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Alexandra Palace Boating Lake
Photo by Alexandra Palace

Boat hire in London

Float your way across these boating lakes with our guide to London boat hire

Written by
Ashleigh Arnott

London can get pretty damn sweaty during the hotter months. And while day trips and seaside jaunts are great for some light relief from the heat, sometimes city responsibilities mean escaping Zone 6 just isn’t possible. If you need to swap your stuffy flat for cooler climes, but only have a few hours to spare, a boat trip might be just what you need.

Luckily London is full of rivers, lakes, ponds and canals to pedal across, row down or canoe around, and we’re blessed with loads of great places to hire boats, too. Here’s our guide to the best boating spots in the city to help you cool down. Just try not to fall in!

RECOMMENDED: London's best fountains

Hire boats and pedalos in London

  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
  • Hyde Park

Hyde Park is home to London's oldest boating lake, and visitors can take out a pedalo or rowing boat to admire the many interesting waterfowl that call it home (as well as the brave swimmers in the unheated Serpentine Lido). The boats get very popular in good weather, especially at weekends, but the lake's spacious so once you're out there you should find plenty of room to sail.

Price: £12 per adult per hour (£10 for half an hour).

Open daily 10am-6pm April-May; 10am-7pm June-August; 10am-8pm June-August; 10am-7pm; 10am-dusk October-March.  

  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Regent’s Park

You can hire a rowing boat or pedalo on the water in Regent's Park, which is surrounded by beautiful greenery. Kids can pedal around their own mini-lake, while grown-ups might attempt a spot of romancing – this is the lake in which Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson frolicked in classic British romance ‘Brief Encounter’.

Price: £10.50 per adult per hour.

Open daily from 10am weekdays and 11am on weekends, closing at 6pm April-May; 7pm June-September; dusk in October.

  • Sport and fitness
  • Hertfordshire

This is your destination if you want a comprehensive choice of vessels to hire. There are pedalos, electric boats (with steering wheel) and traditional rowing boats available to hire on an hourly and half-hourly basis. 

Price:From £14 per boat per hour.

Open daily 10am-6pm, opening times can vary. Opening dates this year run from April 8-October 22. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Crystal Palace

Not much is going to make you pedal faster than realising you're floating past a load of dinosaurs. Crystal Palace Park's ancient inhabitants have been on the banks of its lake since the 1850s, and visitors can hire a pedalo to pootle past them, pretending they're in a slo-mo, waterborne scene from 'Jurassic Park'.

Price:£5 per pedalo, per adult. Cash only.

Open 10.30am-5pm weekends, bank holidays and school holidays from Easter until October. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Victoria Park

East London's vast and lovely Victoria Park boasts a huge lake with three islands (one of which can be accessed by footbridge) to row or pedal past. There's also a beautiful fountain, which will need avoiding if you're not in the mood to get drenched. The nearby Pavilion Café sells refreshments to perk you up afterwards.

Price:£10 per boat per half hour. 

Open daily. 12pm-5pm Mon-Fri, 12-6 Sun. Opens each year roughly from Easter-October 31.

Moo Canoes
  • Attractions
  • Limehouse

Kayak down the Thames in a bovine boat as part of this alternative sightseeing tour. A two-man vessel decorated with a black and white cow print will be your mode of transport. There are several alternatives but 'Greenwich Meal Time' runs from Limehouse Basin to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

There you'll disembark and dine in a riverside restaurant, before sailing back via the Millennium Dome. The trip is suitable for beginners and no kayaking experience is necessary.

Price: From £26 per tandem kayak for the first hour. Book in advance.

Open Sat and Sun 10am-5pm April-October. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Greenwich

There's nowhere to hide on Greenwich Park's little lake, so if you'd rather your mates didn't see you steering a pedalo (or rowing boat) like it's a bumper car you might like to sail elsewhere. The plus side to this is that any landlubbers can wave and take photos from the banks while you're on board.

Price: £4 per adult per half hour.

Open 10am-5pm weekends, from April-October. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Dulwich

Take a serene trip across Dulwich Park's lake in one of its green pedalos or rowing boats and enjoy views of the nearby pavilion café while you float.

Price: £4 per adult per half hour. Cash only.

Open 10am-5pm on weekends, bank holidays and school holidays from April-October. 

  • Things to do
  • Snaresbrook

A true escape from tarmac and concrete, Epping Forest's Hollow Ponds are a beautiful stretch of water offering you the space to row your own adventure. Apart from the boathouse, Lakeside Diner and other facilities there's hardly a building to be seen, and friendly staff are on hand to instruct beginners.

Price: £15 per boat per hour (£10 for a half hour).

Open daily 10am-8pm 

Alexandra Palace Boating Lake
  • Things to do
  • Cultural centres
  • Alexandra Palace

You'll have to get up one heck of a hill to reach Ally Pally, but your efforts will be rewarded with a choice of rides that would get even the most po-faced pedalo-er squealing with delight. Choose to float across the lake in a swan, a dragon or a VW Beetle, or go trad with a plain yellow design.

Those looking to put some extra effort into their waterborne experience can take out a rowing boat instead. The Lakeside Café offers indoor and outdoor seating, free wifi and baby changing facilities.

Price: From £6.95 per adult per half hour with a minimum fee of £8.95.

Open 10am-6pm Apr-Sept, 10am-4pm Oct-March, weather permitting.

  • Attractions
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Battersea

The pretty lake in Battersea Park sees its hired rowing boats and pedalos going round in circles thanks to a central island. Its tall greenery also serves to allow beginners to find a more secluded spot to practice in before they are confident enough to steam back into port.

Price: £6 per adult per 30 minutes.

Open school holidays, public holidays and all weekends between Easter and the end of September. 

  • Things to do
  • Finsbury Park

Row your boat around the island in Finsbury Park's little lake. You may find yourself ducking and diving to avoid the bird life, however, especially if you've bought a bag of swan and duck feed with you. 

Price: £8 per boat per 30 minutes. All those who don their best pirate oufits on a Saturday (noon-3pm) will get a boat for £5.

Open noon-6pm daily from Easter to early October, then weekends in Autumn. 

Fancy a different kind of paddle?

  • Things to do

In summer, the capital is sprinkled with water features that invite everyone to dive right in. Pack a picnic and spare set of clothes and get set to cool down in these refreshing jets.

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