River cruises can be heavily booked, especially in the summer months – be sure to reserve your place!
The River Thames is London’s oldest and most permanent feature, a winding, colour-changing ribbon that has been the lifeblood of the city since its foundation. As well as supplying London with water, it is also a surprisingly common commuting method – many people still get to work and back by riverboat. For those with a little more time in their hands, however, a leisurely cruise on the Thames is both relaxing and a great way to see some of the best sites the city has to offer.
Into the Setting Sun
There are a huge number of different companies offering tours of the Thames, in everything from flashy catamarans to the cumbersome amphibious London Duck buses. Many will offer a variety of starting points, some as far downstream as the Thames Barrier. West of Greenwich Pier, though, most visitors choose to begin at Tower Bridge. Heading upstream from here, you will first pass the old Royal Navy battle cruiser turned floating museum HMS Belfast, before passing under the newest instantiation of London Bridge. Look out for Shakespeare’s Globe theatre on your left just before you pass under the Millenium Bridge a little further down.
Just around the bend in the river marked by Waterloo Bridge and the National Theatre, the iconic figure of Big Ben will emerge beside the Houses of Parliament on the north bank, set across the Thames from the newer London Eye. Further along, you will slide past the dramatic monolith of the Battersea Power Station. After this point, the density of riverside parks begins to increase as you leave Central London, and you will be treated to the green expanses of Battersea and Wandsworth Parks, as well as the gorgeous Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.
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