Top 10 things to do on the river Thames

Discover 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 Racethe Virgin Money London Marathon and the impressive New Year's Eve fireworks display

2. Take a Thames river cruise

The Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river bus floats along the river Thames past the Old Royal Naval College.
Float past landmarks with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers. Image courtesy of Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.
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 a Thames Clippers One-Day River Roamer ticket. Alternatively, slip on a pair of comfortable shoes and enjoy an evening stroll along the river.

3. Enjoy high-speed Thames speedboat rides

Fasten your seatbelts and prepare to experience the capital in fast forward on a speedboat tour of London with Thames RIB ExperienceThames Rockets or Thamesjet. You'll see many 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.

Alternatively, get your culture fix by spotting sculptures and art installations along The Tide. Or follow public art trail The Line, which runs alongside the Thames and the river Lea.

5. Uncover history along the river

The entrance to Hampton Court Palace, surrounded by trees on a sunny day
Hampton Court Palace © Historic Royal Palaces. Image courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces.
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.

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 ContainersLe Pont de la Tour or Bingham Riverhouse. 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

Experience the river Thames from above. No trip to London is complete without a ride on the London Eye. For an alternative view, take a trip on the IFS Cloud Cable Car. If you're feeling more daring, climb up high with Up at The O2 or take a London Helicopter Tour.

8. Explore parks, gardens and wildlife

The view from Greenwich Park featuring the Old Royal Naval College and Canary Wharf.
See spectacular views at Greenwich Park. Image courtesy of Visit Greenwich.
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. Discover the plants, birds and wildlife at Kew Gardens and the WWT London Wetland Centre. Or, if you'd like to take time out to unwind, visit Battersea Park or Greenwich Park.

9. Learn about London's bridges

The bridges over the Thames make dramatic focal points for photos. A visit to Tower Bridge should be part of any London trip. Wander across the Millennium Bridge between Tate Modern and St Paul's Cathedral; across Hungerford Bridge for its impressive night-time views; and across the Albert Bridge to admire its design.

Make sure to also check out the Illuminated River installation, which transforms London's bridges into a dazzling public artwork with coloured lights and designs.

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; soak up the diversity of Bankside; and discover trendy Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms.