London River Cruises

London River Cruises Overview

Making its way through the heart of London, the Thames is one of the most famous rivers in the world- and the London river cruise is one of the best ways to explore the beautiful river. Idling along the length of the Thames, the cruise offers fantastic, unobstructed views of London’s biggest and proudest buildings. Cruising past, one catches a glimpse of the London Eye in its slow rotation, of the Big Ben sounding the hour, of the glass facade of the odd-shaped Gherkin.

Initially having started as a speedboat tour, the river cruise in London has grown over the years to offer more sophisticated services. The cruises take place throughout the day- some in the afternoon, some in the evening, and some at teatime. Special lunch and dinner cruises add the luxury of onboard dining to the sightseeing cruise. The Thames River Hop on Hop off sightseeing tour is another interesting experience, allowing its cruisers to embark and disembark at ports of their choice to sightsee around the attractions.

The original speedboat tour has been retained in its original format as well, and is well suited for those looking for a round of sightseeing as well as adventure. Each river cruise in London is accompanied either by an audio-commentary or a special tour guide who offers a live- and often humorous- commentary on the attraction one passes by.

Top Attractions To Spot While On London River Cruise

The Thames river cruise serves as an excellent sightseeing route; gliding across the Thames, one catches a glimpse of some of the city’s biggest and most iconic attractions. While the Big Ben rings aloud with its hourly gong, the HMS Belfast stands moored as a testament to Britain’s war-ridden past; such are the sights that one comes across on their river cruise.

Tower of London

The Tower of London also known as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortification of the Tower of London, is a 900-year-old castle and fortress in central London. Now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tower of London has served in multiple roles, sometimes a treasury, sometimes a royal mint, sometimes a prison and then the holder of royal jewels. The Tower of London holds a permanent exhibition of these same jewels which are open to the public throughout the year. Tourists also get a chance to meet the resident ravens at the tower, who have been historically designated as the protectors and guardians of the Tower of London.

Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge is a defining mark in London, and many regard it as the most popular bridge in the United Kingdom, if not the whole world. The Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge- which means that it draws back from the center to let vessels pass through. Constructed in 1894, the Tower is laden in history, and once acted as an important route for traders who crossed the river with their horses and their carts. Today, visitors are allowed to not just walk across the iconic bridge with its panoramic views of the city, but also visit the engine rooms that help draw back the bridge.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral, London's largest cathedral, is one of the world's most important structures, known for its stunning dome with a lantern on top. The earliest church on the site was a wooden church dedicated to the Apostle Paul, which King Ethelbert of Kent constructed in 604 AD. Since then, the Church has undergone several reconstructions to take the shape that it has today. Visitors at St. Paul’s can take a tour of its many galleries- the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery-, as well as make their way down to the Crypt, which holds the remains of some of London’s biggest personalities.

House of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament are more than simply a tourist attraction in London; they serve as the center of British power. The 1000+ chambers of the Palace of Westminster, a Victorian Neo-Gothic extravaganza on the Thames's banks, including two of the most significant sites in UK politics — the House of Commons and House of Lords. Every day, MPs in the House of Commons and Peers in the House of Lords discuss problems and proposed legislation, which anyone may see from the public galleries of both houses. In addition, both chambers convene committee sessions to investigate matters in depth on a variety of topics, all of which are available to the public.

Big Ben

Near synonymous to the idea of London, the Big Ben is one of London’s most iconic structures. Sitting on the northern edge of the Palace of Westminster, the Big Ben Clock Tower is one of the most popular attractions to be viewed and photographed from the London River cruise. Strictly speaking, the name Big Ben refers to the massive Bell within the Tower, but the nickname is often extended to indicate the tower in its totality. Although the inner sanctums of the Big Ben are not open to the public, the Tower’s facade forms one of the most photographable destinations in all of London.

Shakespeare’s Globe

Any debate on London’s history would remain incomplete without a mention of the master himself- William Shakespeare. The modern Globe Theater is where the immortal writings of Shakespeare are put on stage. The Theater as it is today, is a reconstruction of the original Globe where the playwright conducted his plays and which was consecutively destroyed in fire. The modern building remains faithful to its predecessor, full with an open-air environment and the circular seating arrangement. The Globe regularly puts on productions of Shakespeare’s plays, and is open to the public throughout the year.

