The Ultimate River Thames Tour of London

23 Aug 18
Visiting London

The Ultimate River Thames Tour of London

23 Aug 18

Slicing through the core of the city, London’s iconic River Thames is lined with some of the capital’s biggest bucket-list sights, not to mention a wealth of bustling restaurants, traditional pubs and lively cultural hubs such as the British Film Institute and Southbank Centre. What better tour guide, then, than the river itself? Follow the banks of the River Thames for a tour of London that ticks all the fun-day-out boxes.

Tower Bridge

One of the capital’s most iconic monuments and traversed by some 40,000 commuters every day, Tower Bridge has straddled the River Thames since 1894. It’s free to wander across the lower deck, which is intermittently raised to allow river traffic to pass beneath, while the gaping vistas afforded by the 42m-high walkways connecting the twin towers can be admired for an admission charge.

Shakespeare’s Globe

While it might be 200m off the original 1599 site of the celebrated playwright’s favoured theatre, the contemporary thatched, medieval-style Shakespeare’s Globe is an impressive replica. Step into the yard – standing tickets are a steal at £5 each – to enjoy a cutting-edge programme of Shakespeare’s plays, presented with spectacular wit and contemporary flair. Give your feet a rest in the pricier gallery seats (we’d recommend hiring a cushion – they’re rather on the hard side).

Tate Modern

Had your fill of theatre? Head next door to the Tate Modern to soak up some of the biggest names in art, from Joan Miró to Edvard Munch. Free to enter, the Tate Modern’s recent revamp means you can ascend the Blavatnik Building to an open viewing terrace with panoramic views across London, taking in everything from St Paul’s on the opposite bank to Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers in the east.

St Paul’s Cathedral

A skip across the pedestrian Millennium Bridge delivers you to one of London’s most impressive cathedrals, St Paul’s. Although set a few steps back from the banks of the river, a Thames tour of London wouldn’t be complete without it. Set aside two hours to marvel at its gold-embellished, chandelier-hung interiors, which are free to explore if you arrive in time for the Morning Prayer at 7.30am. 

OXO Tower Wharf

Saunter further along the bustling South Bank and you’ll come across Oxo Tower, a converted wharf whose thrusting chimney is a miniature replica of the Tate Modern’s. The trendy hub is abuzz with design studios, shops, cafés, restaurants and bars. Head up to Oxo Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie for spectacular views served alongside exquisite British cuisine and dangerously moreish cocktails.

London Eye

London’s giant Ferris wheel has been an iconic feature of the capital’s skyline since it was constructed in 1998. Step inside one of its pods for dizzying views across the capital – in fact, it delivers a full visual tour of London and the Thames in one round. A full rotation takes half an hour, allowing plenty of time to frame that perfect selfie. Quirkier options include mid-air yoga sessions and the option to hire a private pod (a popular option for proposals).

Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey

With a few steps between them, it’s easy to tick off three of London’s greats in one go. Big Ben might be shrouded in scaffolding until 2021, but you can just about make out the epic clock tower underneath it all. Nip into the Houses of Parliament for a tour around the seat of British politics, and when in Westminster Abbey, don’t miss the octagonal stained glass-lit Chapter House, which dates back to the 1250s.

Further reading

Family Homes


Our hand-picked collection of London vacation rentals features enchanting properties perfect for your family, whatever its size. From welcoming Georgian town houses on peaceful streets to modern apartments in beautiful neighbourhoods, you’ll find a short-term holiday let to suit your needs, sleeping up to eight.

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