Home Β Β» 5 Best Thames River Cruises in London in 2024 (Personally Tested)

5 Best Thames River Cruises in London in 2024 (Personally Tested)

Last updated: June 4, 2024

Portrait of Adam Dimitrov.

Author: Adam Dimitrov β€” Owner & Head Cruise Detective

πŸ† Best Thames River Cruise Overall to Tower Bridge or Greenwich (Thames River Sightseeing)
4.5
+12740 reviews

πŸ† Editor's #1 Choice

βœ”οΈ tested by author

I tested the top five river cruises in London myself and foundΒ Thames River Sightseeing'sΒ cruise to be the best.

Here are the top 3 reasons why:

  • Funniest and Most Informative Live Guide
  • Excellent Ship & Amenities
  • Excellent Views

It is an excellent, well-rounded river cruise with an entertaining narration sprinkled with British dry humour.

The problem with river cruises in London is that there are too many to choose from!

Each promises a great experience, making the decision difficult.

The stakes are high β€” no one wants a poor choice to ruin an otherwise unforgettable vacation, especially in a city like London, which for many is a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Fortunately, the Cruise Detective is here to help.

I embarked on a 4-day journey to London to find definitive answers by trying out the three most popular Thames river cruises.

Each has thousands of glowing reviews, so the most reliable way to rank them was to experience them all.

This article gives you an incredibly detailed rundown of my findings.

Note: I am not sponsored by any of the companies I review. I pay for my cruises with my hard-earned money and review anonymously to deliver thorough and unbiased reviews.

Disclaimer: This website uses affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps sustain my work. Cheers!

Summary & Comparison β€” 5 Best Thames River Cruises in London

View All
1
4.5
+15630 reviews
18-24€
3
4.2
+3960 reviews
28€
4
London City Cruises
4.4
+2885 reviews
64€
πŸ’‘ Reviews are calculated using the weighted average and aggregate review count from GetYourGuide, Tripadvisor, and Viator.Β Β I also include listings that I consider "arbitrary duplicates" of the original ones (e.g. the same cruise during the day vs night).

London Cruise Itinerary

Thames River cruise companies generally start from Westminster Pier and offer two disembarking points at either Tower Bridge Pier or Greenwich. Depending on the ticket tier, you have the option to remain on board and return to the starting point.

Along the way, you'll have the chance to explore sights such as:

  • Cutty Sark
  • Tower of London
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Tate Modern
  • Borough Market
  • South Bank Centre
  • London Eye
  • Big Ben
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Westminster Bridge
  • Royal Festival Hall
  • Cleopatra's Needle
  • Somerset House
  • Millennium Footbridge
  • Shakespeare's Globe Monument
  • H.M.S. Belfast

1. πŸ† Best Thames Sightseeing Cruise Overall (Thames River Sightseeing)

1-2h β€” Live Audio Guide β€” 10:00 to 17:00 β€” Ticket: 18.58-24.46€
+13040 reviews (GetYourGuide)
4.5
+1950 reviews (Viator)
4.5
+640 reviews (TripAdvisor)
4.5

Pros:

βœ”οΈ Best All-Around β€” This cruise has it all for a complete sightseeing experience.

βœ”οΈ Great Ship β€” Modern, spacious, and well-kept, offering superb views from both decks.

βœ”οΈ Audio Guide β€” Available in 6 languages via smartphone app or listen to live cheeky British humour-infused live commentary.

βœ”οΈ Full Thames Curcuit β€” Covers all the must-see landmarks, from Westminster Bridge through Tower Bridge till the Greenwich.

βœ”οΈ Family Friendly - Generous discounts for children, including free tickets for ages 0-4 and 33% for ages 5-15.

Cons:

❌ Requires earbuds β€” If you'd like to listen to their app, you need to bring your own earbuds.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Summary

Thames River Cruises offers a comprehensive sightseeing experience with an audio guide available in six languages (Spanish, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian). However, you must bring your own earbuds to listen on your smartphone.

I recommend the second option: a live commentary infused with British dry humor.

The cruise takes place on a spacious, medium-sized double-decker boat with excellent views from both decks. The top deck has open-air and covered sections for all weather conditions.

The itinerary covers iconic sights from Westminster Palace to London Bridge, extending to Greenwich on the longer trip.

Overall, this cruise offers a high-quality sightseeing experience with no notable downsides, making it my top recommendation.

Before the Cruise

Boarding Area

  • Thames River Sightseeing is in a great spot on the Thames at Westminster Pier, next to the London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Bridge.
  • The boarding area is shared with other companies and has an air-conditioned, weather-proof waiting area with vending machines.