Millenium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge, also known as the London Millennium Footbridge, is a steel suspension bridge that spans the River Thames in London and is used by pedestrians. Its southern end is near the Globe Theater, Bankside Gallery, and Tate Modern, while its northern end is below St Paul's Cathedral, adjacent to the City of London School. The bridge's design was chosen in a competition organized by Southwark Council and RIBA Competitions in 1996. Arup Group, Foster & Partners, and Sir Anthony Caro collaborated on the winning "blade of light" design. It took four years for the bridge to be fully constructed, and the Millenium Bridge came into being in 2000, earning it its name.

HMS Belfast

A town-class light cruiser, the HMS Belfast was built for the Royal Navy. The iconic ship is now permanently moored on the docks of the Thames, and functions as a Museum operated by the Imperial War Museum. The ship, which had served the Navy during momentous crises such as the D-Day, the Korean War and the Arctic Convoy, now lives to tell the tale. Tourists at HMS Belfast can tour all nine decks of the war ship. A series of permanent displays and exhibitions showcase weapons, clothing, bunk beds and ship equipment used by the crew on board. Tourists can even enter into the massive gun turrets and learn about how the ship fired during the Normandy wars.

The Gherkin

Overlooking the city’s skyline, the Gherkin is one of the most iconic modern buildings of London. Nearly three times the height of the Niagara Falls, the Gherkin stands out in its unique cucumber-shaped design. The Gherkin is an office building, and is home to some of London’s biggest businesses. Although the skyscraper isn’t normally open to the public, the top floors of the building do feature two of London’s most iconic eateries- the Helix Restaurant and Iris Bar- both of which are famed for their fantasstic views of the city’s skyline.

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Top River Cruises In London

The London river cruise offers an excellent means of sightseeing. Cruising across the River Thames, one catches a glimpse of some of London’s best attractions. Certain tours with London Attraction tickets are of a more traditional bent and offer a mere 30-minute ride, while some also offer meals on-board, along with a number of other entertainment shows.

Afternoon Tea at London Eye River Cruise

Usually opted for along with a visit to the London Eye, the London Eye river cruise is one of the most popular options. The thirty minute cruise is circular, with pick up and drop off at the Tower Pier port. Wandering along the Thames, the short cruise offers glorious views of some of the most prominent landmarks in London, including the Big Ben, the Westminster Palace and the Houses of Parliament. The cruise is accompanied by a traditional British afternoon tea; a fresh selection of scones, cakes and freshly brewed hot coffee and tea await all cruisers on board.

River Thames Evening Cruise

The River Thames Evening Cruise is one of the most romantic of river cruises in London. Unlike most daytime tours, the Evening Cruise sets off after sunset, offering one a splendid glimpse of how the London skyline appears when lit up at night. Cruisers will catch sight of London’s best and brightest in all its lit up glory- from the London Eye to the Tower Bridge. The Thames Evening Cruise also includes a dinner, comprising a host of non vegetarian and vegetarian delicacies, along with drinks. Accompanying the meal will be an array of live performances, including cabaret shows and live music.

Thames Hop On Hop Off River Cruise

The Hop on Hop off Cruise is one of the most popular and convenient of London river cruises. Like any other river cruise in London, the Thames Hop on Hop off tour offers unobstructed views of London’s best landmarks. However, it goes a step further and allows one to visit the attractions as well. The Thames river cruise grants each tourist an access pass of 24 hours, and operates across four piers in London- Westminster Pier, Greenwich Pier, London Eye Pier, and Tower Pier. Cruisers are then allowed to disembark at any of the designated piers, sightsee around the attractions in the vicinity, then embark again from any port of their choice.

River Thames Lunch Cruise

The Thames Lunch cruise combines panoramic views of the city’s skyline with a delicious British lunch on board. The lunch cruise sets off in the afternoon; when the day is clear, one can spot landmarks such as the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. The cruise is laid out in beautifully decorated wooden tables, with a friendly staff serving up a freshly prepared two-course meal. Guests can choose between a non-vegetarian and a vegetarian meal option, along with deserts and tea and coffee. The cruise also features a bar, although drinks are to be purchased at one’s own expense.

Westminster To Greenwich River Thames Sightseeing Cruise

This traditional river cruise in London idles lazily along the Thames between Westminster and Greenwich. Spanning 30 minutes in duration, the London river cruise passes by London’s favorite attractions: The Houses of Parliament, the Westminster Palace and the Shard being just some of many. The cruise features a live audio commentary in English where tourists are introduced to the history of the sights they come across on the way.

