Learn all about planning your visit for a River Thames cruise

Thames River CruisePlan Your Visit

Thames river cruises | Visitor information at a glance

thames river cruise

Thames cruise operating hours:
Thames river cruises operate at different times depending on the type of cruise. Sightseeing cruises typically run during the day, while lunch and dinner cruises have specific meal times. Some cruises, like hop-on-hop-off tours, may offer more flexibility in timing.

Location of Thames River:
The Thames River flows through the heart of London, England, providing a unique perspective of the city's landmarks and attractions.

Top cruise options:

  • Thames River Sightseeing Cruise™: From Westminster
  • Uber Boat Hop-On Hop-Off Tour on Thames River
  • Thames River Lunch Cruise with 2-course Meal, Coffee & Tea
  • Thames River Afternoon Cruise with Tea & Scones

Thames river cruise timings

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What is the best time to go on a River Thames cruise?

The best time to go on a Thames river cruise depends on personal preference and the experience you seek.

  • Spring (March to May): Mild temperatures, ranging from around 10°C (50°F) to 15°C (59°F). Generally less crowded compared to the summer months.
  • Summer (June to August): Warmer temperatures, ranging from around 18°C (64°F) to 25°C (77°F). Vibrant atmosphere and outdoor events taking place. More crowded compared to other seasons, especially in popular tourist areas.
  • Autumn (September to November): Mild temperatures, ranging from around 10°C (50°F) to 18°C (64°F). Generally less crowded compared to the summer months.
  • Winter (December to February): Cold temperatures, ranging from around 2°C (36°F) to 8°C (46°F). Festive atmosphere, with lights and decorations but shorter daylight hours. Generally less crowded compared to the summer months.

Know before you board a Thames river cruise

Boarding points
Cruises with kids
Rules and regulations
What to wear
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Westminster Pier

Westminster Pier: Located near the iconic Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Pier is a popular boarding point for Thames River cruises. It provides convenient access to major landmarks and attractions in central London.

Address: Westminster Pier, Victoria Embankment, London, SW1A 2JH

  • By bus: Bus Route 453, 474
  • By tube: District, Jubilee
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Greenwich Pier

Greenwich Pier: Located in Greenwich, this boarding point is ideal for passengers interested in visiting the historic Greenwich attractions such as the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum, and the Royal Observatory.

Address: Greenwich Pier, King William Walk, London, SE10 9HT

  • By bus: Bus Route 473, 474
  • By tube: Jubilee
thames river cruises

Tower Pier (EC3N 4DT)

Tower Pier serves as a gateway to London's past, with the historic Tower of London nearby, along with the famous Tower Bridge.

Address: Tower Millennium Pier, Lower Thames St, London EC3N 4DT.

