Things to Do on the Thames

Top 10 Fun Things to Do on the Thames River (2024)

River Thames is best known for being an important trade route and a cultural landmark of London. One of the most significant waterways in the world, the Thames stretches 346km through the UK, covering the most important 109km through London. What are the activities you, as a tourist, can enjoy on the Thames?

This glorious waterway has countless attractions, activities, and landmarks for tourists. From a calming River Cruise to the beautiful views of London from the top, the Thames has plenty to cater for a nice day tour. Here are the top activities on the Thames you must not miss on your next London tour:

1. Thames River Cruise

Thames River Night Cruise
Thames River Night Cruise

Any Thames-themed tour is incomplete without a River Cruise! If there’s one thing the Thames is best known for, it’s the relaxing 90-minute cruise along the river from Greenwich Borough to Westminster. The trip usually covers the Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, London Eye, and Westminster Bridge.

Make your tour even more rewarding with afternoon tea on the cruise. Sip the freshly brewed traditional English tea as you stand on the cruise balcony, enjoying the stunning sights and landmarks. It’s a perfect way to enjoy a soothing afternoon you won’t easily forget, making you come back for more.

2. Photo Walk Tour on Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge

This 325-metre-long footbridge connects the London Borough of Southwark to the City of London over the River Thames. Millennium Bridge extends from Tate Modern and Shakespeare Globe on one end to St. Paul’s Cathedral on the other. It’s a 5-minute walk along the bridge that will amaze you with the gorgeous city views from the Thames backdrop.

Make sure you bring along a camera for a stunning photography session. Enjoy the lovely views of the city as the cruises sail along the River Thames. Walking on the bridge from Tate Modern to St. Paul’s, you can spot Tower Bridge to the right and the London Eye to your left.

Read also: Top 20 Best Things to Do in London at Night

3. SEA Life London Aquarium

SEA Life London Aquarium
SEA Life London Aquarium

Located at the London County Hall building next to the London Eye, the SEA Life London Aquarium is a thoroughly enjoyable experience for kids. If you’re in London with kids, put this exciting spot on your must-visit list. See and interact with the exotic marine animals, friendly dolphins, incredible whales, and adorable turtles at the UK’s largest coral display.

It’s a walk-through attraction with freely flowing marine animals. Strolling through the walkways feels like walking in the deep sea among the massive creatures, some of which might be as frightening as the sharks and crocodiles. The standard entry ticket is £28 for children under 16 and £28 for 16 and above.

4. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeares Globe Theatre

Between Millennium Bridge’s and Southwark Bridge’s southern ends, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is more like an education centre for all ages. The theatre was built by “Lord Chamberlain’s Men“, the company that plays William Shakespeare, hence the name. It’s an open-air theatre with many things to do, much more than watching Shakespeare’s plays.

The building also hosts interesting places like the “candlelit theatre”, which is claimed to be the only one in London where you can enjoy rough magic. Other things to do at the theatre include:

  • Family Tours: Ghost & Ghouls, Sword Fighting Demo, and Family Workshop.
  • Guided Tours: Know the story behind the theatre and its journey through time.
  • Group Guided Tours: Join a group of up to 30 individuals to get a discounted entry to the theatre.

5. Big Ben and Houses of Parliament Walking Tour

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Westminster City is the most prestigious region of London, and the side that touches the Thames holds a special status for hosting the famous Houses of Parliament (the Palace of Westminster). You can approach the Houses of Parliament (the Palace of Westminster) from the South Bank via the Westminster Bridge.

As you gradually approach Westminster City from the bridge, you can spot the iconic Big Ben clock rising high on the Elizabeth Tower. This is another remarkable photo opportunity against the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

6. London Eye

London Eye
London Eye

London Eye is the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning the Thames. Compliment your Thames adventure with a London Eye trip and rise high in the capital’s sky to enjoy the glorious views. The standard flight costs £19 on average and lasts for 30 minutes. You can get a ticket on arrival in a 15-minute time slot.

Couple the London Eye trip with SEA Life London Aquarium, as several tour providers offer the two-in-one option at discounted rates. As your glass pod rises, spot the city’s famous attractions.

