A trip on the River Thames is a popular way to see London and you can board a boat from various piers along the river. There are two types of boat: River Tours – leisure cruises with live or recorded commentary, or River Buses – fast commuter services run by Thames Clippers.
There’s no need to book in advance; for most boat trips you can buy a ticket on the pier. If you can’t buy a ticket on the pier, buy one on the boat.
Discounts are available to Travelcard holders. Anyone with a Travelcard, either a weekly/monthly ‘paper’ Travelcard or a Travelcard loaded on an Oyster card, gets 1/3 off the standard ticket price. These discounts are only available at the pier ticket office.
Thames river boat trips in central London
The trip with City Cruises from Westminster to Tower Pier near the Tower of London is a good introduction for first time visitors. It takes about 20 minutes and you pass all the main sights on the river.
Westminster to the Tower of London
Adult: £10 single
Child: £5 single
They also offer a 50-minute circular cruise from either Tower Pier or Bankside Pier (near the Tate Modern).
Hop on hop off Thames river boat passes
Instead of single trip, you can use the river boats for unlimited travel for the whole day.
Thames Clipper – without commentary
If you can do without commentary, Thames Clippers River Roamer — unlimited hop-on/hop-off travel on all their routes including Greenwich is £17.35 for adults, £8.65 for children. The pass is valid from 9am.
Tickets are £14.70 and £7.35 if you book online.
There’s a bigger discount if you have a Travelcard, but you must buy tickets at the pier (£11.55/£5.75). There’s no discount for Oyster PAYG for this ticket.
City Cruises – with commentary
City Cruises’ Red Rover pass is £16.65 for adults, £8.33
Boat trips to Greenwich
A boat trip downriver to historic Greenwich makes a great day trip. There’s a lot to see.
The boats start in central London and pass the modern developments on the Isle of Dogs before reaching historic Greenwich.
You don’t have to come back by boat – there are frequent trains from Greenwich train station to central London (Cannon St station, 15–20 minutes).
Alternatively, return to central London via the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Cutty Sark or Greenwich stations.
Thames Clippers to Greenwich
Thames Clippers run the RB1 – a fast catamaran service. These are commuter boats so there’s no commentary, but tickets are cheaper. Journey time is approximately 45 minutes.
Adult: £8 single (£6.50 with a Pay as you go Oyster and £5.35 with a Travelcard)
Child: £4 single (£3.25 with a Pay as you go Oyster and £2.65 with a Travelcard)
- London Eye pier
- Embankment pier
- Blackfriars pier (not Saturdays or Sundays)
- Bankside pier
- London Bridge City pier
- Tower Pier
City Cruises to Greenwich
City Cruises run river tours with live commentary in English. Journey time is approximately 70 minutes from Westminster pier.
Adult: £12.50 single
Child: £6.25 single
- Westminster pier
- London Eye pier
- Tower pier (£10 adult/£5 children)
Upriver services to Kew, Richmond and Hampton Court
Upriver boat trips have now finished and will resume in April 2017
If you want a longer trip, the Westminster Passenger Services Association run upriver (westbound) boat trips from Westminster pier in central London to Kew, Richmond or Hampton Court.
Westminster to Kew
Adult: £13 single
Child: £6.50 single
1 hour 30 minutes
Westminster to Richmond
Adult: £15 single
Child: £7.50 single
Westminster to Hampton Court
Adult: £17 single
3-3 hours 30 minutes
Check the website for departure times.
As it’s a long boat trip, you might want to return to central London by underground or train.
From Kew: take the underground from Kew Gardens station (District line), or the train to Waterloo station from Kew Bridge station. Kew is in zone 3
From Richmond: take the underground from Richmond station (District line), or the train to Waterloo station. Richmond is in zone 4
From Hampton Court: take the train from Hampton station to Waterloo station. Hampton is in zone 6.
Piers in Central London
View Piers in central London in a larger map
Last updated: 2 December 2016