River Thames Speedboat Cruise

The speedboat cruise on the Thames is the very first of all London sightseeing river cruises. The tour is not just an excellent means of sightseeing, but an extremely fun activity in itself as well. Whizzing past at a speed of over 35 mph, one catches a waterfront view of attractions such as the Big Ben, the St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Palace. The personal kipper and tour guide on the tour will offer an insightful and entertaining glimpse into the history and culture of London, while also making sure that all tourists have the safest experience possible.

Why To Book London River Cruises?

The London River Cruises offers an excellent means of touring the city of London without having to tackle the city’s notorious traffic. Booking the tickets for the river cruise online allows one to not only skip the queue for the widely popular activity, but also secures one a good discount on the cruise tickets.

  • Catch unbound views of London’s skyline, pierced by the towering heads of the Big Ben, the Shard, or the London Eye, as you embark on your Thames river cruise.
  • Learn more about the heritage, history and culture of London’s biggest attractions with the aid of your tour guide or live audio commentary.
  • Enjoy a fantastic dinner, lunch or traditional British tea on-board while you’re on your cruise.
  • Take a spin on the evening river cruise and enjoy a session of live music and dance performances.
  • Embark on the hop-on hop-off tour of the Thames to be able to visit as many attraction as you want while on your cruise.
  • Add a little bit of adventure to your sightseeing with the speedboat river cruise, the first of all river cruises in London.


  • Tower of London
  • London Eye
  • Tower Bridge London
  • Canary Wharf
  • The Shard
  • HMS Belfast
  • St. Paul's Cathedral


  • Lunch (Choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu) for the Lunch Cruise
  • Dinner (Choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu) on the Evening Cruise
  • British tea on the Afternoon Tea Cruise

Guide:- Tour Guide - Pre-recorded audio commentary

Know Before You Go

Sights Covered
Visitors Tips
  • Westminster: Westminster is one of the river cruise's highlights as one of London's most politically significant and scenic neighborhoods. From the River Thames, you can capture amazing shots of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
  • Tower Hills: Home to both the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the Tower Hill is one of the most photographable spots on the river cruise in London.
  • Southbank: Southbank has historically been a creative hotspot, with cultural titans like Shakespeare performing many of his plays in its riverbank theaters. The Globe Theater, which was the master’s primary space, still stands by the riverfront. Prepare your cameras for the Millennium Footbridge, a contemporary London building that has appeared in the Harry Potter flicks. The London Eye, which offers a 360-degree perspective of the city, is also located on Southbank.
  • Docklands: Home to London’s oldest docks, Docklands is one of London’s lesser known sightseeing spots. Crossing the area on a river cruise in London, one comes across the Cutty Sark, a 19th century ship now permanently docked in its shores. Cruising along Dockland also offers one view to the Canary Wharf, where most of London’s skyscrapers convene.
  • The London river cruise offers an excellent photography opportunity, so make sure you have a camera ready
  • Avoid leaning over the ship railings or standing at the edge of the decks while on Thames river cruise.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before the cruise begins to ensure a hassle free boarding process
  • Try to avoid the rainier months while planning your trip to London.
  • If you just want to witness the attractions from a distance, opt for the Thames hop on hop off sightseeing tour.
  • If you’re planning to visit the London Eye, you could go for the London Eye river cruise and combine two activities in one visit.

London River Cruise FAQs

How much time does it take to complete the London River Cruise?

The duration of a river cruise in London would depend entirely on the type of cruise. A traditional, one way trip would take around 30-40 minutes, while a circular tour would take about an hour to complete. Cruises that include on board lunch and dinner would take around 2 hours to complete.

What will we see on the boat trip?

One would catch glimpses of some of London’s biggest attractions, including the Westminster Bridge, the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, the Shard, the Millennium Footbridge and the London Eye, among several others.

Do they offer food and drinks onboard?

There are dedicated lunch, dinner and tea cruises operating across the Thames, which offer meal services. These cruises also feature bars on board, although drinks have to be purchased at one’s own expenses.

What facilities are available on the London river cruise?

  • Audio commentary
  • Tour Guide
  • Meal services
  • Washrooms

Can I eat my own food or drink on the London river cruise?

Yes, tourists are allowed to bring food aboard the cruises. However, most cruises offer food and drinks of their own.


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