Palace of Westminster

  • Big Ben
  • The Shard
  • The Gherkin
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • Buckingham Palace

7. Tower Bridge Experience

Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower Bridge Exhibition

Time for a walk on the sky bridge above the Thames! Book a Tower Bridge tour and climb upstairs to the walkway with the glass floor. The walkways extend 61 metres between the North and South Tower. It’s an awesome 3-minute walk where you can look at the Thames and the capital’s landmarks from another unique perspective.

The standard ticket costs around £13.40 and doesn’t require any booking in advance. However, the walkway experience remains crowded during the holidays, so purchasing a ticket in advance is more prudent.

8. HMS Belfast Naval Museum

HMS Belfast Naval Museum
HMS Belfast Naval Museum

The HMS Belfast is a former warship famous for protecting Arctic convoys in WW2. It’s now permanently stationed between the Tower Bridge and London Bridge. HMS Belfast is now a 9-floor museum that offers visitors an experience of what it’s like to be on an actual warship. Visitors can learn about the ship’s role in WW2 while serving the Royal British Army.

9. IFS Cloud Cable Car

Emirates Air Line Cable Car
Emirates Air Line Cable Car

Rising 90 meters above the River Thames, the IFS Cloud Cable Car is an urban cable car extending from Newham to Greenwich borough, covering the River Thames underneath. It’s a 10-minute ride on a comfortable cable car that moves across the capital and provides superb views of the city.

The highlight of all the landmarks is the skyline of Canary Wharf, the city’s financial district. Spot the other attractions, including the Thames Barrier, the Gherkin, the Leadenhall Building, the Square Mile skyline, the Shard, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben. Here are the trip details:

  • Ticket to IFS Cable Car Costs Around £6 Per Person
  • The total time of the trip is 30 minutes.
  • The interval of the Cabin’s Arrival Is Every 30 seconds, so You Don’t Have to Wait.
  • Tickets Can be Booked via the Official Transport For London website (tfl.gov.uk)
  • Operational Hours are 07:00 AM to 09:00 PM (Mon to Thu), 07:00 AM to 11:00 PM (Friday), 08:00 AM to 11:00 PM (Saturday), 09:00 AM to 09:00 PM (on Sundays and Holidays)

10. Thames Speedboat Tour

Thames Speedboat Tour
Thames Speedboat Tour

Finally, the Thames Speedboat Tour is the most thrilling experience of all the Thames adventures. Typically, Speedboat tours are short yet fast and exhilarating. However, longer tours spanning 40 to 70 and even 90 minutes are also available. The 70-minute high-speed tour from the Thames Barrier to Embankment Pier is the most famous.

Book the “Thames RIB Experience” for even faster speedboat tours, known for being the “fastest tour guaranteed” with extremely high speed. These guided tours feature live commentary about every landmark your boat passes by. Another speedboat tour option includes “Thames Rockets”, with 45, 70, and 90-minute tours and a private charter speedboat option.

Conclusion

These are the best things to do on the Thames. Mark your weekend to have a fulfilling holiday themed around the glorious waterway of London. Activities like the Tower Bridge Experience, Cable Car, and River Cruise are often occupied. So, reserve your spot at least one day in advance to avoid delays.

Combine the Thames River Cruise experience between the 3 PM and 5 PM bracket with a nice afternoon tea on board to get the most out of your Thames adventure. Pack your bags, summon the explorer in you, and go down to the Thames. Happy Adventuring.

FAQs

What are some free activities near the Thames?

Walking tours near different attractions are completely free. The best walking tours on the Thames include the South Bank walking tour, Millennium Bridge Walking Tour, and Westminster Bridge.

How much is the Thames River Cruise?

A simple Thames River Cruise tour costs anywhere between £14.00 to £20.00. But if you want a more fulfilling experience, have afternoon tea onboard with a Thames Afternoon Tea Cruise Tour, which costs around £37.05. The trip is worth every penny!

Are there any kid-friendly things to do near the Thames?

The SEA Life Aquarium, IFS Cable Car, Speedboat Tour, and London Eye trip are kid-friendly activities near the Thames. Your kids will also enjoy a short, quick walk along the Thames from the London Eye to the South Bank Centre, where you can enjoy the energetic street fairs.

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