Getting There

  • πŸ—ΊοΈ Meeting point: Westminster Pier, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2JH, United Kingdom

During The Cruise

The Ship

  • The ship you'll board is a double-decker vessel with a 200-person capacity, offering covered or open-air seating, a bar, AC/heating, and live commentary via loudspeakers.

The Lower Deck

  • The bottom deck features chairs with tables next to the windows and a small bar. The front section also has standalone chairs, but the relatively small windows do not offer the best views.

The Top Deck

  • The upper deck offers 360Β° panoramic views, with comfortable seating. It has both covered indoor and outdoor seats oriented towards the front.

Drinks and Snacks

  • The ship features a bar section where you can purchase drinks and snacks.

Cruise Itinerary

  • Starting from Westminster Pier, this cruise allows passengers to disembark at either Tower Bridge Pier or Greenwich Pier.

Audio Guide

Live Audio Commentary

  • There's live English commentary by a professional guide on board. The guide is engaging and funny (an expert at using English dry/sarcastic humour), making the tour entertaining and informative.

Downloadable Audio Guide‍

  • Alternatively, you can download an app that provides narration in 6 languages: Spanish, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian.

Quick Facts

  • πŸ“… Schedule: Cruises run daily Β from 10:20 AM to 3:00 PM, departing every hour or so.
  • πŸ•’ Duration: 1 hour (Westminster - Tower Bridge Roundtrip), 2 hours (Westminster - Greenwich Roundtrip)
  • 🎟️ Ticket type: Mobile/printed
  • 🌐 Wifi: Available βœ”οΈ
  • πŸ’¨ Open air-section: Available βœ”οΈ
  • ❄️/🌑️ Aircon: Available βœ”οΈ
  • 🐢 Animals: Not allowed (except service animals) ❌
  • 🚬 Smoking: Not allowed ❌
  • β™Ώ Wheelchair accessible: Accessible βœ”οΈ
  • 🚻 Restroom: Available βœ”οΈ
  • πŸ‘Ά Baby stroller accessible: Accessible βœ”οΈ
  • % Children discounts: free for infants (age 0–4), 9.90Β£ tickets (age 5–15)

2. πŸ₯ˆ Runner-Up Thames Sightseeing Cruise (London Eye)

1h β€” 10:45 to 17:45 β€” Ticket: 16€
+2410 reviews (GetYourGuide)
4.5
+850 reviews (Viator)
4.5
+600 reviews (TripAdvisor)
5.0
Powered by GetYourGuide

Summary

The London Eye's boat tour is a fantastic choice for a leisurely Thames cruise.

Enjoy a live commentary that's as witty and cheeky as Thames River Sightseeing's, adding a delightful touch to your journey.

This tour also boasts an audio guide in 10 languages (Spanish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Traditional Chinese). Keep in mind, there's one device for every four seats on the top deck, and you'll need to bring your own earphones.

Cruise on a medium-sized double-decker boat with superb views from both decks. The bottom deck is spacious, but the top deck is the place to be, unless it rains.

The itinerary showcases iconic sights from Westminster Palace to Tower Bridge.

Overall, this tour offers a stellar sightseeing experience, with the only drawback being that it doesn't extend to Greenwich.

Before the Cruise

Waiting Area

  • London Eye Cruises kicks off at the London Eye Waterloo Pier, opposite of Westminster Pier.
  • The boarding area is shared with other companies and has an air-conditioned, weather-proof waiting area with vending machines.

Getting There

During The Cruise

The Ship

  • The ship you'll board is a double-decker vessel, offering covered or open-air seating, a bar, AC/heating, and live commentary or smartphone audio guide app.

The Lower Deck

  • This deck features rows of chairs equipped with audio guide devices for your earbuds and a small bar. The atmosphere is cozy, and the chairs are comfortable.

The Top Deck

  • The top deck provides 360Β° views with open-air seating only. I found the seats to be a wee bit uncomfortable.

Drinks and Snacks

  • Onboard, there is a bar section offering soft drinks and snacks for purchase.

Cruise Itinerary

  • Departing from London Eye Pier, passengers can choose to get off at Tower Bridge Pier, with no stop at Greenwich.

Audio Guide

Built-in Audio Guide‍

  • Available if you bring your own earbuds, but there are too few devices on the top deck (one device built into the sidewall for every four seats). On the bottom deck, there's a device for each seat.
  • The audio guide is available in 10 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Czech, Dutch, Hindi, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese.

Live Audio Guide

  • ‍Alternatively, there's expert commentary provided by a professional and knowledgeable guide. The guide is cheeky and engaging, enhancing the experience.

