Top 10 things to do on the river Thames

The best river Thames cruises, boat trips, pubs and restaurants, from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier.
Tower Bridge and the river Thames against a blue sky, with the cobbled Thames path in the foreground

The river Thames has plenty to offer, whether you prefer a river cruise, a slow-paced stroll around riverside parks, or a thrilling speedboat ride on the river.

1. Join Thames events in London

Celebrating all things river-related, Totally Thames brings together art, music, activities and special events in September each year. Other highlights to add to your calendar include the Boat Race and the Virgin Money London marathon in April, the Great River Race and the impressive Mayor's New Year's Eve fireworks display at the end of December.

2. Take a Thames river cruise

There are lots of ways to explore London’s famous river. Watch London go by onboard a Thames river cruise or see London at your own pace with an MBNA Thames Clippers One-Day River Roamer ticket. Alternatively, slip on a pair of comfortable shoes and take part in an evening walking tour along the river (stopping off for some well-earned fish and chips along the way). 

3. Enjoy high-speed Thames speedboat rides

Fasten your seatbelts and prepare to experience London in fast forward on a speedboat tour of London. See several top London attractions in minutes!

4. Find culture along the river

There are plenty of cultural landmarks along the river that deserve to be on your to-do list. Discover a broad range of theatre, music, film, art, and dance at Shakespeare's Globe TheatreTate ModernTate Britain, the National TheatreBFI Southbank and the Southbank Centre.

5. Uncover history along the river

Step into history and experience life in London's past. In their own unique ways, the Tower of LondonHMS Belfast, the Houses of ParliamentRoyal Museums Greenwich and Hampton Court Palace all have stories to tell. (Hampton Court tip: arrive by train but take the Thames boat service all the way back into London).

6. Relax in restaurants and pubs on the Thames

Impress your friends and loved ones by booking breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner along the Thames. For the best views of London, check out restaurants such as Sea ContainersPont de la Tour or The Bingham. Better still, dine in style onboard a Thames dinner cruise. If you're after a relaxing drink, check out the best riverside pubs in London.

7. See London from above

So you've walked along the banks of the Thames and you've taken a river bus or Thames river cruise. Complete the set by experiencing the river from above. No trip to London is complete without a ride on the Coca-Cola London Eye. For an alternative view, take a trip on the Emirates Air Line cable car. If you're feeling more daring, climb up high with Up at The O2 or take a London Helicopter Tour and soar over the water for possibly the most unique view of London. 

8. Explore parks, gardens and wildlife

The river Thames offers plenty of peaceful opportunities to admire London's natural side. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show brings a world of colour and scent near Chelsea's river banks in May. Discover the plants, birds and wildlife at Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and the WWT London Wetland Centre. Or, if you'd like to take time out to unwind, visit Battersea Park or Greenwich Park.

10. Thames travel to new areas

Aside from all the great activities available on or next to the river, the water also makes a great mode of transport. Use river services to explore new areas of London: take in the leafy suburbs of Kew and Richmond; wander through the parks and historical sites in Greenwich; admire the boats in St Katharine Docks; and explore the diversity of Bankside.