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London RIB Voyages

London’s best Thames river cruises

Get a whole new perspective of the city with these top Thames river cruises

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Time Out London Things To Do
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Think you’ve ticked off everything London has to offer? Think again. Try a Thames river cruise – and no, we’re not talking about the Clippers (well we are, but only a little bit). There are few better ways to take in the capital than by its famously choppy, murky central waterway. Plus the views, from Hampton Court down to the City and Greenwich, are some of the absolute finest our city has to offer.

It's time to ditch dry land and hop aboard a Thames river boat tour. And plenty of London’s top attractions are best seen from the water – so get your camera ready.

RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in London

Best Thames river cruises in London

Thames Rockets
  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • South Bank

Bring your waterproofs, because the slick RIB (rigid inflatable boat) operation offers a high-speed ride on the Thames. It's a great way to discover how exhilarating it can be to swoop along the Thames at almost 30 knots – that’s nearly 35 mph, nautical novices! We're not sure how much you'll actually be able to see, but there are plenty more leisurely-paced tours for that sorta thing.

  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Victoria Embankment

A good river cruise for those who want a spot of grub while taking in the sights along the Thames – Bateaux offer a full range of different dining cruises. There’s the lunch, afternoon tea and dinner cruise – or you could really pull the stops out and enjoy their three-course lunch with a live jazz band playing assorted swingin’ classics. All river cruises depart from Victoria Embankment.

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City Cruises
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Victoria Embankment

Want to see the city in style? City cruises operate on a hop-on, hop-off basis and run from Westminster, Waterloo, Tower and Greenwich Piers with commentary along the way. All the departure points are convenient for the city’s various sights, with Greenwich Pier ideal for the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory.

London Duck Tours
  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Waterloo

Praise whichever brilliant mind decided to paint the scant remaining WW2 landing vehicles in bright, rubber-duck yellow! These duck city tours take in all the typical land-based sights – then has two ‘splashdowns’ into the Thames as it goes into nautical mode and takes passengers around Docklands, Canary Wharf and Greenwich.

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Thames RIB Experience
  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
  • Victoria Embankment

Instead of a usual tour’s drab history lessons and endless stream of tedious facts, why not try something a little more thrilling? The Thames RIB Experience is more like a rollercoaster than a classic sightseeing tour, and sees passengers jetted across the water at an impressive 45mph. Lifejackets and waterproofs are provided (fortunately), leaving you free to enjoy whizzing around in figure-eights in open water between Tower Bridge and the Isle of Dogs. Try and take in some sights as the high winds reshape your face.

  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Victoria Embankment

Thames River Boats take you all the way from the Palace of Westminster upriver to Hampton Court Palace. It’s a pretty leisurely 22-mile journey: in 90 minutes you’ll be at Kew; in another 90, you’ll be at Hampton Court. But this westward route is a lovely way to appreciate the Thames, as the banks get greener, less cluttered with high-rise buildings and the river buses are replaced by rowers.

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Thames Clippers
  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Poplar

These days the Thames Clippers are better known as ‘Uber Boats’, not because they’re the most incredible boats but because, you guessed it, they’re sponsored by a taxi company. Sure, they don’t go very fast (trundling along at a very leisurely 30mph), but they’re a pretty underrated, cost-effective way to traverse the Thames.

Vintage Red Bus Tour and Thames Cruise
  • Attractions
  • Victoria

Why choose between the road and the river when you can have both? First up on this guided tour you'll be driven round the capital in a routemaster (that's the old red double decker bus), before boarding a Thames Cruiser to view the sites from the water. Sail past landmarks like Shakespeare's Globe and Tower Bridge, before getting back on the bus and heading to her Maj's residence: Buckingham Palace. There's also the option to add a ticket for the London Eye on this package.

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Tate to Tate Boat
  • Attractions
  • Ships and boats
  • Bankside

A connecting service between either art institution, the Tate to Tate Boat runs every 40 minutes. Aside from getting you from one gallery to another, it’s also great for taking in lots of central London scenery. As you might expect, the boat itself is an arty affair: YBA Damien Hirst covered both the exterior and interior with his trademark spots. It’s also genuinely the quickest way to travel from Tate to Tate – this way, you avoid an irritatingly convoluted tube or bus journey.

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