men (even neckties are discretionary). Instead, the dress code is “elegant casual,” which can mean anything from a sundress in the Caribbean—to slacks and a blouse for women cruising in colder climates.

How dressy is 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.


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