Thames River Cruise

Thames River facts | A river rich in story

Thinking about cruising the River Thames? From parties on the ice during freezing winters to swan counts and polar bear swims, let's take a look at some fun facts about London's favorite river!

Did you know these 10 facts about Thames River?

Cleanest river in a city

The Thames River, which flows through a big city, is one of the cleanest in the world now. About 60 years ago, nothing could live in it, and scientists even said it was "biologically dead." But thanks to improvements in London's sewage system in the late 1960s, it's much cleaner today, although plastic waste is still a big problem.

Abundant fish species

There are around 125 different types of fish living in the Thames today, like shads, salmon, and eels. Sometimes, you might even spot seals, porpoises, or a rare northern bottlenose whale, like the one seen in 2006.

Frost fairs

Long ago, during winter, the Thames used to freeze over, and people held Frost Fairs on the ice between 1608 and 1814. It was like a winter festival with food, drinks, sports, and even an elephant once walked across the frozen river!

Longest river in England

The River Thames is the longest river in England, stretching 215 miles (346 km). It's divided into two parts: tidal and non-tidal. The tidal section, affected by tides from the North Sea, goes for 68 miles (109 km), and the non-tidal part is 147 miles (237 km) long.

Major drinking water source

Even though the Thames looks brown, after it's treated and cleaned, it provides about two-thirds of London's drinking water. So if you live in London, chances are you've had water from the Thames!

Oldest rowing competition

The oldest boat race in the world is Doggett’s Coat and Badge, which started in 1715. It's a rowing race for watermen and lightermen. Due to the pandemic, it had to be postponed for only the second time in over 300 years, from 2020 to 2021.

Over 200 bridges

There are over 200 bridges crossing the Thames, from small wooden footbridges to grand ones like Tower Bridge. They make traveling along the Thames easier.

Tower's polar bear

In 1251, King Henry III received a polar bear as a gift from the King of Norway, which he kept at the Tower of London. On hot days, the bear would swim in the Thames to cool off!

Europe's longest river walk

The Thames Path is a trail that follows the river for about 184 miles (296 km), making it the longest river walk in Europe. It goes from Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier in London.

World's second largest flood barrier

The Thames Barrier, built in 1982, is London's main defense against floods from high tides. It's the second largest flood barrier in the world, after one in the Netherlands. You can see this impressive structure on a river cruise during the summer.

How to cruise the Thames River?

Want to go sightseeing?
  • See London at night, in all her glory: Pick the Thames River Evening Cruise if you want to experience the magic of London at night. Enjoy the city lights, sparkling wine, and live music while cruising by iconic landmarks. This is perfect for couples or anyone seeking a romantic vibe.
  • Focus on sightseeing: For a historical adventure, choose between the Westminster to Greenwich River Thames Sightseeing Cruise or the Westminster to Tower Bridge Quay River Thames Circular Cruise. Both offer informative commentary and stunning views of London's architectural gems. The Greenwich cruise goes further east, while the Circular Cruise focuses on central London.
Want to combine sightseeing with Lunch?
  • For the foodie in you: The Thames River Lunch Cruise is ideal for those who want to combine sightseeing with a delicious meal. Enjoy a two-course lunch while cruising past iconic landmarks and listening to interesting commentary about the city's history.
  • Quintessential British experience: Enjoy a sophisticated experience with a delightful afternoon tea spread. The Thames Afternoon Tea Cruise provides a 90-minute experience with scones, pastries, sandwiches, and iconic landmarks.
Want to set the pace of your exploration?
  • Create your itinerary: Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is perfect if you want the freedom to create your own itinerary. Hop-on hop-off services allow you to get on and off at various piers along the river, create your own itinerary, and visit the landmarks as they interest you. It's a great option for a full day of exploration, allowing you to break up the boat ride with sightseeing on land.

Frequently asked questions about Thames River facts

How long is the River Thames?

The River Thames is 215 miles (346 kilometers) long, making it the longest river entirely in England and the second-longest in the UK after the River Severn.

Where does the Thames River start and end?

The source of the Thames is traditionally traced to Thames Head, near Kemble in the Cotswold Hills. It flows into the North Sea via the Thames Estuary.

Does the Thames River flow through Oxford?

Yes, a section of the Thames upstream of London is called the River Isis.

Can you swim in the River Thames?

While the water quality has improved significantly, swimming in the Thames is not generally recommended due to possible risks.

What kind of wildlife lives in the Thames?

The Thames is home to a surprising variety of wildlife, including over 115 fish species, seals, dolphins, and many birds.

What are some famous bridges over the Thames?

Some of the most iconic bridges include Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and Chelsea Bridge.

Is the Thames a source of drinking water for London?

Yes, about two-thirds of London's drinking water comes from the Thames after undergoing extensive treatment.

Are there boat tours on the River Thames?

Yes, there are numerous sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises, and other river experiences on the Thames.

How can I book tickets for a Thames River cruise?

You can book tickets online for your Thames river cruise! There's something for everyone! Choose the right fit for you according to your need and sail into the heart of London! Bon Voyage!

What are the different types of Thames river cruises?

The different types of Thames river cruises include sightseeing cruises, hop-on-hop-off tours, evening cruises, lunch cruises, and afternoon tea cruises.

Did the River Thames ever freeze over?

Believe it or not, the Thames has frozen over in the past, though the last recorded instance was in the 19th century.