Nearest tube: Tower Hill underground station; London Fenchurch Street Station

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  • Indoor and outdoor seating: Cruises often provide both indoor and outdoor seating options, allowing passengers to enjoy the scenic views from the comfort of their preferred location.
  • Panoramic views: Many cruise vessels have large windows, providing excellent views of the River Thames and its surroundings.
  • Open decks: Outdoor decks are available on most cruises, allowing passengers to enjoy the fresh air and unobstructed views while cruising along the river.
  • Live commentary: Informative and entertaining live commentary is sometimes provided during the cruise, giving passengers interesting insights into the landmarks, history, and notable sights along the Thames.
  • Restrooms: Cruises generally have restroom facilities available for passengers' convenience.
  • Entertainment and music: Some cruises may provide onboard entertainment, such as live music, DJs, or themed events, adding to the festive atmosphere during the cruise.
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  • Scenic views: It provides a unique perspective and can be educational as well.
  • Live commentary: Many Thames river cruises offer live commentary during the tour, providing interesting facts and stories about the landmarks and history of London.
  • Entertainment and activities: Some Thames river cruises offer special cruises designed for families with kids. 
  • Safety: Ensure the safety of your children during the cruise by following any safety instructions provided by the cruise operator. Keep an eye on younger children and make them aware of the rules and boundaries onboard.
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  • Follow instructions: Listen to and follow the instructions given by the cruise staff or crew members. They are there to assist you and ensure everyone's safety.
  • Safety equipment: Familiarize yourself with the location of safety equipment on board, such as life jackets or flotation devices
  • Stay in designated areas: Respect any designated areas or restricted zones on the boat. Some areas may be off-limits for safety or operational reasons.
  • Children's supervision: Keep a close watch on your children and ensure they are supervised at all times during the cruise.
  •  Smoking policy: Most Thames river cruises have a no-smoking policy indoors, including enclosed areas or cabins. 
  • Littering and cleanliness: Help maintain the cleanliness of the boat by disposing of any waste or trash in designated bins.
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  • Opt for comfortable attire that allows freedom of movement. 
  • London weather can be changeable, so it's advisable to dress in layers. This way, you can easily adjust your clothing to accommodate temperature changes throughout the cruise. 
  • Be prepared for potential rain or wind, especially in the spring and autumn months. 
  • If you're taking a dinner or special event cruise, you may want to dress slightly more formally. 
  • If you're taking a daytime cruise, especially during the summer, it's important to protect yourself from the sun. 
  • Consider bringing a small bag or backpack to carry essentials such as sunscreen, a water bottle, and a camera. Ensure it's lightweight and easy to carry.
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  • Jubilee Market: This large indoor market offers a variety of stalls selling souvenirs, clothing, handicrafts, and food.
  • South Bank Book Market: Browse through a massive selection of new, used, and antiquarian books at this market.
  • The London Eye Gift Shop: Pick up a unique souvenir from your visit to the iconic London Eye.
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  • The Ivy Victoria: This upscale restaurant offers classic British cuisine with a modern twist.
  • Coppa at Cathedral Wharf: Enjoy delicious Italian food with stunning views of the River Thames.
  • Wahaca: Sample authentic Mexican street food at this lively restaurant.
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Several hotels are located near Westminster Bridge Pier, offering a range of options to suit your budget and preferences. Here are a few:

  • The Royal Horseguards Hotel: This luxurious hotel is located right next to the Thames and offers stunning views of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.
  • Sea Containers London: This trendy hotel is housed in a converted shipping container complex and offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops.
  • St. Ermin's Hotel: This historic hotel is located near St. James's Park and offers a more traditional London experience.

Top landmarks near the Thames river bank

big ben and houses of parliament

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Home to the British Parliament, this neo-gothic palace includes the Elizabeth Tower, more commonly known as Big Ben, the famous clock tower.

london eye

London Eye

This giant Ferris wheel offers stunning panoramic views of the city.

tower of london

Tower of London

A historic castle on the north bank of the Thames, notorious for its role as a prison and execution site.

hms belfast

HMS Belfast

This decommissioned Royal Navy cruiser is now a museum ship docked on the River Thames.

shakespeare's globe

Shakespeare's Globe

A reconstruction of the Elizabethan open-air theater where Shakespeare's plays were performed.

Frequently Asked Questions about planning your visit to a Thames river cruise

What does a Thames river cruise include?

A Thames river cruise typically includes scenic views, live commentary, and the opportunity to enjoy iconic landmarks along the river.

What is the best time to take a Thames river cruise?

The best time to take a Thames river cruise is during the spring or summer months when the weather is pleasant and the daylight hours are longer.

What are the cruise opening hours?

They generally start in the morning around 10am and operate until late afternoon or early evening, with the last cruises departing around 6pm approximately.

Will I get seasick on the cruise?

Seasickness is rare on Thames river cruises due to the calm waters, but individuals prone to motion sickness should take necessary precautions.

Are pets allowed on the cruise?

Pets are generally not allowed on Thames river cruises, except for registered assistance animals, but this can vary.

Can I take a cruise with a group?

Yes, you can take a Thames river cruise with a group.

Can I take a cruise with my kids?

Yes, you can take a Thames river cruise with your kids. It is a family-friendly activity that children can enjoy, offering scenic views, educational commentary, and often special activities for kids on board.

Are the cruises wheelchair-friendly?

It is recommended to contact the specific cruise operator beforehand to inquire about their accessibility features, such as wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and designated seating areas.

What are the facilities on the cruise?

Facilities on a Thames river cruise may include indoor and outdoor seating areas, onboard cafes or bars, restrooms, and sometimes live commentary or entertainment.

How long is a cruise?

They typically range from 1 to 2 hours for sightseeing cruises. Specialty cruises, such as lunch or dinner cruises, can have longer durations, usually lasting around 2 to 3 hours.

Is food and drinks served on board?

Yes, food and drinks are often served on board most Thames river cruises.