Quick Facts

  • πŸ“… Schedule: Cruises run daily Β from 10:45 AM to 5:45 PM, departing every hour or so.
  • πŸ•’ Duration: 60 minutes (Westminster Bridge - Tower Bridge round trip)
  • 🎟️ Ticket type: Mobile/printed
  • 🌐 Wifi: Not available ❌
  • πŸ’¨ Open-air section: Available βœ”οΈ
  • ❄️/🌑️ Aircon: Available βœ”οΈ
  • 🐢 Animals: Not allowed (except service animals) ❌
  • 🚬 Smoking: Not allowed ❌
  • β™Ώ Wheelchair accessible: Accessible βœ”οΈ
  • 🚻 Restroom: Available βœ”οΈ
  • πŸ‘Ά Baby stroller accessible: Not allowed ❌
  • % Children discounts: free for infants (age 0–1), -33% tickets (age 2–15)

3. No Frills Thames Sightseeing Cruise (London City Cruises)

1h β€” 10:00 to 16:00 β€” Ticket: 28€
+2370 reviews (GetYourGuide)
4.4
+1050 reviews (Viator)
4.0
+540 reviews (TripAdvisor)
4.0
Powered by GetYourGuide

Summary

London City Cruises offers a sightseeing experience comparable to the leading cruises, featuring the same itinerary and similar double-decker boats.

They provide an audio guide app available in 13 languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

One major advantage is their hop-on-hop-off feature, which means you can use it as much as you want within a 24-hour period.

You could cruise over to Tower Bridge, explore the city center, and the next day head down to Greenwich and back. It's a great way to save some money.

Just a heads up, they have a variety of ships, so make sure you get on the right one. Avoid the catamaran since it doesn't have a top deck.

Before the Cruise

Waiting Area

  • As with Thames River Sightseeing, London City Cruises is at Westminster Pier, next to the London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Bridge.
  • The boarding area is shared with other companies and has an air-conditioned, weather-proof waiting area with vending machines.

Getting There

  • πŸ—ΊοΈ Meeting point: Westminster Pier, London SW1A 2JH, United Kingdom

During The Cruise

The Ship

  • Like the previous cruises, the ship you'll board is a double-decker vessel with indoor covered and open-air seating, a bar, AC/heating, and live commentary through loudspeakers or a smartphone app.
  • Please note that City Cruises has a large fleet with various ships, so you might not board the same type of boat I tested.

The Lower Deck

  • The bottom deck has two rows of tables and chairs next to the windows, with a middle row that has minimal views. The chairs are comfortable, and the indoor space is cozy.

Upper Deck

  • Same as the others, this boat offers 360Β° views. The top deck has open-air seats facing the front. The seats are made of metal and thus can feel cold.

Drinks and Snack Bar

  • Onboard, there is a bar section offering soft drinks and snacks for purchase.

Cruise Itinerary

  • Setting off from Westminster Pier, passengers have the option to disembark at either Tower Bridge Pier or Greenwich Pier.

Audio Guide

Live Audio Guide‍

  • As with previous cruises, this one also offers live English commentary by an engaging guide.

App-Based Audio Guide‍

  • Alternatively, you can download an app that provides narration in 13 languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

Quick Facts

  • πŸ“… Schedule: Cruises run daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, departing every 2 hours.
  • πŸ•’ Duration: 30 minutes (Tower Bridge), 1 hour (Greenwich), 2 hours (Greenwich roundtrip)
  • 🎟️ Ticket type: Mobile/printed
  • 🌐 Wifi: Not available ❌
  • πŸ’¨ Open-air section: Available βœ”οΈ
  • ❄️/🌑️ Aircon: Available βœ”οΈ
  • 🐢 Animals: Not allowed (except service animals) ❌
  • 🚬 Smoking: Not allowed ❌
  • β™Ώ Wheelchair accessible: Accessible βœ”οΈ
  • 🚻 Restroom: Available βœ”οΈ
  • πŸ‘Ά Baby stroller accessible: Allowed βœ”οΈ
  • % Children discounts: free for infants (age 0–4), -10€ from ticket price (age 5–15)

4. Thames River Lunch Cruise (London City Cruises)

1.5h β€” 15:30 β€” Ticket: from 64€
+1920 reviews (GetYourGuide)
4.4
+710 reviews (Viator)
4.5
+255 reviews (TripAdvisor)
4.5
Powered by GetYourGuide

Summary

The name says it all!

Enjoy a tasty lunch cruise along the Thames. You'll have tea with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, cakes, and unlimited tea and coffee.

While cruising, listen to interesting audio commentary using City Cruises' app, available in 13 languages, or hear live English commentary.

