Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023
If you’re looking to see London in a whole new way this year, why not set sail on some of these exciting cruises down the River Thames?
Whether you’re an eager tourist or walk through London every day, it can be easy to take the River Thames for granted. Vast, often choppy and always cold, the Thames can seem like a remote and unfriendly thing.
However, you might not have considered that the Thames is actually the perfect way to see London in a whole new light. Away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and the stress of the tube, the river has an incredible range of boat tours and cruises to get you from A to B.
For those new to the city, a London boat tour is the ideal way to see everything, from St Paul’s to Greenwich, without having to navigate yourself. And for those who’ve already been there and done that, why not travel down the Thames in style with a glass of bubbly in your hand?
Suitable for everything from family trips to romantic evenings out, this list of London boat tours gives you the chance to steer your 2023 in an exciting new direction.
So without further ado, here’s our collection of best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to try – anchors away!
For an eclectic mix of things to do in the Big Smoke, stay up to date with our Going Out section where we have the best London walking tours and top escape rooms in London, plus more.
Best London boat tours and Thames River cruises at a glance:
• Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London, from £14
• Thames 24 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off River Cruise, from £23
• Thames Afternoon Tea Cruise for Two, from £62
• Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise for Two, from £162
• River Thames Murder Mystery Three Course Dining Cruise for Two, from £171
• Thames Rockets Break the Barrier Experience for Two, from £99
• Three Course Meal at a Marco Pierre White Restaurant and Thames River Sightseeing Cruise for Two, from £76
• Evening Thames Cruise for Two with Bubbly and Canapes, from £69.30
• London River Cruise with a Three Course Dinner and Elvis Tribute Act for Two, from £162
Best London boat tours and River Thames cruises to do in 2023
Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London
Ever wanted to see all of London’s best landmarks in one day without lifting a finger? Then we present to you this sightseeing cruise of the Thames. Perfect for London beginners, this boat trip will take you past all of the best sights, from the Palace of Westminster to Shakespeare’s Globe, past the Tower of London and ending at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
More like this
All the while, visitors will be treated to live commentary on the history of these well-known attractions.
Buy Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Cruise in London from £14 at Viator
Thames 24 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off River Cruise
If you fancy taking your time and seeing the sights up close, this hop-on hop-off cruise allows you to be your own captain. Running boats from 10am and lasting all day, this flexible tour encourages you to alight at each major landmark and re-join another boat when you’re ready to move on. Recorded commentary is provided and a bar is on deck to enhance your experience of the stunning views.
Buy Thames 24 Hour Hop-On Hop-Off River Cruise from £23 at Viator
Champagne Afternoon Tea and Thames River Cruise for Two
Is it jam or cream first? Feel free to argue over that one, and the correct pronunciation of scone, while gazing out at the gorgeous views of the riverside. This unique experience will give you and a loved one the chance to cruise down the Thames as if you were in an 18th century novel.
With cakes, sandwiches and, of course, scones provided, plus tea and coffee, you won’t want to miss this tranquil trip through the city.
Buy Champagne Afternoon Tea and Thames River Cruise for Two from £62 at Virgin Experience Days
Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise for Two
For an evening of smooth sailing, why not pick this Thames cruise accompanied by the swinging sounds of a five-piece jazz band? Upon entry to the boat you’ll be greeted by a glass of sparkling wine and the soothing sounds of the blues. Then the quintet will play you through a three-course dinner, with a twinkling view of London at night.
Buy Thames Jazz Dinner Cruise for Two from £162 at Virgin Experience Days
River Thames Murder Mystery Three Course Dining Cruise for Two
The unofficial sequel to Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile is this thrilling murder mystery experience on the River Thames. With drinks and a three-course meal to die for, you’ll have a frighteningly good time until you and the other guests discover the shocking truth – there’s been a murder on board.
You and your loved one will have to use your elementary skills to root out the killer - although don’t get so swept up in the bloody dealings of the case that you forget to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Buy River Thames Murder Mystery Three Course Dining Cruise for Two from £171 at Red Letter Days
Thames Rockets Break the Barrier Experience for Two
If cruises are a bit slow for you then you might prefer this for a more whistle-stop tour of the city. Jump on a speed boat and experience the Thames like James Bond, with twists, turns and 40 minutes out on the water.
With their 880 horsepower engines, Thames Rockets go at a speed of 30knots (or 35mph), so we’d recommend this for the adrenaline junkies out there. Whizz past the O2, Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the Thames Barrier, although we can’t guarantee you’ll see too much.
Buy Thames Rockets Break the Barrier Experience for Two from £99 at Red Letter Days
Three Course Meal at a Marco Pierre White Restaurant and Thames River Sightseeing Cruise for Two
For a full day of decadence, try this Thames sightseeing cruise followed by a meal at London Steakhouse Co. Headed up by culinary royalty Marco Pierre White, you’ll be greeted by a cocktail and a delicious three course meal. Two stylish London experiences rolled into one, this is not something to miss.
Buy Three Course Meal at a Marco Pierre White Restaurant and Thames River Sightseeing Cruise for Two from £76 at Virgin Experience Days
Evening Thames Cruise for Two with Bubbly and Canapes
Not much matches the beauty of London at sunset and now, you can experience that in the classiest of ways by going on this evening tour of the River Thames. Accompanied by live music, a glass of bubbly and canapes, this trip is ideal for a romantic night out. The boat will also have a full bar and an open-air deck to capture the perfect Instagram moment.
Buy Evening Thames Cruise for Two with Bubbly and Canapes from £69.30 at Virgin Experience Days
London River Cruise with a Three Course Dinner and Elvis Tribute Act for Two
For a little less conversation and a little more rock and roll, take this cruise down the Thames with an Elvis tribute act. There to serenade you through your three course dinner, you’ll be all shook up by how good he is. A truly unique experience and perfect for any Elvis fans, you’ll be able to enjoy the history of London and the history of rock and roll at the same time.
Buy London River Cruise with a Three Course Dinner and Elvis Tribute Act for Two from £162 at Red Letter Days
How to book boat tours and river cruise tickets in London
In London, everything tends to get booked up very quickly, so your best bet is to make bookings online and far in advance.
If you decide to book one of these experiences, simply go to the respective website and redeem your voucher by entering the code and/or pin provided. You can then pick the date and time you’d like to book and will be sent all the information you need. You can also call the booking company up and make your booking over the phone.
How long do London boat tours typically last?
For the more basic sightseeing bookings, tours typically last one hour to 70 minutes, provided you don’t want to get off and see the sights. But if you’re thinking of planning a fancier evening out, whether it be a meal, a murder mystery or an Elvis tribute act, your experience is likely to be longer at around two and a half hours. Make sure you plan accordingly and take precautions for anyone who gets seasick!
For more nautical themed days, try this list of Cambridge Punting tours. If you're looking for a day out inspired by the big or small screen, check out our guide to the best UK Harry Potter tours, and this list of Downton Abbey tours.