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
Top Tip: If you plan to so a London sightseeing tour, Tootbus (formerly The Original London Sightseeing Tour) has a package including a river boat ticket.
If you just want a quick trip on the Thames. City Cruises run boats between Westminster pier and Tower Pier near the Tower of London. It’s a good introduction for first time visitors and takes about 20 minutes. You’ll pass all the main sights on the river.
Westminster to the Tower of London
Adult: £12.25 single
Child: £8.25 single
Hop on hop off Thames river boat passes
Instead of single trip, you can use the river boats for unlimited travel.
City Cruises – with commentary
City Cruises’ have a 24-hour Red Rover Pass which is valid for all routes including to and from Greenwich.
- Adults £22 online
- Child £14.75 online
- Family £44 online
Thames Clippers – without commentary
Instead of a tourist boat, buy a River Roamer, a day pass for unlimited travel on the Thames Clippers – a fast catermeran service. Boats run from Putney to Greenwich.
- Adults – £21.20 (online)
- Child £10.60 (online)
- Family £42.40 (online)
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.
City Cruises to Greenwich
City Cruises run river tours with live commentary in English. Journey time is approximately 70 minutes from Westminster or London Eye pier.
Standard single tickets to Greenwich are:
Adult: £12.25 single
Child: £8.25 single
Thames Clippers to Greenwich
Thames Clippers run the RB1. Journey time is approximately 45 minutes.
Adult: £9.80 single
Child: £4.90 single
These fares are for Oyster or online bookings. Tickets from the piers are more expensive.
- Westminster pier
- London Eye pier
- Embankment pier
- Blackfriars pier (not Saturdays or Sundays)
- Bankside pier
- London Bridge City pier
- Tower Pier
Returning to central London by train or DLR
You don’t have to come back by boat to central London by boat, take the Docklands Light Railway or train.
The quickest way is via one of the frequent trains from Greenwich train station to central London (London Cannon St station, 15 minutes). Please note that engineering work for the Thameslink programme might affect your journey, especially at certain weekends and Bank Holidays. Check train times on the National Rail Enquires website before travelling.
The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) runs from Cutty Sark or Greenwich stations to Bank or Tower Gateway station. DLR are driverless. Sit at the front of the train for a great view of the modern Docklands area.
Boats to Kew, Richmond and Hampton Court
For a longer boat trip, the Westminster Passenger Services Association run upriver (westbound) trips from Westminster pier in central London to Kew, Richmond or Hampton Court in west London from April to October.
Westminster Pier to Kew
Adult: £16.50 single
Child: £8.50 single
Journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Westminster Pier to Richmond
Adult: £18.50 single
Child: £9.50 single
Westminster Pier to Hampton Court
Adult: £22 single
Child: £12 single
Check the website for departure times.
Returning to central London by underground or train
As they’re all long boat trips, you may want to return to central London by underground or train.
Take the underground from Kew Gardens station (District line), or the train from Kew Bridge station to Waterloo station. Both stations are in zone 3.
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.
Map – Piers in Central London
Last updated: 23 September 2023