This relaxing 1.5-hour trip goes from Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament.

Before the Cruise

Waiting Area

  • This cruise kicks off at the the Tower Millenium Pier, next to Tower Bridge.
  • The boarding area is shared with other companies and has an air-conditioned, weather-proof waiting area with vending machines.

Getting There

During The Cruise

The Ship

  • The ship you'll board is a double-decker vessel with 200-person capacity that offers indoor seats at tables and open-air seating options on the top deck, AC/heating and audio guide commentary via smartphone.

Food and Drinks

  • Enjoy traditional English tea with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, cakes, and unlimited tea and coffee. You can also buy drinks at the bar.

Cruise Itinerary

  • Embarking from Tower Bridge Pier, this cruise offers a roundtrip journey to Westminster Pier.

Bottom Deck

  • The bottom deck includes tables and chairs next to the windows and a middle row with seating facing the sides, offering minimal views.

Top Deck

  • Like the sightseeing cruise of London City Cruises, the top deck features 360Β° views with front-facing open-air seats.

Audio Guide

Live Audio Guide‍

  • This cruise is run by City Cruises, the audio guide options are the same as on their sightseeing cruise.
  • As with previous cruises, this one also offers live English commentary by an engaging guide.

App-Based Audio Guide‍

  • Alternatively, you can download an app that provides narration in 13 languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

Quick Facts

  • πŸ“… Schedule: Cruises run daily 3:30 PM.
  • πŸ•’ Duration: 90 minutes
  • 🎟️ Ticket type: Mobile/printed
  • 🌐 Wifi: Not available ❌
  • πŸ’¨ Open-air section: Available βœ”οΈ
  • ❄️/🌑️ Aircon: Available βœ”οΈ
  • 🐢 Animals: Not allowed (except service animals) ❌
  • 🚬 Smoking: Not allowed ❌
  • β™Ώ Wheelchair accessible: Accessible βœ”οΈ
  • 🚻 Restroom: Available βœ”οΈ
  • πŸ‘Ά Baby stroller accessible: Allowed βœ”οΈ
  • % Children discounts: free for infants (age 0–2), -12€ tickets (age 3–15)

5. Best Speedboat Cruise London (Thames Rockets)

50 Minutes β€” 10:00 to 20:00 β€” Ticket: 70€
+580 reviews (GetYourGuide)
4.9
+3300 reviews (Viator)
5.0
+2830 reviews (TripAdvisor)
5.0
Powered by GetYourGuide

Summary

If you're up for an adrenaline-packed adventure, London's speedboats are a must-try. These sleek vessels zoom along the Thames at thrilling speeds of up to 30 knots (55 km/h), making them perfect for those who find traditional sightseeing cruises a bit too sedate.

Safety is paramount, with inflatable life jackets provided for all passengers. Plus, you'll stay dry thanks to the waterproof jackets provided, ensuring you're comfortable throughout the ride.

Your journey kicks off from London Eye Waterloo Pier, heading down to Canary Wharf before circling back to the starting point. Along the way, you'll switch between leisurely cruising and heart-pounding speedboat mode, offering the best of both worlds.

With several speedboat companies to choose from, each offering different itineraries, durations, and price points, here are the top three in London:

Before the Cruise

Waiting Area

  • This cruise kicks off at the the London Eye Waterloo Pier, right next to the London Eye. The boarding area is shared with other companies and has an air-conditioned, weather-proof waiting area with vending machines.

Getting There

During The Cruise

The Ship

  • Thames Rocket's speedboat has a 12-person capacity, with comfortable seats equipped with safety handles and seatbelts.

Cruise Itinerary

  • Starting at London Eye Pier, this cruise takes passengers down to Canary Wharf and back.

Audio Guide

Live Audio Commentary

  • ‍Offers live English commentary in a typically cheeky, English humor style, making the tour both entertaining and informative.

Quick Facts

  • πŸ“… Schedule: Cruises run daily from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, departing every 2 hours.
  • πŸ•’ Duration: 50 minutes
  • 🎟️ Ticket type: Mobile/printed
  • 🌐 Wifi: Not available ❌
  • πŸ’¨ Open-air section: Available βœ”οΈ
  • ❄️/🌑️ Aircon: Not available ❌
  • 🐢 Animals: Not allowed (except service animals) ❌
  • 🚬 Smoking: Not allowed ❌
  • β™Ώ Wheelchair accessible: Not accessible ❌
  • 🚻 Restroom: Not available ❌
  • πŸ‘Ά Baby stroller accessible: Not accessibleβŒβœ”οΈ
  • % Children discounts: -12€ discunt (age 0–14)