Taking a cruise on the Thames in London can be one of the best experiences of your trip to the British capital, and the truth is that I have to say that it is something that I recommend to anyone who visits London.
A cruise on the Thames allows us to see London from a unique perspective, since from the famous river that crosses the center of London you can see most of the buildings or iconic places in the city, such as Big Ben and the houses of the Parliament, the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge (the famous Tower Bridge), the Tower of London, London City Hall, the Shard… and many more!
There are two types of tours available that we must take into account to choose well:
- Circular tour: This is a circular tour, which usually lasts about 45 minutes. You get on and off at the same stop.
- Hop-on hop-off tour: Throughout the day you can get on and off at the different stops as many times as you want. The truth is that this is my favorite, since I see it very useful to make the most of it. I would recommend that you ride in the London Eye or Big Ben area, from there go to Greenwich , see that area a bit and then return to Tower Bridge and see the Tower of London area. Afterwards you can always take the boat again to return to the Westminster area.
What will you find in this article
- Cruises on the Thames: Options, offers and routes
- Thames sightseeing cruises
- Gift cruise with the tourist bus
- Combined tickets London Eye + Sightseeing Cruise
- Buy only tickets for the sightseeing cruise on the Thames
- Special cruises on the Thames
- Cruise on the Thames with River Bus
Thames Cruises: Options, Offers and Routes
Thames Sightseeing Cruises
The best thing about tourist cruises on the Thames is that they are boats that are usually part covered and part uncovered, so it doesn’t matter what the weather is like that day, you will enjoy it just the same. But, if it’s a good day, being able to enjoy the views outside is undoubtedly the best way to enjoy this experience. And the photos are usually much better than through glass. In addition, there is usually a tour guide who tells us what is being seen, and they also usually have the option of headphones with explanations in different languages.
There are several ways to get your ticket for the London Sightseeing Cruise:
Gift cruise with the tourist bus
With London tourist bus tickets they usually give away a ticket to be able to take a tourist cruise on the Thames. If you are going to spend a few days in London, this option is something I recommend to see the best of London.
Depending on the ticket you buy for the London tourist bus, you get free tickets for a circular sightseeing tour on a cruise on the Thames, or a hop-on hop-off tour. The boat is the one that is dedicated to making tourist cruises with an open part.
The London Pass is the most famous tourist pass in London, and it is a card that allows you to enter more than 60 attractions in London for free. One of the included attractions is a hop-on hop-off sightseeing cruise, so for one day you can ride the boat as many times as you like.
Combined tickets London Eye + Sightseeing Cruise
It is possible to buy combined tickets for the famous London Ferris Wheel and the Thames Sightseeing Cruise. There are two options:
1. Tickets for the London Eye + hop-on hop-off sightseeing cruise: With this option you can get on the London Eye once, and hop on and off at the different stops as many times as you like on the sightseeing cruise. It is a boat with an exterior and interior area, and with comments.
2. Tickets for the London Eye + circular cruise on the Thames: With this option you will take a cruise called the London Eye River Cruise with a special boat that belongs to the London Eye company. The cruise lasts about 40 minutes.
Buy only tickets for the sightseeing cruise on the Thames
You can simply buy a Thames Sightseeing Cruise ticket if you don’t want to buy it in combination with other attractions. The sightseeing cruise runs from Westminster (Big Ben) to Greenwich.
This is the cruise that we usually recommend to spend the day in the Greenwich area and visit this beautiful area of London, since going there by boat is a much cooler experience than going by tube. You’ll drive past the Ferris Wheel of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Tower Bridge and under London’s famous Tower Bridge. Do not forget to see our guide and route to visit Greenwich.
It is possible to buy the ticket at the ticket office at the piers that you will find on the banks of the Thames, but it is cheaper to buy it online in advance, and this will also save you the queues. There are two options when buying the Thames sightseeing cruise from Westminster to Greenwich:
1. Direct Thames Cruise from Westminster to Greenwich : Direct cruise from Westminster to Greenwich. It usually lasts approximately 1 hour, you can buy one way or round trip.
2. Hop-on hop-off Thames sightseeing cruise : With this option you can get on and off the ship as many times as you want. There are 4 stops: Westminster, London Eye, Tower Bridge and Greenwich. We usually recommend going directly to Greenwich first, seeing the area, and getting off at the Tower of London area on the way back .
Special cruises on the Thames
And in a city like London, special cruises could not be missing, those that include lunch or dinner on board, cruises with shows, or even cruises with Afternoon Tea. Surely one of the best ways to spend an unforgettable night, if you come with the idea of surprising someone or want to do something special in London.
Our recommendations are:
- Sunset Champagne Cruise
- Afternoon tea cruise
- Lunch Cruise
And obviously, the most spectacular cruises are the New Year’s Eve cruises, from which you can see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in London . Learn More: London New Year’s Eve Cruises
River Bus Thames Cruise
Another way to get on a boat on the Thames is by London’s River Bus service. These boats are integrated into the London public transport network, and offer a regular boat service on the Thames as a method of public transport, just like the tube or the bus.
In this case there is no tour guide or comments that explain what we are seeing, and there is no outside area, and it is like a very large bus inside! Some of the ships have a bar on board.
The company that offers this service is Thames Clippers , and they make routes from North Greenwich to Putney, passing through the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Greenwich, which are the places that most interest us when we visit London.
River Bus Routes
The route of the River Bus that may interest us most when visiting London is London Eye – Greenwich (and vice versa). This is the RB1 – commuter service route, which has the following stops: London Eye – Embankment – Blackfriars – Bankside – London Bridge – Tower Bridge – Canary Wharf – Greenland – Masthouse Terrace – Greenwich – North Greenwich. This route passes through the most important iconic places in London, just like the tourist cruise (Big Ben, London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, St Paul’s, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Greenwich…).
Buy tickets, prices and use of transport cards on London River Bus
The River Bus routes are divided into three zones: West (west), Central (center) and East (East). The price of the journey depends on the areas covered.
To get on a River Bus you can either buy the ticket online in advance or you can buy it at the ticket office before getting on. If the ticket office is closed you can buy the ticket when you board or buy it from the conductor when you are already on board.
Roamer Ticket for the River Bus
There is a ticket called «Roamer ticket» which is a special ticket that you can use all day and that offers the possibility of free stops on the Thames Clipper, being able to get on and off as many times as you want during a day. The price of this Roamer ticket is £19.50 for adults and £9.75 for children (5 to 15 years old). More information: Roamer ticket Thames Clippers
My personal opinion is that if you are coming to visit London when comparing the River Bus prices with the sightseeing cruise prices, I would go for the Hop -On Hop- Off Sightseeing Tour . The price, after all, is very similar and the tourist price is much more pleasant, with comments and a guide as well as the option of sitting outside on a good day.
You can also see the official website of the tourist cruises on the Thames: Cruises city cruises
Use oyster card and London travelcard on the River Bus
It is possible to use the oyster card on the River Bus, as long as you have enough balance. With the oyster card you will get a 10% discount on the price of the ticket, and you have to tap on the yellow reader when getting on and off (so that it calculates which zones you have traveled, just like on the metro). The price of the journey depends on the zones you have used.
It is not possible to use a travelcard (either added to an oyster card or as a paper ticket) for the river bus journey, but present it at the ticket office to purchase your cruise ticket and you will receive a 1/3 discount on the price of the cruise. ticket.
River Bus prices – we have included the Central and East areas here – from Westminster (London Eye) to Greenwich.
|River Bus adult single ticket||River Bus adult roundtrip||Child 5-15|
Children from 5 to 15 years old get a 50% discount on the ticket price and children under 5 years old travel for free.