Many tourists prefer hop-on hop-off bus tours to get introduced to London's major landmarks in a short amount of time, but taking a boat cruise up the River Thames will help you see London from an entirely different angle and a whole new perspective...literally.
Not only is a boat cruise up the River Thames a great way to see some of London's most historic landmarks (like the London Eye, the Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, just to name a few) it also allows you to give your feet a break after a long day of sightseeing while you sit back, relax, and let London's many landmarks pass you by.
Whether you're looking to have a romantic date with a loved one, or even a fun and different activity to do with the kids, here are some of the many river cruises to choose from during your stay in London:
Out of all the companies offering cruises along the River Thames, City Cruises is probably the most notable. City Cruises offer a variety of tickets ranging from single journeys to 24-hour hop-on hop-off tours, and every boat has its own dining facility so you can buy a sandwich or sip on some wine as you cruise up the River Thames.
Their boats depart every 30 minutes every day of the week throughout the year, and stop at four different piers along the River Thames (Tower, Greenwich, London Eye and Westminster). They also offer circular cruises from the Bankside pier and Tower as well.
The company is also a fan-favourite because they offer combination tickets so you can take advantage of discounts at many of London's major attractions like the London Eye, Cutty Sark, The Shard, the Royal Observatory, Madame Tussauds, The London Dungeon, Cutty Sark, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, and many more.
City Cruises offer great deals on single or return tickets if you're only looking to get from point A to point B from any of the piers along the River Thames, or if you don't have time to do a complete 24-hour river cruise. However, if you're spending a few days in London you may want to opt for their River Red Rover Pass, which is a 24-hour pass allowing you unlimited travel between the piers, so you can hop-on and hop-off the boat at any time, as much as you want.
Tickets sold online for their 24-hour hop-on hop-off cruise cost:
- £16.65 for adults (aged 17 and over)
- £8.33 for children (between the ages of five and 16)
- £11.66 for seniors/students
- £33.30 for families (consisting of two adults and three children)
The Original Tours
The Original Tours may be known for their hop-on, hop-off bus tours, but what many people don't realize is that by purchasing a ticket for one of their tours, you can also take a River Thames Sightseeing Cruise for free as well.
After you purchase a ticket for their tour, you can hop-on any of their boats at the Westminster Pier or Tower Pier, and then take a cruise past major London landmarks like the Tower of London, Shakespeare's Globe, the Tower Bridge, and many more.
These cruises are available for every customer purchasing a 24-hour or 48-hour hop-on hop-off bus tour ticket from the company, however, if you purchase a 48-hour ticket, you will also get a free river cruise upgrade to Greenwich as well.
Tickets for their 24-hour tour cost:
- £30 for adults (or £26 online)
- £15 for children between the ages of five and 15 (or £12.50 online)
- £90 for families consisting of two adults and two children (or £73 online)
Tickets for their 48-hour tour cost:
- £40 for adults (or £36 online)
- £19 for children (or £16.50 online)
- £118 for families (or £96 online)
The London Eye River Cruise Experience
Believe it or not, the London Eye offers some fantastic deals on river cruises along the River Thames if you're hoping to combine your cruise with a ticket into the London Eye, and still see all the major London landmarks along the River Thames.
The tour lasts for 40 minutes, and includes live commentary from expert guides who will educate customers on all the major landmarks to be seen during the boat cruise up the River Thames.
Tickets for the London Eye River Cruise cost:
- £13.15 for adults (or £11.95 online)
- £6.58 for children between the ages of three and 15 (or £5.95 online)
- Free for children under the ages of three
If you want to combine your river cruise ticket with a 30-minute ride on the London Eye as well as entry into the London Eye 4D Cinema Experience, tickets cost:
- £32 for adults (or £28.80 online)
- £20 for children (or £18 online)
- Free for children under the ages of three
Thames River Service
Although isn't not technically a hop-on, hop-off boat cruise, the Thames River Service has a great Circular Cruise that is a perfect option if you're only looking to purchase a single or return ticket to and from different piers along the River Thames.
Their Circular Cruise includes a single or return trip from Westminster Pier to St. Katharine's Pier (via Embankment), the Festival and Bankside piers on the eastbound route, as well as a non-stop return trip back to Westminster. Each cruise takes about 30 minutes, while a return cruise takes one hour.
Each boat has its own bar so you can sip on some refreshments during your cruise, and they also feature a multi-lingual audio commentary so you can hear more about the many landmarks you will see during your ride.
You can also use your Oyster pay-as-you-go credit to purchase a paper ticket for their services, and anyone with a valid travelcard will get a 30% discount on standard adult and child fares when booking at their ticket office as well.
Ticket costs for their Circular Cruise are:
- £10 single or £14 return for adults
- £5 single or £7 return for children
- £7 single or £9.80 return for seniors/students
- £28.50 single or £36.90 return for families